Section 9 Preview: Five State Placers Return, Looking for More in 2013-14

 BY MIKE CAREY

Section 9 is the home of the top in-season tournament in New York – the Eastern States Classic.  However, it’s also the home of a number of wrestlers who made the medal stand in 2013 and have the potential to do even more this upcoming campaign.  Read on to find out more about what the Section has to offer in 2013-14.

Division I

Four Division I wrestlers return after reaching the podium in Albany a year ago — the Port Jervis duo of Dylan Booth and Dan DeCarlo, as well as Monroe Woodbury’s Vinny Vespa and Pine Bush’s John Stramiello.  Let’s take a look at those wrestlers, plus some others to watch in 2013-14.

Vinny Vespa (Monroe Woodbury) – After battling cancer, Vespa made an incredible return to the mat for the Crusaders, winning 40 matches and taking fifth at the state tournament at 99 pounds.  We’ll see what he can do for an encore, likely at 106.

John Stramiello (Pine Bush) – Stramiello, a four time state qualifier and three-time Section 9 champion, made his second appearance on the podium last February, taking sixth at 113 pounds.  (He was sixth at 106 as a sophomore).  In his senior campaign, Stramiello is looking for his highest finish, likely at 113.

Photo by Josh Conklin

Dylan Booth (Port Jervis) – Booth topped Stramiello three times last season, including in the fifth place bout at the Times Union Center.  After a strong season in which he racked up 34 victories, Booth will be looking for another All-State showing, either at 113 or 120 pounds.

Dan DeCarlo (Port Jervis) –  Like his teammate Booth, DeCarlo nabbed fifth in Albany last year (at 152 pounds).  A two-time Section 9 titlewinner, DeCarlo, who also was fourth at the Eastern States Classic, will move up to 160 this year.

Other than those returning placers, who is ready to make an impact?

From Monroe Woodbury, Evan Barczak and Rob Kelly are good candidates.  Barczak, now a freshman, was a Section champion as an eighth grader at 106 pounds and won a match at the state tournament.  In fact, his two losses in Albany were to the second and third place finishers, one of them in overtime.  He’s projected at 120 pounds this year.  Senior Rob Kelly was the runner up in Section 9 to NYS fourth placer Josh Bonneau at 220 pounds.  Kelly, who had 30 wins last year, will be a factor at either 220 or 285.

Minisink Valley’s Mike Raccioppi and Chris Truglio will be wrestlers to watch as well.  Raccioppi, a two-time state qualifier, was sixth at the Eastern States in a 43-victory campaign in which he defeated All-State wrestler Ryan Snow and won twice in Albany.  He’ll be a podium threat, likely at 138, this year. Truglio is expected to be back at 132, where he notched a win at the state tournament. Their teammate Gerard Daly was the Section 9 champion at 99 pounds in 2012, but missed last season with an injury.  He’s back and will surely be a factor at 113 or 120.

Warwick Valley junior Thomas Wightman dropped an overtime decision to All-State wrestler Matt Caputo in the opening round in Albany last year. The Section 9 champion won 28 bouts in 2012-13.  Look for him to make waves at 145.

James Bethel of Saugerties won 38 matches last year and really boosted his stock with a great offseason, including an undefeated showing at the Cadet Freestyle National Duals and an All-American performance at Fargo in Greco Roman (third at 220).

[2013 Eastern States champion at 99 pounds, Chris Cuccolo of Pine Bush, is now attending school in New Jersey.]

Team Race

Monroe Woodbury and Minisink Valley are the two teams everyone is looking at, but Section 9 will have a bit more depth this year than in the past few seasons.  Monroe Woodbury finished 2012-2013 ranked eighth in the New York State Sportswriters Association poll and they return a state placer (Vespa), two qualifiers (Barczak and PJ Smoot), and three other 20+ win wrestlers.  Meanwhile, Minisink Valley ended last season ranked 17th in New York and the squad returns Raccioppi, Truglio, and multiple other 20+ win wrestlers.

Warwick Valley will once again be in contention with an extremely strong middle of the line up featuring Wightman, Ryan Ferro, and AJ Aeberli.  Cornwall, with NYS Wrestling Hall of Fame coach Don Blaine, should never be overlooked and will have a few wrestlers with a legitimate shot at going to Albany.  Speaking of Hall of Fame coaches, Jeff Cuilty and Wallkill will surprise a lot of teams this year as a program on the rise.  We can also anticipate significant improvement out of Port Jervis, Middletown, Saugerties and NFA as the squads feature several wrestlers who have put in a lot of offseason work.

Division II

Ingraham, courtesy Skip Dickstein/Times Union

Highland’s Austin Ingraham earned sixth place at 113 pounds last year in Albany after coming one win from placing as a sophomore.  The senior will look to end his career in style, possibly at 113 but more likely at 120.

Who Are Some Other Wrestlers to Watch?

Matt Rauch (Red Hook) – The senior was undefeated going into the state tournament last year and had a solid performance in the state capital, finishing one win from placing at 126 pounds.

Sean Cramsie and Troy Grant (New Paltz) Like Rauch, both Cramsie and Grant represented Section 9 in Albany last year.  Both won a match at the Times Union Center, Cramsie at 132 and Grant at heavyweight.  Can they notch a few more victories this time around, likely at 138 and 285, respectively?

Dustin Mackenzie (Onteora) One of the most improved wrestlers in small school Section 9, the senior was a state qualifier last year at 195 pounds.  Look for him to build upon the 33 wins he compiled as a junior.

Edon Lulanaj (Eldred/Fallsburg) – The 2013 Section 9 finalist lost 1-0 to the previously mentioned Grant.  The senior is new to the sport, however, and has a lot of upside for his final high school campaign after going 20-3 last season.

Team Race

Onteora, Red Hook and Highland will be the teams everyone is gunning for this year in Division II.  All three squads are traditionally among the best in the Section and each also has five returning Section 9 medalists returning this year.  Ellenville could be the surprise team of the year, as the Blue Devils also bring back five Sectional placers, including finalists Nick Disessa-Leon and Javier Cortes.

[Aidan Mathews of Marlboro, a qualifier last year at 170, has moved to Wyoming Seminary].

Division I

Returning State Placers from 2013

Vinny Vespa (Monroe Woodbury) – fifth at 99

Dylan Booth (Port Jervis) – fifth at 113

Johnny Stramiello (Pine Bush) – sixth at 113

Dan DeCarlo (Port Jervis) – fifth at 152

Returning Qualifiers from 2013

Evan Barczak (Monroe Woodbury) 106

PJ Smoot (Monroe Woodbury) 120

Mike Raccioppi (Minisink Valley) 126

Chris Truglio (Minisink Valley) 132

Thomas Wightman (Warwick Valley) 138

Kyle McGuire (Newburgh) 170

Division II

Returning State Placer from 2013

Austin Ingraham (Highland) – sixth at 113

Returning Qualifiers from 2013

Taylor Benson (Red Hook) 99

Mike Felicano (Highland) 106

Matt Rauch (Red Hook) 126

Sean Cramsie (New Paltz) 132

Dustin Mackenzie (Onteora) 195

Troy Grant (New Paltz) 285

For more on Section 9 wrestling, see here.

 

For other Section previews see (more to come):

Section 3

Section 10

Section 9 Preview: Stramiello and Martinez Look to Make All-State Again, While Fans Await the Return of Vinny Vespa

 

By Mike Carey, sectionixwrestling.com

 

Division I

Returning State Placewinner:

Sixth Place: Johnny Stramiello, Pine Bush, 106 Pounds

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Gerard Daly, Minisink Valley

99 Pounds: Vinny Vespa, Monroe Woodbury

106 Pounds: Michael Raccioppi, Minisink Valley

160 Pounds: Dan DeCarlo, Port Jervis

195 Pounds: Deon Edmond, Kingston

220 Pounds: Connor Leavell, Warwick

Wrestlers to Watch . . .

Johnny Stramiello, Photo by Boris V

Johnny Stramiello, Pine Bush – The three-time defending Section 9 champion placed sixth at the state tournament last season.  His offseason work at Apex Wrestling plus his appearance at tough events such as the Journeymen Classic will greatly improve his chances of ascending up the podium.

Michael Raccioppi, Minisink Valley – Raccioppi is as tough as they come.  Last season, he finished 39-7, was a state qualifier and took seventh at the Eastern States Classic.  His “offseason” has included a fourth place finish at the MAWA Eastern Nationals, a 10-day J. Robinson Intensive Camp and an appearance at the Journeymen Classic.

Dan DeCarlo, Port Jervis – DeCarlo is as strong and athletic as any wrestler in the state but he typically only wrestles four months of the year.  His skill and technique are improving each season, so don’t be surprised if you see him on the podium in Albany.

Gerard Daly, Minisink Valley – As a first year varsity wrestler, Daly recorded impressive wins over state qualifiers Steven Sewkumar of Long Beach (Section 8), Kevin Parker of Shenendehowa (Section 2) and Josh Antoine of the PSAL.  He also earned sixth at the Eastern States Classic.  Daly went 1-2 at the state tournament and was eliminated when he dropped a closely contested 8-5 bout to fourth place medalist Joe Calderone of Walt Whitman (Section 11).

Deon Edmond, Kingston – Edmond is talented, hard working and well coached.  He was one win from making All-State last year when he went 2-2, including an impressive victory over Mike Spinelli from Mahopac in Albany.  Edmond has set his goals very high for his senior campaign.

Also Keep an Eye On . . . 

AJ Voelker, Monroe Woodbury – Talented and self-motivated; he can “taste” it

Travis Edwards, Port Jervis – Wrestled hard all summer; very athletic

Terrence Cheeks, Newburgh Free Academy – Has the ability; defeated Ethan Stanley (New York State fourth placer) in 2012

Brett Johnson, Cornwall – May surprise some opponents; on the cusp of the next level

Donald Brown, Middletown – Explosive wrestler with lots of “upside”

Bryan Mongiello, Washingtonville – 2012 Section 9 finalist looking for his first trip to Albany

Dylan Booth, Port Jervis – Will his 10-day stint at the J. Robinson camp put him over the top?

Team Vinny V

In the hearts and minds of the entire Section 9 wrestling community, the most anticipated moment of the upcoming season will be when Monroe Woodbury sophomore Vinny Vespa steps on the mat for the first time.  Vespa, a New York state qualifier last season, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma this past spring and has been undergoing treatments for several months. Those who know Vinny can attest to the following statement — it’s a matter of “when”, not “if” he returns to the mat in a Monroe Woodbury singlet.

Team Race

Although they graduated five state qualifiers, two-time defending tournament champions Warwick Valley cannot be discounted. However, on paper, Monroe Woodbury and Minisink Valley seem to be the favorites going into the 2012-2013 season.

All three teams finished last season ranked in the top 20 in New York State.  Monroe Woodbury, the 18th ranked team a year ago, returns nearly its entire lineup.  Expect the Crusaders to be led by AJ Voelker, Vinny Vespa, PJ Smoot, Rob Kelly, JP Vandercliff and Drake Barczak.

Minisink Valley also returns the majority of last year’s team which finished the season as the 20th ranked team in the state.  The Warriors are expecting big things from qualifiers Gerard Daly and Michael Raccioppi as well as returning starters Chris Truglio, Nick Truglio, Nick Wentland and Josh Bonneau.

Although hit hard by graduation, last year’s 19th ranked team, Warwick Valley, is expecting another solid year.  The Wildcats will be led by returning state qualifier Connor Leavell as well as Joe Ginley, Thomas Wightman and Andy Sliter.

Several other teams have the potential to be in the hunt for the team title in Section 9.  Cornwall, led by New York State Wrestling Hall of Fame coach Don Blaine, is always tough.  This year’s squad will be no different and has several wrestlers who can make a splash at the sectional tournament including Brett Johnson, Sean Sweeney, Luke Zsido and Quinn Zsido.  NFA is always a solid team, however this year’s squad will have to contend with the loss of Hall of Fame coach Jeff Cuilty, who stepped down from his position in August. Port Jervis, Middletown, Valley Central and Washingtonville are ever-improving and may surprise some teams.

 

Division II

Returning State Placewinner:

Sixth Place: Andy Martinez, Liberty, 182 Pounds

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Dean Stanton, Tuxedo

106 Pounds: Austin Ingraham, Highland

113 Pounds: Declan Dwyer-McNulty, Red Hook

120 Pounds: Eric Januszkiewicz, New Paltz

160 Pounds: Austin Weigel, Onteora

170 Pounds: Mike Rauch, Red Hook

195 Pounds: Dustin Mackenzie, Onteora

285 Pounds: Anthony Tufano, New Paltz

Wrestlers to Watch . . .

Andy Martinez (12) Liberty – Martinez is determined to prove that last season’s sixth place finish in Albany was no fluke.  The gritty and talented senior went 2-3 at the Times Union Center including a 7-5 victory over eventual fourth place finisher Tyler Morris of Section 2’s Salem.

Austin Weigel (12) Onteora – The senior was 2-2 at the state tournament last year.  His hard fought 3-1 loss to eventual third place finisher Hayden Wagner of South Seneca prevented Weigel from making it to the medal stand.  A busy offseason schedule including frequent trips up the Thruway to Journeymen Wrestling Club have continued his progress.  At the Super 32 qualifier in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, Weigel took second at 170 pounds, outscoring his opponents 14-3 to make the finals where he dropped a two-point decision to nationally ranked Garrett Peppelman.  He followed that up by winning his bracket at the Journeymen Classic. The podium is looking like a solid possibility this year.

Austin Ingraham (11) Highland – Prior to the beginning of last season, Ingraham made a commitment to improve his skills and become a competitive wrestler at the state level.  His work paid off.  The Highland junior had a great regular season and was one victory away from placing in Albany.  This year, he has his sights set on the podium.

Eric Januszkiewicz (12) New Paltz – Januskiewicz almost pulled off a huge upset in the first round of last year’s state tournament when he narrowly lost 4-3 to finalist Jeff O’Lena of East Rochester.  The New Paltz senior plans to take home his fourth Section 9 title this year and then cap off his high school career with a trip to the medal stand.

Also Keep an Eye On . . . Jesse Corcoran (12) Eldred – Placed at Eastern States, season ended early due to injury

Team Race

Expect a three-way race in Section 9 D2 between Onteora, Red Hook and Rondout Valley.  Onteora and Red Hook both return two state qualifiers from last year’s squads and neither team was decimated by graduation.  Rondout Valley graduated three Section 9 champs, however coach Dave Hodes always seems to have a competitive team take the mat.  New Paltz returns two state qualifiers and may sneak up on some teams.

 

More Season Previews:

Section 1 Preview

Section 1 Feature:  Aslanian and Realbuto, All-State Wrestlers and Workout Partners, Seek to End Their Careers on Top of the Podium

Section 3 Preview

 

Take a Look at More Videos from this Weekend's Journeymen Classic, Featuring Several NY State Placewinners

Here are a few more videos from the Journeymen Classic this weekend, featuring several more New York state placewinners.  For the remainder of the videos and results, see link

 

TJ Fabian (NYS 4th) vs. Sean Peacock (NYS Champion)

 

Nick Piccininni (NYS Champion) vs. Nick Casella (NYS Runner Up)

 

Justin Cooksey (NYS Runner Up) vs. Christian Vallis (New England Prep Champ)

 

Vitali Arujau (VHW) vs. Josh Logiudice (Journeymen)

 

Johnny Stramiello (NYS Placer) vs. Blake Retell (Journeymen)

 

Chris Koo (NHSCA All-American) vs. Logan Dean (Virginia State Placer)