TJ Fabian, Louis Hernandez, Carlos Toribio and Mike Hughes were all state champions in 2013. But way before standing on the top of the podium in Albany, they took gold in dominant fashion at the Long Island Wrestling Association (LIWA) Ken Lesser Memorial Summer Heat event in July of 2012. They weren’t the only champions from last year’s “Summer Heat” to make All-State in 2013, however, as wrestlers such as Jesse Dellavecchia, Brendan Dent, Sam Melikian, Dan McDevitt, Chris Chambers and Kevin Tynes did as well.
Over 400 wrestlers took the mat on Saturday on the campus of Hofstra University in this year’s edition of the tournament. We’ll have to wait until February to see if this summer’s titlewinners will make their marks in the state capital once again, but there certainly were several impressive performances, including championship showings by multiple returning New York State placers.
2012 medalist Joe Calderone was one of them. The Walt Whitman standout took first in the 116 pound class, defeating Kareem Askew of Scorpion, 5-1 for first. At the next weight, (123 pounds), New Rochelle’s two-time placer Nick Barbaria (Ascend) also won it all, edging Kyle Scully of Newfield, 3-2 in the finals.
In addition, Mike D’Angelo of Commack, who was fifth at 120 pounds in Albany in the winter, topped his fellow Ascend Wrestling Club competitor Travis Alexander for the 135 pound crown. D’Angelo had a dominant day that included two pins and a 28-1 point advantage over his opponents in his other three bouts.
Like D’Angelo, Nick Weber of VHW (Vougar’s Honors Wrestling), was fifth at the Times Union Center in February. The Kings Park grappler continued his very busy “offseason” with the title at 198 pounds, beating state qualifier Nathanael Rose in the semis 5-4 before finishing his run with a 7-4 triumph over Jake Horton of Pat-Med.
Who else earned top billing in Hempstead? After placing at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach in the spring, Vincent Feola of Walt Whitman collected a crown at 223 pounds over Bryan Tenny of Farmingdale, a 2013 state qualifier.
Another wrestler who appeared in Albany, Malik Grant of Warriors Wrestling, captured the 109-pound class with two pins and a 12-1 major in the title tilt. Kyle Mock of Huntington was similarly in control throughout the day on his path to the 102-pound crown, notching a pair of pins and two five-point decisions.
James Szymanski of 631 Elite went 5-0 at 129, besting Evan Corso 10-8 for the gold. Ascend’s Jake Einbinder won it all at 155, while Ken Gallagher provided another title for VHW at 173. Also taking first prize were: Mohammed Farhan of Scorpion at 141, Eduardo Ramirez of Amityville at 148, Greg Cherry of Connetquot at 163, David Hamil of Mission WC at 185 and Marcus Rivera of East Islip at 288.
While the event has historically been run on seven mats, that number simply wasn’t enough over the weekend. According to Steve Meehan, the Hofstra wrestlers and coaches brought an additional mat down from the second floor wrestling room. Meehan said that otherwise, the event would have run an hour and a half longer due to the number of entrants.
What fueled the higher enrollment? The Open Division.
“Normally we get between 35 and 45 Open wrestlers,” Meehan said. “[On Saturday] we had 103 Open wrestlers. I am not sure what to attribute this more than double turnout to. A few reasons that certainly helped are that we had wrestlers from the NCWA teams at Stony Brook and Suffolk County Community College, a good group of wrestlers from Uniondale led by Aljamain Sterling, and a group that came from Blackstone Wrestling Club in Rhode Island. There aren’t that many tournaments that have an Open division anymore and this gives wrestlers a much needed venue to compete.”
Many familiar names took advantage of that venue, including 2013 New York state placers such as TJ Fabian, Dan McDevitt, Brett Pastore and Andrew Psomas. [The final results in the Open Division are listed at the end of the article].
Besides providing an opportunity for wrestlers to see solid competition during the summer, the event has additional purposes, according to Meehan.
“One thing that we hope gets across, which we mentioned to the wrestlers before the start of the event, relates to the reason behind the name of our event,” Meehan said. “The name of our event was changed in 2010 to the Long Island Wrestling Association Ken Lesser “Summer Heat” to memorialize a great friend and volunteer from our organization, Mr. Ken Lesser. Ken was tragically killed by a drunk driver while on his way to pick up his daughter from the local library. Our message to the wrestlers is to learn from this experience and never drink and drive. We hope this message resonates with them.”
In addition to that message, the profits from the tournament provide more grapplers with the chance to improve in the sport.
“The Long Island Wrestling Association (LIWA) uses their funds to send need-based wrestlers to wrestling camps in the summer,” Meehan said. “We send between 30-50 kids to camp each year.”
So on Saturday, more than 400 wrestlers from multiple states and age groups took the mat at Hofstra to hone their skills and help some good causes.
“We ended up starting late due to the turnout and adjustments will be made to prevent this from reoccurring next year,” Meehan said. “After wrestling began, though, things ran pretty smoothly and I think the event gave the wrestlers a great event with really good competition.”
For full results, see http://www.trackwrestling.com and search for Ken Lesser Summer Heat.
Meehan wished to thank a number of people:
“There are so many people that the LIWA has to thank for making our event successful again this year. I am sure I will leave some people out, but here is at least a partial list. We want to thank Hofstra University; the Hofstra University wrestling coaching staff and wrestlers (many of the team’s wrestlers manned the scoring tables for the entire day); the members of the LIWA that handled the registration table and weigh-ins; Ed and Marcia Gould, who handled the computer input and ran the brackets; Tony Cipriano, who is the voice of the tournament and manned the microphone the entire day; the Hofstra wrestling trainer Andy Wetstein; and the amazing high school officials from both Sections 8 and 11 that did a terrific job throwing up the points all day.”
HIGH SCHOOL FINAL RESULTS:
102 Kyle Mock (Huntington) won by decision over Jacori Teemer (Long Beach) (Dec 5-0)
109 Malik Grant (Warriors Wrestling) won by major decision over Tony Novotny (CWC) (Maj 12-1)
116 Joe Calderone (Walt Whitman) won by decision over Kareem Askew (Scorpian) (Dec 5-1)
123 Nicholas Barbaria (Ascend) won by decision over Kyle Scully (Newfield HS) (Dec 3-2)
129 James Szymanski (631 Elite) won by decision over Evan Corso (631 Elite) (Dec 10-8)
135 Mike D`Angelo (Ascend) won by major decision over Travis Alexander (Ascend) (Maj 9-0)
141 Mohammed Farhan (Scorpian) won by decision over Thomas McLaughlin (MartinLuther Cougers) (Dec 7-3)
148 Eduardo Ramirez (Amityville) won by decision over Jimmy Leach (631 Elite) (Dec 1-0)
155 Jake Einbinder (Ascend) won by decision over Peter Pasqualino (Pat-Med Raiders) (Dec 8-1)
163 Greg Cherry (Connetquot) won by decision over John Vouzonis (Williston Pk) (Dec 9-3)
173 Ken Gallagher (VHW) won by forfeit over Joseph Russo (Rocky Point) (FF)
185 David Hamil (Mission WC) won by decision over Dominic Pirraglia (Shoreham-WR) (Dec 8-7)
198 Nick Weber (VHW) won by decision over Jake Horton (Pat-Med Raiders) (Dec 7-4)
223 Vincent Feola (Walt Whitman) won by decision over Bryan Tenny (Farmingdale) (Dec 7-3)
288 Marcus Rivera (East Islip) won by decision over Joe Sallitto (Huntington) (Dec 6-5)
OPEN FINAL RESULTS
OPEN – 108-119 Jamie Dunn (Mepham) won by tech fall over Andy Martinez (Brooklyn Wrestling Club) (TF 15-0)
OPEN – 126-143 Tyler Walsh (West Islip) won by decision over Kevin Powers (Team Gatto) (Dec 8-2)
OPEN – 132-145 Quamaine Thomas (The Alphas) won by decision over Kenny Albert (Hunter Hawks) (Dec 4-2)
OPEN – 145-148 Marvin Amazon (The Alphas) won by decision over Tj Fabian (Xcel) (Dec 8-2)
OPEN – 149-159 Aljamain Sterling (The Alphas) won by major decision over Chris Araoz (Ascend) (Maj 15-1)
OPEN – 154-162 Jordan Dyer (Brockport) won by decision over Joshua Ferenezy (Warriors Wrestling) (Dec 3-2)
OPEN – 162-169 Andrew Gray (West Islip) won by forfeit over Steven Rispoli (Brockport) (FF)
OPEN – 168-170 Gonzalo Farina (Long Beach) won by decision over Brian Quiroz (Valley Stream Central) (Dec 6-2)
OPEN – 171-175 Blake Fisher (Ballz Wrestling Clug) won by forfeit over Ryan Rheaume (Riverhead) (FF)
OPEN – 174-184 Jack McKeever (Cactus) won by decision over Andrew Psomas (Monsignor Farrell) (Dec 6-0)
OPEN – 186-198 Rrok Ndokaj (BTS) won by decision over Dan McDevitt (Ascend) (Dec 2-1)
OPEN – 198-213 Andrew Cole (Uniondale) won by decision over Zacary Kousa (Olympic) (Dec 5-4)
OPEN – 206-220 Christian Psomas (Staten Island) won by pin over Greg Martin (Kings Park) (Pin 0:30)
OPEN – 229-245 Brian Slattery (Unattached) won by forfeit over Chris Cardella (Walt Whitman) (FF)