U-E Duals Recap: Wantagh Rallies to Capture the Title . . . Plus Other Dominant and Inspiring Performances

Wantagh entered the Union-Endicott Duals as the top team in the Empire State, and after two intense days of wrestling, the Warriors left with that number one ranking intact.

But it wasn’t easy.

After two blowout victories on Day 1 of the event, Sunday brought semifinal and final matches that came down to the wire.  Wantagh prevailed in both, rallying to defeat the number two seed, Sachem East, 35-27 for the championship.

“I’m really happy for our coaches, the guys and the fans,” said 220-pounder TJ Ragusa who has spent much of the season at 220 but wrestled at 285 at times this weekend. “A lot of times these duals are won by the guys who don’t get pinned; who don’t give up bonus. It was a total group effort.”

The finals began at 120 pounds and Sachem East controlled things early, winning six of the first eight bouts and earning a 24-10 lead after Zac Nobre’s decision at 170.

Despite trailing by a sizable margin, members of the team said they believed they would turn things around.

“Our confidence never wavered,” Ragusa said. “We never lost it. I was having a conversation with Danny McDevitt during the dual when we were losing and we were saying that we knew we’d keep fighting and win. One of the keys for our team is that we’re always confident.”

That appeared to be the case, as Wantagh took over from there, capturing six of the remaining seven matches, beginning with a pin from McDevitt at 182.

Afterwards, Wantagh received wins from James Corbett (195), Ragusa (285) and Jonathan Loew (99) to trail by just a point – 27-26.

The Section 8 power then regained the lead in emphatic fashion when 106-pounder Kyle Quinn earned a first period fall to push his squad ahead 32-27. Joe Hill then closed out the championship with a decision at 113.

“Before the match I was thinking I had to get a pin for the team,” Quinn said. “It means a lot for us to win – it gives us something to go home with. I think Wantagh just did a great job as a team.”

The excitement wasn’t limited to the finals.  The third place dual between Islip and Shenendehowa as well as both semifinals (Shenendehowa vs. Sachem East and Wantagh vs. Islip) all were decided in the very last bout.

In the battle for the bronze, the Plainsmen got out to a fast start and following a major decision for 195-pounder Levi Ashley, the Section 2 school was in front 31-15 with five matches to go.  However, Islip took the next four (including two by Shenendehowa forfeit and a huge pin at 106 pounds by Johnny DiPalma) to win 36-34.

Close matches were on tap in the semifinals as well, which started at 106 pounds. Going into the last match at 99, both duals had two point differentials – Sachem East led Shenendehowa 32-30 and Islip was ahead of Wantagh 27-25.

The wrestlers from Sachem East (Bobby Fazio) and Wantagh (Jonathan Loew) both trailed early in their respective matches.

Fazio was behind 4-1 in the second period before notching an escape and a takedown late in the stanza to tie things up going into the third. And he took over from there, earning a technical violation point, an escape, a takedown, near fall and eventually, the pin, to push his team to a 38-30 triumph.

Wantagh’s Loew faced a 2-0 deficit heading into the third but got on the board with a takedown early in that final stanza and rode his opponent out for the last minute and a half to force overtime.  In that extra session, Loew immediately went on the attack, getting the winning takedown and a 28-27 Warrior win.

In other placement matches, Clarence topped Monroe Woodbury for fifth, 34-28, and MacArthur beat Spencerport, 33-29, for seventh.

For full results from all 15 teams see:  Full results here.

A Few Additional (Random) Notes:

Dominance from the Binghamton Trio:  There was some talk at the event about who the most impressive wrestler was for the weekend.  While there was no absolute agreement, two names came up numerous times – Nick Kelley of Shenendehowa and Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks. Both cruised through the competition.

Their future Binghamton teammate, David Almaviva of the Plainsmen, also was outstanding, including controlling a 2-0 bout with the tough Jackson Mordente of Sachem East in the semifinals.

Long Island Looking Good: Suffolk squad Rocky Point, currently ranked #2 in the state Dual Meet poll, wasn’t at U-E this weekend, but Long Island did just fine, taking the top three spots at the event. In addition, MacArthur was seventh despite missing some key contributors such as Justin Cooksey.

Look Out for Clarence:  The Section 6 team didn’t come in as one of the tournament’s most talked about groups, but was very impressive in racking up a 4-1 record on the way to fifth place.  The Red Devils defeated the teams listed #4 and #5 in the first New York State Sportswriters Dual Meet rankings, North Rockland and Monroe Woodbury, by eight and six points, respectively.  (The one loss was to Sachem East).  The lineup’s bookends, heavyweight Nate Ward and 99-pounder Dylan Arena were among those who looked good over the weekend and the team is solid throughout.

And One Last Thing. . . : It’s always a pleasure to see such high level wrestling, but one of the standout performances came from Monroe Woodbury’s Vinny Vespa. Many New York wrestling fans know about Vespa’s fight with cancer this spring and summer. From the start, he and his family were confident that he would not only beat cancer, but also get back on the mat and win. Watching him do that in person was inspiring.

Weekend Recap: From Cornell and Army in Vegas to the Nittany Lion to High School Action, Including the Andersen and the Return of Vespa and Paddock

For the second consecutive year, Kyle Dake was atop the podium at the prestigious Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas.  The three-time NCAA champion eased his way through the tournament, pinning his first two opponents and then outscoring his foes 32-4 in his remaining three matches.

Kyle Dake, Photo by BV

Dake wasn’t the only finalist for the Big Red, which took third as a team behind Ohio State and Missouri with six total placers.  Also making the finals was freshman Nahshon Garrett, who continued his strong start in a Big Red singlet with a runner up finish to #4 Alan Waters of the Tigers.  The two will meet again in a few weeks in New York City at the “Grapple at the Garden” event.

All-American Mike Nevinger made the medal stand for the second year in a row in Vegas, as he took fourth at 141.  Chris Villalonga and Stryker Lane were both unseeded coming into the event, but both earned sixth place spots (at 149 and 285, respectively), while Jace Bennett took seventh at 197.

Joining the Cornell grapplers on the podium were a pair of Army wrestlers.  Nationally-ranked Daniel Young took eighth at 149 while Paul Hancock was seventh at 165.  The Black Knights stood 24th in the team standings.

Former Suffolk county standout Steven Keith of Harvard was fifth at 141 while Johnson City’s Pete Capone notched fourth at heavyweight for Ohio State.  For full brackets, see here

Cornell, Buffalo Each With Three Placers at the Nittany Lion Open

Photo by BV

The Cliff Keen Invitational wasn’t the only significant college tournament this weekend.  On the East Coast, Penn State hosted the Nittany Lion Open, an event with some brackets of more than 60 entrants.  A number of wrestlers representing Empire State teams impressed, with Mark Lewandowski of Buffalo taking second at 165 pounds behind last year’s NCAA champion, David Taylor.  Lewandowski’s teammates Max Soria (seventh at 125) and Wally Maziarz (eighth at 157) also placed.

For Cornell, Billy George and Joe Stanzione were both fourth, at 197 and 141, respectively while Ryan Dunphy took seventh at 149.

For the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club, Brian Realbuto continued his stellar year on the mat, making the semifinals before being disqualified. Mark Grey took sixth at 133, winning four straight after a second round loss in sudden victory to eventual runner up Jimmy Gulibon.  In the fifth place contest, Nassau’s Anthony Abidin, headed to Nebraska next year, defeated Grey, 9-3.

Former Duanesburg star Nick Gwiazdowski continued his successful redshirt campaign, taking first at heavyweight with a convincing major decision over Penn State’s Jimmy Lawson in the title bout.

For full results from the Nittany Lion Open, see here.

High School Weekend Watch – Andersen Tournament

In the high school ranks, there were a number of quality events throughout the state.  One was up North in Section 3, as the Bill Andersen Tournament was host to squads from Sections 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10.  When the brackets were released, fans were intrigued by the possibility of returning state champion Zack Zupan of Canastota meeting Christian Dietrich, an All-State wrestler from Greene who missed all of last season with injury.  The match came to fruition in the 182-pound finals, but there wasn’t much drama. Zupan notched a number of takedowns in a 13-5 victory.

Brandon Lapi, Photo by BV

Two-time state champion Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks looked strong at his new weight, capturing the title at 113 pounds with two pins, followed by major decision in the finals.  Other New York state tournament veterans such as multi-time placer Brandon Lapi of Amsterdam and four-time qualifier Isaiah Perry of Massena earned gold at 132 and 138, respectively.

Section 4 power Greene showed that it will be very tough in the middle to upperweights with finalists in four straight weights, starting at 152. All-State wrestler Dan Dickman began the run with the title at 152, edging Tommy Quinlan of Fayetteville-Manlius in a 6-5 decision.  Mike Beckwith (160) didn’t have any close matches as he earned two pins and didn’t give up any points in his other contests while Joel Roselle (170) also had a pair of falls (and a technical fall) in addition to a 1-0 title bout victory over Daniel Smith of South Jefferson.

Smith and South Jefferson finished atop the team standings, led by a host of top three placers, including champions Jared Carroll (99) and Caleb Beach (106).  In addition, Jon Crast was second at 132 while Antonio Diaz was the runner up at 220.  In bronze position were Ryan Charlebois (195) and Trevor Cowles (160).

For full results see here.

Returns for Vespa and Paddock

Seeing the names Vinny Vespa and Aaron Paddock in the box scores from events this weekend was a welcome site.  Aaron Paddock recorded a fall at 170 in Warsaw’s meet with Campbell-Savona.

Meanwhile Vespa wrestled at 99 pounds for Monroe Woodbury, taking MOW honors at the Carlucci Duals at SUNY Purchase.  Monroe Woodbury won the title at the event with a finals victory over Section 1 power Fox Lane.  For a detailed account of that event, see here.

Battle at the Beach

In the weekend preview, we spoke about the Battle at the Beach taking place despite severe damage to host Long Beach High School.  (The event was moved to Lynbrook High).

Dan McDevitt, Photo by BV

Wantagh won the event convincingly, with an improved Hewlett squad taking second and Syosset grabbing third.  NHSCA Nationals All-American Kyle Quinn of the Warriors earned Most Outstanding Wrestler honors after defeating Long Beach’s Steven Sewkumar in an exciting 113-pound final.  Also capturing titles for the Warriors were Jonathan Loew at 99 pounds, Chris Araoz at 132, Vinny Turano at 138, Nick Vines at 145, returning All-Stater Dan McDevitt at 170 and James Corbett at 182.  Turano and McDevitt beat teammates in the finals –  Matthew Langan and Richard Grillo, respectively.

Several other wrestlers stood out.  Vito Arujau made a successful debut for Syosset at 106, dominating his way to the title.   According to NYWN contributor Irwin Loew, 160-pound winner Tim Davidson of Kellenberg had a stellar day on his way to the top of the podium.  Other champions were: Mike Petrone of South Side (120), Simon Greebel (Hewlett, 126), Konstantin Parfiyev (James Madison, 152), Dan Choi (Syosset, 195), Matt Mott (Lynbrook, 220) and Lester Enriquez (Hewlett, 285).  For more results from this event, see below.

Team Scores

1. Wantagh 357.5

2. Hewlett 210.5

3. Syosset 200

4. Clarke 150.5

5. Long Beach 133.5

Championship Finals

99 – Jonathan Loew (Wan) TF Alex Vargas (Syo) TF 18-2 3:46
106 – Vito Arujau (Syo) pinned Jack Nicholas (Syo) F 1:06
113 – Kyle Quinn (Wan) dec. Steven Sewkumar (LB) 6-4
120 – Michael Petrone (SS) md. Tyler Constantine (Clk) 12-1
126 – Simon Greebel (Hew) dec. Joe Hoffman (Clk) 4-1
132 – Chris Araoz (Wan) TF Charlie Curcio (Lyn) 16-0
138 – Vinny Turano (Wan) dec. Matt Langan (Wan) 7-3
145 – Nick Vines (Wan) dec. Rob Rosenberg (Hew) 3-2
152 – Konstantin Parfiryeva (Mad) def. Michael Tropiano (EM) by dflt
160 – Tim Davison (KM) pinned Joe Truono (Clk) F 0:48
170 – Dan McDevitt (Wan) TF Rich Grillo (Wan) 16-0
182 – James Corbett (Wan) TF Cedrick Stephens (Win) 15-0
195 – Dan Choi (Syo) pinned Zamarr Allen (LB) F 3:19
220 – Matt Mott (Lyn) pinned Enndy Nunez (Clk) F 0:35
285 – Lester Enriquez (Hew) dec. Mark Ifraimov (Mad) 7-0

Most Outstanding Wrestler: Kyle Quinn (Wantagh, 113)

Most Falls, Least Time: Matt Mott (Lynbrook, 220) – 4 in 7:19


For details on more of the high school action this weekend, see here.

To report results, please e-mail newyorkwrestlingnews@gmail.com