Fab Freshmen: Who are the Ninth Graders to Watch in New York This Season?

Recently, we talked about the top Junior High wrestler in New York, Penfield’s Frankie Gissendannerand the #1 ninth grader – Yianni Diakomihalis.  Now, it’s time to talk more about the freshmen. The following is a look at some of the ninth graders to watch in the Empire State this season.  We expect to see strong performances from them – as well as others who will emerge as the season progresses.

Photo by BV

1 Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton) – Diakomihalis has compiled quite a list of achievements before beginning high school.  Among them was the state championship he won in 2013 at 99 pounds in Albany.  In 2012, he captured the Middle School crown at the Super 32 Challenge and won his brackets at the Journeymen Classic, the NYWAY State Championship and the Ohio Tournament of Champions, among others.  His prowess on the mat is well known nationally as both Intermat and Flowrestling have him among the top five wrestlers in the United States in the Class of 2017. For more on Diakomihalis, see this link.

2 Vito Arujau (Syosset) – Arujau and Diakomihalis began this year’s state finals in Division I with a bang, with a battle at 99 pounds that went to the ultimate tiebreaker.  Arujau’s silver medal will no doubt be the first of many trips high on the podium at the Times Union Center.  The 2012 Journeymen Classic champion also took third at the Super 32 Challenge last season and has been all over the place this offseason preparing for another title run.  He went undefeated against tough competition recently at the Waterway Duals in Pennsylvania. Intermat ranks him #11 in the country among freshmen.

3 Evan Barczak (Monroe Woodbury) – A state qualifier in 2013 at 106 pounds, the Section 9 wrestler has a ton of upside after racking up a 34-7 record as an eighth grader.  He saw many of New York’s best, with four of his losses coming to the top four finishers in Division I in Albany.  At the Times Union Center, he was defeated by silver medalist Alex Tanzman and in sudden victory by bronze winner Jon Haas. One of his other setbacks was at the hands of Fulton’s Mitchell Woodworth, a result that he avenged in his opening bout at the state tournament, 6-2. Barczak also was a double finalist at the Cadet New York State championships in Freestyle (champion) and Greco (second place).

4 Lou DePrez (Hilton) – A SuperSectional champion as an eighth grader at 120, Deprez joined his brothers Vincent and Anthony as representatives of Section 5 in Albany in 2013.  DePrez won over 45 matches, including a victory at the state tournament and a win over All-State grappler Ralph Mateo of Midlakes.  He also placed at 120 at the 2012 Super 32 Challenge (Middle School).

5 Hunter Dusold (Locust Valley) – Already a two-time state qualifier at 106 pounds, Dusold sported a 2-2 mark in Albany this year, missing All-State status by one win.  In fact, he lost his medal round bout by disqualification, while his other setback was 2-0 to eventual champion Luis Weierbach.  A NHSCA All-American multiple times in the past (and sixth in 2013), Dusold will join a number of his Locust Valley teammates as returning Section 8 champions looking to make an impact at the Times Union Center in February.

All of the wrestlers above have already shown their abilities at the state tournament.

The same could be said of Tanner Lapiene of Ogdensburg Free Academy, a fourth place finisher at 99 pounds who will look to bring more hardware back to Section 10.

But, there are certainly many wrestlers who haven’t wrestled in the state capital who will make their presence felt as ninth graders in 2013-14.  Who might be prepared to make that leap?

How about Dane Heberlein of Alexander? An NHSCA National champion in 2012 (and a bronze medalist in Virginia Beach this spring), Heberlein has won numerous events around the country.  As an eighth grader, Heberlein won over 40 matches, taking fourth at SuperSectionals as an undersized 99 pounder. Or how about 2012 Super 32 runner up Peter Pappas of Nassau County?  Or any number of young guns from Section 11 such as Hauppauge’s Ben Tepperman, Rocky Point’s Anthony Cirillo and John Glenn’s Zach Ancewicz?  The latter two combined for 67 wins and 10 losses as eighth graders in the loaded lightweights in Suffolk County.  In addition, all three earned All-America status at the NHSCA Middle School Nationals in Virginia Beach this spring.

Don’t forget about Hunter Richard of Holland Patent, who went 41-7 at 113 as an eighth grader. He qualified for the state tournament and won a match in Albany, with both of his losses coming to All-State wrestlers, including eventual champion Dillon Stowell in the first round.  Richard also racked up wins for the Schoolboy Nationals squad in Indianapolis earlier in the offseason (11-2 combined in Freestyle and Greco). Or how about another Hilton wrestler, Michael Spallina, who went 43-5 as an eighth grader at 152 pounds?  He has picked up medals in several national competitions in the past, such as Super 32 (third in 2012) and NHSCAs (champion in 2010 and 2011; fifth in 2012).  Speaking of national events, Garyn Huntley of Oxford Academy collected All-America honors in Fargo this summer at 220 pounds in Greco action.  As an eighth grader, he won close to 25 matches.  Will he take the next step?

This isn’t an exhaustive list – there are many more we’ll be following.  After all, there are always freshmen that step up and make names for themselves.  Who will do so this year?  Feel free to send us an e-mail at newyorkwrestlingnews@gmail.com with nominees.


Thank you to Mike Carey for all his hard work to make this article possible.  Thanks to all of the other contributors (who know who they are), including Kris Harrington and John Passaro.

Triple Threat: Hilton's Vincent, Anthony and Lou DePrez Looking to Collect Titles in 2012-13

In 2011-12, when Hilton’s 113-pound wrestler finished his bout and the 120-pounder took the mat, you couldn’t blame opponents for doing a double take.

After all, 2012 New York state finalist Vincent DePrez and his twin brother Anthony look extremely alike.  In fact, some who know them pretty well claim that they can’t always differentiate them.

“I still can’t tell the difference,” said their father Jason DePrez, laughing.

Adam Burgos, co-owner of G2 World Wrestling Academy who has worked with the twins for years, agreed.

“For me, I either look at their wrestling shoes or their smiles,” Burgos said.  “One has a more noticeable smile than the other, but if you look quickly, it’s tough to tell.  Usually, I just say one of their names and see who looks.  It’s a challenge at times.”

Besides the way they look, the brothers have another thing in common – winning.

Vincent DePrez had one of the best seasons in the Empire State last year on his way to the silver medal at 113 pounds.  He won his first 49 matches, including victories over Division II state champion Sean Peacock of Midlakes and other All-State grapplers such as Pat Skinner, Robert Person and Cody McGregor after taking fourth at 103 pounds the previous season.

He came within one second of the state title, dropping a one-point decision as time expired against Dylan Realbuto of Somers.  What many observers didn’t know was that DePrez suffered an eye injury with less than 30 seconds remaining and was forced to spend several hours after the tournament was over in a nearby emergency room.

“I cut my eyelid and it split and I needed stitches,” Vincent DePrez said. “It really wasn’t that bad, but I had to take a couple of weeks off from wrestling to heal.  It was a little tough because I’m used to wrestling every day.”

When he was able to get back into the swing of things, he started work with Anthony, who also had a successful campaign.

Anthony came close to competing in Albany as well, losing by a point to New York state second place finisher Brady Baron in the SuperSectional title bout to cap off a 41-6 season.

“I think my season went alright,” Anthony DePrez said.  “I took second in a lot of tournaments.  I got closer and closer to Brady [Baron] during the year.  The first time, I got pinned. The second time I only lost by a few points.  The last match, I needed to turn him on top but couldn’t.  I felt like I should have been able to, but I lost 4-3.  This year, I am looking to get to make it to states and place high.”

Vincent’s goal is, not surprisingly to earn his first state title.  Both twins said they will make significant jumps in weight, with Vincent potentially wrestling at 138 and Anthony at 145.

“Being up a few classes, there will be different challenges and different competitors for them,” Burgos said. “But with hard work and determination, they can achieve their goals.  They have a built in workout partner right down the hall.  They don’t even have to call anyone or go anywhere.  They’re competitive to the point of pushing each other really hard.  One never wants to be outdone by the other.”

That’s for sure.  As would be expected with brothers, things can get a little chippy.

“We fight a lot during practice,” Vincent DePrez said. “It can get pretty bad.  But we’re all good when practice is over.”

The twins aren’t only competitive with each other.   Younger brother Lou DePrez, an eighth grader, also participates in a lot of their training, along with Yianni Diakomihalis, currently ranked the sixth-best junior high school wrestler in the nation by Intermat.

“We have Vincent and Anthony working and Louie and Yianni working.  There’s a dynamic in the room where both of the groups are trying to outdo each other,” Burgos said.  “It makes everyone better.  I think Louie might be a little bit better off than the twins at this stage because of the environment he’s able to train in.”

Lou DePrez’s looks and smile set him apart from his twin brothers.  His voice during the interview conducted for this story was different enough to be recognized. But the winning gene is still there.

In his seventh grade season on Hilton’s varsity squad, he compiled a 29-15 mark at 106 pounds.

“I just focused on trying to get better throughout the season,” Lou DePrez said. “Most of the guys were bigger than me at 106 so it was sometimes tough.  But having Yianni as a partner is great.  He pushes me hard and always raises the bar high. I’m shooting to make it to the state tournament this year and place.”

“[Lou] will turn some heads this year,” Burgos added. “He’s really starting to come into his own.  He’s very aggressive on his feet and with the way he trains, I expect really big things out of him.”

That will make a triple threat of DePrez grapplers for opposing teams to deal with this winter.  And then another year down the line, current sixth grader Sam DePrez, who has been wrestling since he was three or four years old, will join the mix.

“The family loves the sport,” Burgos said.  “I feel strongly that they will have success individually and as a family.  It’s extremely exciting as a fan of wrestling in our area to see all of these brothers that could be at the top of the podium.”

It could happen this season.  It’s possible that the DePrez name will be announced many times at the SuperSectionals and in Albany in February of 2013.

Even if most people won’t be able to tell the DePrez twins apart.


More Season Preview Articles:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 4 Preview

Section 5 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 8 Preview

Section 9 Preview

Section 10 Preview

Section 11 Preview

CHSAA Preview

PSAL Preview


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

Section 4 Feature: Looking for “Number Nine”: Reggie Williams Aims to Make History at Johnson City

Section 5 Feature: The “Miracle” Continues: The Return of Aaron Paddock

Section 9 Feature: Unstoppable: Vinny Vespa Wrestles Again After Confronting Cancer

Section 11 Feature: Nick Piccininni Looks to Continue Winning Streak