Super 32 Update: State Champs Diakomihalis and Hernandez Among the NY Wrestlers Still in Contention in Greensboro

Hernandez, Photo by BV

After a full day of competition in Greensboro, NC, New York has a number of wrestlers alive in the chase for the Super 32 championship belt.  That includes a pair of 2013 state titlewinners – Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton, 106) and Louis Hernandez (Mepham, 152).

Diakomihalis, who won a Middle School crown at this event last year, was dominant with two pins and a technical fall during the day.  Hernandez cruised as well, with seven and nine point wins in his first two bouts before receiving a forfeit in the Round of 16.

After winning a challenging bracket at the Iron Horse a few weeks ago, Rocky Point’s Tom Dutton followed up with four straight victories at 145 to punch his ticket to the quarters.  Another champion at the Iron Horse, Steve Schneider of MacArthur, posted a trio of wins, including a pin at 170. Fellow Long Island wrestler Vincent Feola of Walt Whitman notched a fall and a one-point decision at 220, while former Longwood standout (and current Wyoming Seminary grappler) Nicky Hall will also appear in the Round of 8 tomorrow, at 182 pounds.

In addition to the quarterfinalists mentioned above, several other Empire State wrestlers remain in contention for spots on the podium, including state champion Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville at 120 pounds and NYS finalists Vito Arujau of Syosset (113) and Vincent DePrez of Hilton (145).  Also still in the mix after a successful first day on the mat in North Carolina are East Islip’s Dennis Ferro at 152, Clarence’s Jake Weber and Rocky Point’s Joseph Russo at 170 and former Pine Bush competitor Chris Cuccolo at 106.

Sunday’s Scheduled Matches for NY Wrestlers – Super 32 Challenge

In the quarterfinals:

106: Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton) vs. Hunter Lucas (OH)

145: Tommy Dutton (Rocky Point) vs. Grant Leeth (MO)

152: Louis Hernandez (Mepham) vs. Jacob Danishek (IN)

170: Steve Schneider (MacArthur) vs. Chance Marstellar (PA)

182: Nicky Hall (Wyoming Seminary/Longwood) vs. Stephen Loiseau (PA)

220: Vincent Feola (Walt Whitman) vs. Antonio Pelusi (PA)

 

In the wrestlebacks:

106: Chris Cuccolo (St. Benedicts/Pine Bush) vs. Jarrett Reisenbichler (MO)

113: Vito Arujau (Syosset) vs. Patrick D’Arcy (NJ)

120: Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville) vs. Tyrone Klump (PA)

145: Vincent DePrez (Hilton) vs. Chandler Pyke (GA)

152: Dennis Ferro (East Islip) vs. Paden Bailey (OK)

170: Jake Weber (Clarence) vs. Jacob Cooper (MI)

170: Joseph Russo (Rocky Point) vs. Joe Heyob (OH)

Next Stop, Binghamton: State Finalist Steve Schneider of MacArthur Selects the Bearcats

When asked about his goals, MacArthur senior Steve Schneider didn’t hesitate.

New York State champion. High school national champion.  NCAA champion.

On that last one, he and Binghamton University head coach Matt Dernlan are certainly on the same page. And that’s one of the reasons Schneider committed to the Bearcats a few days ago.

“Coach Dernlan sat across the table from me in my dining room with my parents and said that he would make me a national champion,” Schneider said. “To hear that in his voice, especially after all he did for Penn State, it gave me great vibes.  He sees my potential and my dedication and my motivation to get things done even though on paper, I don’t have all the trophies.”

He may not have all the trophies, but he has racked up plenty of impressive wins.  As a sophomore in 2011-12, he went 41-4 at 152 pounds and went into the Section 8 championships as the top seed.  However, he was upset by Mepham’s Dan Tracy, a wrestler he had defeated earlier in the year, and took third.  He waited patiently to see whether he would get the opportunity to compete at the Times Union Center.

“I had a heartbreaking loss in the semis, but I beat everyone in my weight class during the year,” he said. “My coaches thought I would get a wildcard to states, but it didn’t happen.”

Schneider still made the trip to Albany to cheer on some of his teammates, including 2012 state finalist Justin Cooksey.

“Even going just as a fan to support Cooksey let me get some nerves out,” Schneider said. “It’s important to go to big events like that because when you’re there for the first time it can affect you on the mat.  Being there before was a big part of why I did so well this year.”

It may have played a role in Schneider’s stellar junior campaign, but so did all the offseason work.

“After I lost in the counties, I was so motivated to devastate the county and win it all the next year,” Schneider said. “I trained my butt off. I did a lot of wrestling — so many tournaments — and a lot of lifting. I got a lot bigger and stronger. I didn’t only want to win the county, I wanted to win the state tournament too.”

It was an objective that he reminded himself about constantly.

“Last year, I wrote ‘160-pound New York State champion’ in my book every day,” Schneider said.

And he did make it to the 2013 state finals bout after an impressive campaign, which featured a third place showing at the Eastern States Classic. At that event, Schneider topped several wrestlers who placed in Albany in 2013, including Nick Gallo, Mike Beckwith and Andrew Psomas.

Photo by BV

That showing at SUNY Sullivan, his first Nassau County title, as well as his performance throughout the 47-4 season earned him the second seed at the Times Union Center.  But he found himself in a battle in the opening round with Amsterdam’s James Marquez, a bout he won 3-1 in extra time. [Marquez then won five in a row to take third].

“My first match – the nerves were there,” he said. “You have to feel it to totally understand it.  I felt like I had stone feet. It was more mental than physical.  In overtime, I woke up and snapped right out of it.  After that, I felt like I opened up more each match. I thought I was getting better and better and I was ready to take another shot at Grimaldi.”

Tyler Grimaldi of Half Hollow Hills West was a returning state runner up who had handed Schneider two of his three losses during the season.  The two did indeed square off in the state title match this February, with Grimaldi (now a freshman at Harvard), grabbing a 9-3 victory.

“When you look up on that yellow mat in the finals and see all those faces – it’s just a different level of excitement,” Schneider said. “It was good to experience it already.  So next year in the state finals, I’ll be ready to take it home.”

Taking home a state championship in wresting isn’t something Schneider was thinking about when he first began in the sport in elementary school.  In fact, he said he got involved simply to “keep in shape for baseball.”

However, due largely to the efforts of youth coach Colin Curnuck, Schneider said he continued in wrestling and was hooked, especially when he began working out at Vougar’s Honors Wrestling in eighth grade.

“As soon as I walked into Vougar’s gym, he threw me in there with the big guys,” Schneider said. “I got pulled up to varsity as an eighth grader and started to really take it seriously.  I also started training with Jamel Hudson when I was a freshman and I stopped playing baseball. I chose wrestling.”

And last week, he chose Binghamton as his future home after also considering Hofstra and North Carolina.

“The coaching staff seems great – I think they are a great combination together,” Schneider said. “It feels like a good fit for me athletically and academically.  Not only am I going to Binghamton for wrestling, but I’m also going because it’s a great school and I know I’ll be able to achieve all of my academic goals while I’m there.”

Those academic goals include majoring in computer engineering.

Schneider, who said he will likely wrestle at 174 or 184 pounds for the Bearcats, mentioned that he is also excited about training with so many familiar faces.

“When I went for the unofficial visit, I felt like I knew almost everyone on the team already,” he said. “I feel like it will make me more comfortable there.  I’ve won with a couple of these guys already – Rob Person in Section 8 and Nick Kelley on the national level in Florida [Disney Duals]. There’s already a bond.  Also, Ryan Conrad was my drill partner in high school.  I think it will make the experience even better.”

As for now, he’s looking for an ‘even better’ high school season as a senior.  After the state tournament was over last season, he began writing ‘2014 New York State champion’ in his book every morning.

And whether he winds up going for the title at 170 or 182 pounds in 2013-14 (he said he isn’t sure yet), Schneider feels that he has benefited from nationally ranked competition at offseason events such as the Pop & Flo, Waterway and Disney Duals.

“The Disney Duals changes you – I came out a totally different person and wrestler,” he said. “Everybody that I lost to was top 10 in the country. The level of competition is insane.  It’s the best thing that happened to me before my senior year because I learn more from my losses than my wins.  I’ve gotten so much stronger since last year and I have so much motivation from the loss in the state finals. It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish.  My sophomore year was ok, my junior year was better and in my senior year, I’m ready to take home the gold.”

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Steve Schneider wanted to thank his youth coach, Colin Curnuck who kept him involved in wrestling.  He also wanted to thank his parents for all their support and Vougar Oroudjov for “always making sure there is someone in the room for me to train with, keeping my wrestling and academic goals on my mind and always having confidence in me.”

 

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.

Wantagh Wins U-E Duals; Full Results Available

 

 

Full results here for the Union-Endicott Duals. Recap coming tomorrow.

 

 

 

Top NY Teams to Battle at the Union-Endicott Duals – LIVE Coverage on Day 2

 

 

New York Wrestling News will provide LIVE blog and/or video coverage of Sunday’s semifinals/finals at the Union-Endicott Duals. 

The coverage page will be at this link.

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The outcome of the Union-Endicott Duals typically has a significant influence on the New York State dual rankings.  That seems very likely again this year, in the 30th edition of the event, as four of the top five in the NYS Sportswriters Dual Rankings are in the field.  In fact, 14 of the 15 squads set to compete at the event are either in the top 10 or are listed as honorable mention.

“We always get excited about it,” said Union-Endicott head coach Josh Ruff. “But this year is probably one of the best we’ve had in a while. We feel like we have the best teams and everyone is pretty tough. It should be a fun weekend of wrestling.”

Indeed, it should.

Wantagh, the returning Dual Meet State Champions in Division I, comes in as the top seed.  The Warriors are stocked with quality wrestlers throughout the lineup, including several who are ranked at the state level such as Kyle Quinn (106), Chris Araoz (126), Vinny Turano (132), James Corbett (182) and Dan McDevitt (170).

A year ago, in a contest that essentially decided the Empire State’s top dual team, Wantagh battled to a tie with Shenendehowa at the Civil War Duals and the Warriors were declared the winners on criteria.  A rematch between the two powers could happen this weekend, as the Plainsmen are the number three seed.

While Shenendehowa lost a meet earlier this year to Burnt Hills (with some starters out), the squad was back to dominant form at the Teike Bernabi tournament, with seven finalists and four champions, led by Binghamton bound seniors Nick Kelley (138) and David Almaviva (145), both ranked #1 in New York at their respective weights.

A battle between Wantagh and Shenendehowa would certainly be exciting, but there are a number of other teams traveling to Section 4 who have the ability to make the finals as well.  Among those are the #2 and 4 seeds, Sachem East and Monroe Woodbury.

Sachem East is undefeated and stands atop the current Suffolk rankings.  Undefeated 145-pounder Jackson Mordente has led the way for a lineup that is solid throughout.  The upperweight combination of Cristian Nunez (195), John Vigh (220) and Josh Edmondson (285) has gone a combined 38-4 and two more competitors, Conor O’Hara (132) and Michael Pistone (152) sit in the top two in Section 11.

Monroe Woodbury’s starting group has cruised through the competition. Vinny Vespa, Evan Barczak, JP Vandercliff and AJ Voelker have all made a big splash, including winning the Massapequa Holiday Tournament. Like the teams mentioned above, it’s difficult to find a weak spot in the Crusaders lineup.

The following is a look at each of the pools, including some individual matches of interest. To view the schedule, see here.

 

Pool A: #1 seed Wantagh, Spencerport and Chenango Forks

Spencerport is led by Jon Haas, Trent Egenlauf, Collin Pittman and Austin Coleman.  The first three are all included in the statewide rankings and 285-pounder Coleman was strongly considered. Chenango Forks features one of New York’s best, two-time state champion Kyle Kelly as well as another wrestler who will be in the mix in the postseason – Jake Green.

We expect Wantagh will come out on top of this group, and here are three of the individual matches we’re excited to see.

106 Pounds: Kyle Quinn (Wantagh) vs. Jon Haas (Spencerport) – Both are in the top eight of our first New York State rankings.  Quinn, an NHSCA All-American last year and Haas, a returning state qualifier, are both coming off tournament titles – Haas at the Teike Bernabi and Quinn at the Raider Invitational.

126 Pounds: Chris Araoz (Wantagh) vs. Jake Green (Chenango Forks) – Araoz is fresh off a Most Outstanding Wrestler performance at the Raider Invitational, while Green took third in a tough Windsor Christmas Tournament weight after capturing gold at the PSAL Holiday event.  Both are likely to be fighting for All-State honors in February.

182 Pounds: James Corbett (Wantagh) vs. Trent Egenlauf (Spencerport) – Both Egenlauf and Corbett are ranked in the top eight in New York and both have registered multiple quality victories this year.  (For example, Egenlauf topped Anthony Liberatore of Williamsville South and Corbett beat All-Stater Gio Santiago of Sachem North).  Both are candidates to go far at the Times Union Center. Isaiah Zimmer of Chenango Forks, a bronze medalist at Windsor, shouldn’t be overlooked.

 

Pool B: #2 seed Sachem East plus Clarence, North Rockland and Brockport

Sachem East has faced a challenging slate of opponents and is 12-0.  The Suffolk squad will see more strong foes at the U-E Duals including 18-0 North Rockland, a balanced team led by Matt Caputo, Blaise Benderoth and the DiMarsicosJake and Derek; a Clarence group that comes off a runner up performance at the Teike Bernabi and always-tough Brockport, which has received standout showings from Jared Mesiti and Barton Peters.

Despite the stiff competition, we think Sachem East should live up to the second seed and earn a date in the semis. Here are three matches from this pool that we look forward to seeing.

113 Pounds: Barton Peters (Brockport) vs. Derek DiMarsico (North Rockland) – Peters won his first 15 matches after an appearance at the state tournament last year while DiMarsico already has around 20 wins.

126 Pounds: Brandon Glaubner (Clarence) vs. Anthony Messina (Sachem East) – Glaubner was the champion at the Teiki Bernabi Tournament while Messina has put together a very solid 15-1 season. His only setback was a one-point loss to returning state second placer Justin Cooksey of MacArthur.  Troy Feniger of North Rockland could have some interesting matches at this class as well.

145 Pounds: Jackson Mordente is unbeaten and in the top 8 in New York. Matt Caputo has just one loss and has been putting up a lot of bonus point victories. Should be a fun one to watch. [Caputo may wrestle at 138 pounds].

 

Pool C: #3 seed Shenendehowa plus MacArthur, Minisink Valley and Union-Endicott

MacArthur has already seen a number of top notch opponents this year and has solid wrestlers up and down the lineup. Minisink Valley has received strong contributions from returning state qualifier Mike Raccioppi as well as others such as Josh Bonneau (220) and Union-Endicott had six placers at the Windsor Christmas Tournament, including finalist Andrew Brinser at 285 and third placer Xavian Hughes at 132.

Still, at the end of the day, it will be difficult for any of the teams in the pool to overcome Shenendehowa.

Here are three matchups we look forward to:

120 Pounds: Chris Cataldo (MacArthur) vs. Kevin Parker (Shenendehowa) – Cataldo, 17-1, has won his last five bouts by pin or technical fall.  The Generals wrestler lost his opening contest of the campaign at 126 pounds and has been on a winning streak since.  Meanwhile, Parker pinned his way to the finals of the Teike Bernabi Tournament, where he finished second behind Steve Michel. He is a returning state qualifier.

Cooksey, Photo by BV

126 Pounds: Justin Cooksey (MacArthur) vs. Mike Raccioppi (Minisink Valley) – The two wrestled a year ago in the state tournament at 106 pounds where second-seeded Cooksey earned a 7-3 decision.  Will the match be similar months later and up several weights?

138 Pounds: Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa) vs. Rob Bennett (MacArthur) – Kelley is always fun to watch as he keeps pushing the pace for the entire duration of the match. Bennett sat on top of the Section 8 rankings at this weight, (although he did drop a match in the dual against Sachem East), and is a quality wrestler.

 

Pool D: #4 seed Monroe Woodbury plus Islip, Johnson City and Fulton

Section 9’s Monroe Woodbury has looked like one of the top dual teams in the state this year.  Islip has also excelled, with an 11-1 mark. (The loss was to Sachem East).  Johnson City boasts one of the state’s top wrestlers in 195-pounder Reggie Williams as well as other state qualifiers like Greg Kleinsmith and Zach Colgan.  Fulton, always one of the best in Section 3, has been propelled by a number of wrestlers, such as Mitchell Woodworth (106) and Thomas Hill (120) this year.

It looks like it should be a great battle between the Crusaders and the Buccaneers for a spot in the semifinals.

Here are three of the many matches of interest:

106 Pounds: Mitchell Woodworth (Fulton) vs. Evan Barczak (Monroe Woodbury) – Both Woodworth and Barczak have made a habit out of making the finals of big tournaments. Woodworth, the top ranked wrestler at his weight in Section 3, finished second at both the Andersen and the Kenneth Haines Memorial while eighth grader Barczak recently won the Massapequa Tournament and is #1 in Section 9.  Johnson City’s Isiah Colgan may also make an impact at this weight.

170 Pounds: AJ Voelker (Monroe Woodbury) vs. Greg Kleinsmith (Johnson City) – Voelker stood on top of the podium at the Massapequa Holiday Tournament and has been a strong presence in the Monroe Woodbury lineup all season. Kleinsmith, a 2012 state qualifier as a freshman, recently returned to action at the Teike Bernabi event, where he took second place.

Williams, Photo by BV

195 Pounds: Reggie Williams (Johnson City) vs. Craig Hinrichs (Islip) – Williams is the top wrestler in New York at 195. Hinrichs has piled up wins this year, with a single loss – to the previously mentioned Nunez of Sachem East.

 

We will be providing blog and/or video coverage of the Union-Endicott Duals on Sunday. 

The coverage page will be at this link.

 

Check Out Videos of Grimaldi, Cooksey and Other Stars from the Long Island Challenge at MacArthur

On Thursday, MacArthur hosted Day 1 of the Long Island Challenge dual event, including teams from Brentwood, Clarkstown South, Half Hollow Hills West, Kellenberg and Sachem East. A recap of the results will come after the tournament is completed. However, for now, check out action including some top Long Island wrestlers such as returning state silver medalists Tyler Grimaldi and Justin Cooksey as well as two of the top 170 pounders in the state – Carlos Toribio and Joe Piccolo.

 

Tyler Grimaldi (Hills West) vs. Steven Schneider (MacArthur) – (Special thanks to Frank Grimaldi)

Carlos Toribio (Brentwood) vs. Joe Piccolo (Hills West)

Justin Cooksey (MacArthur) vs. Anthony Messina (Sachem East)

Steven Schneider (MacArthur) vs. Tim Friedman (Sachem East)

Jackson Mordente (Sachem East) vs. Sal Randazzo (MacArthur)

Chris Cataldo (MacArthur) vs. Michael Abbondanza (Sachem East)

Michael Pistone (Sachem East) vs. Michael Marrero (MacArthur)

Ryan Hughes (Islip) vs. James Golder (Kellenberg)

Chris Reilly (Hills West) vs. Kevin Rivas (Brentwood)

BJ Jackson (Brentwood) vs. Ferro (Hills West)

 

(Special thanks to Frank Grimaldi)