Columbia Announces Recuiting Class, Including Three NYers and Fargo Champion Scheidel

On Monday, Columbia University announced the freshman class that will begin in the classroom and on the mat in the fall of 2013.  The nine person group includes a trio of New York wrestlers – state champion Matt Leshinger of Sayville, 2012 NHSCA National champion Chris Araoz of Wantagh and 2013 New York state placer Andrew Psomas of Monsignor Farrell.  Markus Scheidel of Ohio, who captured a prestigious Junior Freestyle crown over the weekend in Fargo, also is part of the class.

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Courtesy of Columbia University Athletics

NEW YORK – Andrew F. Barth Head Coach of Wrestling, Carl Fronhofer, has announced the addition of nine incoming first-years for the 2013-14 season. The incoming class features a pair of grapplers that have won national championships, as well as a plethora of state placewinners over multiple years.

“We are very excited about this class of young men,” said Fronhofer. “They are a talented group of wrestlers with the ability to win at this level. The entire staff is looking forward to the fall when we can start working with them.”

Chris Araoz – Wantagh HS – Wantagh, N.Y.
Araoz became the first Wantagh, Section 8 and Nassau County wrestler to win a national title when he claimed the 120-pound championship at the NHSCA Junior Nationals his junior season. Araoz has been competing at national events for multiple years, winning matches at the Iron Horse Invitational and the Super 32 Challenge.

His Wantagh team has also been very successful, winning the New York State tournament, crowned Dual Meet champions in 2011-12 and winning three Section 8 titles in four years.

For the remainder of the release from Columbia University Athletics and details on the remaining members of the Class of 2017, see Columbia Recruiting Full Release link.

 

Team NY Kong Moves to 5-0 at Disney Duals After Three Lopsided Wins on Sunday

 
 
On Saturday, Team New York Kong cruised through the competition on the way to two dominant dual victories. On Sunday things were even more lopsided in the squad’s three victories over Doughboy Blue, South Dakota Red and Team Ohio Mafia.  In fact, the Empire State grapplers shut their opponents out in the first two meets and overall captured 40 of the 42 individual matches during the trio of dual wins, according to John Passaro.

Day three of action on Monday will begin bright and early for the New Yorkers, as they start at 8 a.m. against Brawlers Fire. After that, it will be a match with Michigan Freeze in the early afternoon.

And then, the “playoff” portion of the event begins as a national championship team will be crowned. Stay tuned for further updates.

Team New York Kong

106 Kyle Quinn

106 Jesse Dellavecchia

113 Nick Piccininni

120 Travis Passaro

126 Alex Delacruz

132 Matt Leshinger

138 Nick Kelley

145 Brandon Lapi

145 Frank Garcia

145 Jakob Restrepo

152 Joe Mastro

160 Steven Schneider

170 Carlos Toribio

182 James Corbett

195 Nick Weber

220 Josh Bonneau

285 Mike Hughes

New Champions Crowned: Division I State Tournament Recap

We have a large number of video interviews with wrestlers from the state tournament that will be posted later in the week.  Check back over the next few days to see what the wrestlers had to say!

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Another New York state high school season is in the books.  After two incredible days of wrestling, 30 champions were crowned and a number of other amazing performances were witnessed at the Times Union Center.

(This article focuses on the Division I tournament.  We will post a Division II story as well).

Of the 15 gold medalists in Albany on Saturday night in the large school tournament, 10 were from Long Island.   That part of the state didn’t just impress in the finals, however.  The depth was definitely apparent, as Suffolk finished atop the standings with 312 points with Nassau in second with 222.5.

Representing Section 8 well was Wantagh, which completed a magical year in which the Warriors showed both their dual meet and tournament strength in capturing perhaps the three biggest events in New York – the Union-Endicott Duals, the Eastern States and this weekend’s championships.  Head coach Paul Gillespie’s squad boasted a state titlewinner in 106-pounder Kyle Quinn as well as three other placers (James Corbett, Vinny Turano and Danny McDevitt).

Two other “sections” that made waves this weekend were the PSAL and the CHSAA.   Richard Sisti’s 220-pound title for Monsignor Farrell was a highlight as was the run to the finals by Keanu Thompson of Grand Street, including an upset pin against the number two seed.  The PSAL featured five medalists (in Division I), while the CHSAA had six.  It seems that those numbers will continue to grow in the future. (The first ever PSAL champion was crowned, which will be covered in the Division II story).

Here are some more notes and observations from the state capital:

99 Pounds:

Diakomihalis, Photo by BV

Champion: Yianni Diakomihalis will need to continue to clear space in his room for awards. He’s won just about every tournament he has entered over the past year, and he has traveled all over the country to wrestle some of the best.  The nationally-ranked wrestler picked up his first state title in the ultimate tiebreaker against another stellar eighth grader, Vito Arujau of Syosset.  The two could do battle many more times, but whether they’re at the same weight in the future or not, they will be a treat for New York fans to watch for another four years.

And Also . . . We had Diakomihalis and Arujau atop the rankings the whole year, but also included three Suffolk grapplers for much of the season in the state’s top 8.  They showed why on Friday and Saturday.  Although top seed John Arceri, the Section 11 champion, didn’t medal, he holds wins over both the third and fourth place finishers, John Busiello and Jesse Dellevecchia, respectively.  Those three will be contenders for quite some time.

In addition, when he was just beginning treatments for cancer in the spring, Vinny Vespa’s brother Michael said he was confident Vinny would not only return to the mat this year, but do well in the postseason.  He was right, as Vespa overcame cancer and then some of the state’s top wrestlers in taking fifth place.

106 Pounds: 

Quinn, Photo by BV

The Champion . . . Kyle Quinn came into the state tournament with just two losses.  Both were to All-Stater Nick Barbaria of New Rochelle by two points. Quinn clearly took some lessons away from those contests as he avenged those results with a 7-1 win in the semifinals against the Section 1 wrestler before defeating top seed Alex Tanzman of Westhampton Beach by the same score to grab the state crown.   The Wantagh wrestler looked dominant the whole weekend, including pinning his first two opponents (one of which was returning medalist Jimmy Overhiser).

And Also . . . Spencerport’s Jon Haas was unfazed after dropping his first bout of the tournament 4-3 to John Twomey of St. Anthony’s.  He reeled off five straight victories, including two by bonus points, to take third.  Haas also had a pair of overtime triumphs, including over Colonie’s Golan Cohen in the bronze bout.  Cohen, who was a placer at the Eastern States, put together a very impressive season.

113 Pounds:

Piccininni, Photo by BV

The Champion . . . Nick Piccininni wasn’t just the gold medalist at this weight, he was also named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.  It’s not hard to see why.  The returning state champion was in control the whole way and won three of his four matches by bonus points.  That included the title bout, in which Piccininni dominated the much-hyped clash with two-time champ Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks.  The Ward Melville wrestler will be incredibly hard to stop over the next two years.

And Also . . . Steven Sewkumar didn’t get a ticket to Albany last year after taking second in Nassau behind state runner up Jose Rodriguez.  He made his last chance in his senior year count, however, with a third place showing.   The Section 8 wrestler lost only to Piccininni while twice beating third-seeded Bryan Lantry of Wayne as well as topping All-Stater John Stramiello of Pine Bush.

120 Pounds:

The Champion:  Alex Delacruz was disqualified during the Eastern States semifinals against John Muldoon.  He then took second in Section 1 to the Pearl River grappler.  On the biggest stage, however, he came out on top by first knocking Muldoon off in the semifinals in an overtime match and then earning his spot on the top of the podium after an 11-7 triumph over #1 seed Steve Michel.

And Also . . .  Weights for next season are hard to predict now. But it looks like there will be more intense competition in Sections 1 and 11 in the future around this class.  Besides Delacruz and Muldoon (who was fourth), Section 1 features Blaise Benderoth (one match from medaling) and Nick Tolli, who placed at Eastern States but missed the postseason with an injury.  In Section 11, Travis Passaro (third) and Mike D’Angelo (fifth) could see each other a number of times again in 2013-14.

126 Pounds:

The Champion: TJ Fabian wasn’t pleased about taking third at the Suffolk County tournament.  He responded quite well – by outscoring his opponents 17-0 in his first two matches before notching pins in the semis and finals.  He’s headed to Sacred Heart.

And Also . . . One of the loudest roars of the crowd came during the quarterfinals when the PSAL’s Keanu Thompson pinned two-time finalist Dylan Realbuto.  Thompson was defeated soundly by Fabian on Saturday night but his run to the title bout was outstanding as he defeated the eventual third, fourth and sixth place finishers. That fourth placer was Chenango Forks senior Jacob Green, who after losing to Thompson in his opening tilt, won four in a row to finish his career on the podium.

132 Pounds:

Leshinger, Photo by BV

The Champion:  After taking third at the Times Union Center last year and again at the Eastern States, Matt Leshinger ended his Sayville career in style atop the medal stand.  The future Columbia Lion began with a pin and then methodically beat his next three opponents, including a 4-2 finals win over Amsterdam’s Brandon Lapi.

And Also . . . Lapi made the top 8 in 2010.  Since then, he has finished third, fourth and second.  What’s missing?  Well, a first place showing would complete the pattern.  The Section 2 standout will no doubt be looking for exactly that as he enters his senior season.

138 Pounds:

Kelley, Photo by BV

The Champion: Nick Kelley has been a regular at the state tournament with appearances beginning as a seventh grader.  He’s had a great career with over 250 victories but this weekend he got the most meaningful win of them all – the one in the state championship bout.  The Binghamton-bound grappler took a 5-2 decision on Saturday night to leave as a champion.

And Also . . . Joey Butler of Burnt Hills pushed Kelley in one of their matches during the season, getting out to a big lead before the Shenendehowa wrestler came back to win.  Butler earned third and will one to watch next year, as will Hilton’s Vincent DePrez, a silver medalist for the second consecutive year.  DePrez, who was one of three brothers to compete in Albany, will be back on a mission for his first title.

145 Pounds:

Hernandez, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Louis Hernandez came in as the favorite and left as the champion.  After missing the podium a year ago while wrestling with a significant injury at the Times Union Center, Hernandez put together a one-loss season which included an Eastern States crown.  While known for his excellence on his feet, Hernandez got a big reversal which propelled him to the title.

And Also . . . Eric Lewandowski made an appearance in the finals as a freshman, when he took second.  After not making the medal stand as a sophomore and junior, the Lancaster wrestler once again earned a spot in the title contest as a senior.  On his way there, he edged Shenendehowa’s David Almaviva 1-0 in the semis.  Almaviva showed his toughness by once again wrestling back to third, as he did in 2012. Hernandez will return next season, and he will be the only placer in this bracket to do so.

152 Pounds:

Rasheed, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Don’t blink when Corey Rasheed wrestles.  You might miss it. Rasheed had a technical fall in round one and a pair of pins – both in less than a minute – over the weekend.  That included a 56 second fall in the title bout.  It was the Longwood junior’s third time in the finals and after two runner up finishes, he left with top billing.  He should not only be on top of the New York rankings next year.  He has the talent to represent the Empire State in the national polls as well.

And Also . . . Like Jon Haas at 106, Joe Mastro of Yorktown took third place the hard way.  After losing to Konstantin Parfiryev (sixth place) on Friday morning, Mastro got his hand raised five times in a row.  He didn’t just win, though.  He did it convincingly, beginning with a technical fall and two majors (over the number two and three seeds).  He finished with a pair of decisions.

160 Pounds:

Grimaldi, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Tyler Grimaldi walked off the mat after taking second at this weight to Dylan Palacio in the state finals last year and vowed to do better in 2013.  He got it done, including his third win of the season against Steven Schneider of MacArthur in the title bout.  Next stop: Harvard.

And Also . . . Amsterdam’s James Marquez had a difficult draw, facing second seed (and eventual runner up) Steve Schneider in round one.  Marquez dropped a tough 3-1 battle in overtime but then fought back with a string of close decisions (including three by two points) to reach the bronze bout.  Once there, he finished his last match as a high schooler well, pinning Dale White to take third.   White is worth mentioning as well.  Despite an injury that kept him out for a lot of the campaign, he returned to win the Section 1 tournament and after injury defaulting to Grimaldi, made his way to fourth.

170 Pounds:

Toribio, Photo by BV

The Champion: Carlos Toribio had five losses as a junior, including three against the previously mentioned Tyler Grimaldi.  This year, as a senior, he had just one (to Joe Piccolo), and he avenged it with two wins over Piccolo. In fact, in the Suffolk finals, he was dominant against the Half Hollow Hills West grappler and came into the Times Union Center with momentum that helped take him to the top of the podium.  After a decision, a fall and a major in his first three bouts, Toribio picked up a tight 4-3 win over St. Anthony’s John Vrasidas to capture gold.

And Also . . . Vrasidas had a great tournament, including an upset of top seeded Danny McDevitt in the quarters.  But McDevitt, the future Ivy League wrestler at Penn, rebounded by outscoring his four wrestleback opponents 33-1, including a technical fall in the bronze match.

182 Pounds:

Brady, Photo by BV

The Champion: Before the tournament began, it looked like Shayne Brady’s road back to the finals would be a tough one.  The future North Carolina State wrestler faced a pair of returning state placers – James Benjamin and Gio Santiago in the quarters and semis – and beat both by bonus points.  He then found a way to win in his final high school match with a 5-3 overtime decision over Wantagh’s James Corbett.

And Also . . . Corbett also navigated a challenging path to make the finals in his first trip to Albany.  He suffered just three losses as a senior and will continue his career at Brown.

If you’re looking to see pins, find Gio Santiago.  The Sachem North senior had three falls in the tournament (and was pinned by Brady) after recording 30 during the season.  He earned All-State honors for the second straight year, this time in the third position.

195 Pounds:

Choi, Photo by BV

The Champion:  We shared Dan Choi’s story a few weeks ago, discussing how the future Cornellian came from Korea without his parents just three years ago and earned a full ROTC scholarship to the Ivy League.  Watching him this weekend, it’s hard to believe that he’s been wrestling for only three years.  In a very difficult weight class, the Syosset senior looked aggressive and strong throughout the event, including a major decision over the top seed in the quarters.

And Also . . . When we asked what wrestlers could break out in Section 2 this year, the first answer from multiple coaches was Levi Ashley.  He began the year at 182 and spent quite a bit of time at that weight, where he had plenty of success.  However, when he moved up to 195 around mid January, he really took off.  From there, he won 14 matches in a row entering the weekend.  And he kept things going in the state capital.  Being matched up with the third seed, Ben Honis, in the first round didn’t bother Ashley. He went out and majored the Section 3 wrestler 8-0 and followed with a pair of hard-fought decisions to make the title bout.   With one season remaining at Shenendehowa, he’ll be among the favorites at whatever weight he chooses.

220 Pounds:

Sisti, Photo by BV

The Champion: At the Eastern States, one CHSAA insider told us that Rich Sisti, unable to participate in that tournament due to an injury, would win the state championship – guaranteed.  It seemed bold at the time, but it was a good call.  Sisti, commonly called the “manchild” by many of those at the tournament, indeed won and looked impressive in doing so.  He certainly showed he is capable of capturing close matches against quality competition, as he notched 3-2 victories over a pair of Section 11 wrestlers, top seeded Nick Lupi and Steven Mills, in the semis and finals.

And Also . . . In the Division I tournament preview, we mentioned that there were some “under the radar” wrestlers in the field to watch in Albany.  One of those was Steven Mills of Sachem North, who lost a squeaker to Lupi in the Suffolk tournament.  Mills indeed made the spotlight as he competed for the state championship on Saturday night.  He began his journey with a 5-1 win over second-seeded John Hartnett and then blanked his next two foes to make the finals.

285 Pounds:

The Champions: 42-0 with 39 bonus wins and a state title.  That’s the season summary for Smithtown West’s Mike Hughes.  The senior put an exclamation point on his campaign when he pinned Austin Coleman in the championship bout, his 31st fall of the year.

And Also . . . Remember the name James O’Hagan.  The Seaford junior took third over the weekend with a pair of victories over top seeded El Shaddai Van Hoesen of Columbia.  The statistics above show that Mike Hughes only had three decisions all year. Two were against O’Hagan, including a 1-0 semifinal win on Saturday.   After the tournament, Hughes said that O’Hagan gave him his toughest match and that he thought they should have been the state finalists.  For O’Hagan, that will be the plan for 2013.

 

For all the brackets, see this link.

Congratulations to the Division I wrestlers on a great season.

It's Almost Tournament Time: Division I State Tournament Preview

First, we will be doing a LIVE BLOG of the tournament, starting Friday morning. To access the blog, see here: LIVE BLOG link

Here are some weight class by weight class thoughts on the upcoming Division I state tournament in Albany.  We will be posting a similar article on Division II. The votes have been rolling in, but if you haven’t already, feel free to give us your thoughts on who will win the titles by participating in our prediction contests.

For the Division I contest, click on this link.

For the Division II contest, click on this link.

 

99 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers: None

Huntington’s John Arceri got the top seed, but it’s far from an easy road for him. In a 35-2 season (one of his losses was at 106), he defeated five of the grapplers in this bracket, including the number two, three and four seeds. His reward? A possible meeting with the undefeated Vito Arujau of Syosset if both make the quarterfinals. An intriguing first round bout pits CHSAA winner Garrett Baugher, who has been a force throughout the campaign, against NHSCA Middle School National Champion Kelan McKenna of Section 3.

On the bottom of the bracket, we’re excited to see Jesse Dellavecchia of East Islip against Vinny Vespa of Monroe Woodbury in the opening round. Having Vespa back on the mat this year has been an amazing story after his well-documented battle with cancer. But beyond that, it is always interesting to watch two medal contenders clash early in the event. Speaking of Section 9 wrestlers, number two seed Chris Cuccolo recovered from some early season setbacks to win the Eastern States and breezed through the remainder of the year (other than a loss to Arceri). He could have a meeting with Hilton’s Yianni Diakomihalis in the Round of 8. Diakomihalis has won just about every event he’s entered in the past year and is nationally ranked.

So . . . We’ve had Diakomihalis at #1 and Arujau at #2 for the entire season at this weight. While 99 is often unpredictable at the state tournament, we wouldn’t be surprised to see those two put on a show in the finals as they did in the Super 32 Middle School tournament in the fall when Diakomihalis came out on top and took the title.

106 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach (Third at 99)
Jimmy Overhiser, Corning (Fourth at 106)
Nick Barbaria, New Rochelle (Sixth at 99)

Alex Tanzman, the top seed, has followed up a stellar junior season with an even better senior campaign. He has a 32-1 mark, with the only loss coming at the hands of state champion Nick Piccininni up a weight at 113. Fellow Section 11 grappler Steven Lee is back in Albany after coming within one win of placing last year. He’ll be part of an intriguing first round bout against Colonie’s Golan Cohen, a wrestler who stood out with a fourth place showing at the Eastern States Classic.

On the bottom half, a number of wrestlers with experience at the Times Union Center will take the mat. Spencerport’s Jon Haas was one bout from making All-State last year and has been on a roll, winning 14 matches in a row since a loss to Diakomihalis. If he gets to the quarters, he could face Nick Barbaria, who made the medal stand a year ago and has an unblemished record (40-0) this year. On the way to the Eastern States Classic title this season, Barbaria topped Corning’s Jimmy Overhiser in an overtime bout and Wantagh’s Kyle Quinn in the championship match. Those two wrestlers are also very much in the mix for titles and could collide in the Round of 8 if they both advance there. (Quinn’s only two losses are to Barbaria).

So . . . This should be a very interesting class, but in the end, we expect Tanzman, the senior from Section 11, to end his career on a high note on Saturday night against the very tough Barbaria.

113 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Kyle Kelly, Chenango Forks (Champion at 99)
Nick Piccininni, Ward Melville (Champion at 106)
Joe Calderone, Walt Whitman (Fourth at 99)
Bryan Lantry, Wayne (Fifth at 99)
John Stramiello, Pine Bush (Sixth at 106)

It’s clear that there are many very good wrestlers at this weight, especially considering how many returning state placers are in the bracket. Bryan Lantry of Wayne and Johnny Stramiello of Pine Bush competed for third at the Eastern States and have both been on the state podium before. Corey Ali of Shenendehowa and Thomas Hill of Fulton have won multiple Section 2 and 3 championships, respectively. Joe Calderone also was All-State last year.

So . . . Despite the obvious quality throughout the field, if anyone other than Ward Melville’s Nick Piccininni and Chenango Forks’s Kyle Kelly takes the mat in the Saturday night finals, it will be a huge upset. It’s a match that fans in Sections 4 and 11 have been talking about all season and one that both Piccininni and Kelly have expressed excitement about in interviews we did with them prior to the season. Both are nationally ranked by at least one publication and both were undefeated state champions in 2012 (Kelly at 99 and Piccininni at 106). The last time Piccininni lost a match in New York, it was to Kelly in the 2011 99-pound semifinals when Kelly went on to win his first state crown. How similar will this match be to that close decision? We expect it to be an absolute battle between two of the very best wrestlers the Empire State has to offer. We’ve had Piccininni in the top spot in the rankings all year . . . we’ll see if we were right.

120 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Anthony Orefice, Lockport (Fifth at 106)
Robert Person, Bellmore JFK (Fifth at 113)
Steve Michel, Lancaster (Sixth at 120)

We go from two state champions, Kelly and Piccininni, to a field full of grapplers who can make the finals. Who will win at 120 Pounds? Great question. Recently, I asked a handful of people and, predictably, I got a handful of different answers.

Will it be Steve Michel, the top seed? He is a returning placer and has had a strong season, including wins over Division II state champion Sean Peacock, three victories over multi-time placer Anthony Orefice and a pair of triumphs against Kellen Devlin of Amherst. At Eastern States, however, where a sizable number of wrestlers in this bracket competed, Michel didn’t place. Neither did another returning All-Stater, Robert Person. However, the Nassau County wrestler seems to be back to form. After all, he lost to MacArthur’s Chris Cataldo at SUNY Sullivan but responded with a commanding major against the same opponent in the Section 8 final.

Ok, but if those guys didn’t place in Loch Sheldrake – who did? The answer: lots of wrestlers who will compete in Albany. John Muldoon of Pearl River took second, Blaise Benderoth was third, Travis Passaro grabbed fourth, Blake Retell picked up seventh and Santo Curatolo took eighth. Alex Delacruz was in the semis before being disqualified.

Let’s face it, everyone mentioned above is capable of being on the podium. As is Mike D’Angelo, who has a win over Muldoon. And Orefice, who has been a placer before. Only one thing seems safe to say – there shouldn’t be a dull match at this weight.

So . . . The winner here will have navigated tough customers in every round. Who will it be? We’ll put forward the wrestler who got the most votes in our informal poll – John Muldoon.

126 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Dylan Realbuto, Somers (Champion at 113)
TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (Fourth at 120)

Fabian, Photo by Josh Conklin

There are so many good story lines here. One that we’ll definitely be watching is how seventh grader Frankie Gissendanner of Penfield fares in his first state tournament appearance. He sure hasn’t looked at all intimidated so far, including during his seventh place finish at Eastern States in a very challenging class. He sits in the top part of the bracket, along with a number of accomplished wrestlers. The #1 seed is Shoreham Wading River’s TJ Fabian, a returning placer who was upset in the Section 11 tournament but came back for bronze. The match that many thought would be the Suffolk finals – Fabian vs. Hauppauge’s Mark West, didn’t come to fruition last weekend. However, it could be a semifinal showdown. Both Section 11 grapplers have plenty to contend with early on, however. For example, West gets Freddie Dunau of St. Anthony’s a former state placer, in Round 1.

The lower half is no cakewalk, either. Returning state champion Dylan Realbuto of Somers begins with upstart Owen Bachelder of Hewlett, who starred in the Nassau County event, including a pin against NHSCA National Champion Chris Araoz of Wantagh. Aroaz, however, will be in the field in Albany for the first time and will start off in another excellent opening round contest as he takes on Frontier’s Rocco Russo. Both Jacob Green of Chenengo Forks and Keanu Thompson have significant Times Union Center experience and will be a challenging matchup for anyone.

So . . . Realbuto has been in the finals for two consecutive years and we think he’ll leverage that experience to get back for the third time, where we could see a rematch of the Eastern States title bout with Fabian. Fabian beat Realbuto on a third period reversal at SUNY Sullivan this year. Realbuto won his state title last year on a last second takedown. With a late charge, Realbuto may do it again.

132 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Matt Leshinger, Sayville (Third at 120)
Brandon Lapi, Amsterdam (Fourth at 113)

Matt Leshinger, the top seed, looks to move up a few spots on the ladder after taking third as a junior. He has wrestled well all year, avenging his one loss against Vinny Turano by beating the Wantagh wrestler the next day to grab bronze at Eastern States. There could be a third meeting in the semis but plenty of wrestlers are capable of stopping that from happening. Turano will have an immediate challenge from freshman Chris Mauriello of Hauppauge.

Brandon Lapi of Amsterdam, the #2 seed, has been on the podium multiple times but will be tested right away by returning qualifier Richie Burke of Ithaca, who has put together a 38-3 season. Also sitting in the bottom half is Fordham Prep’s Sam Melikian, the Eastern States runner up. The CHSAA champion has blitzed through the season.

So . . . Leshinger was the top seed last year at 120 and took third. This time, as the top seed, we think he’ll finish with the gold against Melikian.

138 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Nick Kelley, Shenendehowa (Third at 132)
Vincent DePrez, Hilton (Second at 113)

Shenendehowa’s Nick Kelley and Hilton’s Vincent DePrez had one thing in common last year – both only lost once, and it was at the Times Union Center. Kelley was edged in the semifinals by eventual champion Jamel Hudson while DePrez lost in the waning seconds of the title bout against Dylan Realbuto.

They are the top seeds at 138 (Kelley is at #1). Among the wrestlers on the top half of the bracket to watch are Derrick Gray of Indian River, a five-time Sectional champion, who came within a bout of placing last year and North Rockland’s Matt Caputo, who has over 50 wins according to the NWCA Scorebook.

There are some first round matchups in the bottom half that we’re excited about. One is Rocky Point’s Tommy Dutton, who has been dominant nearly the entire season, against undefeated Danny Graham of West Seneca East. In addition, Isaiah Perry of Massena, who has been at this tournament for many years, will give it one last shot to make the podium, beginning against Joey Butler of Burnt Hills, a returning qualifier who gave Kelley his closest match against a New York wrestler this year in an 8-6 loss.

So . . . Kelley, one of the top pound-for-pound wrestlers in New York and a regular in Albany since seventh grade, has been waiting for the chance to get on top of the podium. We think he’ll get there this time, with a challenge from Dutton.

145 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
David Almaviva, Shenendehowa (Third at 138)

Hernandez, Photo by Josh Conklin

When David Almaviva of Shenendehowa and Louis Hernandez of Mepham squared off in the quarterfinals of the Eastern States, a fan sitting nearby told me it was a preview of the state finals. It could be. Hernandez won that day, 4-2, and went on to win the tournament.

A number of wrestlers will provide very formidable challenges to those two, however. In the top half, where Hernandez sits as the #1 seed, he could see a wrestler such as Anthony DePrez of Hilton, who has just a single loss this year and has been impressive. In addition, Fox Lane’s Tom Grippi is a big threat. He handed Almaviva his only loss at the Times Union Center last year. Jackson Mordente of Sachem East is yet another to keep tabs on.

In the bottom half, Brendan Dent may be under the radar for those outside of Long Island, but he has been strong all year and has yet to lose. In addition, Eric Lewandowski of Lancaster is a very dangerous wrestler who has been to the finals before and is on a mission to get back. Trevor Hoffmier is a formidable first round foe for Almaviva as well.

So . . . We believe the fan at the Eastern States had the title bout pegged. The stage is brighter, but we expect a similar match in Hernandez vs. Almaviva II to what we saw in the Eastern States quarters.

152 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Corey Rasheed, Longwood (Second at 145)

Longwood’s Corey Rasheed is a three-time state placer, including two runner up finishes. If he wrestles the way he has all year, he will be extremely difficult to beat. Eastern States provided a great example of that. In a solid bracket, he pinned his first three foes and then outscored the opposition 28-4 in the semis and finals to earn the crown. He could face some of the other medalists from that event as both Joe Mastro of Yorktown and Dan DeCarlo of Port Jervis sit in the top of the bracket.

Columbia’s Angelo Kress is the number two seed and has topped the wrestler in the number three spot, Zach Joseph of Shenendehowa, twice by a single point in February. For them to meet again, they will have to overcome a number of very strong wrestlers, among them, returning qualifier Zach Colgan of Johnson City, Section 3’s Tommy Quinlan and two-time NHSCA All-American Chris Koo.

So . . . Rasheed has been unbelievable this season. He’s been close to a state title twice before and this time takes gold instead of silver against the very solid (and currently unbeaten) Koo.

160 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Tyler Grimaldi, Hills West (Second at 160)
Dale White, John Jay East Fishkill (Fifth at 145)

Tyler Grimaldi was the runner up in this class last year. He has dedicated himself to making sure he gets that elusive last victory in 2013 before heading to Harvard. Who stands in his way? Clarence’s Jake Weber has put together a good season in Section 6 as has Derek Holcomb of Newark Valley, an NHSCA All-American. Holcomb will have an interesting first match as he faces returning medalist Dale White of John Jay East Fishkill, a wrestler who missed the bulk of the season with an injury but has looked solid upon his return.

Andrew Psomas of Monsignor Farrell announced his presence among the state’s elite with his fourth place showing at the Eastern States. In the bronze bout, he lost to MacArthur’s Steve Schneider. The Nassau County champion has appeared to get better and better as the season progressed and is the #2 seed.

So . . . Grimaldi and Schneider have already faced off twice this season with the Hills West senior getting his hand raised both times. The finals may give us a third battle. Harvard thinks they found a champion.  We agree.

170 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Danny McDevitt, Wantagh (Fifth at 138)

McDevitt, Photo by http://www.phototrens.com

Wantagh’s Danny McDevitt is familiar with being the number one seed in Albany as he was on the top line of the 138-pound bracket a year ago, and took fifth. His senior campaign has been nothing short of spectacular as he has seamlessly adjusted to wrestling four weight classes higher. On the way to his Eastern States crown, McDevitt saw (and defeated) some of his challengers, including Half Hollow Hills West’s Joe Piccolo, who is the fourth seed. A number of other grapplers who have appeared in the state rankings are in the top part of the bracket, such as St. Anthony’s John Vrasidas and Monroe Woodbury’s AJ Voelker.

Another one of McDevitt’s victories at SUNY Sullivan was against John Jay East Fishkill’s Brett Perry, who resides in the bottom of the bracket. Perry will have a very tough opening battle with Brockport’s Jared Mesiti, a returning qualifier who is 36-2 this season. Carlos Toribio of Brentwood has suffered just one setback in his senior campaign – against Piccolo by fall. However, he beat Piccolo twice, including a dominant victory in the Suffolk finals in which Toribio looked like he was healthy again after an injury.

So . . . McDevitt completes the perfect season before he begins his Ivy League career as a Quaker at Penn with a squeaker against the impressive Toribio.

182 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Shayne Brady, Carthage (Second at 170)
James Benjamin, Vestal (Fifth at 182)
Gio Santiago, Sachem North (Sixth at 182)

Shayne Brady went all the way to the championship bout last year at 170. After placing at the Super 32 Classic and going 32-1, he’s on top of the bracket this time. A couple of returning placers with a tendency to pin could be in his path. Vestal’s James Benjamin notched four pins at the state tournament last year and 28 overall this campaign. Gio Santiago also knows how to throw opponents to their backs, with 30 falls. Don’t forget about Thomas Murray of Yorktown. At the beginning of the year, when asking about potential sleepers in Section 1, we were told to watch out for Murray and he has delivered with a good season.

James Corbett of Wantagh and Anthony Liberatore of Williamsville South both lost 6-4 decisions to Trent Egenlauf of Spencerport. It was Liberatore’s only setback of the year, while Corbett had only one more (to Zack Zupan). There are a number of other tough wrestlers in the bottom half, but one of these three is likely to get a shot in the finals.

So . . . Finals experience helps Brady get back to the Saturday night main event, but in an upset, we’ll pick Egenlauf to stay undefeated for the title with very close decisions in the semis and finals.

195 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Reggie Williams, Johnson City (Second at 195)

Reggie Williams has been among the best upperweights in the state for years now. As a freshman, he took sixth and last year he was second with all of his losses coming to state champion Tony Fusco of Shenendehowa. He has been focused on one thing since stepping off the mat in Albany last February and that’s winning it all. So far, he has an unblemished record in 2012-13 and sits as the top seed. Will he get that crown? There will certainly be some obstacles for him. Before the brackets came out, we considered some possible finals opponents for Williams. Among those were Dan Choi of Syosset, undefeated pinning machine Chris Chambers of East Islip and Steven Sabella of Yorktown. (Williams beat Sabella with very late points, 7-5, at Eastern States). Guess what? A finals meeting between any of those guys won’t happen because they’re all on the top half.

So, who will emerge from the bottom? Colton Kells has marched through his senior year with an unblemished record. If he wins his first contest, he’ll certainly be tested by either Deon Edmond of Kingston, who came within one bout of placing last year or the tough Nick Weber of Kings Park. After earning All-American status in Fargo, Ben Honis has put together a nice resume with wins over several top 195 pounders and he’ll have a chance to add to that list when he faces Shenendehowa’s Levi Ashley in Round 1.

So . . . All in all, it’s an impressive group of big guys. But despite the many obstacles in his way, Williams has been here before and knows what it takes. We think he’ll get it done in a tight bout over Kells, who came within a match of placing last year and has improved on his feet.

220 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Nick Lupi, Huntington (Fifth at 220)

We were ready to go with a finals prediction of Nick Lupi of Huntington (31-1 after a fifth place showing in this class a year ago) against Rich Sisti of Monsignor Farrell (25-0, 20 pins). With the way the seeds fell, that won’t happen. There are candidates to upset either of those wrestlers, however. Minisink Valley’s Josh Bonneau showed resilience when he came back from a first round loss at Eastern States to take third. In addition, the winner of the first round tilt between Section 8 champion Tom Sinclair of Island Trees and Marshall Taylor of Lockport could certainly go far.

On the bottom, there are many wrestlers with finals potential. John Hartnett of Tappan Zee and Jason Johnson of Colonie put together solid seasons. We think both Steven Mills of Sachem North and Matt Mott of Lynbrook have been somewhat under the radar this year. Our prediction is that one or both won’t be after the weekend.

So . . . Sisti will make it difficult, but we’ll say Lupi’s experience at this tournament leads him to a crown, over a tough fellow Long Islander.

285 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
El Shaddai Van Hoesen, Columbia (Second at 285)
Mike Hughes, Smithtown West (Sixth at 285)

Van Hoesen, Photo by BV

Our rankings have showcased El Shaddai Van Hoesen of Columbia at #1 and Mike Hughes of Smithtown West at #2 for the whole season. Van Hoesen, a silver medalist in 2012, has been nothing short of dominant as a senior, going 37-0 with 24 pins and only two regular decisions. “Nothing short of dominant” could be used to describe Hughes as well. His numbers read: 38-0, 29 pins, 1 regular decision (over qualifier James O’Hagan). If Van Hoesen and Hughes continue to wrestle the way they have all year, the two returning medalists would battle in the semis.

Like Van Hoesen and Hughes, Mike Manni of Tappan Zee is unbeaten this year. He defeated returning qualifier David Varian of Yorktown in the Section 1 finals and a rematch could happen in the semis. However, there are several wrestlers who could stand in the way. Austin Coleman of Spencerport has over 35 wins, as does Newburgh’s Terrence Cheeks, who has exchanged wins with Varian this year.

So . . . The top half winner gets the gold. We’ll say that will be Van Hoesen, who will add a few more pins to his collection before the weekend’s over. After testing himself throughout the year, we’ll say Cheeks gets through the bottom.

Weekend Notes: High School State Finalists Battle; Binghamton Picks Up First Two Victories and Much More

 

Here are a few news and notes from some of the college and high school action around the state this weekend . . .

Binghamton Goes 2-for-2, Army Tops Drexel

Donnie Vinson, Photo by BV

After dropping the first six duals of the season against a tough schedule that included ranked teams such as Cornell, Illinois, Oklahoma and Lehigh, Binghamton began a winning streak this weekend.  On Friday night, Matt Dernlan picked up his first victory as the leader of the Bearcats program as the CAA squad defeated Princeton, 23-12.  On Sunday, Binghamton followed up by capturing six of the 10 contests against league foe Boston to win 26-13.  Going unbeaten on the weekend were nationally ranked wrestlers Donnie Vinson (#3 at 149 pounds) and Nate Schiedel (#6 at 197 pounds) as well as Patrick Hunter (125), Vin Grella (165) and Cody Reed (184).  The Bearcats return to action at the Midlands in Illinois on December 29.

Army also was victorious, earning a 22-15 triumph over Drexel on Thursday night.  The Black Knights once again received key wins from 165-pounder Paul Hancock, who recorded a fall, as well as 141-pounder Connor Hanafee and 184-pounder Collin Wittmeyer in pivotal matches.  The squad will take the mat again on January 1 at the Southern Scuffle.

In the first dual meet action of the season for Buffalo, the Bulls were defeated by Central Michigan, 28-7. Six of the 10 bouts were decided by two points or less and unfortunately for Buffalo, the Chippewas came out on top in five of those six close matches.  Winning for the New York squad were Angelo Malvestuto at 197 and John-Martin Cannon, in his return to the mat after missing a few weeks with injury.

All-State Wrestlers and State Finalists Square Off 

A year ago, the dual between Wantagh and Shenendehowa at the Civil War Duals ended in a tie, with the Nassau County team earning the win on criteria.  With both squads going undefeated the remainder of the year, that result was instrumental in Wantagh earning the award as the state’s #1 Dual Meet team.   The powerhouses are both loaded again this year and were set to meet this weekend in Clifton Park as part of the 2012 Civil War Duals.  However, due to a tragic accident in which two Shenendehowa students were killed, the event was appropriately postponed.

However, there were still some top notch matchups this weekend as the 2012-13 season picked up steam.

Drew Hull, Photo by BV

In a dual meet in Section 6, two podium finishers from February took the mat at 152 pounds.  Two-time All-Stater Drew Hull of Royalton Hartland, who captured second place in Albany at 145 pounds a year ago, topped fourth place finisher (at 138) Dan Reagan of Lewiston Porter by the score of 6-0.  (However, Lewiston Porter won the dual 48-30).

At the Herkimer Invitational, a pair of state finalists, Canastota’s Zack Zupan and Carthage’s Shayne Brady sat on different sides of the 182-pound bracket.  The two cruised into the finals, setting up a meeting in the title bout.  However, that match didn’t go the distance, as Brady suffered an injury and defaulted.  (Zupan had taken the early lead).  We hope to see the runner up from Carthage back on the mat soon.

Another Section 3 standout, two-time state champion Nick Tighe of Phoenix, also met a state runner up this weekend, Hilton’s Vincent DePrez, in the 138-pound championship contest of the Matthew Marino Tournament at Webster Schroeder High.   The Binghamton-bound Tighe dominated, grabbing a 16-3 major decision.  It is worth noting that DePrez was one of three second placers for his squad – and for the DePrez family.  His brothers Anthony (145) and Lou (120) also took silver while nationally-ranked teammate Yianni Diakomihalis was the victor at 99 pounds.

In the team race at the Matthew Marino event, which featured strong entrants from Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6, Vermont’s Mount Anthony High took first.  Earning second place was Section 6’s Fredonia, led by four gold medalists — returning state placers Dakota Gardner (126 pounds) and Jude Gardner (145) as well as Zach Buckley (170) and Christian Saden (220).  Buckley had a solid win over Section 5 champion Jared Mesiti, 7-4.

Also taking top billing were state qualifier Colton Kells of Fairport at 195 and state placer Bryan Lantry of Wayne at 113.  Lantry’s teammate Jake Yankloski registered an impressive bonus point victory in the 106 title match against 2012 qualifier Bryan Ruggeri of Fairport.

More Contenders in Action

Matt Leshinger, Photo by BV

In the first weekend of action for Section 11, the Sayville tournament showcased several state title contenders.  Among them were Ivy League-bound seniors Tyler Grimaldi of Half Hollow Hills West (Harvard) and the host school’s Matt Leshinger (Columbia).  Grimaldi, who was second in the state at 160 a year ago, captured Most Outstanding Wrestler honors in Sayville after cruising at 160 pounds.  Meanwhile, Leshinger, who took bronze at 120 in February, had a solid debut up a few weights as he won the tournament at 138 pounds.

Another strong event on Long Island was the Bruins Cup at Baldwin, which provided another opportunity to see a number of strong wrestlers ramp up their seasons.

Steven Sewkumar of Long Beach collected Most Outstanding Wrestler honors for the second consecutive weekend as he took the 113 pound title in a close match against St. Anthony’s Ben Lamantia.  St. Anthony’s celebrated a number of champions, including former All-State grappler Freddie Dunau (126) and 2012 qualifier Johnny Vrasidas (170) as well as Joe Russ (120).

Vito Arujau, Photo by BV

Syosset’s Dan Choi, who came within one match of the medal stand at the Times Union Center in Albany registered four pins on the way to the 195-pound crown while his teammates Joe Scholl (182) and Vito Arujau (106) also made the top of the podium.  Arujau looked dominant for the second straight tournament, earning the title by technical fall.

Led by champions Anthony Messina (132), Jackson Mordente (145) and John Vigh (220) and runners up Conor O’Hara (138), Mike Pistone (152), Mark Tracy (170) and Josh Edmonsen (285), Sachem East took the team title by over 50 points, with Longwood next.

 

MacArthur Takes First at the Mahopac Duals

While multiple Section 8 teams wrestled at the tournaments listed above, MacArthur traveled to Section 1 for the Mahopac Duals.  The Generals were impressive throughout the competition, including a 42-25 victory over Section 4’s Johnson City in the title tilt.  The host team from Mahopac was fourth.

And From the Midwest . . .

While Empire State teams can’t compete at some of the large in-season national events, a pair of 2012 New York State silver medalists made the podium at one of the most challenging tournaments in the country this weekend —  the Walsh Ironman in Ohio.  Jose Rodriguez, who took second at 99 pounds last season while competing for Wantagh, was the runner up at 106 pounds at the Ironman behind Eli Stuckley of St. Paris Graham.  Rodriguez now attends Massillon Perry in the Buckeye State.

Former Longwood star Nicky Hall notched seventh place on Saturday while representing Wyoming Seminary.  Hall is a two-time New York medalist, including a second place showing at 152 pounds in 2012.

For more dual meet results from around the state, see here

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

 

Section 11 Preview: Four State Champs Graduated, But Plenty of Talent Returns in Suffolk County, Led by Finalists Piccininni, Rasheed and Grimaldi

The dominance of Section 11 at the Division I state tournament last year was obvious.  In the team standings, Suffolk County outdistanced second place Nassau by 79.5 points.  Section 11 boasted nine of the 30 finalists (30%) and more than 25% of All-State wrestlers overall.  Suffolk had at least one placer at 14 of the 15 weight classes (113 being the exception), including five state champions.

Four of those gold medalists graduated as did eight of the others that made the medal stand in 2012 (and Nicky Hall of Longwood moved on to Wyoming Seminary). Both of the Division II All-State wrestlers graduated as well. However, there are still plenty of quality grapplers remaining.  The following is a look at some of the returning superstars, some wrestlers potentially ready for a breakthrough year and teams to keep an eye on as the season develops, both in Division I and Division II.

Division I

Returning Placewinners from 2012

State Champion: Nick Piccininni, Ward Melville (106 Pounds)

Second Place:  Corey Rasheed, Longwood (145 Pounds)

Second Place: Tyler Grimaldi, Half Hollow Hills West (160 Pounds)

Third Place: Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach (99 Pounds)

Third Place: Matt Leshinger, Sayville (120 Pounds)

Fourth Place: Joe Calderone, Walt Whitman (99 Pounds)

Fourth Place: TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (120 Pounds)

Fifth Place: Nick Lupi, Huntington (220 Pounds)

Sixth Place: Gio Santiago, Sachem North (182 Pounds)

Sixth Place: Mike Hughes, Smithtown West (285 Pounds)

Other Returning State Qualifiers from 2012

99 Pounds: Steven Lee, West Babylon

113 Pounds: Corey Jamison, Huntington

Tyler Grimaldi, Photo by Boris V

Seniors to Watch

Tyler Grimaldi was highly sought after by many colleges before choosing Harvard, and with good reason. He earned All-America status at both the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach and at Fargo at 160 pounds.  The senior went all the way to the state finals match in 2012 and is a solid favorite to get back to the title bout – and this time come out victorious.

Matt Leshinger won perhaps the most challenging Sectional bracket in all of New York last year when he captured the crown at 120 pounds over state champions Sean McCabe, Mark West and All-State wrestler TJ Fabian.  The Columbia-commit, who took bronze in Albany, will look to climb a few notches higher in his senior year.

TJ Fabian, Photo by Phototrens http://www.phototrens.com

The previously mentioned Fabian, who was fourth in Albany, has entered numerous events in the spring and summer and has gotten his hand raised often in all of them.  He was an All-American at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach and a dominant winner at the Ken Lesser Memorial Summer Heat tournament.  Fabian also competed well against some of the Northeast’s top foes at the Journeymen Classic and the Iron Horse Invitational before placing in the top 12 at the Super 32 after winning seven in a row in the consolations.  All of his work figures to serve him well in February.

Upperweights Gio Santiago, Nick Lupi and Mike Hughes all participated in the fifth place match in Albany in brackets full of grapplers who have since graduated.  It wouldn’t be surprising to see any or all of them in the gold medal bout this time around.

On the lighter side of the scale, Alex Tanzman had a 46-2 season with 37 pins in which he lost a match in mid December and then rattled off more than 30 consecutive victories before losing to Jose Rodriguez, who has since moved to Ohio, in the state semifinals.  He will be no doubt be one of the contenders to earn another title for Section 11 at the end of the campaign.

That group of seniors is no doubt impressive.  But some believe that the best Suffolk wrestler may be a sophomore or junior.

Corey Rasheed, Photo by Boris V

Eleventh grader Corey Rasheed is already a two-time New York finalist and three-time placer with two full campaigns to go.  He has shown that he can compete with the best regardless of the weight class, as he first was a runner up in seventh grade at 96 pounds, took fifth at 112 as a freshman and then earned silver in 2012 up at 145.  He also was second nationally this spring when he made the finals of the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach.  Fellow junior Joe Calderone of Walt Whitman was fourth at 99 a year ago and will be a threat once again.

Nick Piccininni, Photo by Boris V

Several Suffolk fans believe that the top Section 11 wrestler is sophomore Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville.  Piccininni followed up a third place showing as an eighth grader with a perfect freshman season in which he went undefeated on his way to a state championship at 106 pounds.  While moving up in weight since then, he doesn’t seem to have skipped a beat, winning the Super 32 qualifier, going unbeaten at the Waterway Duals and taking first at the Journeymen Classic and the Iron Horse Invitational.  He also finished in the top 12 at the Super 32, losing only to the second and third place finishers and splitting matches with the country’s #1 ranked sophomore, Zahid Valencia of California.

But that’s not all Section 11 has to offer. Last year, Grimaldi, Leshinger and Fabian were among those who stood high on the podium in their first trips to the state tournament.  Who will make the medal stand in their initial appearance in Albany in 2013? Here are some of the many possibilities:

Let’s start with a very strong group of lightweights.  Jesse Dellavecchia of East Islip racked up 31 wins as a freshman at 99, including triumphs over state qualifiers Steven Lee, Josh Antoine and Hunter Dusold.  He lost two very tight bouts to New York state medalist Calderone (by one point and in sudden victory) and he stayed active in the offseason, winning the Ken Lesser Memorial Summer Heat and taking second at the Journeymen Classic in early October.  But Dellavecchia isn’t the only young lightweight to watch. One of the wrestlers to defeat Dellavecchia last season was John Busiello of Eastport South Manor, who garnered a 26-8 mark as an eighth grader. Huntington’s John Arceri, a freshman this year, picked up 28 wins last season and will be another impact player.

A little bit higher on the weight scale is Mike D’Angelo of Commack.  In his 33-3 season as a freshman at 106 pounds there was only one wrestler D’Angelo couldn’t beat – Nick Piccininni.  All three of the Commack grappler’s losses came against the undefeated state champion from Ward Melville.   He showed dominance throughout the season with 28 bonus point victories.

“D’Angelo had trouble with Piccininni but so did everyone else,” Rocky Point Elite Eagles coach Steven Ketcham said. “He is capable of placing at the state level.”

A few other names to keep in mind are James Szymanski from Shoreham Wading River and Matt Bradice from William Floyd.  Szymanski topped Dellavecchia, Busiello, Lee and CJ Archer a year ago and impressed in the offseason with a championship in his bracket at the Journeymen.  Meanwhile, Bradice, a 2012 Suffolk placewinner at 103, put together a 31-7 campaign as a junior at 113.  If he remains at that weight, contributor John Passaro believes he could make the Section XI finals as a senior.

Steven Bulzomi of Connetquot was fourth in the county as a junior at 113 pounds after posting a 34-5 record.   Three of his losses came against Hauppauge’s Chris Mauriello and another to Suffolk champion Corey Jamison.  He did record solid victories over Mauriello and state qualifier Santo Curatolo of the PSAL.  His 4-2 performance at the ultra-challenging Super 32 tournament in late October showed that he’s ready to go for his senior campaign.

Over the years there have been wrestlers who have made their marks on the national level before achieving All-State status in New York.  That looks like it could be the case with the following grapplers in 2012-13.

Chris Mauriello (Hauppauge) – Mauriello won a national title in the spring at the NHSCA Middle School championships in Virginia Beach after taking third at 113 in Section 11 as an eighth grader.  The Hauppauge wrestler compiled a 37-5 mark a year ago with three of his losses coming to state placers – (two to Mark Raghunandan and one to Brandon Lapi).  He will be looking to break further into the postseason as a freshman, possibly all the way up at 132, according to Ketcham.

Travis Passaro (Eastport South Manor) Passaro has a strong resume.  He was the Eastern States champion in 2011 and has been an All-American at NHSCA Nationals.  He has repeatedly tested himself, winning the Super 32 Shippensburg qualifier event, wrestling well at the Waterway Duals while up a weight class, taking second at the Journeymen Classic and making the top 12 at the Super 32 in North Carolina. In Suffolk, he was fifth in a loaded 120-pound class last year and will look to make a state tournament run like his brother Maverick did in 2012.

Thomas Dutton (Rocky Point) – Dutton made the medal stand at the NHSCA Nationals this year at 138 pounds and was also was an All-American at perhaps the top tournament in the country, when he took eighth in freestyle at Fargo. He’ll be seeking some wins in Albany after a fourth place showing at the County tournament at 132.

“Dutton has been all over looking to improve on last year’s finish,” Ketcham said. “His improvement from year to year has been very good and he can accomplish a lot this year.”

And watch out for the upperweights . . .

Carlos Toribio (Brentwood) – Toribio was third at 160 last year and 41-5 overall at 160 pounds.  He avenged an early season loss to Shaun Gillen and suffered his only other setbacks to state placers Anthony Pistone and Tyler Grimaldi (three times).  He looked dominant in the summer in his victory at the Ken Lesser Memorial Summer Heat tournament.  He will be among the favorites to earn a ticket to the Times Union Center.

Grimaldi is a state championship favorite, but he isn’t the only member of the HHH West squad who could make an impact in the postseason.  Teammates Joe Piccolo and Jagger Rebozo also appear ready for successful senior years.  Piccolo compiled over 35 wins at 170 pounds, including victories over state placers Rrok Ndokaj (twice) and Dylen Seybolt and qualifier Zach Colgan of Section 4.  Rebozo also had over 30 wins at 182 pounds.

Ronnie King (Islip) – As a sophomore 160-pounder, King placed fifth at the Section XI tournament.  This year, Passaro predicts that the Islip wrestler has a great opportunity to make the county finals at 170.

Chris Chambers (East Islip) – Chambers was fifth at 182 at the Section 11 event as part of a 31-7 season.  He looked strong in the offseason, however, winning the Ken Lesser Memorial Summer Heat.  In fact, he recorded an impressive victory over All-State grappler Gio Santiago, who had pinned Chambers last season.

Ryan Hughes (Islip) – Hughes had a strong season at 220 pounds, with just a handful of losses and a number of quality victories.  He topped state placer Nick Lupi in sudden victory in early February and will be a threat to go to Albany this year.

Cristian Nunez (Sachem East) – Nunez knows how to rack up points.  He was 36-3 at 195 pounds a year ago with two wins over state qualifier Dan Choi of Syosset and 30 victories by bonus.  He’ll be looking for a big year.

Don’t Forget About . . .

Mark West (Hauppauge) and Corey Jamison (Huntington) – West was a state champion in 2010 but hasn’t made a return trip to the big show.  He was right there with many All-Staters last year as he defeated three placers – Sean McCabe, TJ Fabian and Matt Leshinger (although he lost to them as well).  He’ll be looking to make a run in his last season.  Meanwhile, Jamison came to the Times Union Center as the number two seed after a season in which he defeated credentialed wrestlers such as William Koll and Brandon Lapi.  However, after advancing to Saturday’s action, Jamison didn’t compete on the second day in Albany.  He looks to take that next step as a junior.

Jackson Mordente (Sachem East) – Mordente went 35-8 in 2011-12 at 138 pounds, with five of his losses to champions/high state placers (Jamel Hudson, James Dekrone and Alexis Blanco).  He did well representing Long Island at the Waterway Duals and looks to carry that success through his senior year.  His teammates Conor O’Hara and Jakob Restrepo should also have a strong seasons.  O’Hara went 29-9 with wins over Mike Lofrese and state placer Gio Sanchez in 2011-12.  Restrepo looked good winning a title at the War at the Shore in the spring and is primed for a breakout postseason.

While many wrestlers have been discussed above, there are many more who could have been profiled.  We fully expect that there will be additional Suffolk wrestlers who excel at the county and state levels in 2012-13.

Team Race:

Sachem East offers a very strong group that looks ready to pile up tournament points.  Conor O’Hara, Cristian Nunez and Jackson Mordente earned All-County honors last season and will be in line to do so again.  In addition, the Flaming Arrows will likely add to their medal haul with wrestlers that came close to 30 wins a year ago such as Mark Tracy, Zach Nobre and Jakob Restrepo. Heavyweight Josh Edmonson will also be a key factor as will Connor Farrell and Anthony Messina.

Brentwood is the returning county championship team and one of the favorites again.  The squad graduated a number of Suffolk medalists, including second place finishers Eric Orellana and Alexis Blanco.  However, the team brings back two third placers – Carlos Toribio and Marc Gonzalez as well as Danny Murray, who was fourth.  In addition, BJ Jackson and Luis Rodriguez appear among those ready to contribute heavily.

Huntington can’t be overlooked.  County champion Corey Jamison will take the mat along with runner up Anthony Puca and All-Stater Nick LupiJohn Arceri will be in the hunt for the Suffolk title at 99 pounds and others are capable of winning some matches at the Section tournament, such as Joseph Puca.

Gio Santiago, Photo by Boris V

Yet another possible contender is Sachem North, which brings back finalists Gio Santiago (Suffolk champ and state placer) along with Section 11 runner up Steven Mills.  A large number of wrestlers also return after notching 20 or more wins last season, including Mike Falcon, Matt Stallone, Stephen Guardino, Matthew Marino, Nick Perez, Alec Ross and James Schreck.

When asked for potential team champions, another handful of squads were mentioned.  It wouldn’t be completely surprising if the county champ is none of the teams above.  That’s how the talent is spread across Section 11 this year.

 

 

Division II

 

Returning State Qualifiers from 2012

99 Pounds: Lucas Webb (9) Mattituck

106 Pounds: Michael Menzer (12) Center Moriches

113 Pounds: Hunter Hulse (10) Stony Brook

120 Pounds: Justin Underwood (12) Bayport-Blue Point

132 Pounds: Ryan Hake (12) Bayport-Blue Point

152 Pounds: Paul Cavanagh (11) Port Jefferson

170 Pounds: Tomasz Filipkowski (12) Mattituck

182 Pounds: Brian Loskamp (12) Babylon

195 Pounds: Chris Baglivi (12) Mattituck

220 Pounds: Kevin Giron (12) Hampton Bays

Both of the All-State wrestlers from Division II graduated (Harrison Desousa and Travis Baskerville), but some tough wrestlers return to try to give Suffolk representation on the medal stand in Albany.

Tomasz Filipkowski of Mattituck came within one victory of placing in February.   The Section 11 tournament Champion of Champions opened with a loss to NSHCA Nationals runner up Troy Seymour of Peru before earning two victories in the consolation bracket.  He then dropped a 3-1 overtime decision to Section 2’s Brad Burns to fall just short of the podium.  After a 34-4 campaign, he looks poised to finish as an All-State wrestler.

“He’s a high quality wrestler who came so close to placing,” Bayport-Blue Point head coach Rich Reilly said. “I don’t seem anyone challenging him in the DII Sections and I think he will be very competitive upstate.”

Ryan Hake of Bayport-Blue Point had 31 wins a year ago, including 18 pins.  He had a victory in Albany, while both of his losses were to placers.  2013 would be his fourth appearance at the state tournament and he hopes to break through to the medal stand.

“Ryan is my best wrestler,” Reilly said.  “He’s been up there three times.  He hasn’t had seeding criteria in the past and we’ve adjusted our schedule this year, which should help Ryan with seeding criteria.  He had an outstanding season last year and the opportunity will be there for him to place. He’s a tough kid who is technical and very smart on the mat. I really believe this is the time for him.”

Michael Menzer of Center Moriches is another wrestler Reilly points to as a threat to make the podium in the state capital.  Menzer went 29-9 overall, including 1-2 in Albany.

“He’s definitely a tough kid who will be in the mix no matter what weight he wrestles,” Reilly said. “He has the experience of being upstate and has a great chance to do very well there.”

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Lucas Webb, Photo by Boris V

Lucas Webb (Mattituck) – Webb won the 99-pound crown a year ago before heading up to the Times Union Center, where he went 1-2.  He will look for a return visit to the state tournament, while the wrestler he defeated in the Section 11 title bout, Jake Palma of Bayport-Blue Point will look for his first journey upstate.  Palma, who may be at 113 this year according to his coach, has put in significant work and has shown improvement.

Joey Palma (Bayport-Blue Point) and Tristan DeVincenzo (Port Jefferson) – Last year’s second and third place finishers behind Menzer at 106 pounds both have the potential to do big things this year, according to Reilly.

“Joey has really impressed me in the offseason,” the coach said. “He gave up football to wrestle more because he took second two years in a row.  He felt like it was time to get to the next level.  He’s a kid I would bet on having a great year.  Joey beat DeVincenzo both times they wrestled last year, but the score wasn’t indicative of the matches.  They were really tough matches and DeVincenzo is a really tough kid.”

Justin Underwood and Dylan McGovern (Bayport-Blue Point) – Underwood traveled to Albany last year and faced a difficult path, dropping contests to state champion Sam Recco and fifth placer Zach Ayen.  When discussing Underwood, Reilly couldn’t help but mention teammate McGovern.  The two wrestlers battled back and forth last year, with Underwood earning a 6-4 decision in the Section 11 championship.

“Dylan hasn’t stopped in the offseason,” Reilly said.  “He’s tired of taking second. I don’t think they’ll be at the same weight class this year and I think they could both be at the top of the Section 11 podium.  Justin is probably more of a technical wrestler, very slick.  Dylan has that nastiness that you like to see.  We were pretty deep last year and there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room for them to get away from each other.  Things have opened up now and I think they may be at 126 and 132.  I believe both could win matches upstate.”

Hunter Hulse (Stony Brook) – Hulse racked up 30 wins in 2011-12, primarily at 113 pounds.  He lost his opening round match at the state tournament by one point before rebounding with a technical fall victory.  He was eliminated by multiple-time state placer Cody McGregor of Section 6, but looks to capitalize on his postseason experience.

“Hulse kind of came out of nowhere and had a great year,” Reilly said. “He didn’t place upstate but he did a good job.  He’s the kind of kid who will be in the mix because he’s tough and he knows he can compete.  In that same weight last year were two other very good kids, Peter Schneider of Smithtown Christian and Justin Engel from Bayport-Blue Point.  I think those two are capable of going upstate as well.”   

Chris Baglivi, Photo by Boris V

Chris Baglivi (Mattituck) – The state qualifier went 27-11 with 15 pins in 2011-12.  He had a pair of victories over Ryan Lewis of Center Moriches, including a 1-0 triumph in the Section final.  Lewis is someone to keep an eye on in the upperweights as well after a 28-9 campaign.

Returning state qualifiers Brian Loskamp (Babylon) and Kevin Giron (Hampton Bays) will look to return to Albany to pick up a few more victories after going 1-2 on the big stage in 2011-12.  Paul Cavanagh (Port Jefferson) will also aim to make a return trip after winning the 152-pound Section 11 title a year ago.

Team Race

Bayport-Blue Point won the team title a year ago by 17 points over Mattituck.  Those look to be the top squads again this season.  The Phantoms lost some key contributors including All-State heavyweight Harrison Desousa and Suffolk runner up Ralph Fabiani, but the squad returns champions Hake and Underwood and silver medalists Joe Palma, Jake Palma, Dylan McGovern as well as a trio of third placers.

Mattituck graduated only two All-County grapplers and looks to be a threat with returning state qualifiers Lucas Webb, Tomasz Filipkowski and Chris Baglivi as well as county runner up Brian Pelan and third placers Andre Vega and James Rugnetta.

Reilly believes there are a number of schools that will have a say in this year’s team competition.

“I wouldn’t say we’re the favorite,” Reilly said of his Bayport-Blue Point squad. “We have some holes although we return a lot of kids and are solid in the lower to upper middleweights. Mattituck will definitely be in the race.  Port Jefferson and Center Moriches kids have done a lot of work this offseason.  They’re tough and well coached.  You can never forget about Babylon. They’re always right there and won this thing not too long ago.  They’re rebuilding with some good wrestlers.”

In fact, he believes that some of the somewhat lesser known wrestlers may be the deciding factor.

“The way our section is designed, it could always come down to four or even five teams,” he said. “The parity in our division has gotten better over the past few years. A lot of teams will have their two or three champions and then it comes down to the other guys.  If you’re fortunate enough to have another guy in the weight who can take third or fourth, that’s where you win the tournament.  That’s been our success over the past few years, with guys like Dylan McGovern, second guys at the weight that pick up more points.  It should be an interesting tournament.”

Special thanks to all of the contributors to this story, in particular, Steven Ketcham, John Passaro and Rich Reilly.

 

More Season Preview Articles:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 4 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 8 Preview

Section 9 Preview

CHSAA Preview

PSAL Preview

Features:

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

All-State Wrestler Matt Leshinger of Sayville Selects Columbia University

 

By Matt Diano

Today, it was announced that second-year Columbia University Head Coach Carl Fronhofer picked up his first recruit from the class of 2013 when he landed returning NYS DI place-winner (3rd @120) Matt Leshinger out of Sayville High School in Suffolk County.  The news came on the heels of the super senior’s Honorable Mention selection to the NYS-10 list, a segment of the series published annually by InterMat Wrestling.

Projected as a 133-pounder in college, the addition of Leshinger further bolsters the strong stable of lightweight talent that Fronhofer has built in his short tenure at the helm of the Ivy League program.  Last season, it was Joey Moita (a multiple-time All-American in the international styles, as well as 2x State place-winner) and Johnson Mai (2x State finalist/2011 Champion, who also won the 2011 Junior National Greco-Roman title), both of California, leading the strong surge of young 125/133 pounders flocking to the Upper Manhattan based campus.

Photo by Boris V

Leshinger is also the fourth native Empire Stater in the past three years to commit to the Lions.  He joins current freshmen Chris Loew (184) and Connor Sutton (165), as well as sophomore Ben Villaret (also a 165-pounder) in making up a strong nucleus of in-state studs looking to take the EIWA conference member to the next level.

A much heralded student-athlete since his days competing as a Schoolboy, it was evident from a very early stage that Leshinger was going to be a special talent. A late starter in some respects (his first year competing was in 7th grade), it did not take long for the future Lion to demonstrate the vastness of his ceiling when he was a 2009 double All-American, placing 8th in both international styles. From here, the legend was born. And, with each passing year, like a fine wine, the product just seems to get better with age. A two-time All-Suffolk wrestler heading into his junior year (finishing 4th @96 in 2010 and 6th in 2011 @113), Leshinger would enjoy a breakout campaign last season, compiling a record of 44-6 en route to winning his first sectional crown, as well as earning the aforementioned spot on the podium at the NYS DI tournament in Albany. Included among this plethora of wins was a victory over eventual 2012 State Champion, Sean McCabe (currently a freshman at Rutgers), 3-2 in the Section XI quarterfinals. He would post an identical score the following round, besting 2009 State Champion, Mark West, before ultimately taking the title with a 5-4 double overtime win against fellow 2013 Honorable Mention, TJ Fabian (who he also defeated in the state bronze medal match a few weeks later) in the finals. So incredible was this run to the title that Leshinger joined a very exclusive company of individuals to be voted as both the Most Outstanding Wrestler and the Champion of Champions at the County Tournament. He heads into his swan song as the favorite to win the one piece of hardware that has escaped him during his scholastic career, the NYS title.

As gifted in the classroom as he is on the wrestling mat, prior to his commitment, Leshinger had been something of a hot commodity on the recruiting market, attracting the attention of the likes of Dave Amato (Brown), Chris Ayres (Princeton), Pat Santoro (Lehigh), Dan Wirnsberger (Bucknell), and Pat Popolizio (NC State) among the collection of suitors. With older brother, Steven, currently a sophomore on Ayres’s Tiger roster, today will certainly set up a battle for Ivy bragging rights in the Leshinger household.

Congratulations to Matt, his family, and the Sayville wrestling program on this tremendous accomplishment! On behalf of the entire NYS wrestling community, we look forward to seeing this young man do huge things in the Columbia Blue and White !

This article was originally published on http://www.gothamcitywrestling.com