On to Buffalo: State Champion Sean Peacock Commits to the Bulls

Sean Peacock took third place in New York as a freshman at 96 pounds, but when it came time for the next season, the Midlakes wrestler wasn’t sure what to expect.

“I went up two weight classes [to 113],” he said. “People were surprised I didn’t certify at 108.  Going up those two classes, I expected less than the year before – I definitely wanted to place but I didn’t know what would happen.”

Photo by BV

But as the season progressed and Peacock continued to pile up victories at his new weight, his goals began to change.  In fact, despite enduring his second loss of the campaign at the SuperSectionals to Austin Keough of Warsaw, Peacock shared a prediction with his mother while traveling to the Times Union Center.

“When it came time for the state tournament, I felt more confident in myself,” he said.  “I told my mom on the way to Albany for the tournament that I somehow knew I would come away a winner that year.”

He did, in more ways than one.  In a loaded bracket full of medalists and champions, such as William Koll, Dillon Stowell and Trey Aslanian, Peacock earned New York State gold.

“Everything just kind of flowed and I had some good matches and ended up winning,” he said.  “It was kind of surreal.  It was shocking to know that I beat everyone in my bracket and for Division II, I was the #1 guy in the state.  It’s something I can’t describe.”

But Peacock said it wasn’t necessarily the highlight of the year.

“I think the biggest accomplishment was winning the [dual] state title as team,” he said. “I grew up with those guys and we’ve been working together for so long – since seven years old.  We’ve wrestled year round together, always putting in the time. The team part was very meaningful.”

A similar sense of team was one of the reasons Peacock recently decided to continue his academic and athletic pursuits at the University at Buffalo, where he projects to compete at 133 pounds.  (Peacock said he also considered Old Dominion and Bucknell).

After traveling to the campus in early September, he knew he wanted to return for an official visit.

“As soon as I met the team and witnessed how things were with them, I knew it was the right fit for me,” he said.  “Everyone seemed to mesh together really well and I really liked the coaching staff and the academic support they have in place. Knowing a lot of the New York guys was a factor too.”

Before he gets there, Peacock has things left to do in Section 5 and statewide.  Right now, for the three-sport athlete, that includes finishing the cross country season. (He plays lacrosse as well).  But no matter how many squads he’s a part of, Peacock always finds significant time for wrestling.

That time has been well spent over the years and has resulted in multiple All-America finishes at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach (including seventh at 120 in 2013) as well as a rewriting of the Midlakes record books.  Peacock already is the leading pinner in Screaming Eagles history, with over 100 falls in his career.

The individual state title he captured was the first ever for a Midlakes wrestler.  He tried to make it two golds in 2013, earning a spot in the New York championship match for the second straight year against Edgemont’s Trey Aslanian.  This time, however, the current Princeton grappler came out on top, 4-2.

“Last season wasn’t my best performance,” Peacock said. “Even though I was second last year and third as a freshman, I feel like my freshman year was more successful.  I realized that I needed to improve a lot more.  It’s definitely a motivator for me now.”

Peacock feels that he has improved this offseason, especially on his feet. He credits his frequent sessions with Wayne’s Bryan Lantry and Webster Schroeder’s Tom Lancie for some of his progress.

“My neutral has gotten a lot better and we’ve been working on a lot of different situations,” he said. “I’ve fine tuned my work on top.  I’m more prepared now.”

He’s prepared to take on all comers at 132 pounds, looking for another magical weekend in the state capital.

“That was one of the best weekends of my life,” Peacock said. “Wins or pin records aren’t important.  I’m going out to be a state champ, nothing less.”

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Sean Peacock wanted to thank his parents, his teammates, Coach Steve Howcroft, Coach LaPaglia, Papa Brooks, and everyone he’s trained with over the years.

Division II New York State Tournament Recap: PSAL Gets First Champion; MOW Tighe Earns Third Straight and Much More

The New York state high school season has come to an end.  30 wrestlers walked out of the Times Union Center as champions on Saturday night and many others fought to become All-State.

(This article focuses on the Division II tournament.  The Division I recap can be found here.)

In Division II, it was a tight race, but in the end Section 5 reigned supreme, led by the top two schools in the standings – Midlakes and Warsaw.  Midlakes featured five All-State wrestlers – 120-pound runner up Sean Peacock, sixth placer Tyler Smith (195) and a trio of grapplers in the fifth position – Jason Charlette (106), Ralph Mateo (113) and Collin Fox (170).

Just five points behind was Section 6, propelled by the third place squad – Fredonia.  The Hillbillies boasted four medalists, led by the Gardners – Dakota (second at 126) and Jude (third at 145).  Also making the podium for head coach Alex Conti’s squad were Tyler Cassidy and Chris Saden.

Only one team had more than one champion over the weekend, and it was Gouverneur.  Seniors Dillon Stowell (113) and Hunter Ayen (195) made their final high school matches count as they brought a pair of titles back to Section 10.

Speaking of titles, Most Outstanding Wrestler Nick Tighe added another to his collection.  For the third consecutive year, the Phoenix grappler stood on top of the podium.  Joining him was Adis Radoncic, who made history of his own when he became the first-ever state champion from the PSAL.

 

99 Pounds:

The Champion: Derek Spann of Adirondack came in as the number three seed but went all the way to the top, utilizing his solid mat skills to get there.  In the finals, he was trailing after giving up a pair of takedowns to his opponent, Matteo Devincenzo, in the first period, but when Devincenzo took down to start the second, the complexion of the match changed.  Spann used back points there and then again in the third when he chose the top position to seal the title.

And Also . . . Devincenzo was Section 11’s highest placer in the Division II tournament. He had only one loss coming into the weekend (to Division I runner up Vito Arujau) and although not highly seeded, he looked strong throughout the tournament and will be someone to watch in the coming years.

 

106 Pounds:

The Champion: Top-seeded Luis Weirebach opened with a pin and then registered a trio of two-point wins the rest of the way, concluding with a 3-1 victory over Danny Fox in the finals.  The junior, who took fifth in 2012, became the first-ever state champion from his school.

And Also . . . Maple Grove’s Brad Bihler is pretty stingy with points.  Other than his 2-0 loss to Weirebach in the semis, he outscored his foes 31-0 (and added a pin) on the path to third place.  The Section 6 wrestler entered the tournament on a nine-match winning streak and continued to wrestle well in Albany.

 

113 Pounds:

The Champion: Dillon Stowell has significant experience at the Times Union Center, having placed numerous times in the past.  In his last chance as a senior, he reached the top of the podium after beating Nick Casella in the title bout.  In the semis, Stowell topped another veteran of the state tournament, Warsaw’s Austin Keough, by the same score (4-2) as their bout at Eastern States.

And Also . . . Casella knows how to make it to Saturday night. Last year as an unseeded wrestler, he competed for the 99-pound crown, losing a close decision. This weekend he was on a mission to finish higher and once again reached the title bout after defeating the #4 and #1 wrestlers in the bracket.  As a junior, he’ll no doubt be back for another crack at a championship.

 

120 Pounds:

The Champion: The third time was definitely a charm for Trey Aslanian of Edgemont.  In 2011, he led 5-0 before falling to William Koll in the state title match at 103 pounds.  In 2012, he dropped a decision to Sean Peacock of Midlakes for the 113 crown.  But on Saturday night, in a rematch with Peacock, Aslanian came out on top, 4-2, in his final high school contest.  The Section 1 grappler leaves as a champion, with his next destination Princeton University.

And Also . . . The finale against Peacock was a tough, close match but it wasn’t the only one for Aslanian.  In the quarters, the Edgemont standout trailed super freshman Kellen Devlin for much of the match.  (Aslanian won 4-3). Devlin, who came back to take the bronze, completed the year with just three losses and will be among the favorites for the next three seasons.

 

126 Pounds:

Koll, Photo by BV

The Champion: William Koll, a state champion in 2011, said he was disappointed with his third place showing last season.  He got back to the top of the medal stand over the weekend, cruising through the event with his closest match a 6-2 victory over Dakota Gardner in the last bout.

And Also . . . After medaling as an eighth grader in 2012, Gardner had only one setback during the season, in the Section 6 final against Brandon Muntz.  That result likely dropped him to the sixth seed in the bracket, however, he overcame that to get to the title bout as a freshman.  With three campaigns left for Fredonia, New York fans will certainly see Gardner on the podium a few more times.

 

132 Pounds:

Rodriguez-Spencer, Photo by BV

The Champion: In last year’s quarterfinals, Renaldo-Rodriguez-Spencer topped Tristan Rifanburg in overtime, a victory that propelled the Cheektowoga wrestler to the silver medal.  This year, the duo met again, but this time it was in the finals and both came in undefeated.  Rifanburg led 1-0 late into the third period on the strength of an escape and a rideout in the second.  However, Rodriguez-Spencer stayed aggressive on his feet and notched the winning takedown with time winding down.

And Also . . .  Rifanburg is now a three-time state finalist (2010 champion) and a four-time placer . . . and he still has two years of high school left.  Clyde Carey, on the other hand, has now completed his career at Addison. However, he finished on a high note.  A year ago, he wrestled with a significant injury in Albany and came within one match of a medal.  His road wasn’t easy over the weekend as he faced (and topped) returning All-Stater Zach Ayen in round one.  After losing to Rodriguez-Spencer, he captured four straight in the consolations to grab third place.

 

138 Pounds:

Tighe, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Upstate fans were excited about a potential clash between then two-time state champion Nick Tighe and 2012 titlewinner Connor Lapresi at the Eastern States.  It didn’t happen there, but it did occur on Saturday night.  Tighe broke a 1-1 tie in the third with a takedown to pick up his third consecutive crown for Phoenix.  CAA wrestling at Binghamton is next for him.

And Also . . . Lapresi leaves Lansing with another All-State showing as he prepares to take on Division I wrestling at Bucknell.  Also concluding his career with multiple medals was Lewiston Porter’s Dan Reagan.  After taking fourth in this class last year, he moved up to third as a senior.

 

145 Pounds:

Hull, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Royalton Hartland’s Drew Hull outscored his opponents 22-5 on his title run.  Last year, he lost a tight bout in the finals to take second.  This time, he got his hand raised in a 2-0 victory over Norwich’s Frank Garcia.

And Also . . . Garcia, a sophomore, opened with a pin and then won two close matches, in overtime in the quarters and 3-2 in the semis.  After jumping from the top 8 in 2012 to second in 2013, he’ll return looking for more as a junior.

The bronze finisher Jude Gardner of Fredonia had a stellar senior campaign.  He suffered just four losses – and all four were to state champion Hull, including in the semifinals on Saturday morning.  With Hull, Gardner and Eric Lewandowski (second in Division I), there’s no doubt Section 6 was strong at this weight this year.

 

152 Pounds:

Thayer, Photo by BV

The Champion:  At the Section 4 championships, where he took second, Kevin Thayer had an incredible 18-16 victory over returning state placer Dan Dickman of Greene.  His finals victory over Rowdy Prior on Saturday was similarly action-packed.  Prior, a prolific pinner, chose top for the third while trailing and locked up a cradle that seemed likely to give him the gold medal.  Somehow, however, Thayer not only avoided the fall but also got the reversal to seal the title.

And Also . . . Prior provided an exciting semifinal victory.  He was behind 4-2 late in the match but got the pin over Alex Smythe.  Smythe’s tournament is worthy of mention as well.  After taking fifth at the state tournament in 2011, he didn’t get a bid last year.  However, he moved up several weights and had a solid season, coming into the Times Union Center with just two losses (to the previously mentioned Hull and Lewandowski).  One of only two medalists in the bracket not graduating (fifth placer Trey Duvall of Addison is the other), Smythe will look to make a run in 2013-14.

 

160 Pounds:

Paddock, Photo by BV

The Champion: In the semifinals, Mike Beckwith of Greene lasted over three minutes before getting pinned by Burke Paddock.  Beckwith was the only wrestler to stay on the mat with Paddock for that long.  The Warsaw junior stuck all four of his opponents to conclude a tremendous season and collect his first state championship.

And Also . . . Sophomore Nick Gallo fell one victory shy of place on the podium a year ago.  This year, he took several steps forward with a runner up showing.  The Section 2 wrestler defeated third placer Matt Fisher as well as returning medalist Tyler Silverthorn to earn his slot in the title bout.  He should be a force as a junior.

 

170 Pounds:

Radoncic, Photo by BV

The Champion: Coming into the tournament, some were pegging last year’s runner up Cheick Ndiaye, the top seed at 113, as someone who could give the PSAL its first-ever state champion.  Instead, it was Adis Radoncic of Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy who was the first to stand on top of the podium.  The junior did it the hard way – defeating the top two seeds in the bracket.  In fact, it appeared he might be in for an uphill battle in the title bout as he faced #1 Christian Dietrich once before this season at Eastern States and lost that bout 13-4.  However, Radoncic was undaunted and fought off a number of deep shots by the Greene grappler to take a 4-3 decision. Radoncic now has his sights set on being the PSAL’s first two-time champion.

And Also . . .  It’s easy to forget that Dietrich is just a freshman, especially given the way he performed all year.  He amazed many when he placed at 152 pounds as a seventh grader and looked very good all year at a higher weight.  Keeping him out of the top spot over the next several seasons will be a tall order for the rest of the field.

Dietrich’s first round opponent, John Messinger of Putnam Valley, fought back to take fourth.  Winning four in a row to get to the bronze match is an accomplishment, but the way he did it was even more impressive.  He trailed late in nearly all of his wrestleback matches and found a way to come out on top, multiple times in the waning seconds.   In one bout, he tied the match up with two points dangerously close to the third period buzzer and then picked up a takedown a few seconds into overtime to move forward.

 

182 Pounds:

Zupan, Photo by BV

The Champion: Zack Zupan had his eye on a repeat championship all year long and he finished the job.  The future Binghamton Bearcat had little trouble making the title bout as he racked up bonus points in his first three contests before controlling the finale, a 3-2 victory over Warsaw’s Tim Schaefer.  He joined future teammates Nick Kelley and Nick Tighe as titlewinners on Saturday night.

And Also . . . Schaefer finishes high school with a plethora of accolades.  He made the podium five times during his career, beginning with a sixth place finish as a seventh grader.

Hoosick Falls had its first champion in Luis Weirebach at 106 and added a third placer in Brad Burns at 182.  The Section 2 grappler was beaten in double overtime in the quarters but bounced back with four in a row to grab bronze.

 

195 Pounds:

Ayen, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Gouverneur had Dillon Stowell win it all at 113.  And then, the Wildcats crowned a second champion at 195 pounds when Hunter Ayen sent Bryce Mazurowski to his second consecutive silver medal.  Ayen fell behind 6-0 in the match, but climbed back into the bout when he threw the Avon wrestler onto his back.  When he was close to the pin, the referee stopped the action for blood time, but Ayen was unfazed as he added another takedown to win 9-6.  The Gouverneur senior had pinned his first three opponents.

And Also . . . One of those foes for Ayen was Matt Booth.  The Section 6 wrestler excelled in the consolation bracket, outscoring his opponents 30-5 to take third.  In the bronze match he topped Dusty Lewis of Salamanca, the wrestler he beat to qualify for the tournament a few weeks ago.

 

220 Pounds:

Bacon, Photo by BV

The Champion: A pair of undefeated wrestlers marched through the tournament and faced off in the finals with Hornell’s Zack Bacon utilizing strong mat wrestling to take the title 1-0 over Ryan Wolcott.  Bacon came back after a silver medal a year ago to end his career in the top spot.

And Also . . . Wolcott made a smooth transition from 170 pounds, where he won two matches in Albany in 2012, up to 220.  He pinned his way to the championship bout and the 1-0 loss to Bacon was his only setback all season long.  In 2013-14, he’ll look to go from second to first the same way Bacon did in his senior campaign.

 

 285 Pounds:

The Champion: Windsor’s Matt Abbott came into the tournament with a 33-1 mark and 19 pins.  (The sole loss was to the previously mentioned Wolcott).  He exited the Times Union Center as a champion.  Heavyweight matches are often low scoring but Abbott put a lot of points on the board, including 11 in the semis and eight in the finals.

And Also . . . Alex Soutiere, last year’s runner up in this class, took third after winning five wrestleback bouts.  In 2012, Soutiere upset top-seeded Kacee Sauer.  The tables turned this year as Soutiere (the #1 seed) was upended in the opening round by junior Connor Calkins of Section 5. Calkins wound up fifth and as the only non-senior placer, will be in the mix for top honors in 2014.

For all the brackets, see this link.

Congratulations to the Division II wrestlers on a great season.

Section 5 Preview: More Than 10 All-State Wrestlers Return, Including 2012 Finalists Recco, Peacock, DePrez, Mazurowski and Bacon

Division I

Returning State Placewinners

Fifth Place: Bryan Lantry, Wayne, 99 Pounds

Second Place: Vincent Deprez, Hilton, 113 Pounds

 

Additional Returning Qualifiers

99 Pounds: Jon Haas, Spencerport

106 Pounds: Bryan Ruggeri, Fairport

106 Pounds: Barton Peters, Brockport

170 Pounds: Jared Mesiti, Brockport

195 Pounds: Colton Kells, Fairport

Seniors to Watch

Colton Kells (Fairport) – The Red Raiders crowned the first state champion in school history in 2012 when Josh Lackey took the 220-pound title.  Kells, a fellow Fairport upperweight, looks to make it two years in a row.  He came within one victory of making the medal stand as a junior as he won a pair of bouts in Albany.  His 35-8 campaign included a victory over bronze medalist Jake Kelly of Niagara Wheatfield and all but one of his losses came against wrestlers that have now graduated.

Bryan Ruggeri (Fairport) – Like his teammate Kells, Ruggeri made the trip to the state tournament. He had a difficult draw, losing to undefeated champion Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville and fourth place finisher Jimmy Overhiser of Corning.  However, he showed his ability in a 35-win season that included a win over All-State grappler Corey Hollister.  He’ll be looking for more in 2013.

Jared Mesiti (Brockport) – Mesiti went 36-9 at 170 pounds a year ago, making an appearance at the Times Union Center after winning the Section 5 title by a point over Jessi Kimmerli.  The victory was significant because the Spencerport grappler had defeated Mesiti the first three times they met in 2011-12.  (Kimmerli earned fifth in Albany). Now that he’s had a taste of the state tournament, Mesiti is looking to get his hand raised at the event as a senior.

Austin Coleman (Spencerport) – Coleman, the returning Section 5 runner up, had a number of quality wins at 285 a year ago, including over state silver medalist El Shaddai Van Hoesen of Columbia, and looks to punch his ticket to Albany in 2013.  He’s favored to do just that as opposing coaches such as Brockport’s Mike Ferris believe he’s the wrestler to beat at heavyweight this season.

 

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Vincent DePrez, Photo by BV

Vincent DePrez (Hilton) – Deprez had a nearly perfect season as a sophomore that ended just short of a state title.  He went 49-1 at 113 pounds, with his only setback coming on a takedown at the buzzer in the state championship bout against Dylan Realbuto of Somers.  He racked up a collection of impressive triumphs, including wins over Sean Peacock (Division II state champion) and additional placers Cody McGregor, Pat Skinner and Robert Person.  He will be up several weight classes but will be among the favorites to stand on top of the podium in late February.

Barton Peters (Brockport) – Peters is already a two-time Section 5 champion, including the 106 pound title in 2012.  During his 39-win sophomore campaign, he tallied several quality victories, including a pin against Fairport’s Bryan Ruggeri in the first period of the Section championship bout.

Lightweights Jonathan Haas (Spencerport) and Bryan Lantry (Wayne) know each other pretty well.  Two of the top 99-pounders in the state last season, they met three times in February.  Haas came out on top on the first two occasions, including in overtime in the SuperSectional final.  However, when they met in Albany, with a place on the podium on the line, Lantry (45-5) captured a 5-1 victory on his way to fifth.  Both will once again be in the running at the end of the year.

 

Although the following wrestlers didn’t take the mat at the state tournament last year, they will certainly be in the mix to do so this time around.

Anthony DePrez (Hilton) – As a tenth grader, he went 41-6 with three of his losses to state runner up Brady Baron.  The last of those defeats came by a slim 4-3 margin in the SuperSectional title bout.  DePrez had 11 pins and another 17 bonus wins.  Not to be outdone by his brothers Vincent and Anthony, Lou DePrez piled up 29 wins as a seventh grader at 106 and will another important part of the Hilton lineup.

Jacob Pincus (Pittsford) – Pincus took second at the SuperSectionals behind Angelo DeAngelis after a 35-4 campaign.  He registered 20 pins and defeated NHSCA All-American Derek Holcomb of Newark Valley.

Vinny Romeo (Canandaigua Academy) – Romeo took third in Section 5 to cap off a season in which he won 38 matches at 126 pounds, including 16 pins.  His bronze medal match victory at SuperSectionals came against Jacob Boice of Honeoye Falls-Lima, another wrestler to keep an eye on.  Boice had defeated Romeo multiple times earlier in the campaign.

Peter Armbruster (Webster Schroeder) – Armbruster was 40-9 in 2011-12, taking third place in Section 5 behind a pair of state qualifiers Jessi Kimmerli and Jared Mesiti.  He registered some solid wins, such as a victory over Josh Maier of Brockport, and looks to make an appearance in Albany.

Collin Pittman (Spencerport) – Like Armbruster, Pittman was a bronze medalist at the SuperSectionals behind two wrestlers that earned bids to the state capital – Colton Kells and Jesse Kozub.  After his successful junior season at 195 pounds, Pittman will look to make an impact not only in the Section but at the state level in the upperweights.

 

Youth Movement . . . 

Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton) – Diakomihalis captured trophy after trophy in the spring and summer as he won several events in various states, including the Ohio Tournament of Champions, the Empire Nationals and the NYWAY State championships. As a seventh grader, he went 35-3 with his losses coming to Haas (twice) and Lantry. Intermat currently has him pegged as the sixth best Junior High School wrestler in the nation.

He demonstrated yet again that he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in New York this year at the Journeymen Classic at the beginning of October where he went undefeated and won his bracket in convincing fashion, including victories over Suffolk County’s Jesse Dellavecchia and All-American Tommy Aloi of Virginia. For an encore performance, he won the Middle School national crown at the Super 32 in October.

“He is the closest thing I’ve seen to a young Quinton Murphy,” said Section 5 Class Chairman and Byron-Bergen Athletic Director Rich Hannan.  “He’s really special. He doesn’t get rattled and he doesn’t care who he’s wrestling.  He just does his thing and stays composed.”

Parker Kropman (Penfield) – Kropman was another seventh grader who produced good results at 99 pounds, with more than 30 wins. He lost a one-point decision to state champion Tony Recco of Lyndonville and also dropped matches against Diakomihalis (twice) and state placer Nick Barbaria of New Rochelle.   He and brothers Skylar and Cooper will rack up many victories over the years for Penfield. Teammate Frankie Gissendanner will be in his first year of varsity eligibility and is a wrestler to keep tabs on.  He had a highly successful offseason, winning titles at just about every event he entered, including the Ohio Tournament of Champions.

 

Team Race

“The team race will be more interesting than it’s been in years,” Hannan said.  “Brockport has been inching closer and closer to Spencerport each year.  Last year, the team race wasn’t locked up until somewhere close to 220 pounds and that was unusual.  Several teams will be fighting it out this year.”

Brockport coach Mike Ferris agrees that it will be an intriguing race in 2013, naming a number of squads he thinks can contend, such as Spencerport, Brockport, Hilton, Webster Schroeder, Penfield, Fairport and Pittsford.

“It’s always exciting to see how coaches prepare their teams for the final tournament of the year,” Ferris said.  “It seems that this year more than ever, any one of those teams has the ability to finish on top.  The team that finishes hot at the end of the season will prove to be Section 5’s best.”

Let’s take a look at some of those teams.

Spencerport, which finished fourth in the state polls last year, is of course a team that will be in the thick of things. The squad graduated a fair bit of firepower with state qualifiers Steve Maier, Angelo DeAngelis and Jessi Kimmerli moving on.  But Jon Haas, Austin Coleman and Collin Pittman will be back to form a strong core for the always-tough Rangers.

Brockport, eighth in the state a year ago, is in a similar situation, welcoming back Section 5 champions Mesiti, Peters and Class A Section champion Ryan Mattison, but losing a large group of solid competitors in Joe Carter, Jesse Kozub, Alex Love, Josh Maier, Mark Nesbitt, Owen Peters, Jimmy Porteus and CJ White.

“It is always difficult to say goodbye to a special group of seniors like we had last season,” Ferris said, mentioning that his squad sent a Division I team record of six athletes to the state tournament. “However, like every year, it is important to build off of the successes of past athletes to build the future. I am confident our team will be ready to go when it matters the most.”

As always the highly anticipated Brockport vs. Spencerport dual is circled on the calendar for Section 5 wrestling fans. January 24th will be sure to draw a crowd as the Blue Devils host the Rangers in what is typically a battle.

Don’t forget about Fairport. The team’s first-ever state champion Josh Lackey now suits up for North Carolina State and his classmates Dakota Taylor and Pat Van Bortle aren’t wearing Red Raider singlets anymore.  But James Arao, Zack Barker, Colton Kells, Andrew Pieri and Bryan Ruggeri will give Fairport a tough squad to beat.

“Fairport always finds ways to replace talent with young tough kids,” Ferris said. “I’m sure Coach Kohl has his Raiders ready to contend for an AA sectional title once again.”

Other teams that will make their mark include Penfield, which returns Keith Langdon, Parker Kropman, Skylar Kropman and Eric Harley and Hilton which offers a standout lightweight group of the three DePrez brothers (Vincent, Anthony and Lou) as well as Diakomihalis.

Pittsford will be in the mix despite the loss of state runner up Brady Baron with a core made up of Jeff Gould, Tyler Gross, Rob Klotz, Jacob Pincus and Tyler Schaefer.

And while Webster Schroeder said goodbye to Section 5 finalists Alec Dierna, Josh Reed, Andrew Wightman and Mike DeMarco, they are a team to keep tabs on as well, led by returning placers Armbruster and Rosario Venniro.

“Webster Schreoder lost a solid core of athletes but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Coach Salvaggio competes for a AA championship again this year,” Ferris said. “He has some tough kids returning on his team.”

 

Division II

Returning State Placewinners

99 Pounds: Andrew Flanagan, Holley, Fourth Place

99 Pounds: Tony Recco, Lyndonville, State Champion

106 Pounds: Corey Hollister, Perry, Fifth Place

113 Pounds: Sean Peacock, Midlakes, State Champion

113 Pounds: Austin Keough, Warsaw, Sixth Place

170 Pounds: Burke Paddock, Warsaw, Third Place

182 Pounds: Tim Schaefer, Warsaw, Third Place

195 Pounds: Bryce Mazurowski, Avon, Second Place

195 Pounds: Tyler Smith, Midlakes, Fourth Place

220 Pounds: Zack Bacon, Hornell, Second Place

220 Pounds: Mike Silvis, Holley, Fifth Place

 

Additional Returning Qualifiers

106 Pounds: Matt Boyle, Batavia

126 Pounds: Jake Nicholson, Waterloo

132 Pounds: Clyde Carey, Addison

145 Pounds: Austin Hedges Letchworth

182 Pounds: Jeff Day, Letchworth

 

Some of the Wrestlers to Watch . . .

Section 5 was the big winner in Division II in Albany and although outstanding state champions Sam Recco, Quinton Murphy and Chris Nevinger have graduated, as have medalists such as Jeff O’Lena and Kacee Sauer, the Section still returns a host of qualifiers that will account for a large number of points again in February.  In fact, 16 wrestlers who represented the section in 2012 will be back.

Tony Recco, Photo by Boris V

Tony Recco made a tremendous debut at the state tournament, earning a championship to match the one his brother Sam (now at Edinboro), captured.  On his title run in Albany, Recco defeated fellow Section 5 star Andrew Flanagan, who also made All-State.

A few minutes after Tony Recco earned his title, Sean Peacock completed a 49-2 campaign with a crown of his own in one of the brackets most densely packed with former All-State grapplers.  One blemish on his record was a SuperSectionals finals loss to Austin Keough, who was sixth at the states.  Recco, Peacock and Keough will once again be threats to earn gold in 2013.

Bryce Mazurowski, Photo Boris V

A pair of upperweights also stepped on the mat for the Saturday night title bouts in Albany, with both Avon’s Bryce Mazurowski and Hornell’s Zack Bacon coming up just one match short of being state champions themselves.   Mazurowski racked up a 46-2 record a year ago (including a victory over Bacon up at 220) and may be the preseason favorite statewide.  To win the Section 5 crown, Mazurowski defeated Tyler Smith of Midlakes, who took fourth at the state tournament.  They could meet again during the season . . . or in Albany.

Bacon and Mike Silvis may be on a collision course to meet not only to determine the best in Section 5 but also the best in the Empire State. Bacon was dominant a year ago, with all but one of his victories by bonus points coming into the state tournament.  When they met in Albany, Silvis gave Bacon one of his toughest bouts in a 4-1 decision.  Look for some more battles, as according to Hannan, Silvis put in significant work in the offseason, including attending the 28-day J Robinson camp, and is getting serious looks from several Division I college programs.

Two other wrestlers looking to win it all this season are Warsaw’s Tim Schaefer and Burke Paddock.  The pair has combined to make the medal stand seven times, but neither has reached the top yet. Both hope to change that in 2013.

 

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Here are some wrestlers who didn’t make the drive to wrestle in Albany last year, but have a solid chance to do so this year.

Lightweights:

At 99 pounds, Hannan pointed to a pair of wrestlers who could break through this year, Tyler Hamsher of Wayland-Cohocton and Jason Charlette of Midlakes (34-13), the third and fourth place finishers at Supers.  They split a pair of close, late season matches.

“I think both Charlette and Hamsher will be very good,” Hannan said. “Hamsher lost a tight 3-1 match to [state champion] Tony Recco in the semis at the Supers.  I think both are right there at the state level if they’re back at 99.”

Another bonus name to remember over the next few seasons is Dane Heberlein.  The Alexander wrestler made the varsity squad last year as a seventh grader but didn’t meet the minimum weight requirement to compete. However, he has proven himself in a number of events around the country, including winning an NHSCA Middle School National championship in the spring. According to a number of coaches, Heberlein will be dangerous, especially once his weight is high enough.

In the 106/113 range, keep tabs on Matt Boyle of Batavia, who went 34-7 with 11 pins as a sophomore 106 pounder.  He dropped a 2-1 decision to state placer Corey Hollister and would like to join the Perry grappler in the Times Union Center in 2013.   In addition, don’t lose sight of Hunter Taylor of Byron Bergen, who captured 33 bouts as a freshman 113-pounder and took fourth at the SuperSectionals.  Interestingly, Taylor has wrestling in his family as he often watches his uncle, Tim Taylor compete in Greco Roman at high profile events.   Tim Taylor has been second on the Olympic ladder behind Dremiel Byers for a number of years.

While two familiar faces, Sam Recco and Jeff O’Lena, the top two finishers in the state a year ago, are no longer in high school, Section 5 will still be tough at 120 pounds. The top returner, Rafael Mateo of Midlakes, piled up 42 victories as a tenth grader, including wins over state medalists Zach Ayen of Gouverneur (by major) and Dakota Gardner of Fredonia. He faced a tough schedule, battling Recco and O’Lena twice each as well as Dylan Rifenburg.  That experience should help him as a junior.

At 126 pounds, Jake Nicholson of Waterloo came so close to going to Albany in 2012, losing by a point in triple overtime to state placer Dylan Rifenburg at 126 in the SuperSectionals.  In his 33-3 campaign, he lost only to state silver medalist Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer and Rifenburg twice (although he also beat Rifenburg) and recorded 21 pins.

“126 last year was a bag of rattlesnakes,” Hannan said. “I didn’t know who was going to come out of it.  Nicholson wrestled well and won it. He’s very athletic on the mat.”

Speaking of 126 pounds, two wrestlers to monitor this year are Jake Sepor of Pavilion and Derek Draper of York, although one or both may move up to 132.  Draper placed at the SuperSectionals in 2011, according to Hannan, and a top three finish in 2013 could result in a trip to Albany.  Draper has overcome some obstacles to get back on the mat and will be someone to cheer for in his final campaign.

“I’ll be very surprised if Sepor doesn’t make it to states this year.  He’s definitely good enough to do it,” Hannan said.  “As for Draper, he came up with the [Bobby and Alec] Diernas and Quinton Murphy and was right there as a young guy.  He’s had some serious medical issues and at times looks like a shell of his former self but you can still see the glimpses of really great wrestling. If he puts it together, he may be at states and that would be a gigantic victory.”

If either Sepor or Draper are at 132, they might face Addison’s Clyde Carey, who was one victory from placing in Albany last year.  A few things should be noted about that performance.  One, his losses were to eventual state champion Connor Lapresi in the first round and then to bronze finisher Tom Page of Eden by a 4-3 score.  Second, while many compete at less than 100% at the end of the campaign, Carey was far less than that.

“Clyde wrestled with a broken collarbone at the end of the year,” Hannan said. “You could see he was hurting in the semis and finals of the Supers, but he did what he had to do.  He gutted it out.  He actually wrestled well at states, but you’re not going to be able to get away with being that injured and still win at that level.  He doesn’t stop moving.  He’s technically very good.  He beat up on some kids in Section 5 that I thought were very good wrestlers. I’m excited to see what he can do when he’s healthy.”

 

Middle/Upperweights: 

Moving on to the middle and upperweights, Collin Fox of Midlakes is one to keep tabs on this year. The numbers were very good for Fox as he was 46-2 with 25 pins and a bronze medal at SuperSectionals a year ago.  He also defeated qualifier Austin Hedges of Letchworth and hopes to take a few steps forward in the postseason.

Austin Baker from Canisteo-Greenwood was 40-10 at 160 pounds with four losses to New York state medalists (champions Chris Nevinger and Ben Haas and third placer Hayden Wagner) and another four to now-graduated Corey Vail of Pioneer.  He defeated state qualifier Conner Fox of Midlakes and “will be very good” according to Hannan.

At 170 pounds, Nick Winkley, who took fourth at Supers last year is back, and another name to keep an eye on is a grappler who didn’t participate in the postseason after a 32-7 record — Byron Bergen’s Jon Levchuk.

“I think Jon could have been in the finals against Burke Paddock last year in the SuperSectionals if he had wrestled,” Hannan said. “He had a fantastic year and will make some noise this year, even possibly at the state level.”

Yet another upperweight who will be a breakout threat is Penn Yan’s John Martisch.  As a sophomore in 2011-12, Martisch went 43-6 with five of his losses to state placers (four to Tyler Smith and one, a 6-5 decision to Jesse Kozub).  He registered 32 pins along the way.

“He had Kozub on the ropes.  A call went Kozub’s way late in the match but Martisch had him beat.  He’s big and well put together and he can definitely wrestle,” Hannan said.  “Little mistakes cost him last year but if he cleans them up, he can be one of the top guys in the state, that’s for sure.  No one in the state knows his name, kind of like [current Binghamton wrestler] Tyler Deuel a few years ago.  We saw Deuel coming but he surprised a lot of people in New York.  Martisch is the same way and is even built like him.”

 

Team Race

Holley won the team title in 2012 for the first time since 2008, less than 10 points ahead of Midlakes and about 20 in front of Warsaw.   Each of those squads returns multiple SuperSectional placers, but Midlakes may be the preseason favorite, according to Hannan, as the Screaming Eagles bring back a large number of top performers.

State champion Sean Peacock and All-Stater Tyler Smith lead the charge for Midlakes while Collin Fox, Rafael MateoHammond Raes and Jason Charlette, who all finished in the top six at SuperSectionals, will put plenty of points on the board as well.  “I think Midlakes will be very tough to beat.  They have to be at the forefront because of what they did last year,” Hannan said.

Challenging for top billing will be Warsaw, which welcomes back Burke Paddock and Tim Schaefer who are among the best in New York as well as multiple-time state medalist Austin Keough and Colin Royce, who was fourth in the Section a year ago.  Of course, the return of Aaron Paddock strengthens the team on the mat and serves as an inspiration to wrestlers throughout the state and the country.  For our recent story on the Paddock family, see here.

Holley can’t be discounted in its bid to repeat despite the losses of four-time state champion Quinton Murphy and multiple-time All-Stater Kacee Sauer. Andrew Flanagan and Mike Silvis both made the podium at the Times Union Center and Nick Winkley is set to come back after a fourth place SuperSectional showing.

“Holley will be solid,” Hannan said. “No one in Section 5 reloads better than [head coach] John Grillo.  One year, they had seven seniors in the finals of the SuperSectionals and the next year, after all those guys graduated, they scored more points with a new team.   You can’t count Holley out.”

Also offering strong squads will be Canisteo-Greenwood as well as typically tough Palymra-Macedon. Byron Bergen has a solid group of returning starters such as Hunter Taylor, Jon Levchuk, Warren Oderkirk and Austin Yockel. “There’s a nice mix of veterans and a really good group of youth wrestlers at Byron Bergen,” Hannan said.  “The future looks pretty bright.”

Special thanks to all of the contributors to this article, especially Mike Ferris and Rich Hannan.

 

More Season Preview Articles:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 4 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 8 Preview

Section 9 Preview

Section 11 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