All Tied Up: Long Island and Upstate All-Star Squads Battle to 27-27 Result in Ithaca

The poster for the first annual Long Island vs. Upstate Challenge said, “The Debate Will Finally Be Settled.”  But after a great day of wrestling, neither team earned bragging rights as the squads battled to a 27-27 tie at the Friedman Center on the campus of Cornell University.

It’s fair to say that neither team was thrilled with the outcome.

“We weren’t happy.  I actually think were kind of shocked to have tied,” said Long Island 120-pounder Travis Passaro. “I didn’t think it would be a blowout, but I thought we would win.”

Upstate 195-pounder Reggie Williams wasn’t pleased either.

“Even after they tied it up, we were hoping we would still win on criteria,” the Johnson City star said. “We would have won if they went to criteria. We really wanted to win this in the first year of the event.”

The dual featured some of New York’s best wrestlers, including 13 state champions and another 15 placers.  As a result, the fans were treated to a back and forth affair that came down to the final bout, where Connetquot’s Brendan Dent edged Hilton’s Vincent DePrez at 145 pounds 5-4 to complete Long Island’s comeback from eight points down with just two matches remaining.

Photo by BV

The main event began with a pair of 99 pounders who took first (Yianni Diakomihalis of Hilton) and third (John Busiello of Eastport South Manor) in Albany.  Diakomihalis took charge early and never relented, winning a 9-3 decision and giving Upstate a 3-0 advantage.

Long Island responded, however, as state champion Mike Hughes of Smithtown West used a late charge to top Columbia’s El Shaddai Van Hoesen 5-4 at heavyweight.  The Columbia wrestler scored the first takedown and later added a reversal, but Hughes rebounded to knot the team score at 3.

Next to the mat was yet another state gold medalist – 106-pounder Kyle Quinn of Wantagh.  He took an early lead against third placer Jon Haas of Spencerport, but it was Haas who picked up the pace as the match continued, erasing the early deficit and coming from behind to win 7-4.

Building on that momentum for the Upstate team was Holley’s Mike Silvis at 220.  He used a big throw to propel himself to a 7-3 decision over New York runner up Steven Mills and pushed the Upstate group’s advantage to 9-3.   On top of that, the Long Island squad was docked a team point, which would prove costly at the end of the day.

Ready to turn the tide was two-time state titlewinner Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville.  The Section 11 star got his team back on track with a 6-0 blanking of Lockport’s Anthony Orefice at 113 to pull Long Island within 9-5, bringing up a rematch of a quarterfinal tilt at the Times Union Center.

At the state tournament, Syosset’s Dan Choi upended top-seeded Reggie Williams of Johnson City 14-4 on his way to the NYS crown.  Williams couldn’t wait to take another shot at the Section 8 grappler.

“I was really excited to have a rematch because I wasn’t at my best at the state tournament,” Williams said. “I was really looking forward to it.  I wanted to prove that I just had a bad weekend.”

He definitely had a better day on Saturday in an entertaining clash that featured a number of throw attempts by the 195-pounders.  With a lead in the third and time winding down, Williams picked up significant points for the Upstaters when he put Choi to his back and recorded the fall.

“Ending it that way did mean a little more,” Williams said. “I know [Choi] committed to Cornell and he’ll be scarred with his first experience there losing by pin. Getting a pin at this level of competition, at an event like this was big. It really helped my team out.”

It definitely did, giving Upstate a 15-5 lead. With that 10-point deficit, Long Island sent bronze medalist Travis Passaro out to face 120-pound champion Alex Delacruz of Ossining.  Thanks to some outstanding work on the mat, including a number of turns for near fall, the Section 11 standout beat Delacruz by major decision to pull his squad within striking distance, 15-9.

“I really wanted to wrestle him; I felt like I should have been in the state finals,” Passaro said. “It was a big match for me. Top is one of my best positions and when I got on top, I was able to work for turns and score a lot of points.  I wasn’t expecting to score so much, but I wasn’t surprised.  I felt like I did what I should have done.”

And not too long afterwards, Gio Santiago answered the pin by Williams with a fall of his own to bring the scoreboard to a 15-15 tie.  Santiago, a prolific pinner throughout his career, ended his bout with Warsaw’s Tim Schaefer with an exclamation point.

Photo by BV

“Gio Santiago came through with a huge pin to tie it up and bring us right back into it,” Passaro said. “That was really big.”

So, eight matches down, seven to go and it was deadlocked between the squads.  What could make things even more exciting?  How about a clash between a pair of 2013 state champions?

TJ Fabian of Shoreham Wading River and William Koll of Lansing met at 126 pounds at the Eastern States Classic in January, with the Long Island wrestler walking away with the triumph and the tournament title.  This time, the tables were turned as Koll jumped out to a quick lead with a takedown and back points.  Despite Fabian’s strong top work in the third period which earned points both for riding time and stalling against the Section 4 wrestler, Koll came away a 5-4 winner and pulled the Upstate squad ahead 18-15.

Long Island then briefly took its last lead of the day on the strength of Danny McDevitt’s major decision over Clarence’s Jake Weber at 170.  McDevitt showed his dominance on the mat, reversing his opponent on multiple occasions and collecting nearfall to put the Section 8 and 11 squad up 19-18.

However, the next three bouts went to the Upstaters as Brandon Lapi and Connor Lapresi both registered shutouts over their opponents, Chris Mauriello and Vinny Turano (at 132 and 138).  Both Lapi and Lapresi notched first period takedowns and then demonstrated strong work on the mat, with significant riding time.

In between those two performances came one of the most anticipated matches of the event – a meeting between Division I state champion Tyler Grimaldi and his Division II counterpart Burke Paddock at 160 pounds.  Grimaldi said before the weekend that it was the “grudge match” as he had beaten Paddock in Freestyle while Paddock had returned the favor at the Eastern States.

After some early handfighting, the Warsaw junior grabbed control, throwing Grimaldi to his back for a 5-0 advantage.  He added to his lead in the second to enter the third up 7-1.  Despite a comeback from the Hills West star, who earned some takedowns late, Paddock came away with a 9-5 victory.

And so entering the final two bouts of the afternoon, at 152 and 145 pounds, Upstate was in front 27-19.

“I was confident in [Corey Rasheed and Brendan Dent]; I felt like they could both win,” Passaro said. “I thought we had a chance to win the dual.”

Rasheed, one of the most dominant grapplers in all of New York this year was set to face  fellow 152-pound state champion Kevin Thayer of Unatego.

Photo by BV

Those present at the Times Union Center saw Rasheed cradle his opponent and end the state title bout in less than a minute.  That move led to many falls during the campaign for the Longwood junior.  He slapped that cradle onto Thayer more than once, but the Section 4 wrestler refused to give in, fighting off his back multiple times.  In the end, Rasheed was just too much and with less than 20 ticks left in the third period, he finished off a 15-0 technical fall, putting his squad behind by just three points, 27-24.

“Kevin Thayer is a good wrestler who goes hard, but Corey Rasheed is just a really, really tough kid,” Williams said. “I was proud of Kevin because even though he was losing, he kept fighting. He never stopped fighting and he didn’t give up the pin.”

So it all came down to the 145 pound contest.  It was two-time state runner up Vincent DePrez of Hilton for the Upstate squad, (second at 138 in 2013) against NYS fourth placer Brendan Dent of Connetquot.

Dent got on the board first with a takedown and ended the first ahead 2-1. He added to his lead with an escape in the second, but DePrez made it 3-3 with a takedown in the middle stanza. In the third, DePrez moved ahead 4-3 when he got out from bottom, but Dent answered with a takedown with just over a minute remaining to lead 5-4. DePrez worked for the reversal as time ticked down, but Dent held on for the 5-4 victory.

Following the match, the scoreboard changed to 27-all and that’s how it would end. One thing was unanimous – neither team liked that deadlocked tally.

“There’s always tension between Upstate and Long Island,” Passaro said. “It was a really fun weekend, but we wanted to win it.”

Williams felt the same way.

“We had a great time as team; did a lot of bonding.  When good wrestlers get together, you learn a lot and make new friendships.  It was a good weekend, but no one wants to end on a tie,” he said. “We really wanted to come out on top in the first year. But, there’s always next year.”



First Annual Long Island/Upstate Challenge Coming Up This Saturday in Ithaca!

Courtesy of Finger Lakes Wrestling Club

Ithaca, NY– The Finger Lakes Wrestling Club will host the 1st Annual Long Island/Upstate Challenge on Saturday, March 30, 2013, at Cornell University’s Friedman Wrestling Center.

The Long Island/Upstate Challenge is the newest premier high school wrestling event in the state of New York. The match has attracted some of the best high school wrestlers in the Empire State, in a two dual meet format. The preliminary dual pits some of the best wrestlers from the central New York area representing the host club the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club against the Rochester-based team Section V at 2:00 PM. This match will feature two state champions (Shayne Brady (FLWC)) and Sean Peacock (V)) and three state finalists (Ryan Snow (FLWC), Ryan Wolcott (FLWC) and Christian Dietrich (FLWC)).

Rasheed, Photo by BV

The feature match of the evening at 4:30 PM showcases the best-of-the-best high school wrestlers from across the upstate New York area challenging the Long Island elite, featuring fourteen current or former state champions. The highlight of this dual will be three matches between 2013 Division I vs. Division II state titlewinners: 126 TJ Fabian (LI) vs William Koll (Upstate), 152 Corey Rasheed (LI) vs Kevin Thayer (Upstate) and 160 Tyler Grimaldi (LI) vs Burke Paddock (Upstate).

Proceeds from the challenge benefit local FLWC resident athletes to aid in their pursuit of International and Olympic glory.

Tickets for the event are available at and at the door. Ticket prices are as follows: $15.00 Reserved Seating, $10.00 General admission


Kris Harrington 585-738-3906
Rob Koll 607-255-7307

Check Out Video Interviews With Numerous Wrestlers from the State Tournament

The following are video interviews with a number of wrestlers at the state tournament.  Special thanks to Adam Burgos and Nick Garone for their amazing contributions!

Some browsers may take a little extra time to load.

(To view on youtube, see


Tyler Grimaldi (160 Pound State Champ, Hills West) and coach Mike Patrovich with Nick Garone


Adis “The Beast” Radoncic (RKA) – First Ever PSAL State Champ (170)


Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton), 99 Pound State Champion


Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville), 113 Pound State Champion and MOW


TJ Fabian (Shoreham Wading River), 126 Pound State Champion


Trey Aslanian (Edgemont), 120 Pound State Champion (3x Finalist)


William Koll (Lansing), 2x State Champion


Burke Paddock (Warsaw), 160 Pound State Champion


Corey Rasheed (Longwood), 152 Pound State Champion


Louis Hernandez (Mepham), 145 Pound State Champion


Dan Choi (Syosset), 195 Pound State Champion with N. Garone


Rich Sisti (Monsignor Farrell), 220 Pound State Champion with N. Garone


Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (Cheektowoga), 138 Pound State Champion


Luis Weirebach (Hoosick Falls), 106 Pound State Champion


Hunter Ayen (Gouverneur), 195 Pound State Champion


Alex Delacruz (Ossining), 120 Pound State Champion


Nick Tighe (Phoenix), 138 Pound State Champion (3x Champion)


Shayne Brady (Carthage), 182 Pound State Champion


Mike Hughes (Smithtown West), 285 Pound State Champion with N. Garone


Dillon Stowell (Gouverneur), 113 Pound State Champion


Derek Spann (Adirondack), 99 Pound State Champion D2



Matteo Devincenzo (Port Jefferson, 99 D2)


Adis Radoncic (RKA, 170 D2)


Nick Casella (Locust Valley, 113 D2)


William Koll (Lansing, 126 D2)


TJ Fabian (Shoreham Wading River, 126 D1)


Corey Rasheed (Longwood, 152 D1)


Rowdy Prior (Phoenix, 152 D2)


Luis Weirebach (Hoosick Falls, 106 D2)


Derek Spann (Adirondack, 99 D2)


DAY 1/Medal Round VIDEOS

Keanu Thompson (Grand Street after Pinning #2 Seed in Quarters)


Dan Choi (Syosset after Beating #1 Seed in Quarters)


James O’Hagan (Seaford after Topping #1 Seed)


Steve Schneider (160, MacArthur after overtime victory)


Nick Barbaria (New Rochelle, 106 after the quarters)


Nick Weber (Kings Park, 195 Pounds after defeating #2 seed)


Jonathan Haas (Spencerport, 3rd place 106 D1)


Austin Coleman (Spencerport, 2nd place 285 D1)


Levi Ashley (Shenendehowa, 2nd place, after beating #3 seed)


Eric Lewandowski (Lancaster, 2nd place, 145 D1)


Josh Powell (Churchville-Chili, D1, 160)


Marshall Taylor (Lockport, 220 pounds D1, after 3 OT victory)


Shayne Brady (Carthage, 182 pound champion on Day 1)


Zack Joseph (Shenendehowa, 152 pounds, D1 on Day 1)


Donny McCoy (Niagara Falls, 99 Pounds, D1 on Day 1)






From 'Tough to Unbreakable', Inside Trip Goes Behind the Scenes With Cornell Wrestling

Taking them from ‘tough to unbreakable’.  That’s what Cornell head coach Rob Koll says his program aims to do with the wrestlers that enter the Big Red room.

What’s the method used to do that?  While most wrestling fans have seen Cornell wrestlers such as Kyle Dake in action, far fewer have witnessed what goes on behind the scenes to produce the kind of success the Ivy League squad has enjoyed, both on the mat and in the classroom, over the years.

Inside Trip, a DVD by Nick Garone and Riccio Productions, looks to change that, giving viewers an opportunity to see beyond the training.

“I was really excited when Nick [Garone] asked if he could do the video because it was another opportunity for us to show the difference between Cornell and almost any other program,” Koll said.  “It gives a deeper perspective into our program and lets people see not just what our team looks like in matches and in postmatch interviews but much more than that.  It lets them really meet our kids and see what they’re like and why they’re successful.”

Indeed, over 15 wrestlers and coaches, ranging from national champions to second or third stringers, provide insights on everything from practices, the academic experience, the camaraderie and the dreaded cold tub.

Freshman Nahshon Garrett tells about why studying for tests is easier than doing plate runs. All-American Mike Nevinger talks about wrestlers being different. Joe Stanzione discusses the full academic and athletic experience.  Kyle Dake talks about total dominance. And so on.

“We were shooting for something that was similar to the NFL Hard Knocks concept,” Garone said. “You get to see everyone working hard but also having a great time. There are a lot of things that people would never see, like the ice tubs and the goofing around in the training room, the fun at dinner. It’s been well received by those who have seen it.”

That’s certainly true of National Wrestling Hall of Fame member Gene Mills, now the head coach at Phoenix High School, who said he was excited to show the Inside Trip video to his wrestlers.

“I thought it was awesome,” Mills said. “It was something that caught my attention from the beginning and I didn’t want to stop watching because I wanted to see what was coming next.  I showed it to my team and it got them really motivated; it pumped them up.  It was great to see what the experience at Cornell is like.  I think kids would like to see what the experience would be like in other schools too.”

They can.

The series has been expanded to include an inside look at ACC squads Duke and Maryland as well as the Grapple at the Garden event. Plans are in the works for a video on Ohio State as well as individuals such as Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs.

But the Inside Trip series began with Cornell, where Big Red 197-pounder Lukasz Stala explains that “there’s never a dull moment” in his student-athlete experience.

As the video shows, that’s how it is when you’re taking wrestlers from tough to unbreakable.  Countless young wrestlers are hoping to make that transition.  Perhaps they can get inspired with the Big Red.

To see the trailer see here or for more information, see here

The Inside Trip Series with Cornell, Duke, Maryland and Grapple at the Garden

X-Cel Tops Apex to Win Second Annual Eastern Nationals Championship; Check out Videos from the Event



The championship featured the same two clubs. The end result was the same, too.

Two weeks ago in Lake Placid, X-Cel met Apex in the finals of the Pop and Flo National Duals with the Long Island squad coming out on top by a 25-24 score.

This weekend, the two teams squared off again for the title at the Eastern Nationals at Eastport South Manor High School.  X-Cel was once again victorious, this time by a much larger margin, against an Apex team with several lineup changes from the Pop and Flo competition.

One of the holdovers from the Apex team that competed in Lake Placid, Rutgers-bound Tony Pafumi, was named the event’s Most Outstanding Wrestler by vote of the coaches.   The St. Peter’s Prep (NJ) standout notched several impressive victories on the weekend, including decisive wins over New York placewinners Gio Santiago of Sachem North and Dylen Seybolt of Longwood. (Match video of Pafumi is available below, along with several other bouts).

“Pafumi is very, very tough,” X-Cel coach and event leader Nick Garone said. “He definitely impressed a lot of people, especially on his feet.  It says a lot to win the MOW when you aren’t on the championship team.”

X-Cel’s title squad also boasted several top-notch performances and a host of undefeated wrestlers. Rather than singling out any individuals, however, Garone preferred to talk about X-Cel as a unit.

“The team we put out there could have competed with anyone in the country,” Garone said. “The kids were spectacular and I’m very proud of them. It’s phenomenal for us as a club to win Pop and Flo and now this event; it shows that we’re doing things right and getting guys to compete at a high level.“

Another group competing at a high level, according to Garone, was the squad from Sachem East, which defeated nearby Sachem North in the third place dual.

“East was tough; they were right there in the mix with Apex, but Apex had just enough to overcome them,” he said. “Most of the teams here were club teams with kids from lots of different schools, but Sachem East mostly came as their high school team, with a few fill-ins.  It’s darn impressive to place in an event like this as a high school team.  I give them a lot of credit.”

There were a lot of people Garone wanted to give credit to following the event.  He mentioned great refereeing and the work of Dean Zenie, Kim Leo, Darren Goldstein and Teddy Fabian, among others.  He also was grateful to MSG Varsity for agreeing to provide television coverage of both the championship and third place bouts (on July 2).

“It’s very difficult to get somebody to agree to air wrestling,” he said.  “MSG came on board and stepped up to the plate.  It adds credibility and exposure for the kids and we’re really excited it will be on TV.”

Garone also expressed his excitement about X-Cel winning its second title in the past three weeks.  And he is thrilled about the future of the Eastern Nationals.

“We’re trying to provide a platform for the kids in this area to wrestle in a high profile event without having to get on a plane or travel far and spend so much money,” he said. “We were up against some obstacles this year like proms and SATs which made the number of teams a little lower than we wanted, but we will work on that and find a better date next year.  We believe this event will grow into something tremendous that will allow our Long Island wrestlers to wrestle the best competition without having to go far from home.”

Below are some of the videos from the Eastern Nationals 2012.  


T. Pafumi (Apex) vs. G. Santiago (Sachem North)


J. Rodriguez (X-Cel) vs. DiBartolo (Smithtown East)


C. Rasheed (X-Cel) vs. Greenberg (Smithtown East)


Nick Garone Talks Eastern Nationals 2012 and Team X-Cel


D. Salkey (X-Cel) vs. Smithtown East


Dante Salkey on X-Cel and What’s Next


Sean McCabe Headed to Rutgers


S. McCabe (X-Cel) vs. Forca (Smithtown East)


N. Hall (X-Cel) vs. Outcault (Smithtown East)


T. Fabian (X-Cel) vs. Truncale (Smithtown East)


N. Piccininni (631 Elite) vs. O’Connell (KT Kidz)


C. Ladd (Sachem North) vs. P. Merzbacher (Apex)


Milo (Sachem North) vs. Voelker (Apex)


Z. Mullen (X-Cel) vs. Kipkowski (Port Jefferson)


S. Schwartzapfel (X-Cel) vs. Cavanagh (Port Jefferson)


J. Sanzone (Sachem North) vs. D. Fried (Apex)


J. Szymanski (X-Cel) vs. Cummings (Smithtown East)


Calderone (631 Elite) vs. Kane (KT Kidz)


M. Marino (Sachem North) vs. M. Barber (Apex)


A. Marino (Sachem North) vs. Balboni (Apex)


M. Stallone (Sachem North) vs. M. Seitz (Apex)


A. Nunziatta (Sachem North) vs. Burkert (Apex)


Perez (Sachem North) vs. Russo (Apex)


Sparacio (Sachem North) vs. Cancellieri (Apex)


Mazzella (631 Elite) vs. Davis (KT Kidz)



X-Cel is for Excellence: Long Island Team Captures Pop and Flo National Duals Championship

By Betsy Veysman

The most nervous moments for Team X-Cel coach Nick Garone this past weekend, during which the squad captured the championship at the Pop and Flo National Duals, didn’t take place on the mat.  Instead, his most nervous moments took place on the water during the team’s celebration.

“The guys dove into the lake after the event,” he said.  “It was pretty great to see how excited they were.  I took the easy way out, paddling out in a boat.  They were messing with me, telling me they were going to tip me over.  I begged them not to. It was a lot of fun, which is what the weekend was all about.”

It was also about winning, something the team did in all five of its duals, concluding with a 25-24 triumph over New Jersey’s Apex in the title match.  The squads ended the meet deadlocked at 24, but X-Cel earned the crown by virtue of capturing eight of the 15 bouts.

It was a victory that the team felt was for more than just the wrestlers and coaches that made the trip upstate.

“We weren’t just trying to win it for the guys who were there,” said heavyweight Dante Salkey, who went 5-0 on the weekend.  “We went out to make a statement about Long Island wrestling.  We knew that we were in Lake Placid, a place where history was made.  We wanted to bring some of Long Island’s best, upset the top seed (Apex) and win it all.  We wanted to show how tough our wrestling is.”

Some of Long Island’s best started things off on the right foot in the finale.  A pair of state champions from Section 11, Sean McCabe (130) and Maverick Passaro (135), propelled the squad to a 6-0 lead.  McCabe controlled his bout with Apex’s Matt Caputo (an Empire state resident) in a 9-3 decision.

Passaro followed by notching a takedown with less than 30 seconds to go to garner a come-from-behind victory over Richie Lewis.   Passaro’s late heroics didn’t go unnoticed by his coach, especially since the Eastport South Manor senior rebounded from a bonus point loss in the previous round.

“That kid’s a champion,” Garone said. “In the semis, he was beaten by a high score.  Some guys can’t let that go.  It’s like a fighter who gets knocked out – their next fight is the hardest of their life.  Maverick got over it.  He showed fortitude and heart to bounce back and wrestle with confidence and get that late score.  What a great match he wrestled.”

Apex responded with a pair of victories, a decision at 140 and a pin at 145, to take a 9-6 advantage.

In stepped John Glenn’s James Dekrone against a familiar foe, NHSCA National Champion Lenny Richardson.  The two have had some tough, close matches in the past and this was no different.  After neither competitor scored in neutral in the opening stanza, Dekrone rode his opponent for the entire second period.  In the third, it looked like Richardson might return the favor, but Dekrone broke free for an escape and got his hand raised in a 1-0 result, knotting the score at 9.

“It was an unbelievable match,” Garone said. “I knew it would be exciting.  Richardson is so dangerous and scary from every tie up and James is a pressure wrestler that keeps coming after you.  James just wrestled a perfect match when we needed it.”

X-Cel continued putting points on the board with victories in the next two bouts.  At 160, Nicky Hall topped Brandon Keena and at 170 Dylan Palacio bumped up to face All-American Tony Pafumi and came away with an overtime triumph.

“We changed things around a little bit because I thought it gave us an edge,” Garone said. “I knew Nicky Hall was capable of winning at 160 and I thought Palacio could win at either 160 or 170. Obviously, it could have backfired because Pafumi is tough and hardnosed.  Dylan’s match came down to OT and we were biting our fingernails.  But both Nicky and Dylan got the job done.  I thought Dylan might be upset about the change, but he told me it was fine; he’d do whatever it took for the team to win. They were both team players.”

It was a short-lived 15-9 lead for the Empire State group.  Apex came out on top in the next three matches and moved ahead 18-15 as the 285 pounders took the mat.

Dante Salkey attacked his opponent, Mike Spencer, almost immediately, scoring off a low single to move ahead 2-0.  He extended his lead early in the second with an escape and another takedown before withstanding a comeback attempt by his opponent, New Jersey’s fourth place finisher in 2012, for a narrow victory.  After Salkey’s fifth win of the weekend, the score was tied again.

“I knew going in that we were down by the three and I had to get the win,” Salkey said. “I didn’t want it to come down to the last few guys; I wanted to make sure I did my part.  I felt that I was a lot quicker than [Spencer], so I went to my offense for the first half of the match.  It got closer than I wanted late in the match, but it worked out in the end.”

“Dante was unbelievable the whole weekend,” Garone added. “I get a big grin on my face when I think about it because he’s so funny.  He was the team jokester, keeping everyone loose and relaxed by making everyone laugh.  On the mat, he wrestles like a lightweight, taking a lot of shots and moving well.  I think he could be very, very good at the next level because he’s really nimble on his feet for a big guy.  He made huge contributions to the team.”

Also making big contributions were lightweights Jay Rodriguez (105) and Nick Piccininni (113), who came through with wins over Nick Suriano and Joe Travato, respectively to push X-Cel’s lead to 24-18.

Apex fought back, however, capturing the matches at 120 and 126 to deadlock the score until criteria declared the Long Island squad the winners.

“Going to criteria – that’s a true testament to what kind of dual it was,” Garone said. “That’s what you pray for, a battle like that.  The Apex coaches had to like how they fought back and tied it by winning the last two matches.  My hat is off to those guys over at Apex.  They do a great job with those kids every year.  They’re a great club.”

Garone also tipped his hat to several others he said played important roles in X-Cel’s achievement.

“Finally we can tell people that Long Island can compete with the best in the country and have proof.  I really want to thank Darren Goldstein, my right arm, who would do anything for us and Steve Hromada for helping us train.  Anthony Abidin really helped us out, getting the guys warmed up, which is harder for us old guys,” he said, laughing.  “All the coaches who had someone represented should be appreciated – they do a great job with the wrestlers for most of the year.  Most importantly, I need to thank the guys we brought.  Every one of them is great.  But they put their egos aside and were willing to do what was best for the team. That’s not typical for a bunch of studs. We had a great time.”

That was a sentiment echoed by everyone involved.

“It felt amazing,” Salkey said. “We had so much fun, celebrating in the lake and on the ride back home.  We knew we were good coming in and we thought we could win it, but the competition was good too.  We wrestled our best and walked away with the title for us and for Long Island wrestling.”

Team X-Cel, 2012 Pop and Flo National Duals Champions

105 –   Jay Rodriguez

113 –   Nick Piccininni

120 –   Pat Skinner

125 –   Travis Passaro

130 –   Sean McCabe

135 –   Maverick Passaro

140 –   Tommy Dutton

145 –   Louis Hernandez

152 –   James DeKrone

152 –   Sam Schwartzapfel

160 –   Dylan Palacio

160 –   Nick Hall

170 –   Zac Mullen

182 –   Dylan Seybolt

182 –   Colin Gironda

195 –   Nick Weber

220 –   Kenny Drew

285 –   Dante Salkey


Finals: Team X-Cel Over Apex (NJ), 25-24

130 Sean McCabe decision Matt Caputo, 3-0 NY

135 Maverick Passaro decision Richie Lewis, 6-0 NY

140 Jason Estevez decision Thomas Dutton, 6-3 NY

145 BJ Clagon pin Louis Hernandez, 9-6 NJ

152 James Dekrone decision Lenny Richardson, 9-9

160 Nicky Hall decision Brandon Keena, 12-9 NY

170 Dylan Palacio decision Tony Pafumi, 15-9 NY

182 Brian Loughlin decision Dylen Seybolt, 15-12 NY

195 Tyler Rios decision Colin Gironda, 15-15

220 Eric McMullen decision Ken Drew, 18-15 NJ

285 Dante Salkey decision Mike Spencer, 18-18 NY

105 Jay Rodriguez decision Nick Suriano, 21-18 NY

113 Nick Piccinnini decision Joe Travato, 24-18 NY

120 Luis Gonzalez decision Pat Skinner, 24-21 NY

126 Joe Oliva decision Travis Passaro, 24-24 NY

NY Wins on Criteria*, 25-24

*(Most matches won, X-Cel 8, Apex 7)


Semifinals:  Team X-Cel Over Dark Knights (PA), 42-22

105 Jay Rodriguez tech fall Tyson Klump, 5-0 NY

113 Nick Piccininni major Tyrone Klump, 9-0 NY

120 Zach Valley Valley major Pat Skinner, 9-4 NY

126 Travis Passaro dec Mason Bryne, 12-4 NY

130 Sean McCabe dec Chase Zemanak, 15-4 NY

135 Tyson Dippery tech fall Maverick Passaro, 15-9 NY

140 Chris Vasser pin Thomas Dutton, 15-15

145 Shyheim Brown dec Louis Hernandez, 18-15 PA

152 James Dekrone dec Zach Ross, 18-18

160 Dylan Palacio dec Garrett Peppelman, 21-18 NY

170 Elliot Riddick maj Zac Mullen, 22-21 PA

182 Dylen Seybolt pin Nick Sevi, 27-22 NY

195 Colin Gironda win by forfeit, 33-22 NY

220 Ken Drew win by forfeit, 39-22 NY

285 Dante Salkey dec Dawson Peck, 42-22 NY


Earlier Round Results


Round 1: Team X-Cel 65, Apex II (NJ) 0

Round 2: Team X-Cel 66, Iowa Style (NY) 3

Round 3: Team X-Cel 42, Triumph (NJ) 13