Binghamton Recruiting 2013: A Look Back at the Making of the Highly-Ranked Class

 
 
Recruiting for the Class of 2014 has been officially underway for a little over a week.  However, before we completely shift our focus forward, we took a quick look back at the class that Binghamton put together for the fall of 2013.

According to the rankings produced by a number of wrestling publications, Binghamton had the best recruiting class of the Division I programs in New York this year. Flowrestling slotted the Bearcats into the #25 spot nationally while D1 College Wrestling.net, placed the team at #24. (Columbia also made an appearance in Flo’s article, garnering an honorable mention nod).

When looking at the Binghamton class, what immediately stands out is the strong Empire State presence. Among the seven New Yorkers are eight state championships, 21 All-State showings and more than 10 All-American performances. There’s representation from Section 3 with three-time state titlewinner Nick Tighe and two-time champion Zack Zupan as well as a pair of Shenendehowa standouts – 2013 state gold medalist Nick Kelley and third placer David Almaviva. Adding to the mix in the lightweights are two-time state champion Kyle Kelly from nearby Chenango Forks and Nassau County’s Robert Person, with the upperweights adding Bryce Mazurowski, who was the Division II state runner up as a junior and senior at 195. When the “Top Seniors in New York” feature was done prior to the start of the campaign, Zupan, Kelley and Tighe were ranked 1-2-3.

So, how did Binghamton land many of the Empire State’s best and a top 25 class nationally in Matt Dernlan’s first year as head coach? The program’s recruiting coordinator, Jasen Borshoff, provided some insight.

“We sat down and talked about how we wanted to keep the best kids in state and get them to Binghamton,” Borshoff said. “If you look at the results from the last 10 years, you see New York is way up there in All-Americans. We felt that if you can keep the best New York kids here, you can succeed at the national level. That’s not to say we won’t recruit some kids from out of state. We probably will since we’re close to Pennsylvania and Ohio. But we believe we need to keep New York’s best here and we can win with New York wrestlers.”

Borshoff continued by referencing the 30 for 30 ESPN special about the University of Miami football team during their championship years.

“That part of Florida produces all these awesome football players,” he said. “Miami set up a 200 mile radius and said they weren’t going to let those kids go anywhere else. They were determined not to be outrecruited in their area.  That’s the mentality we have here with New York wrestlers. We don’t want to let anyone outrecruit us for the best around here.”

The Bearcats were able to do it by targeting a relatively small set of wrestlers.

“In the past, I probably called over 100 kids in the summer and hadn’t seen many of them wrestle,” he said. “But last year, before the New York State tournament, we were looking at around 16 kids, who we watched wrestle and got to know pretty well. We kept a pretty small focus.”

With that focus, they were able to emphasize the direction that the new staff planned for the Bearcats going forward.

“Most of the guys weren’t really interested in Binghamton at first – they wanted to go out of state or had other schools in mind,” he said. “Coach Dernlan got in front of them at their houses and told them all about the vision and philosophy. Things went from there and they came on board. Hopefully, we can reproduce that success with this year’s class and set ourselves up even more for the next several years here.”

The wrestlers are excited to get started, as all will be spending the summer on campus, getting their feet wet both academically and on the mat.

“We think we have a bunch of tough kids coming in,” Borshoff said in late June. “They’ll all be here in early July. They’ll be taking classes. They’ll be putting in work. We believe some of them will be starters this season. The great thing is, every single one of them asked to come up for the summer. They want to be here, getting started. That’s exactly what we want. We believe we have the best recruiting class in Binghamton wrestling history.”

 

Disney Duals Recap: New York Kong Captures Second at the Prestigious Event With an Impressive 10-1 Record

 
 
40 teams began the competition in the All-Star bracket at the AAU National Duals (Disney Duals) in Orlando on Saturday.

When the competition ended at the prestigious event on Tuesday evening, New York Kong captured second place after compiling a 10-1 record with victories over squads from places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida and South Dakota.

“It was just a great tournament,” said John Passaro, who made the trip and whose son Travis competed at 120 pounds. “The facilities were great, the experience was great. Taking second shows the direction New York wrestling is going. The team had some amazing wins.”

Indeed, after capturing eighth at this event in 2012, the group made it all the way to the finals, shown live on ESPN3.com. To get to that championship bout, the squad picked up a meaningful semifinal victory over Diesel, a Pennsylvania team that defeated the New Yorkers a year ago at this tournament.

“We wrestled lights out overall and especially in the semifinals against Diesel,” said Steve Hromada, who coached the team along with Anthony Ciolino. “Everyone was amped up and excited for that one, especially since they beat us pretty badly last year.  Getting payback was nice, but it wasn’t just that match.  The kids came together more and more as time went on – the more matches we wrestled, the hungrier and better they looked.”

That semifinal win was a hard fought one, with a 30-12 final score. The Ohio Hawks also provided a challenge in a 30-18 contest in the quarters.

However, the outcome in most of the earlier meets was never in doubt. In fact, the team won at least 12 of the 14 matches in each of the first seven duals, including shutouts.  The dominance wasn’t surprising considering the team featured state finalists at 10 weights and every spot in the lineup was filled by a top five NYS finisher (see roster below).

The first place tilt was a different story, however as the powerful Young Guns squad from the Keystone State came out on top convincingly.

“You never know how good you can be until you see a certain level,” Hromada said. “It was a humbling experience. We have very accomplished wrestlers who were fantastic, but the finals showed that you can always get better. Our state champs want to be more than that – they want to be national champs too.”

One national champion, Spencer Lee of Young Guns (ranked #2 in the country by FloWrestling at 106), began with a major decision for the Pennsylvania squad in the championship dual.

However, Ward Melville’s Nick Piccininni, who was a perfect 11-0 at Disney, responded with a decision over another highly-regarded foe, Luke Pletcher, at 113. (Pletcher sits fourth in the national rankings).

At that point, Young Guns led 4-3 on the scoreboard, but they took over from there, collecting several bonus point wins.

Gaining bonus points of his own was Hofstra-bound Mike Hughes of Smithtown West who ended the dual with a 9-1 major decision over Luke Fleck at heavyweight to complete an undefeated tournament. In addition to Piccininni and Hughes, 152-pounder Joe Mastro, who will attend North Carolina State, also notched an unblemished 11-0 mark on the trip.

“[Piccininni] is a true warrior and he has the attitude and tools needed to be an elite wrestler. It showed when he beat the competition he faced,” Hromada said. “Having Hughes as the anchor of your team is the best feeling. You know that you’re always in a good position at the end of the match and that you’ll end on a positive note. And Joe Mastro is a diamond in the rough. He has great technical skills, endurance and toughness.”

In addition to the unbeaten wrestlers, a number of others picked up “silver status” at the event with a single loss. According to Hromada, those included Eastport South Manor’s Travis Passaro (120), Columbia-bound Matt Leshinger (132) and future Binghamton Bearcat Nick Kelley (138). Despite an injury, Minisink Valley graduate Josh Bonneau (220) also racked up wins.

While the squad was looking for one more victory, the journey was seen as an undeniable success.

“We took out some great teams,” Hromada said. “We showcased ourselves and it was an eye-opening experience for some people. We had a bunch of people walk up and say they didn’t know New York could be that tough. It was a nice feeling.”

Leading the charge were coaches Ciolino and Hromada, who put together the very formidable crew to represent the Empire State.

“Anthony Ciolino and Steve Hromada assembled a great team,” John Passaro said. “There is so much that goes into assembling a team of accomplished wrestlers like this. There were no egos — all the kids, who are competitors with each other back home, were teammates this week. It’s very hard to coordinate schedules, meals and travel for 17 wrestlers and also wrestle at such a high level. The coaches did a wonderful job.”

The same could be said for the New York Kong wrestlers. They went from eighth in 2012 to second in 2013 at the Disney Duals. And they’ll be back for more in 2014.

“We’re working to perfect the system,” Hromada said. “We learned from last year and did things better this year and we’ll be even better prepared for next time. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to coach the elite athletes in New York this week and we’ll up the ante and go back looking to win it all next year.”

New York Kong – 2nd Place Disney Duals

106 Kyle Quinn, Wantagh (2013 State Champion)

106 Jesse Dellavecchia, East Islip (2013 State 4th)

113 Nick Piccininni, Ward Melville (2013 State Champion)

120 Travis Passaro, Eastport South Manor (2013 State 3rd)

126 Alex Delacruz, Ossining (2013 State Champion)

132 Matt Leshinger, Sayville (2013 State Champion)

138 Nick Kelley, Shenendehowa (2013 State Champion)

145 Brandon Lapi, Amsterdam (2013 State 2nd)

145 Frank Garcia, Norwich (2013 State 2nd)

145 Jakob Restrepo, Sachem East

152 Joe Mastro,Yorktown (2013 State 3rd)

160 Steven Schneider, MacArthur (2013 State 2nd)

170 Carlos Toribio, Brentwood (2013 State Champion)

182 James Corbett, Wantagh (2013 State 2nd)

195 Nick Weber, Kings Park (2013 State 5th)

220 Josh Bonneau, Minisink Valley (2013 State 4th)

285 Mike Hughes, Smithtown West (2013 State Champion)

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

A Quick Look at the National Ratings: Who From New York Ended the Year Ranked?

 
 
Who ended the 2012-13 campaign in the national rankings? We took a look at the most recent postings by Intermat, Flowrestling, Amateur Wrestling News and WIN to see which New Yorkers were included. The rankings by the former two sites were updated after the NHSCA/Flowrestling events, while the others are from before those tournaments occured.

A number of wrestlers were named on one or more of the websites, with sophomore Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville, junior Burke Paddock of Warsaw and senior Tyler Grimaldi of Half Hollow Hills West ranked in the top 20 at their weights by all four of those publications.

Piccinnini, Photo by BV

Piccininni, a two-time state champion, is Flo’s #7 113 pounder in the nation. He ranges from #15-18 on the other sites.  He is also a top 30 recruit in the Class of 2015 according to both Intermat and Flo.

Grimaldi and Paddock ensured that the Empire State is well represented in the 160-pound standings. Paddock ranges between #10 (Intermat) and #15 (Flo) and is also a top 100 recruit in the class of 2014, according to Intermat and Flo.  Meanwhile, Grimaldi is #12 by both Intermat and WIN and #14 and 16 on the other sites.

While not in the top 20 at their weights at this point, Intermat believes both Greene’s Christian Dietrich and Hilton’s Yianni Diakomihalis are among the elite wrestlers at their grade levels. In addition, Flowrestling ranks Diakomihalis and Eastport South Manor’s Adam Busiello among the country’s best at the junior high level.

For the full list of rankings, see below: (Please comment with any changes or additions).

SENIORS

Zach Bacon (Hornell) #17 at 220 (Intermat), #18 at 220 (AWN)

TJ Fabian (Shoreham Wading River) Top 100 Senior recruit (Intermat), #9 at 126 (Intermat), #12 at 126 (Flo)

Tyler Grimaldi (Half Hollow Hills West) Top 100 Senior in the Nation (Flo), #12 at 160 (both Intermat and WIN), #14 at 160 (AWN), #16 at 160 (Flo)

Mike Hughes (Smithtown West) #18 at 285 (Intermat)

Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa) #13 at 138 (WIN)

Nick Tighe (Phoenix) #17 at 138 (AWN)

Zack Zupan (Canastota) Top 100 Senior in the Nation (Intermat and Flo), #8 at 182 (Intermat), #16 at 182 (AWN), #15 at 182 (Flo)

JUNIORS

James O’Hagan (Seaford) #20 at 285 (Intermat)

Burke Paddock (Warsaw) Top 100 Junior in the Nation (Intermat and Flo), #10 at 160 (Intermat), #11 (WIN), #13 (AWN), #15 (Flo)

Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (Cheektowoga) Top 100 Junior in the Nation (Intermat and Flo), #13 at 132 (Intermat), #18 at 132 (Flo)

Corey Rasheed (Longwood) Top 100 Junior in the Nation (Flo), #13 at 152 (Flo), #16 (WIN)

SOPHOMORES

Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville) Top 50 Sophomore in the Nation (Intermat and Flo), #7 at 113 (Flo), #15 (Intermat), #17 (WIN), #18 (AWN)

FRESHMEN

Christian Dietrich (Greene) Top 20 Freshman in the Nation (Intermat)

JUNIOR HIGH

Adam Busiello (Eastport South Manor) Top 50 Junior High Wrestler in the Nation (Flo)

Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton) Top 10 Junior High Wrestler in the Nation (Intermat and Flo)

 

**AWN Rankings are from March 14; WIN rankings are from April 2, Flo and Intermat rankings more recent

Going With the Flo: Many New York Wrestlers Prepare for 2013 FloNationals

 
 
According to organizers, it will have the “feel of an NCAA championship.” Riding time will be a factor, seasoned college referees will officiate, video review will be used for challenges and many of the nation’s top wrestlers will take the mat.

The scene won’t be Des Moines, Iowa but instead Indiana, Pennsylvania for the FloNationals, beginning on April 5.

Competition will start at 9 a.m. on Friday in the high school division on 12 mats and will continue through the finals on Saturday evening. The action doesn’t stop then, however, as the middle school and elementary tournaments take place on Sunday, beginning at 10.

Kelley, Photo by BV

A year ago, the Empire State featured eight All-Americans at FloNationals. This time, New York will once again be well represented, with over 85 entries as of press time, including state champions such as Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton), Luis Weierbach (Hoosick Falls), Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville), Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa), Tyler Grimaldi (Half Hollow Hills West) and Rich Sisti (Monsignor Farrell).

In addition, a number of medalists, including 2013 top three finishers Vincent DePrez (Hilton), Christian Dietrich (Greene), David Almaviva (Shenendehowa), Joe Mastro (Yorktown), Alex Soutiere (Ravena), Travis Passaro (Eastport South Manor) and Sam Melikian (Fordham Prep) will look to add All-American honors to the All-State accolades they picked up in February.

Registration remains open until Wednesday at midnight here. But for those who won’t be present in person, there are still ways to keep tabs on the New Yorkers as they strive for national titles.

Each match will be streamed live on FloWrestling.org with a Tech Wave subscription, and according to organizers, viewers will be able to see the score and time on the screen to make the bouts easy to track. (In addition, results will be updated throughout the weekend on http://www.trackwrestling.com).

“I think it’s exciting that every match will be shown live on the internet so people back home can watch,” said two-time state champion Nick Piccininni. “It also lets college coaches watch.  I know some coaches will be there in person too and even though I can’t talk to them yet, I want to put myself on their radar for the future.”

Indeed, FloNationals is a place where coaches are on the lookout for potential recruits.  Just ask 2013 New York State bronze medalist Joe Mastro of Yorktown, who recently committed to become a part of Pat Popolizio’s Wolfpack.

“FloNationals was the place that first got the NC State coaches interested in me,” Mastro said. “I’ve been going since my sophomore year and the competition gets tougher each year.  I think it’s really become the premier postseason national tournament.”

Both Mastro (preseeded ninth at 152) and Piccininni (preseeded #1 at 113), fell just short of the podium a year ago.  Both expect better this time.

“Last year, I came within a round of placing,” Mastro said. “The goal is to definitely come home with All-American honors. It’s something I’ve been thinking about since last year.”

“I definitely wasn’t happy with the outcome last year,” Piccininni added. “It doesn’t really matter that I’m preseeded #1. I’m just trying to go out there, wrestle my toughest and dominate each match. It’s a really tough tournament, but my goal is to win the national championship.”

 

Team New York Sweeps Three Duals at Pinning Down Autism Event; Prepares for Battle With New Jersey on Sunday

 
 
3-0 and looking for one more win.

That’s the story for Team New York after Day 1 at the Pinning Down Autism All-State Weekend Festival at West Orange High School.  The event, which benefits Autism New Jersey, includes All-Star squads from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Michigan and New England.  For more background, see our preview here.

Yianni Diakomihalis, Photo by BV

On Saturday, the Empire State group began with a 47-18 victory over the Michigan Lumberjacks and next drubbed Delaware 64-6.  To complete Day 1 action, the team defeated New England by a 43-28 tally. For details of those meets, see the end of this story.

Now, it’s time to continue the big rivalry. On Sunday at 1 p.m., New York will look to knock off rival New Jersey for the third consecutive year.  According to the lineups provided earlier in the week, the following are the weight-by-weight matchups for the clash.   Every member of the Empire State squad has won a state title (and 14 of the 15 captured gold in 2013).  New Jersey will counter with a trio of state champions as well as several silver and bronze medalists.

Will New York make it three victories in a row over the Garden Staters?

99 POUNDS: Yianni Diakomihalis, Hilton (State Champion) vs. Alec Kelly, St. Peter’s (State Qualifier at 106)
106 POUNDS: Kyle Quinn, Wantagh (State Champion) vs. Ryan Freeman. St. Joseph
113 POUNDS: Nick Piccininni, Ward Melville (State Champion) vs. AJ Vindici, Randolph (State Third)
120 POUNDS: Alex Delacruz, Ossining (State Champion) vs. Marc Mastropietro, Hasbrouck Heights (State Qualifier)
126 POUNDS: TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (State Champion) vs. Anthony Giraldo, North Bergen (State Champion)
132 POUNDS: Tristan Rifanburg, Norwich (State Runner Up, Champion in 2010) vs. Jason Estevez, Livingston (State Third)
138 POUNDS: Nick Tighe, Phoenix (State Champion) vs. Richie Lewis, Toms River East (State Third)
145 POUNDS: Louis Hernandez, Mepham (State Champion) vs. BJ Clagon, Toms River South (State Champion)
152 POUNDS: Corey Rasheed, Longwood (State Champion) vs. John Faugno, Glen Ridge
160 POUNDS: Tyler Grimaldi, Hills West (State Champion) vs. Josef Johnson, Delbarton (State Qualifer)
170 POUNDS: Adis Radoncic, RKA (State Champion) vs. Ethan Ramos, Hawthorne (State Champion)/Jadaen Bernstein, Voorhees (State Runner Up)
182 POUNDS: Shayne Brady, Carthage (State Champion) vs. Ali Yildiz, South Brunswick (State Third)
195 POUNDS: Dan Choi, Syosset (State Champion) vs. Anthony Messner, Franklin (State Runner Up)
220 POUNDS: Rich Sisti, Monsignor Farrell (State Champion) vs. Zack Chakonis, Don Bosco (State Runner Up)
285 POUNDS: Mike Hughes, Smithtown West (State Champion) vs. Eric Chakonis, Unattached

Results from Saturday

New York 47, Michigan 18 Details

New York 64, Delaware 6 Details

New York 43, New England 28 Details

 

State Champions to Represent New York Against New Jersey and More at Pinning Down Autism All-State Weekend Festival

 
 

“I’m in.”

Before Jason Bross even finished his question after the Saturday night finals at the New York state tournament in Albany, 145-pound champion Louis Hernandez of Mepham said yes.

Hernandez, Photo by BV

Hernandez wasn’t alone. He was only one of the top New York wrestlers to enthusiastically commit to representing the Empire State at the Pinning Down Autism All-State Weekend Festival on March 16 and 17 at West Orange High School in New Jersey.

For the past two seasons, Bross has organized the New York vs. New Jersey Charity Challenge, which pitted All-Star squads from the neighboring states against each other in a dual meet to raise money for autism causes.

With the success and excitement around this “Border War” in recent years, the event was expanded in 2013. On Saturday, the teams from the Garden and Empire States will battle squads from Michigan, New England and Delaware. (For the schedule, see below).

While there is sure to be some great competition in those Saturday duals, the main event will take place on Sunday when New York and New Jersey do battle at 1 p.m..

Every wrestler taking the mat for Team New York for the feature dual has been a state champion, with 14 of the 15 capturing gold medals at the Times Union Center in 2013. (Another three champions and seven silver/bronze medalists will compete on Saturday). In all, 10 different sections will be represented.

Needless to say, the list is an impressive one (see below for details). After all, state pride is on the line and New York is determined to beat the Jersey crew for the third straight year.

Sisti, Photo by BV

“The event has been very well received,” Bross said. “Most of the guys were really excited to be invited to be a part of it. It should be a great dual because I know losing two years in a row doesn’t sit very well with New Jersey. Last year, they expected to beat us and it didn’t go that way. I expect them to have a ferocious team and you can see that New York will be well represented. I think you’ll see a battle at every weight.”

While the rivalry and the opportunity to wrestle high-level competition prior to the upcoming National tournaments are significant, the weekend’s events will serve another important purpose – to raise money for charity.

“This year’s beneficiary is Autism New Jersey,” Bross said. “What I like most about them is that they provide much needed facilitation for families impacted by autism to find the services they need. When Congress recently had hearings on autism, what struck them most was that most families are left to their own devices and have no idea what to do or where to look for services they need. Autism New Jersey really helps with that and provides great value. We’re happy to be raising money for them.” (For more information on Autism New Jersey, see http://www.autismnj.org)

Entry into the event will be a $20 donation each day. Those who attend will have the chance to participate in a clinic on Sunday with Lee Kemp at 10 a.m. and, of course, will see some top notch wrestling on both weekend days. That includes Round 3 of the New York vs. New Jersey challenge.

“The rivalry speaks for itself now,” Bross said. “Damion Logan from Apex is the Team Leader for New Jersey and he’ll put together a very good team. I have a hunch that the match will look like a Big 10 dual meet with the intensity of something like an Iowa vs. Penn State dual. That’s what we’re hoping for. Great action, great intensity, fire through every match. It should be fun.”

Team New Jersey will be updated when available.

Team New York for the Sunday event (and some Saturday matches) is:

99 Pounds: Yianni Diakomihalis (2013 State Champion, Hilton, Section 5)
106 Pounds: Kyle Quinn (2013 State Champion, Wantagh, Section 8 )
113 Pounds: Nick Piccininni (2013 State Champion, Ward Melville, Section 11)
120 Pounds: Alex Delacruz (2013 State Champion, Ossining, Section 1)
126 Pounds: TJ Fabian (2013 State Champion, Shoreham Wading River, Section 11)
132 Pounds: Tristan Rifanburg (2013 Runner Up, 2010 State Champ, Norwich, Section 4)
138 Pounds: Nick Tighe (2013 State Champion, Phoenix, Section 3)
145 Pounds: Louis Hernandez (2013 State Champion, Mepham, Section 8 )
152 Pounds: Corey Rasheed (2013 State Champion, Longwood, Section 11)
160 Pounds: Tyler Grimaldi (2013 State Champion, Hills West, Section 11)
170 Pounds: Adis Radoncic (2013 State Champion, RKA, PSAL)
182 Pounds: Shayne Brady (2013 State Champion, Carthage, Section 3)
195 Pounds: Dan Choi (2013 State Champion, Syosset, Section 8 )
220 Pounds: Rich Sisti (2013 State Champion, Monsignor Farrell, CHSAA)
285 Pounds: Mike Hughes (2013 State Champion, Smithtown West, Section 11)

On Saturday, the following wrestlers will also compete for New York (and more may be added):

113 Pounds: Dillon Stowell (2013 State Champion, Gouverneur, Section 10)
120 Pounds: Travis Passaro (2013 State Third, Eastport South Manor, Section 11)
126 Pounds: Keanu Thompson (2013 State Runner Up, Grand Street, PSAL)
132 Pounds: Sam Melikian (2013 State Third, Fordham Prep, CHSAA)
138 Pounds: Nick Kelley (2013 State Champion, Shenendehowa, Section 2)
152 Pounds: Rowdy Prior (2013 State Runner Up, Phoenix, Section 3)
152 Pounds: Joe Mastro (2013 State Third, Yorktown, Section 1)
160 Pounds: Steve Schneider (2013 State Runner Up, MacArthur, Section 8 )
170 Pounds: John Vrasidas (2013 State Runner Up, St. Anthony’s, CHSAA)
195 Pounds: Hunter Ayen (2013 State Champion, Gouverneur, Section 10)

Schedule of Events:

Saturday March 16th

Round 1 10:00 am Delaware (DE) vs New England (NE) and New York (NY) vs Michigan (MI)
Round 2 12:00 pm NJ vs NE and DE vs MI
Round 3 2:00 pm NY vs DE and NE vs MI
Round 4 4:00 pm MI vs NJ and NY vs NE
Round 5 6:00 pm DE vs NJ

Sunday March 17th

10 a.m. Feature clinic with Lee Kemp

1 p.m. The main event: New York vs. New Jersey

For more information, see Weekend Festival

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!

——————————————————-

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.

New York State High School Rankings #3 – Where Things Stand As The Postseason Really Begins

The postseason is finally here.  Soon, we’ll find out who will have the opportunity to battle for a state title in Albany.  But before the Sectional championships get underway, here’s a look at where our panel thinks things stand across the weights in New York State.  There are sure to be some surprises and some great performances in the coming weeks by these wrestlers and by others.  Please feel free to provide comments or suggestions and we’ll consider them as long as they are done respectfully.

Good luck to all . . .

99 Pounds:

Photo by BV

  1. Yianni Diakomihalis, Hilton (5)
  2. Vito Arujau, Syosset (8)
  3. Jesse Dellavecchia, East Islip (11)
  4. John Arceri, Huntington (11)
  5. Chris Cuccolo, Pine Bush (9)
  6. Garrett Baugher, St. Joseph’s Collegiate (C)
  7. John Busiello, Eastport South Manor (11)
  8. Andrew Flanagan, Holley (5)

A Few Notes: Busiello re-enters the rankings after splitting matches with John Arceri, although the Huntington wrestler came out on top in their bout this past weekend.  The Suffolk tournament will no doubt be tough at this weight with those two wrestlers and Jesse Dellevecchia all in the top 8.  Holley’s Andrew Flanagan also joins the list after edging Jake Yankloski of Wayne.  Flanagan looks to improve upon last year’s fourth place finish in this class in Albany.

106 Pounds:

  1. Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach (11)
  2. Nick Barbaria, New Rochelle (1)
  3. Kyle Quinn, Wantagh (8)
  4. James Szymanski, Shoreham Wading River (11)
  5. Jimmy Overhiser, Corning (4)
  6. Jonathan Haas, Spencerport (5)
  7. Tony Recco, Lyndonville (5)
  8. Luis Weirebach, Hoosick Falls (2)

A Few Notes: Golan Cohen of Colonie looked great at Eastern States and will likely be in the mix at the state tournament.  However, Luis Weirebach‘s recent decision against Cohen vaults him into the rankings, a year after placing at 99 pounds for Hoosick Falls.

Photo by BV

113 Pounds:

  1. Nick Piccininni, Ward Melville (11)
  2. Kyle Kelly, Chenango Forks (4)
  3. Dillon Stowell, Gouverneur (10)
  4. Bryan Lantry, Wayne (5)
  5. Tyler Walsh, West Islip (11)
  6. Andrew Shomers, Lewiston Porter (6)
  7. Joe Calderone, Walt Whitman (11)
  8. Cheick Ndiaye, Brooklyn International (P)

A Few Notes: The departure of Anthony Orefice to 120 pounds moved several wrestlers up a few slots from the last time.  In addition, Tyler Walsh of West Islip joins the rankings after his victory over Walt Whitman’s Joe Calderone, a returning fourth placer, in last weekend’s qualifier.  Andrew Shomers has been solid all year long with a 42-1 record, including wins over All-State wrestlers Orefice and Drew Marra.

120 Pounds:

  1. Alex Delacruz, Ossining (1)
  2. Mike D’Angelo, Commack (11)
  3. John Muldoon, Pearl River (1)
  4. Blaise Benderoth, North Rockland (1)
  5. Travis Passaro, Eastport South Manor (11)
  6. Blake Retell, Shaker (2)
  7. Steve Michel, Lancaster (6)
  8. Sean Peacock, Midlakes (5)

A Few Notes:  The top five hasn’t changed since the last version of the rankings. Muldoon did lose a match in overtime to Nanuet’s Anthony Calvano (who has a number of solid wins), but Muldoon avenged that loss shortly thereafter. The injury to Nick Tolli of Arlington moved him off the list and Steve Michel re-entered. The returning state placer from Lancaster has several quality wins this year including over Sean Peacock, Anthony Orefice (twice) and Kellen Devlin of Amherst (twice).  We expect to see strong surges from proven postseason performers such as Robert Person and Trey Aslanian.

Photo by Josh Conklin

126 Pounds:

  1. TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (11)
  2. Dylan Realbuto, Somers (1)
  3. Chris Araoz, Wantagh (8)
  4. Mark West, Hauppauge (11)
  5. Brad Wade, Islip (11)
  6. Corey Jamison, Huntington (11)
  7. William Koll, Lansing (4)
  8. Dakota Gardner, Fredonia (6)

A Few Notes: The top four remain the same as last time at 126.  However, there is a bit of a shake-up afterwards. Islip’s Brad Wade moves into the rankings.  He has been impressive, beating Corey Jamison twice and state runner up Justin Cooksey. Honestly, eight slots don’t seem to be enough in this class.  Wrestlers such as Mike Raccioppi of Minisink Valley, Rocco Russo of Frontier, Laken Cook of Ilion, Jake Nicholson of Waterloo and Freddie Dunau of St. Anthony’s, among others, could do a lot of damage in Albany.

132 Pounds:

  1. Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowoga (6)
  2. Tristan Rifanburg, Norwich (4)
  3. Sam Melikian, Fordham Prep (C)
  4. Matt Leshinger, Sayville (11)
  5. Brandon Lapi, Amsterdam (2)
  6. Vinny Turano, Wantagh (8)
  7. Conor O’Hara, Sachem East (11)
  8. Sam Ward, Locust Valley (8)

A Few Notes: Sam Ward of Locust Valley will be someone to watch in the Division II ranks. He upended Vinny Turano shortly after Eastern States and also had a win over Conor O’Hara in early December.  Two wrestlers that may be under the radar for those outside of Section 5, Jacob Sepor of Pavilion and Clyde Carey of Addison, are ones to keep tabs on as well.

Photo by Josh Conklin

138 Pounds:

  1. Nick Kelley, Shenendehowa (2)
  2. Nick Tighe, Phoenix (3)
  3. Connor Lapresi, Lansing (4)
  4. Tom Dutton, Rocky Point (11)
  5. Vincent DePrez, Hilton (5)
  6. Dan Reagan, Lewiston Porter (6)
  7. Derrick Gray, Indian River (3)
  8. Skylar Kropman, Penfield (5)

A Few Notes: Nothing has changed here. However, one wrestler we will be following the rest of the way is Danny Graham of West Seneca East.  Before the season, he was mentioned to us by a Section 6 coach as someone who could have a breakout year.  Thus far, he is undefeated.

145 Pounds:

  1. Louis Hernandez, Mepham (8)
  2. David Almaviva, Shenendehowa (2)
  3. Drew Hull, Royalton Hartland (6)
  4. Tom Grippi, Fox Lane (1)
  5. Brendan Dent, Connetquot (11)
  6. Eric Lewandowski, Lancaster (6)
  7. Jordan Torbitt, Whitney Point (4)
  8. Nick Koelmel, Immaculate Heart Central (3)

A Few Notes: Louis Hernandez holds the top spot and Eric Lewandowski remains in the rankings, although both dropped a match since our last update.  Hernandez’s only setback of the year came up a weight at 152 against the tough Michael Marrero. However, Hernandez’s run through some of New York’s best at Eastern States kept him in the same position. Tom Grippi has been on a tear since dropping a close one to Lewandowski at Eastern States.

Brendan Dent enters the rankings after an impressive campaign, including a win over Sachem East’s Jackson Mordente, while Jordan Torbitt blanked Norwich’s Frank Garcia, a wrestler who came within one win of placing in Albany last year. Nick Koelmel of Immaculate Heart Central handed Derrick Gray of Indian River (see 138 pound rankings) his only loss early in the season and has remained undefeated. Fredonia’s Jude Gardner placed in the Times Union Center last year and has only lost to Drew Hull this season (twice).  He may get another shot at Hull this weekend.

Photo by Josh Conklin

152 Pounds:

  1. Corey Rasheed, Longwood (11)
  2. Tyler Spann, Adirondack (3)
  3. Chris Koo, Great Neck South (8)
  4. Angelo Kress, Columbia (2)
  5. Brendan Goldup, LaSalle (2)
  6. Rowdy Prior, Phoenix (3)
  7. Joe Mastro, Yorktown (1)
  8. Alex Smythe, Eden (6)

A Few Notes: The small school tournament in Section 3 will be extremely tough this weekend at 152 pounds.  Tyler Spann, Rowdy Prior and two-time state placer Isaiah Riccio of Beaver River will fight it out for the  title.  Riccio has taken third and fifth the past two years in Albany and knows how to perform on the biggest stage. Rasheed and Koo keep cruising to victories.

160 Pounds:

  1. Burke Paddock, Warsaw (5)
  2. Tyler Grimaldi, HHHW (11)
  3. Steven Schneider, MacArthur (8)
  4. Mike Beckwith, Greene (4)
  5. Jake Weber, Clarence (6)
  6. Andrew Psomas, Monsignor Farrell (C)
  7. Austin Weigel, Onteora (9)
  8. Nick Gallo, Schalmont (2)

A Few Notes: There haven’t been any changes here.  Staying on our radar is General Brown’s Tyler Silverthorn, a placer in Albany last year, who seems to be picking up some steam as the most important matches of the year approach. In addition, returning All-Stater Dale White of John Jay East Fishkill is back after injuries kept him on the sideline for much of the season.  He’ll be someone to watch as well.

Photo by Josh Conklin

170 Pounds:

  1. Dan McDevitt, Wantagh (8)
  2. Christian Dietrich, Greene (4)
  3. Joe Piccolo, HHHW (11)
  4. Troy Seymour, Peru (7)
  5. Carlos Toribio, Brentwood (11)
  6. Zack Buckley, Fredonia (6)
  7. Johnny Vrasidas, St. Anthony’s (C)
  8. Mike Green, Cobleskill-Richmondville (2)

A Few Notes: Joe Piccolo goes to third after pinning Carlos Toribio at the Islip Cup.  Previously, Toribio had notched a 5-0 decision over Piccolo.  The rubber match could happen in a few days.  Mike Green makes his debut in the rankings. The Section 2 wrestler is 40-1 with his loss coming against Vrasidas.  He has defeated state placer Brad Burns and previously ranked Brett Perry of John Jay East Fishkill.  Brockport’s Jared Mesiti is another wrestler who could made a big impact at the state tournament.

182 Pounds:

  1. Zack Zupan, Canastota (3)
  2. Shayne Brady, Carthage (3)
  3. Tim Schaefer, Warsaw (5)
  4. Trent Egenlauf, Spencerport (5)
  5. James Corbett, Wantagh (8)
  6. James Benjamin, Vestal (4)
  7. Gio Santiago, Sachem North (11)
  8. Anthony Liberatore, Williamsville South (6)

A Few Notes: Williamsville South’s Anthony Liberatore, who won multiple matches in the state capital last season, comes in at number eight.  He has put together an impressive season with a single loss (to Egenlauf).  Thomas Murray of Yorktown is also a medal contender.

Photo by Josh Conklin

195 Pounds:

  1. Reggie Williams, Johnson City (4)
  2. Bryce Mazurowski, Avon (5)
  3. Colton Kells, Fairport (5)
  4. Chris Chambers, East Islip (11)
  5. Steven Sabella, Yorktown (1)
  6. Nick Weber, Kings Park (11)
  7. Ben Honis, CBA/Jamesville-Dewitt (3)
  8. Levi Ashley, Shenendehowa (2)

A Few Notes: Ben Honis made the podium at Fargo this summer and has followed up with a strong season, including wins over wrestlers like Hunter Ayen of Gouverneur, Tyler Smith of Midlakes and Scott Wymbs of Horace Greeley.  He also recently beat Joe Nasoni of Baldwinsville, who was in the last set of rankings.  The two could meet again for the Section 3 crown. Joining this list at 195 is Levi Ashley of Shenendehowa, who has moved up after spending much of the campaign at 182. Syosset’s Dan Choi has been dominant and should be a contender in Albany.

220 Pounds:

  1. Zack Bacon, Hornell (5)
  2. Ryan Wolcott, Waverly (4)
  3. Dan Breit, Nanuet (1)
  4. Nick Lupi, Huntington (11)
  5. Mike Silvis, Holley (5)
  6. Richard Sisti, Monsignor Farrell (C)
  7. Joe Sprung, Berne Knox Waterloo (2)
  8. Matt Mott, Lynbrook (8)

A Few Notes: Matt Mott of Lynbrook enters the rankings after his undefeated campaign.  He will definitely be tested this weekend, however, as he wrestles a very tough group in Section 8. Steven Mills of Sachem North will look to top Nick Lupi in Section 11 after a 34-1 season.

Photo by BV

285 Pounds:

  1. El Shaddai Van Hoesen, Columbia (2)
  2. Mike Hughes, Smithtown West (11)
  3. Matt Montesanti, Medina (6)
  4. Alex Soutiere, Ravena (2)
  5. James O’Hagan, Seaford (8)
  6. Terrence Cheeks, NFA (9)
  7. Austin DiCerbo, Colonie (2)
  8. David Varian, Yorktown (1)

A Few Notes: There was some movement here.  The trio of Austin DiCerbo of Colonie, David Varian of Yorktown and Terrence Cheeks of Newburgh have taken turns beating each other with Cheeks coming out on top of recent meetings.  Brandon Fayle of Lowville was upset last weekend, while Austin Coleman of Spencerport looks to be peaking at the right time and will be a tough matchup in the postseason.

————

Special thanks to Mike Carey.

2 weeks to go until the state tournament!