New Champions Crowned: Division I State Tournament Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

99 Pounds:

Diakomihalis, Photo by BV

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

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

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

106 Pounds: 

Quinn, Photo by BV

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

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

113 Pounds:

Piccininni, Photo by BV

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

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

120 Pounds:

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

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

126 Pounds:

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

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

132 Pounds:

Leshinger, Photo by BV

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

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

138 Pounds:

Kelley, Photo by BV

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

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

145 Pounds:

Hernandez, Photo by BV

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

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

152 Pounds:

Rasheed, Photo by BV

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

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

160 Pounds:

Grimaldi, Photo by BV

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

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

170 Pounds:

Toribio, Photo by BV

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

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

182 Pounds:

Brady, Photo by BV

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

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

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

195 Pounds:

Choi, Photo by BV

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

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

220 Pounds:

Sisti, Photo by BV

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

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

285 Pounds:

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

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

 

For all the brackets, see this link.

Congratulations to the Division I wrestlers on a great season.

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

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

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

For the Division I contest, click on this link.

For the Division II contest, click on this link.

 

99 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers: None

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

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

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

106 Pounds:

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

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

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

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

113 Pounds:

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

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

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

120 Pounds:

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

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

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

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

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

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

126 Pounds:

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

Fabian, Photo by Josh Conklin

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

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

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

132 Pounds:

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

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

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

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

138 Pounds:

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

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

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

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

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

145 Pounds:

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

Hernandez, Photo by Josh Conklin

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

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

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

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

152 Pounds:

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

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

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

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

160 Pounds:

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

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

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

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

170 Pounds:

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

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

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

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

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

182 Pounds:

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

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

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

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

195 Pounds:

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

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

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

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

220 Pounds:

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

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

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

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

285 Pounds:

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

Van Hoesen, Photo by BV

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

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

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

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!

New York State Rankings #2 for 2012-13 Season

We said the first set of rankings of the year would probably be the toughest. We were wrong. These were much tougher.

However, after much discussion and debate, here are the current opinions of those who collaborated on this project. We will once again consider all of your feedback . . . as long as it’s done respectfully.

So, here you go . . .

Photo by BV

99 Pounds:

  1. Yianni Diakomihalis, Hilton (5)
  2. Vito Arujau, Syosset (8)
  3. Jesse Dellavecchia, East Islip (11)
  4. Ryan O’Rourke, Adirondack (3)
  5. John Arceri, Huntington (11)
  6. Chris Cuccolo, Pine Bush (9)
  7. Jake Yankloski, Wayne (5)
  8. Garrett Baugher, St. Joseph’s Collegiate (C)

A Few Notes: Diakomihalis remains at number one despite winning a tournament title up at 106 over Jonathan Haas this weekend.  The Eastern States Classic featured some close bouts at this weight, including Cuccolo’s overtime triumph over Yankloski for the title. That came one round after Yankloski’s extra time victory over Eastport South Manor’s John Busiello in the semis. There’s no doubt that Busiello will be heard from in the postseason as well.

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. Golan Cohen, Colonie (2)
  7. Jonathan Haas, Spencerport (5)
  8. Tony Recco, Lyndonville (5)
A Few Notes: Tanzman remains in the top spot, followed by Barbaria. The New Rochelle wrestler had an impressive Eastern States, earning the crown with victories over Overhiser and Quinn in tight matches in the semis and finals. Szymanski and Cohen enter the rankings after taking third and fourth at that event, featuring several quality victories.

Photo by BV

113 Pounds:

  1. Nick Piccininni, Ward Melville (11)
  2. Kyle Kelly, Chenango Forks (4)
  3. Anthony Orefice, Lockport (6)
  4. Dillon Stowell, Gouverneur (10)
  5. Bryan Lantry, Wayne (5)
  6. Joe Calderone, Walt Whitman (11)
  7. Johnny Stramiello, Pine Bush (9)
  8. Cheick Ndiaye, Brooklyn International (P)

A Few Notes: The makeup of the top 8 here hasn’t undergone too much change since the last rankings. (Barbaria, previously here, moved down to 106 and Calderone joined the list while Orefice has spent some time up at 120).  Piccininni dominated at the Eastern States while Kelly did the same the previous week at the Union-Endicott Duals.

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. Nick Tolli, Arlington (1)
  7. Blake Retell, Shaker (2)
  8. Sean Peacock, Midlakes (5)

A Few Notes: This weight took more time than most of the others combined. What has changed? Honestly, what hasn’t? The Eastern States tournament was loaded at this class and a number of highly accomplished wrestlers, including the #2, 3, 4 and 5 seeds at the event didn’t place. Why this arrangement? Yes, Delacruz was disqualified while trailing during his semis bout with Muldoon. However, looking at the matches that have taken place among these wrestlers this season, Delacruz pinned D’Angelo, who in turn beat Muldoon earlier this year.  Muldoon topped Benderoth, who defeated Passaro for bronze at SUNY Sullivan. (Passaro won their meeting the previous day by fall).

Tolli and Retell turned in strong performances in Loch Sheldrake as well, with Tolli topping Steve Michel and Chris Cataldo on his way to fifth while Retell also placed after beating Santo Curatolo, Cataldo and two-time state runner up 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. Corey Jamison, Huntington (11)
  6. William Koll, Lansing (4)
  7. Dakota Gardner, Fredonia (6)
  8. Mike Raccioppi, Minisink Valley (9)

A Few Notes:  Most of the names are the same here with the order slightly rearranged. Fabian’s championship over the weekend, in which he defeated Realbuto and Koll, puts him on top. Realbuto beat Araoz, who topped Koll.  One of the new additions to the list is Mark West, a former state champion who was fourth at Eastern States and will be no doubt be a factor in the postseason. Islip’s Brad Wade is among the many others to keep an eye on.  He recently avenged two early season losses and has solid wins over Jamison and state runner up Justin Cooksey.

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. Vinny Turano, Wantagh (8)
  6. Brandon Lapi, Amsterdam (2)
  7. Conor O’Hara, Sachem East (11)
  8. Jacob Sepor, Pavilion (5)

A Few Notes: Rodriguez-Spencer has continued to roll but there was a little shakeup behind him. Two-time state finalist Rifanburg takes the second slot after winning Eastern States this weekend, while the wrestler he defeated for the title, Melikian, is next. Then comes bronze finisher Leshinger, who split contests with Turano at SUNY Sullivan. O’Hara has been on a tear since moving down to 132 pounds.

Photo by BV

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: While the match many were hoping to see, Kelley vs. Tighe, didn’t materialize (Tighe forfeited in the semis), Kelley reinforced his hold on #1 with his outstanding showing. Joining the fray is Penfield’s Skylar Kropman after making the medal stand from an unseeded spot in the bracket at Eastern States.

145 Pounds:

  1. Louis Hernandez, Mepham (8)
  2. David Almaviva, Shenendehowa (2)
  3. Drew Hull, Royalton Hartland (6)
  4. Eric Lewandowski, Lancaster (6)
  5. Tom Grippi, Fox Lane (1)
  6. Jackson Mordente, Sachem East (11)
  7. Frank Garcia, Norwich (4)
  8. Jude Gardner, Fredonia (6)

A Few Notes: Hernandez is the new #1 here after leading the way at the Eastern States. The Mepham wrestler was in great form over the weekend, beating Almaviva in the semifinals before taking out the tournament’s top seed in the finals. State runner up Hull enters the 145 pound rankings after moving down from 152.  Garcia missed a portion of the season with an injury but has made an effective return, including a podium showing at the Eastern States. While not presently included, Anthony DePrez is putting together a very solid season for Hilton.

Photo by BV

152 Pounds:

  1. Corey Rasheed, Longwood (11)
  2. Tyler Spann, Adirondack (3)
  3. Angelo Kress, Columbia (2)
  4. Chris Koo, Great Neck South (8)
  5. Rowdy Prior, Phoenix (3)
  6. Brendan Goldup, LaSalle (2)
  7. Dan DeCarlo, Port Jervis (9)
  8. Joe Mastro, Yorktown (1)

A Few Notes: Corey Rasheed made a strong statement about who the best in New York is at 152 by rolling through the tournament at SUNY Sullivan, which included a number of ranked opponents. DeCarlo and Mastro made the list after their performances over the weekend as well. Kyle Halliday of Chenango Valley also continues to have a strong campaign, with his only loss coming up a weight to Vestal’s Alex Francik, a wrestler who was strongly considered at 160.

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: Paddock captured the battle of the top wrestlers at this weight over Grimaldi. Two of the fastest risers in the rankings were MacArthur’s Schneider and Monsignor Farrell’s Psomas, who battled for third at the Eastern States. Schneider also beat Weber the previous week at the Union-Endicott Duals.

170 Pounds:

  1. Dan McDevitt, Wantagh (8)
  2. Carlos Toribio, Brentwood (11)
  3. Christian Dietrich, Greene (4)
  4. Joe Piccolo, Half Hollow Hills West (11)
  5. Troy Seymour, Peru (7)
  6. Zack Buckley, Fredonia (6)
  7. Johnny Vrasidas, St. Anthony’s (C)
  8. Brett Perry, John Jay EF (1)

 A Few Notes: Another weight with a new #1. McDevitt takes over after coming out on top in a field full of stellar wrestlers and keeping his unbeaten streak as an upperweight alive. Dietrich and Piccolo both defeated Seymour on Saturday while Toribio, Buckley and Vrasidas have continued to wrestle well. Perry got the nod for the eighth spot but Brockport’s Jared Mesiti is also one to look out for at this weight class as is Mike Green of Cobleskill-Richmondville and the previously ranked AJ Voelker of Monroe Woodbury.

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. Levi Ashley, Shenendehowa (2)
  7. James Benjamin, Vestal (4)
  8. Gio Santiago, Sachem North (11)

A Few Notes: Zupan does have some blemishes on his record – a loss while wrestling up at 195 (he was winning at the time of the fall) and a disqualification. However, the former state champion demonstrated that he is the wrestler to beat with his showing at the Eastern States, including a championship win over Schaefer. Egenlauf defeated Corbett at Union-Endicott duals while the Wantagh wrestler responded at SUNY Sullivan by taking third with a win over Ashley. Section 6’s Anthony Liberatore, who wrestled well in Albany last year, continues to impress.

Photo by BV

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. Joe Nasoni, Baldwinsville (3)
  7. Nick Weber, Kings Park (11)
  8. Dan Choi, Syosset (8)

A Few Notes: Sabella and Nasoni enter after picking up some solid victories as does Chambers after beating Weber (who beat Choi). According to the NWCA Scorebook, Chambers has won every match this year by bonus points (and has 17 first period falls). Reggie Williams stays on top after his weekend title while Mazurowski remains in the second slot as the favorite in Division II. Both Hunter Ayen of Gouverneur and Ben Honis of Jamesville-Dewitt/CBA put on strong showings at the Eastern States and will be threats in February along with Collin Pittman of Spencerport and Tyler Morris of Salem.

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. Chris Saden, Fredonia (6)
  7. Richard Sisti, Monsignor Farrell (C)
  8. Joe Sprung, Berne Knox (2)

A Few Notes: Breit and Silvis traded positions after the Nanuet wrestler defeated the Holley grappler for the Eastern States crown. Minisink Valley’s Josh Bonneau made a statement with his bronze placement at the same tournament and is one we will keep close tabs on, along with Islip’s Ryan Hughes.

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. Brandon Fayle, Lowville (3)
  6. James O’Hagan, Seaford (8)
  7. Austin DiCerbo, Colonie (2)
  8. David Varian, Yorktown (1)

A Few Notes: The top six didn’t change after the last set of rankings, however, DiCerbo makes his debut after pinning Varian for the bronze at Eastern States. It was one of four falls for the Colonie wrestler at the tournament.

Special thanks to Mike Carey for his tremendous work on these rankings.

* Results based on NWCA Scorebook

Eastern States Recap: The Champions and Other Highlights from the Weekend in Section 9

Another Eastern States Classic is in the books. Wrestling fans were treated to a tremendous weekend of many of the best New York (and a few other states) have to offer.  Wantagh won the team title, led by heavyweight Most Outstanding Wrestler (MOW) Dan McDevitt, the champion at 170 pounds.  Also taking MOW honors were Shenendehowa’s Nick Kelley (middleweights) and Shoreham-Wading River’s TJ Fabian (lightweights).  Fabian had more hardware to take home as well as he captured Champion of Champions honors after winning an absolutely loaded bracket at 126 pounds.

There were many highlights over the two days. Let’s take a look at some of them.

99 Pounds:

Champion: Chris Cuccolo of Pine Bush came into the event as the second ranked wrestler in his weight . . . in Section 9. (He took fifth in the section in 2012).  Cuccolo has had success on the national level in the international styles and came up with a huge weekend in folk, outscoring his opponents 14-4 plus a pin.

And Also . . .  The semifinal matchup between Jake Yankloski of Wayne and John Busiello of Eastport South Manor looked like a battle between two wrestlers we will hear from in the postseason.  (Yankloski won in the tiebreakers). Yankloski began the season dominant up at 106 and has continued to look good at 99 while Busiello won his first three matches by technical fall or pin before a solid win over top seed Andrew Flanagan for third.

106 Pounds:

Photo by Josh Conklin

Champion: Nick Barbaria of New Rochelle was stingy on his path to the championship. After a first round technical fall, he shut out his next two opponents and defeated Wantagh’s Kyle Quinn in the title bout. Barbaria repeated victories over two of the state’s top grapplers  – Quinn and Corning’s Jimmy Overhiser on his way to gold.  He had defeated Quinn a few weeks ago and Overhiser at the Journeymen Classic.

And Also . . . Shoreham-Wading River’s James Szymanski, the eighth seed, impressed throughout the tournament, taking third.  He dropped a 3-2 battle to top-ranked Tony Recco in the quarterfinals but earned four straight wins in the wrestlebacks, including a pin against Overhiser and a major decision over Golan Cohen for bronze.  Cohen, the #10 seed from Colonie, also had a strong run in the consolations to take fourth.

113 Pounds:

Champion: Nick Piccininni began the event as the favorite and showed why as he cruised through a bracket filled with former state placers with a pair of technical falls, a pin, a major and a 5-0 victory in the finals against Gouverneur’s Dillon Stowell.

And Also . . .  There was only one wrestler on the podium at Eastern States who wasn’t All-State in 2012. Rafael Mateo of Midlakes, who made the medal stand in Loch Sheldrake after being seeded 14th, tallied four pins over the weekend and took eighth.

120 Pounds:

Photo by Josh Conklin

Champion: Danbury’s Kevin Jack was an Eastern States Classic champion for the second straight year, this time at 120.

And Also . . .  It’s clear that Section 1 is stacked at 120 pounds as three of the four semifinalists – John Muldoon, Alex Delacruz and Nick Tolli were from that area. Muldoon went all the way to the finals while Tolli was fifth after making an early statement by defeating highly regarded Steve Michel of Lancaster.  Delacruz was in medal position before being disqualified. But that wasn’t all.  Blaise Benderoth, the ninth seed, grabbed third with an 8-1 showing. The North Rockland wrestler was pinned by Eastport South Manor’s Travis Passaro in the Round of 16 but then responded with six consecutive victories, including a win over state champion Sean Peacock and a 7-2 triumph over Passaro in the third place bout. Throw two-time state runner up Trey Aslanian of Edgemont and Nanuet’s Anthony Calvano into the mix (both were at the tournament) and it should be a very interesting postseason for Section 1 at this weight.

126 Pounds:

Champion: When the #8 seed is a recent national champion (Wantagh’s Chris Araoz), you know you have a tough bracket. Emerging above the rest in a field with a plethora of accomplished wrestlers was Shoreham-Wading River’s TJ Fabian, a fourth place finisher at the state tournament in 2012.  Fabian demonstrated his outstanding mat wrestling and his ability to come through in close matches on his way to the title.  He topped former state champions in both the semis and finals (William Koll and Dylan Realbuto, respectively).

And Also . . . There was a lot of talk about seventh grader Frankie Gissendanner of Penfield, and with good reason.  He placed at 126 pounds in a deep weight in which multiple All-State wrestlers didn’t make the medal stand. Gissendanner, who has made a rapid adjustment to the varsity level, reached the quarterfinals before losing to Koll.  He bounced back like a veteran, beating Grand Street’s Keanu Thompson (who was top 8 in Albany last year) in the consolations before edging 2012 state runner up Justin Cooksey to take seventh.  For more on Gissendanner, from an article we published back in May, see here.

132 Pounds:

Champion: Tristan Rifanburg, the number two seed, controlled his matches on the way to the crown. He picked up an opening round fall before outscoring his next three foes 20-0.  In the finals, he defeated Sam Melikian of Fordham Prep, 8-5.

And Also . . . Melikian came within one victory of placing in the state capital last year.  However, he seems to have taken his wrestling to the next level, dominating in his first five bouts before dropping the finals contest to Rifanburg.

138 Pounds:

Champion: Nick Kelley of Shenendehowa repeated as a champion at this event after winning at 132 last season.  Westfield’s Derek Arnold gave Kelley a battle in the semis (a 3-2 Kelley victory), but otherwise, the future Binghamton Bearcat cruised.  He notched pins in his first three bouts and recorded a 9-1 major over Lansing state champion Connor Lapresi for the title.

And Also . . . Unseeded Skylar Kropman of Penfield took fifth place, including victories over the number six and eight seeds, John Diekel of Whitehall and Joey Butler of Burnt Hills.  Rocky Point’s Tom Dutton, an All-American at both the NHSCAs and Fargo this offseason, once again was impressive to watch.  He took fourth after a pair of losses to Arnold, the Virginia native.

145 Pounds:

Champion: One of the matches we were looking forward to after the brackets were released was Mepham’s Louis Hernandez versus Shenendehowa’s David Almaviva, two of the best in the state.  Hernandez not only beat the number two seed Almaviva 4-2 in that match but also top-ranked Beau Donahue of Westfield, 7-3, to win the championship.  Hernandez came into the event seeded seventh, but will be a force in Albany.  A year ago, he went 1-2 wrestling with a significant injury at the Times Union Center.  This time, he expects much more.

And Also . . . There could be some great matches in late February between wrestlers who looked very good this weekend – Hernandez, Almaviva, Lancaster’s Eric Lewandowski and Fox Lane’s Tom Grippi. On the Division 2 side, Frank Garcia of Norwich, who came within a match of placing last year as a freshman, took fifth.  He had missed a chunk of the season with an injury but has made a nice return.

152 Pounds:

Champion: Not much doubt about the top wrestler here. Corey Rasheed of Longwood pinned his first three opponents, then won 15-4 and 13-0 to earn gold.  He has racked up numerous honors, including three All-State medals, in his career and is the favorite to win his first state title next month.

And Also . . . Although he lost to Rasheed in his last bout, Phoenix’s Rowdy Prior showed that he takes the “Pin2win” mentality of his head coach Gene Mills to heart. Prior registered falls in all four of his matches prior to the finals, including over the sixth and seventh seeds, Dan DeCarlo of Port Jervis and Zach Joseph of Shenendehowa.

160 Pounds:

Photo by Josh Conklin

Warsaw’s Burke Paddock positioned himself for a run at his first state title when he dispatched two top small school opponents in Mike Beckwith and Austin Weigel and then defeated Division I returning runner up Tyler Grimaldi of Half Hollow Hills, 8-4.

And Also . . . While some New York fans may have been surprised by MacArthur’s Steve Schneider’s third place finish, those on Long Island certainly weren’t. The Nassau County wrestler lost to Grimaldi for the second time in the past few weeks, but captured his other six bouts and showed his ability to win the close ones.  All four of his consolation victories came by two points or less, including over the fifth-seed Nick Gallo and the sixth-seed Mike Beckwith.  The performance of Schneider’s third place match opponent, Andrew Psomas of Monsignor Farrell, should also be mentioned.  Psomas was unseeded coming into the event and went all the way to fourth, including victories over four seeded grapplers (Tyler Silverthorn, Stephen Aiello, Austin Weigel and Nate Bomysoad).

170 Pounds:  

Champion: If anyone was unsure whether Dan McDevitt could make the leap from 138 pounds to 170 and stay among the state’s elite, this weekend provided the answer. The Wantagh wrestler showed he belongs in the upperweights, topping Christian Dietrich of Greene 6-2 for the title. He also defeated the third and fifth place finishers, Joe Piccolo and Brett Perry.

And Also . . . Both Dietrich and Piccolo defeated top-ranked Troy Seymour, boosting their stock for the rest of the season.  It wouldn’t be very surprising to see a rematch of Dietrich’s 3-2 semifinal win over Seymour in the Saturday night finals in Albany for Division II gold.

 

182 Pounds:

Champion: Zack Zupan was in charge all the way through.  We may get to see him wrestle multi-time state placer Tim Schaefer again in Albany, after Zupan earned a 5-2 win over the Warsaw grappler in the championship tilt.

And Also. . . Several wrestlers outperformed their seeds.  Yorktown’s Thomas Murray was in the eighth spot in the bracket but came in fifth, with his losses to Zupan and in the tiebreakers to Shenendehowa’s Levi Ashley.  Speaking of Ashley, the Shenendehowa wrestler topped unseeded Andrew Grella from Beacon in the first round, 8-6, but Grella then won five straight to eventually grab sixth.  Also making a solid run was #15 Christian Araneo of Ward Melville, a freshman, who took eighth after three consolation wins.

195 Pounds:

Williams, Photo by BV

Champion: Reggie Williams had a very exciting and interesting weekend. He had two matches come down to the wire – his opening bout against Garrett Duval, which he won 12-11, and a 7-5 victory over Steven Sabella in which he scored the winning points close to the buzzer.  The Johnson City star also won two bouts by fall, including his title victory over Gouverneur’s Hunter Ayen.

And Also. . .  Ben Honis of Jamesville-Dewitt/CBA made a statement this summer when he earned All-America status at Fargo. He made another statement over the weekend when he took third place, including a win over All-Stater Tyler Smith of Midlakes. The only loss for Honis was a default in the semis against Ayen.

The opening round match between #15 seed Dan Fowler of Chaminade and Jeff Senecal of Duanesburg probably didn’t get much attention (Fowler won by fall).  However, both wrestlers made the medal stand, with Fowler defeating seeded wrestlers Deon Edmond and Scott Wymbs to take fifth and Senecal beating Wymbs and Canastota’s Wyatt Albanese to notch seventh.

220 Pounds:

Champion: Dan Breit of Nanuet breezed through the competition early with big wins in his first three bouts and then won close ones late, picking up 3-2 victories in the semis and finals against Dillon Hurlbert of Marathon and Mike Silvis of Holley, respectively.

And Also . . . During our Pick Your Champions contest, Minisink Valley’s Josh Bonneau received quite a few votes.  The #15 seed showed why. He lost to Breit in his first bout but then picked up six consecutive wins to finish third. Among the wrestlers he beat were Alex Ortiz of Middletown, Hurlbert and Holland Patent’s Josh Langley.

285 Pounds:

Van Hoesen, Photo by BV

Champion: El Shaddai Van Hoesen continued his winning ways.  It’s become customary for him to pin nearly everyone in his path and he did record three falls, including over Alex Soutiere in the title bout.  He also had an 8-1 decision and a 1-0 victory over Rocky Point’s Brennan Strovink.

And Also . . . Strovink proved that his close match with Van Hoesen wasn’t a fluke when the #16 seed made the podium in the sixth position after a solid tournament.  We also saw that the quality 285 pounders in Section 2 go beyond Van Hoesen and Soutiere. Austin DiCerbo of Colonie was pinned by Van Hoesen but picked up four falls of his own, including over Yorktown’s David Varian, on his way to third place.

Team: It was another great weekend for Wantagh. After capturing the Union-Endicott Duals last Sunday, the Warriors again finished on top with 138.5 points.  Shenendehowa was second with 111.5 while Westfield, Virginia (102.5) and Danbury, Connecticut (77) were next.  Tied for fifth were Colonie and Eastport South Manor with 73.5 points.

For full results, see here.

The results of our Pick Your Champions Contest will be released soon.

Congratulations to the Friends of Section 9 Wrestling, including Tournament Director Jeff Cuilty and the many others involved, who made this an outstanding event.  Thank you to SUNY Sullivan, especially Director of Athletics Chris DePew, for assistance with our live coverage.

And a huge thank you to Matt Diano for his incredible work on the live coverage on Saturday!

U-E Duals Recap: Wantagh Rallies to Capture the Title . . . Plus Other Dominant and Inspiring Performances

Wantagh entered the Union-Endicott Duals as the top team in the Empire State, and after two intense days of wrestling, the Warriors left with that number one ranking intact.

But it wasn’t easy.

After two blowout victories on Day 1 of the event, Sunday brought semifinal and final matches that came down to the wire.  Wantagh prevailed in both, rallying to defeat the number two seed, Sachem East, 35-27 for the championship.

“I’m really happy for our coaches, the guys and the fans,” said 220-pounder TJ Ragusa who has spent much of the season at 220 but wrestled at 285 at times this weekend. “A lot of times these duals are won by the guys who don’t get pinned; who don’t give up bonus. It was a total group effort.”

The finals began at 120 pounds and Sachem East controlled things early, winning six of the first eight bouts and earning a 24-10 lead after Zac Nobre’s decision at 170.

Despite trailing by a sizable margin, members of the team said they believed they would turn things around.

“Our confidence never wavered,” Ragusa said. “We never lost it. I was having a conversation with Danny McDevitt during the dual when we were losing and we were saying that we knew we’d keep fighting and win. One of the keys for our team is that we’re always confident.”

That appeared to be the case, as Wantagh took over from there, capturing six of the remaining seven matches, beginning with a pin from McDevitt at 182.

Afterwards, Wantagh received wins from James Corbett (195), Ragusa (285) and Jonathan Loew (99) to trail by just a point – 27-26.

The Section 8 power then regained the lead in emphatic fashion when 106-pounder Kyle Quinn earned a first period fall to push his squad ahead 32-27. Joe Hill then closed out the championship with a decision at 113.

“Before the match I was thinking I had to get a pin for the team,” Quinn said. “It means a lot for us to win – it gives us something to go home with. I think Wantagh just did a great job as a team.”

The excitement wasn’t limited to the finals.  The third place dual between Islip and Shenendehowa as well as both semifinals (Shenendehowa vs. Sachem East and Wantagh vs. Islip) all were decided in the very last bout.

In the battle for the bronze, the Plainsmen got out to a fast start and following a major decision for 195-pounder Levi Ashley, the Section 2 school was in front 31-15 with five matches to go.  However, Islip took the next four (including two by Shenendehowa forfeit and a huge pin at 106 pounds by Johnny DiPalma) to win 36-34.

Close matches were on tap in the semifinals as well, which started at 106 pounds. Going into the last match at 99, both duals had two point differentials – Sachem East led Shenendehowa 32-30 and Islip was ahead of Wantagh 27-25.

The wrestlers from Sachem East (Bobby Fazio) and Wantagh (Jonathan Loew) both trailed early in their respective matches.

Fazio was behind 4-1 in the second period before notching an escape and a takedown late in the stanza to tie things up going into the third. And he took over from there, earning a technical violation point, an escape, a takedown, near fall and eventually, the pin, to push his team to a 38-30 triumph.

Wantagh’s Loew faced a 2-0 deficit heading into the third but got on the board with a takedown early in that final stanza and rode his opponent out for the last minute and a half to force overtime.  In that extra session, Loew immediately went on the attack, getting the winning takedown and a 28-27 Warrior win.

In other placement matches, Clarence topped Monroe Woodbury for fifth, 34-28, and MacArthur beat Spencerport, 33-29, for seventh.

For full results from all 15 teams see:  Full results here.

A Few Additional (Random) Notes:

Dominance from the Binghamton Trio:  There was some talk at the event about who the most impressive wrestler was for the weekend.  While there was no absolute agreement, two names came up numerous times – Nick Kelley of Shenendehowa and Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks. Both cruised through the competition.

Their future Binghamton teammate, David Almaviva of the Plainsmen, also was outstanding, including controlling a 2-0 bout with the tough Jackson Mordente of Sachem East in the semifinals.

Long Island Looking Good: Suffolk squad Rocky Point, currently ranked #2 in the state Dual Meet poll, wasn’t at U-E this weekend, but Long Island did just fine, taking the top three spots at the event. In addition, MacArthur was seventh despite missing some key contributors such as Justin Cooksey.

Look Out for Clarence:  The Section 6 team didn’t come in as one of the tournament’s most talked about groups, but was very impressive in racking up a 4-1 record on the way to fifth place.  The Red Devils defeated the teams listed #4 and #5 in the first New York State Sportswriters Dual Meet rankings, North Rockland and Monroe Woodbury, by eight and six points, respectively.  (The one loss was to Sachem East).  The lineup’s bookends, heavyweight Nate Ward and 99-pounder Dylan Arena were among those who looked good over the weekend and the team is solid throughout.

And One Last Thing. . . : It’s always a pleasure to see such high level wrestling, but one of the standout performances came from Monroe Woodbury’s Vinny Vespa. Many New York wrestling fans know about Vespa’s fight with cancer this spring and summer. From the start, he and his family were confident that he would not only beat cancer, but also get back on the mat and win. Watching him do that in person was inspiring.

New York State Rankings #1 for 2012-13 Season

Here we go . . . the first and probably most difficult rankings of the year.  Soon, wrestlers will settle into their weights, more top wrestlers will go head to head and others will be back from injuries. Rankings, especially at this time of year, are subjective and we’re sure there are some wrestlers not included who will make an impact.  They are the opinions of those who collaborated on this project and are meant to generate conversation. We will seriously consider all of your feedback . . . as long as it’s done respectfully.  So, have at it.

Special thanks to Mike Carey for his incredible work to make these rankings happen.

Diakomihalis, Photo by BV

99 Pounds:

  1. Yianni Diakomihalis, Hilton (5)
  2. Vito Arujau, Syosset (8)
  3. Jesse Dellavecchia, East Islip (11)
  4. Peter Pappas, Plainview (8)
  5. Ryan Hetrick, Southwestern (6)
  6. John Arceri, Huntington (11)
  7. John Busiello, Eastport South Manor (11)
  8. Vinny Vespa, Monroe Woodbury (9)

A Few Notes: There are some terrific young wrestlers in this weight, but #1 is Hilton’s Yianni Diakomihalis, who has been extremely impressive not only on the mat for Hilton thus far but all over the country over the past several months.  Before this high school campaign began, he captured the Junior High Championship at the Super 32 Challenge in North Carolina. On his way to that title, Diakomihalis defeated Syosset eighth grader Vito Arujau (who took third). Arujau has been dominant thus far, both at 106 and 99. Suffolk county will have quite a battle in this class.  Over the holidays, Jesse Dellevecchia edged John Busiello in a very close and entertaining match while Arceri won the Windsor Christmas Tournament with a technical fall in the title bout.

106 Pounds:

  1. Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach (11)
  2. Jimmy Overhiser, Corning (4)
  3. Tony Recco, Lyndonville (5)
  4. Andrew Flanagan, Holley (5)
  5. Kyle Quinn, Wantagh (8)
  6. Jake Yankloski, Wayne (5)
  7. Jonathan Haas, Spencerport (5)
  8. Steven Lee, West Babylon (11)
A Few Notes: Tanzman took bronze at 99 a year ago, and started the season up at 113 (where he dropped a decision to state champion Nick Piccininni). Overhiser took fourth at this weight a year ago and has picked up where he left off, including a title at the Windsor Christmas Tournament.  Recco, a state champion in 2012, and Flanagan, a placer, have done well up a weight after competing at 99 a year ago. Yankloski caught our attention when he defeated qualifier Bryan Ruggeri of Fairport by technical fall early in the year.  He won his first 16 bouts.

 

Piccininni, Photo by BV

113 Pounds:

  1. Nick Piccininni Ward Melville (11)
  2. Kyle Kelly, Chenango Forks (4)
  3. Anthony Orefice, Lockport (6)
  4. Bryan Lantry, Wayne (5)
  5. Dillon Stowell, Gouverneur (10)
  6. Nick Barbaria, New Rochelle (1)
  7. Johnny Stramiello, Pine Bush (9)
  8. Cheick Ndiaye, Brooklyn International (P)

A Few Notes: This is one of two weights where there was a lot of back and forth on who is #1 and who is essentially 1A. We expect Piccininni and Kelly to settle things on the mat in the finals at the Times Union Center.  Two years ago, Kelly defeated Piccininni in the state semifinals and neither has lost in the state of New York since.  The Ward Melville wrestler’s outstanding performances against top competition outside the state, and a victory over the nation’s top sophomore, Zahid Valencia, gave him the edge.  Of course, Kelly’s many achievements are extremely impressive, including two state titles and placements at Fargo and Virginia Beach.  Anthony Orefice also has had a lot of success both inside and outside of the Empire State.  He was 40-2 a year ago, with his losses coming to Piccininni and Jimmy Overhiser (by default) and he registered a solid 7-1 win over Stowell over the holidays. Like Orefice, Bryan Lantry was fifth in 2012 in the state capital.  After a slow start at the Madison Square Garden title bout, Ndiaye gave Kelly a tough match a few weeks ago, dropping a two point decision.

Person, Photo by BV

120 Pounds:

  1. Robert Person, Bellmore JFK (8)
  2. Rocco Russo, Frontier (6)
  3. Steve Michel, Lancaster (6)
  4. Mike D’Angelo, Commack (11)
  5. Sean Peacock, Midlakes (5)
  6. Trey Aslanian, Edgemont (1)
  7. Kellen Devlin, Amherst (6)
  8. John Muldoon, Pearl River (1)

A Few Notes: Person, a two-time placer out of Section 8 is looking to make the finals for the first time after placing multiple times in the past. A number of these wrestlers have met this year.  Russo defeated Michel early on and then Michel beat Peacock.  Meanwhile, in last year’s state finals at 113, Peacock topped Aslanian.  The Edgemont grappler, headed to Princeton, is on a mission to win a state title after two runner up finishes in Albany.  Mike D’Angelo may not be a familiar name to those outside of Long Island but he suffered only three losses last year – all to Nick Piccininni.  In fact, Piccininni had only four regular decisions prior to Albany and three were against D’Angelo.  Truthfully, D’Angelo won’t have an easy time in Section 11 this year, because a pair of wrestlers who made it to the Round of 12 at the Super 32, Connetquot’s Steven Bulzomi and Eastport South Manor’s Travis Passaro, are also very strong.

Realbuto, Photo by BV

126 Pounds:

  1. Dylan Realbuto, Somers (1)
  2. TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (11)
  3. Chris Araoz, Wantagh (8)
  4. Corey Jamison, Huntington (11)
  5. William Koll, Lansing (4)
  6. Blake Retell, Shaker (2)
  7. Dakota Gardner, Fredonia (6)
  8. Antonio DeLuco, Rome Free Academy (3)

A Few Notes:  Realbuto captured a state title a year ago and will have a challenging group to beat to repeat. Fabian took fourth last season at a deep 120 pound weight and has impressed so far for Shoreham Wading River, as he did while winning seven straight after an opening round loss at the Super 32.  Chris Araoz knows about long winning streaks at national events as he took the 120 pound NHSCA National title last spring. Meanwhile, former state gold medalist William Koll has made the move up a few weights.  He took second this weekend at the Windsor Christmas Tournament behind Corey Jamison, who came into Albany as the number two seed last year but didn’t compete the second day.

Rodriguez-Spencer, Photo by BV

132 Pounds:

  1. Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowoga (6)
  2. Matt Leshinger, Sayville (11)
  3. Tristan Rifanburg, Norwich (4)
  4. Sam Melikian, Fordham Prep (C)
  5. Cody McGregor, Tonawanda (6)
  6. Brandon Lapi, Amsterdam (2)
  7. Vinny Turano, Wantagh (8)
  8. Ben Ettlinger, Fox Lane (1)

A Few Notes: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer is currently ranked nationally at this weight and has a boatload of achievements in the international styles. Last year, he took second in Albany behind Nick Tighe in an entertaining, back and forth, match. Future Columbia Lion Matt Leshinger of Sayville, a returning bronze medalist, went through one of the state’s toughest brackets (Section 11, 120 pounds) just to get to the Times Union Center last season.  Rifanburg, McGregor and Lapi have made a number of appearances on the medal stand and Melikian came within one match of joining them a year ago.

Kelley, Photo by BV

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. Eric Lewandowski, Lancaster (6)
  7. Codie Gillette, Saranac (7)
  8. Derrick Gray, Indian River (3)

A Few Notes: A pair of Binghamton-bound wrestlers are the favorites to capture titles at this weight in 2013. On the Division I side it’s Kelley, who is looking for his first crown to cap off a terrific career. On the other hand, Tighe is aiming for his third straight championship in Albany. Tighe may have to battle returning 132 pound gold medalist Connor Lapresi, who will wrestle for Bucknell in the future. On the large school side, Tom Dutton had a stellar offseason, placing at both the NHSCA Nationals and Fargo after a successful regular season in Section 11. DePrez and Lewandowski have both competed in the Saturday night finals in the past and will look to get back there this February.

Almaviva, Photo courtesy of Anthony Almaviva

145 Pounds:

  1. David Almaviva, Shenendehowa (2)
  2. Louis Hernandez, Mepham (8)
  3. Isaiah Riccio, Beaver River (3)
  4. Dan Reagan, Lewiston Porter (6)
  5. Jude Gardner, Fredonia (6)
  6. Joey Butler, Burnt Hills (2)
  7. Jackson Mordente, Sachem East (11)
  8. Colby Kash, Clarkstown North (1)

A Few Notes: Almaviva, an All-American, lost some matches this year but did so while making the Round of 12 at the prestigious Reno Tournament of Champions. After taking bronze in Albany last year, he’ll be looking to get to the finals this time. A number of other wrestlers on this list have solid experience at the Times Union Center, such as All-Staters Riccio, Reagan and Gardner. Hernandez made the trip to the state capital last year and wrestled with a severe injury. Now back in form, he dominated tough competition in and outside of the Empire State in the offseason and is looking for big things in a return trip.

Rasheed, Photo by BV

152 Pounds:

  1. Corey Rasheed, Longwood (11)
  2. Tom Grippi, Fox Lane (1)
  3. Drew Hull, Royalton Hartland (6)
  4. Angelo Kress, Columbia (2)
  5. Tyler Spann, Adirondack (3)
  6. Chris Koo, Great Neck South (8)
  7. Rowdy Prior, Phoenix (3)
  8. Kyle Halliday, Chenango Valley (4)

A Few Notes: Rasheed is a three-time placer and two-time runner up going into his junior year.  He took second at 145 in D-I last season while Drew Hull, a two-time medal winner, was the silver placer in the small school tournament.  Tom Grippi handed our #1 at 145 David Almaviva his only loss in Albany last year and finished one match from placing.  He already has over 20 wins.  Kress pinned his way through the PSAL Holiday tournament and racked up a number of wins in offseason events in the international styles. At the state tournament last season, he lost to nationally ranked Nicky Hall in the opening round before winning three straight in the consolations.  Chris Koo has been an All-American twice in Virginia Beach but has yet to travel to the state capital.  He has the ability to not only qualify but go far at the Times Union Center. He most recently was the Outstanding Wrestler at the Massapequa Holiday Tournament. Prior had a 32-3 season last year but two of his setbacks came in the Section 3 tournament (including to Spann).  He has been on fire this year thus far.

Grimaldi, Photo by BV

160 Pounds:

  1. Tyler Grimaldi, HHHW (11)
  2. Burke Paddock, Warsaw (5)
  3. Brendan Goldup, LaSalle (2)
  4. Jake Weber, Clarence (6)
  5. Mike Beckwith, Greene (4)
  6. Nick Gallo, Schalmont (2)
  7. Tyler Silverthorn, General Brown (3)
  8. Austin Weigel, Onteora (9)

A Few Notes: Speaking of 1 and 1A back at 113, Grimaldi and Paddock are both in the national rankings.  Some have Grimaldi higher and some have the reverse. We expect both to stand on top of the podium in Albany in their respective divisions.  Why do we have Grimaldi higher?  He defeated Paddock at the New York State Freestyle championships this year and placed at Fargo while both were in the same bracket. Needless to say, Paddock has a plethora of achievements over the years and will be difficult to beat. Mike Beckwith encountered a number of setbacks a year ago but with very little practice under his belt won Section 4 and a match in Albany.  He has blistered through the competition this year. Silverthorn was one of the few non-senior medalists in either division at 160 in 2012. Gallo came within a bout of the podium as a freshman and Goldup, a former All-Stater, is off to a great start. Weigel was one bout from the All-State status at 170 and will be a handful down at 160. [Dale White has been out injured].

170 Pounds:

  1. Troy Seymour, Peru (7)
  2. Dan McDevitt, Wantagh (8)
  3. Carlos Toribio, Brentwood (11)
  4. Zack Buckley, Fredonia (6)
  5. Christian Dietrich, Greene (4)
  6. Johnny Vrasidas, St. Anthony’s (C)
  7. Joe Piccolo, Half Hollow Hills West (11)
  8. Andrew Voelker, Monroe Woodbury (9)

Seymour, a national runner up and fourth placer at the state tournament last year, stands on top of 170.  Behind him are a number of talented competitors, none of whom have tasted the podium yet at 170.  However, McDevitt was on the medal stand as a fifth placer in 2012 — down at 138. After a growth spurt, he is up several classes and after beating some tough customers this summer, he’s looking like a solid bet to medal again. Johnny Vrasidas made it to the top 8 in Albany in February.  Toribio has started off the year on fire in Section 11, beating All-Stater Gio Santiago and returning qualifier Matt Roberts, both while wrestling up a weight. He also handled Piccolo this past week at the Long Island Challenge. An interesting wildcard is Deitrich, who medaled at 152 as a seventh grader in 2011 and who looked overpowering as he cruised to the Windsor Christmas Tournament title.

Zupan, Photo by BV

182 Pounds:

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

A Few Notes: Zack Zupan, the top ranked recruit in New York, stands at #1 while fellow Section 3 wrestler Shayne Brady, the Division I runner up a year ago comes in at #2.  The two met in the finals of the Herkimer Invitational, which ended quickly after some good early action when Brady injury defaulted.  Tim Schaefer, a multi-time state placer, is off to another great start for Warsaw after taking third at this weight in 2012.  Benjamin is back after his All-State showing out of Section 4 and fellow medalist Gio Santiago returns to the rankings. Above him is Wantagh’s James Corbett, who has impressed during his undefeated start, including a solid win over the Sachem North wrestler. Egenlauf has won multiple tournaments so far this campaign including the Teike Bernabi.

Williams, Photo by BV

195 Pounds:

  1. Reggie Williams, Johnson City (4)
  2. Bryce Mazurowski, Avon (5)
  3. Dan Choi, Syosset (8)
  4. Tyler Smith, Midlakes (5)
  5. Colton Kells, Fairport (5)
  6. Tyler Morris, Salem (2)
  7. Collin Pittman, Spencerport (5)
  8. Nick Weber, Kings Park (11)

A Few Notes: Reggie Williams conquered all challengers as a sophomore at 195 with the exception of four losses to state champion (and now graduated) Tony Fusco of Shenendehowa. Williams is the favorite to win his first state title.  Next up is another state silver medalist, Bryce Mazurowski of Avon, a future member of the Binghamton Bearcats.  Two 2012 fourth placers also sit here, Tyler Smith of Midlakes (at 195) and Tyler Morris of Salem (at 182). Colton Kells finished in the top 8 in Division I at 195 a year ago while Choi did the same at 182. Pittman gave Williams a lot to handle in the finals of the Teike Bernabi tournament despite a previous setback.

 

Bacon, Photo by BV

220 Pounds:

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

A Few Notes: Zack Bacon of Hornell, currently ranked #16 in the country by Intermat, leads the way. Bacon is familiar with Silvis and they are sure to meet this year again. Lupi also earned a spot in the national polls (by Amateur Wrestling News). The Huntington wrestler was upset in the Windsor Christmas Tournament finals by Ryan Wolcott, a returning Top 8 wrestler (at 170). Breit, Sprung and Sisti all made appearances at the Times Union Center in 2012.

Van Hoesen, 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. Brandon Fayle, Lowville (3)
  6. James O’Hagan, Seaford (8)
  7. David Varian, Yorktown (1)
  8. Anthony Puca, Huntington (11)

El Shaddai Van Hoesen earns the top spot with his absolute dominance thus far as a senior after taking second in 2012.  Another silver medalist, Alex Soutiere, has followed up his run at the Times Union Center with an unbeaten start.  A pair of sixth place finishers are also included, with Smithtown West’s Mike Hughes and Medina’s Matt Montesanti in control just about every time they’ve stepped on the mat.  Brandon Fayle of Lowville fell one bout short of placing in 2012 and has put up solid results again, with the one blemish on his record via disqualification.  Rounding out the rankings are Seaford’s James O’Hagan, an NHSCA Nationals third place finisher who went 31-3 last year and who has lost only to Hughes this campaign (the only match Hughes hasn’t won by fall).  Anthony Puca of Huntington and David Varian of Yorktown, a qualifier out of Section 1, round things out.

* Results based on NWCA Scorebook