NYWAY Kickoff Completes a Weekend Full of (Youth, HS and College) Wrestling at Niagara CCC

For those who like to watch wrestling, this weekend provided an opportunity to watch the sport on the youth, high school and college levels all in one place – Niagara County Community College (NCCC).

“It was definitely a busy weekend,” said Keith Maute, head coach at NCCC and Executive Director of the Cobra Wrestling Club.

No doubt about it.

NCCC hosted the Niagara Frontier Wrestling Officials Association High School event on Friday and Saturday, featuring more than 35 teams, including some of the best from Sections 5 and 6. Then on Saturday night, the Thunderwolves defeated Mercyhurst in NJCAA action.

And on Sunday, the competition concluded with the second annual NYWAY Kickoff Classic for grapplers between the ages of 5 and 14.

The NYWAY event included over 300 wrestlers from a number of states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

“The competition level was really, really good,” Maute said. “With the clubs coming from New York plus the out of state wrestlers, the tournament was tough. Ohio brought 42 kids and they were all really good – they had a qualifying tournament before to determine who would be there. Jason Locke, the coach from Ragin Raisins (in Pennsylvania) told me he was very impressed with the competition too.”

Several teams stood out, with G2 World Wrestling Academy declared the team champions. The Rochester-area club boasted a trio of first place finishers – Luca Pirozzolo, Jayden Scott and Elijah Diakomihalis.

Pirozzolo prevailed in a large 22-man bracket while Scott captured his second title of the weekend after traveling to Pennsylvania on Saturday and winning an event in the Keystone State.

Also making the finals for G2, according to co-owner Adam Burgos, were second placers Nicholas Callaghan, Max Kropman, Karamvir Hothi and Greg Diakomihalis.

Team OHIOWAY certainly made the trip to the Empire State worthwhile. While the squad wasn’t entered into the team race, the Buckeye State wrestlers led the way with nine total champions and several other place finishers.

In addition, the host club, Cobra, also sent a large number of wrestlers to the podium, including seven champions and at least seven silver medalists. (Note: runner up results were not available for Division 3 at the time of the article).

Those titlewinners for Cobra included two pairs of brothers – Jakob and Andy Lucinski as well as Hector and Tito Colom. In addition, Carson Alberti, Cooper Gronowski and Phil Calandra won their brackets.

Taking second for Cobra were Isreal Walker, Myles Gronowski, Trent Reid, Mitch Gaiser, Jack Walters, Jacob Brewer and Billy Seiders.

In addition to the NYWAY Kickoff, several of the youth wrestlers had the thrill of wrestling alongside a college match on Saturday night. While NCCC and Mercyhurst battled, New York youngsters faced off on adjacent mats against their counterparts from Ohio.

“The kids loved it,” said Kevin Lucinski, NYWAY’s Far Western Director. “The gym was packed and the response from the crowd was great. To be able to wrestle in front of all those fans and the high school wrestlers that were there was exciting for them.”

Those bouts preceded the finals of the Niagara Frontier Officials Tournament, which provided a chance to catch a glimpse of several high school wrestlers who are serious contenders for state titles in February.

The 120-pound bracket included multiple former qualifiers, including Steve Michel of Lancaster, Kellen Devlin of Amherst, Anthony Orefice of Lockport and Austin Acquard of Iroquois. Orefice, an All-Stater wrestling up a weight, dropped a 4-2 decision to Michel in the semis. And in the finals, the Lancaster grappler edged Devlin, 3-2. Fans can expect to see those competitors go deep into the tournament in Albany.

Speaking of going deep at the Times Union Center, the 145-pound finals paired two wrestlers who have done just that. Royalton Hartland’s Drew Hull, a runner up in 2012, topped Lancaster’s Eric Lewandowski, also a former silver medalist, 2-0. In addition, highly ranked wrestlers such as returning New York champion Tony Recco (Lyndonville, 106), Rocco Russo (Frontier, 126), Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (Cheektowoga, 132), Dan Reagan (Lewiston Porter, 138) and heavyweight Matt Montesanti (Medina) all won crowns. For full results, see here.

“We were extremely happy with the weekend,” Lucinski said. “We believe the NYWAY event is growing and we look forward to having more representation from the whole state next year. We still want to bring in great wrestlers from out of state too. It’s great that events like these showcase the youth, high school and college levels of wrestling together as we work to grow the sport.”


Below are Results from the  NYWAY Kickoff:

Division 1- Top Three Placers By Weight

37 Pounds: JJ Lucinski (Cobra/Lockport), Thomas Crumpler (NFPC), Brandon Jopp (Tonawanda)

40 Pounds: Simon Inboden (OHIOWAY), Isreal Walker (Cobra), Mason Dole (Eden)

43 Pounds: Cooper Gronowski (Cobra), Lucas Mason (Canisteo), Holden Kelly (Powerhouse)

46 Pounds: Jacob Stephenson (NWAA), Noah Leitten (Powerhouse), Griffin LaPlante (Tonawanda)

50-55 Pounds: Teshaun Matthews (NFPC), RJ Rudolfs, Bronx Buchholz (Batavia)

60-65 Pounds: Elijah Diakomihalis (G2), Shey Williams (Lockport), Gage LaPlante (Tonawanda)

Division 2- Top Three Placers By Weight

45 Pounds: Casper Caizzo (OHIOWAY), Jaden Crumpler (NFPC), Gavin Ciarfella (Roy-Hart)

50 Pounds: Ashton Homan (OHIOWAY), Myles Gronowski (Cobra), Korey Halford (NWAA)

55 Pounds: Carson Alberti (Cobra), Nicholas Callaghan (G2), Colin Bradshaw (Phoenix)

60 Pounds: Nick Molchak (OHIOWAY), Julien Griffin (OHIOWAY), Carter Schubert (Superior)

65 Pounds: Carter Neves (OHIOWAY), Trent Reid (Cobra), Gannon Jaquay (Ragin Raisins)

70 Pounds: Jayden Scott (G2), Mitch Gaiser (Cobra), Casey Bixby (Titletown FC)

75 Pounds: Brian Bielec (Grand Island), Ethan Sanderson (Titletown FC), Shane McClellan (NFPC)

80-85 Pounds: Simon Lingle (Newfane), Scott Winchell (Titletown FC), Kevin Daskavitz (Lockport)

Hwt: Logan Ramadan (Grand Island), Drew Mascio (Hamburg), Herman Wooten (NFPC)

Division 3- Champion By Weight

50 Pounds: Lucas Randisi (Superior)

55 Pounds: Jace Schafer(Superior)

60 Pounds: Andy Lucinski (Cobra/Lockport)

65 Pounds: Bryce Hepner (OHIOWAY)

70 Pounds: Luca Pirozzolo (G2)

80 Pounds: Justin McDougal (Niagara Falls)

85 Pounds: Donald Sinclair (Niagara Falls)

90 Pounds: Austin Leber (Niagara Wheatfield)

110 Pounds: Elijah Sobas (OHIOWAY)

Division 4- Top Three Placers By Weight

65 Pounds: Liam Logue (Malvern), Greg Diakomihalis (G2), Cole Skinner (OHIOWAY)

70 Pounds: Michael Gonyea (Journeymen), Eamonn Logue (Malvern), Ethan Turner (OHIOWAY)

75 Pounds: Trey Finnearty (OHIOWAY), Max Kropman (G2), Ryan Burgos (G2)

80 Pounds: Sam Bacon (Ragin Raisins), Christian Bradshaw (Phoenix), Danielle Stanley (Cobra)

85 Pounds: Wyatt Smith (Midlakes), Brandon MacDonnell (Midlakes), Nick Kruger (G2)

90 Pounds: William McDougald (NFPC), Sam Wolf (Warsaw), Corry Day (Bagura)

95 Pounds: Zachary Brown (Newfane), Jack Walters (Cobra), Jacob Tomlinson (Ragin Raisins)

100 Pounds: Bricker Thiel (OHIOWAY), Aaron Poe (NWAA), Nicholas Rouse (Titletown FC)

110 Pounds: Hector Colom (Cobra), Kevin Halford (NWAA), Jazzario Warr (Ragin Raisins)

120-130 Pounds: Steven Hark (Ken-Ton), Craig Pellow (Lew-Port), Henry Grunzweig (Grand Island)

140-150 Pounds: Steven Daskavitz (Lockport), Mike Leibl (Titletown FC), Hunter Thiel (OHIOWAY)

Division 5- Top Three Placers By Weight

80 Pounds: Drew Schafer (Superior), Dylan Curtis (Lew-Port), Lucas King (Superior)

88 Pounds: Tyler McKinney (Ragin Raisins), Jacob Brewer (Cobra), Seth Kerscher (Ken-Ton)

96-103 Pounds: Phil Calandra (Cobra), Billy Seiders (Cobra), Brent Bachman (Barker)

112 Pounds: Tito Colom (Cobra), Jacob Braeden (Ragin Raisins), Jacob Smeader (Hamburg)

120 Pounds: Dillon Knoll (Hamburg), Andrew Lorenz (Clarence), Austin Lutz (Ragin Raisins)

130-140 Pounds: Sean Galla (Titletown FC), Tyler Simons (Newfane), Justin Kimble (West Seneca E)

150-160 Pounds: Ian Malesiewski (Ragin Raisins), Michael Daskavitz (Lockport), Tyler Skidmore (Newfane)


Young New York Talent Ready to Take On the West Coast Through NYWAY Trips

“The mystique of getting on a plane and traveling all the way across the country is unbelievable for the kids,” Michael LaPorte said.

A number of young wrestlers from New York will be experiencing that mystique over the next few weeks as part of a pair of NYWAY trips.  On November 1, a group of elementary school grapplers will head to Las Vegas for the NUWAY Southwest Kickoff.  About a week later, a contingent of middle schoolers will make the journey to California to take part in the Final Four Duals and Junior Mid Cals.

Carson Alberti, Courtesy of Cobra Wrestling

Both trips involve plenty of high quality wrestling as well as an opportunity to see the surrounding areas.

The Vegas-bound crew includes 11 students ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade.

“We wanted to give kids a chance to see a new place and showcase them in a different environment,” said Kevin Lucinski, who is leading the trip. “We’ll do a little sightseeing when we get there and then wrestle in the tournament.  I think we’re all looking forward to seeing some different styles of wrestling.  When you go to different parts of the country, different things are emphasized.  Personally, I’m anxious to see the kids from California and Nevada.  Some of the brackets have Reno Worlds placers and champions.  It gives our kids a chance to test themselves and shows everyone that even if you’re the best in your state, you still have to work really hard because there are so many good wrestlers out there.”

The list of wrestlers going to Vegas includes: Carson Alberti, AJ Burkhart, Josh Gill, Michael Gonyea, Jason Hoffman, Justin Hoffman, Andy Lucinski, Jakob Lucinski, Caiden MondoreMitchell Seaver, Garrett Skeens and Carter Schubert.

Golden State Adventure

Matthew LaPorte and Orion Anderson, Courtesy of Michael LaPorte

LaPorte, who led the trip to Northern California last year as well, never had any doubt that he wanted to return again in 2012.

“Just hearing the kids talking amongst themselves about how much fun they were having was worth all the hard work that goes into it,” he said. “I knew I wanted to do it again.  It’s really important to helping the sport grow in New York and having the kids advance as much as they possibly can. Having West and East coast meet each other is something special.”

There were some exciting matchups last year for the Empire State squad.  The team placed fourth at the dual meet competition and had two wrestlers win individual titles as well.  Both of those grapplers, Orion Anderson and Dane Heberlein, are coming back.

“It’s always great competition,” LaPorte said.  “Orion (80 pounds) was the only New York wrestler to go undefeated last year on both days.  He had some close matches, but he always came out on top. I think some of those California kids will be looking for him because of his performance last year.  Dane will be at 90 pounds.  He’s super excited about going back.  He was the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler last year and I think some of those West Coast kids will be looking for another chance at him as well.”

Also returning is Matthew Laporte (70 pounds), who registered a number of victories in 2011.   Joining the team will be Isaiah Bailey, Anthony Cirillo, Grant CuomoAntonio Cutrie, Connor Fredericks, Michael Gonyea, Jason Hoffman, Stephen KapuscinskiZach Kornberg and Dillan Palaszewski.

What excites LaPorte about the squad is that it brings wrestlers from all over the Empire State.

“The really good thing is that we were able to get a nice balance of the state with the addition of a few Long Island kids this year,” LaPorte said.  “Just about every area of New York has some representation, which is a good, healthy sign.”

According to NYWAY President Clint Wattenberg, the organization is working to expand to cover more of the Empire State this coming season.

“In representing New York with wrestlers from all corners of the state, it helps us get the word out about the many things that we are trying to do to increase opportunities for our young wrestlers. This year we hope to have the same broad representation at our NYWAY State Championships, which will serve to coalesce our season.”

As is the case with the Vegas trip, NYWAY will be covering a large portion of the wrestler costs.  According to LaPorte, the cost to each wrestler to go to California, including airfare, hotel, custom singlets, event entry costs is $250.

Like last year, the team will take some time to explore San Francisco in addition to both a dual event and an individual tournament.

“We’ll get there on Friday and have some time to rest,” he said. “Then, we’ll wrestle in the Final Four duals on Saturday and the Mid Cals on Sunday.  On Monday, which is a holiday, our agenda is to take the kids sightseeing – the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf.  It will be a great end to the trip.”

As for accomplishments on the mat, LaPorte said he’d like to improve upon last year’s fourth place showing in the duals.

“We’d like to be top three as a team this time,” he said. “And we want to place as many kids as possible into the finals on the second day.  But the biggest thing for me is making sure that it’s a great experience for the kids.  It’s great for them to know there’s so much more out there in wrestling and outside of it.  It’s really rewarding for me as a coach to be part of it.”

Stevo Poulin and AJ Burkhart Claim Titles; Team NYWAY Competes at the Grand River Rumble in Michigan

A water park, two days of wrestling and some hardware to bring back home to New York.

That’s what Team NYWAY experienced last weekend, as the group traveled to Michigan for the Grand River Rumble, a two-day event featuring an individual tournament on Saturday and a Duals competition on Sunday.

In two days, the grapplers each competed in about 10 bouts in the Elementary School Division and in the end, five New Yorkers placed in the top four individually (including championships for Stevo Poulin and AJ Burkhart) while the squad took ninth during the Duals.

Poulin was undefeated throughout the weekend, going a combined 10-0 over the two days.  During the individual event, he outscored his opponents 26-2 and added a pin on the way to his crown.  He tacked on three more falls, a technical fall and a major decision while representing Team NYWAY during the Duals.

“Stevo was very focused, like he normally is,” said Steve Poulin, his father and one of the coaches, along with Adam Burgos of G2 World Wrestling Academy. “There were a few kids he was excited to wrestle, like Lain Yapoujian from Colorado who took second at Reno Worlds this year.  [Poulin won 7-0 in the individual tournament and 9-3 in the Duals against Yapoujian]. Stevo was pretty dominant.”

Also dominant was fellow champion Burkhart, who compiled a 9-1 mark overall, with four pins (three in less than a minute) as well as three major decisions.  But it was one of his close matches that was among the most memorable moments of the weekend, according to Steve Poulin.

“AJ had an awesome match with PJ Crane of Cincinnati Grapplers [a 2-0 victory for Burkhart],” Poulin said. “He had never beaten him before and beat him at the Duals.  Everyone was freaking out; it was awesome.  It was worth the trip out there just to have AJ beat him for the first time.”

Three additional team members medalled, including Tyler Barnes, who was the runner up at 110 pounds.  The Journeymen wrestler won eight of his 10 bouts, including a pair of pins.

“Tyler wrestled really well all weekend,” Poulin said.

Also making the podium for New York were Dillan Palaszewski and Colin Bradshaw.  Palaszewski dropped his opening bout in the 85-pound bracket, but responded with three victories to take third.  On Sunday, he added another four wins for Team NYWAY, including three falls.

Bradshaw also began with a loss, in the 50-pound tournament, but bounced back in the consolations to finish fourth.  During the Duals, he won three matches, all by fall.

The individual placers weren’t the only ones who contributed to the squad’s performance.

In the Duals competition, Nicholas Noel won four of his six bouts at 95 pounds, including a pin in less than a minute over Nathan Conley of Indiana Gold.  Also getting their hand raised for Team NYWAY were Andy Lucinski (60), Justin Smith (65), Ryan Burgos (70), Christian Bradshaw (75) and Camerin Galvin (105).  Wyatt Smith stepped in at 80 pounds for the Empire State, while Jake Cook took the mat at 135 on Saturday but injury defaulted his last match and did not compete during the Duals.

“It was a great event,” Poulin said. “We had a fun time as a team. For some of the kids, it was the first time they experienced something like this, so it was eye opening.  These types of events help kids realize what they need to do to take things to the next level.”

But it wasn’t all about wrestling.

“There was a water park right there and all the kids went on Saturday after the tournament,” Poulin said. “Then on Sunday, the Dual meet was actually at the park.  The wrestling was great but I’m guessing the park was probably the favorite part of the trip for the kids.”

Individual Placers

50 Pounds: Colin Bradshaw, 4th

55 Pounds: Stevo Poulin, Champion

85 Pounds: Dillan Palaszewski, 3rd

90 Pounds: AJ Burkhart, Champion

110 Pounds: Tyler Barns, 2nd

Team Dual Meet Results

Round 1: Chi City MonStarz defeated Team NYWAY 38-16

Round 2: Flat River Black defeated Team NYWAY 30-28

Round 3: Cincinnati Grapplers defeated Team NYWAY 63-6

Round 4: Indiana Gold defeated Team NYWAY 37-22

Round 5: Team NYWAY defeated Junior Titans 48-18

Round 6: Team NYWAY defeated Contenders Wrestling Academy 33-30