NY's Top Junior High Wrestler Frankie Gissendanner Striving for the Top After Stellar Seventh Grade Season

Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing some of the top wrestlers in New York for the upcoming campaign.  We begin with our #1 Junior High School grappler in the state, Penfield eighth grader Frankie Gissendanner. Stay tuned for more … the freshman class will be next.

Earlier this summer, Frankie Gissendanner opened the Flowrestling website and next to the main story about the top Junior High School wrestlers in the country was a photo of . . . Frankie Gissendanner.

“I was proud of myself when I saw my picture there,” he said.  “I was excited to achieve one of my goals to be nationally ranked, but I was a little surprised too.”

Courtesy of Nikki Gissendanner

The Penfield star may have been a bit surprised, but most of those who watched him in New York last year weren’t shocked at all.  After an offseason in which he seemed to win a championship just about every weekend, Gissendanner had a stellar campaign in his first year on the varsity squad, racking up a 44-6 mark while capturing multiple tournament titles and placing at the toughest in-season event in the Empire State.  And all of this happened as a seventh grader at 126 pounds.

Did Gissendanner expect so much success so quickly?

“I wanted to win a state championship or at least make the top three,” he said of his expectations for the 2012-13 season. “I thought it was possible as a seventh grader.”

He certainly started off with a bang.  On the first weekend of December, Gissendanner went undefeated at the Mark Stephens Classic, earning the Most Outstanding Wrestler award for the lightweights.  It wouldn’t be the last time he nabbed MOW honors. In fact, he did it again more than once, including later that month at the prestigious Top Hat tournament in Pennsylvania when he grabbed an individual title against tough Keystone State opposition.

“It motivated me when I was facing that kind of competition,” Gissendanner said.

He again faced top talent at the Eastern States Classic in January at SUNY Sullivan.  In fact, the 126-pound bracket included more than 10 All-State wrestlers, including four state champions.  Gissendanner was undaunted, going 5-2 and defeating a pair of New York state silver medalists on the way to the podium.

After dropping his quarterfinal bout to now two-time state champion William Koll, Gissendanner rebounded with an 8-4 victory over 2013 state runner up Keanu Thompson.  And then, in the seventh place match, he defeated 2012 New York second placer Justin Cooksey 3-1 in sudden victory.

“When I took seventh at Eastern States, I thought I had a lot of opportunities to win or place at big tournaments,” he said. “I thought I would do well at the state championships.”

But first, he had to get there.  And he got the job done, earning the right to represent Section 5 by winning the SuperSectional title in Division I.  Among his wins at the event was a decision over James Arao of Fairport, who had topped Gissendanner early in the season.  In the championship contest, Gissendanner bested Schroeder’s Rosario Venniro 3-1 in overtime to punch his ticket to the Times Union Center. He was again chosen as the MOW.

“I think my biggest win last year was my Supers match in the finals,” Gissendanner said. “It qualified me for states and I did it against a senior – I took his position.”

He was excited to make his debut in Albany.  But he was less excited about the way things turned out in his first appearance in the state capital as he went 1-2, with his second setback coming at the hands of multiple-time state finalist Dylan Realbuto.

“I choked at states,” Gissendanner said. “I was really nervous. It was definitely a big change. It was so big with so many people, and it was like, ‘wow’. The atmosphere got to me.  I wish I went to states in sixth grade just to see what it was like to know what I was walking into.  But I hadn’t been there before and it was actually my first time being in an arena like that, ever.  It got to me.  But it will help me for the future.”

It may help this fall as he prepares for the upcoming campaign at high quality preseason events, where he said he plans to compete at 132 pounds.

“I’m going to Super 32 and the Journeymen Classic,” he said. “I’ll be ready. I’m really hyped.”

Gissendanner also gets hyped to talk about some of his favorites – Jordan Burroughs, Jon “Bones” Jones and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

“Iowa is my favorite college team,” he said. “Dan Gable was a great coach and I like the Brands brothers.  I like their motto in wrestling and their attitude. I went to see Iowa wrestle Buffalo last year.  That was a lot of fun.”

Gissendanner has fun on the mat, but also as a member of the Junior Varsity football and lacrosse teams.  Even in the other seasons, however, he can’t stay away from the wrestling room, training with the G2 World Wrestling Academy and Titan Worldwide.

The Penfield standout had ambitious goals going into his first varsity season a year ago and he once again has set the bar high as eighth grade approaches.

“I learned last year from the state tournament that every match should be treated like you’re just going live with your partner in the wrestling room,” he said. “You should always be calm and not let the crowd get to you.  This year, I want to win every tournament I step into.  And win every match.”

If he’s able to do that, there’s a good chance Frankie Gissendanner will find his photo on the front page of the national rankings once again. And instead being slotted in the #14 spot nationally, he could be ranked even higher.

Youth Champions Crowned at the 2013 Pop & Flo Mini Men Nationals

 
 
The poster for the 2013 Pop & Flo Mini-Men Nationals says it is “where the young guns come to settle their differences.”

There were definitely a lot of young guns on hand on Saturday at Union College for the event, which featured hundreds of wrestlers across the Bantam, Midget, Junior and Intermediate competitions.

“It was an awesome tournament,” said G2 World Wrestling Academy’s Adam Burgos. “The competition was phenomenal and with 10 mats, it was very efficient. The certified officials were great and it was easy to watch and follow. It’s a tournament that our club will definitely have on our calendar in the future.”

The top finishers in each class received prizes such as Brute singlets, Forever Fierce hoodies and trophies. 

For the first through fourth placers in each bracket, see below. 

(Please comment with changes or additions).
 

BANTAM

43:
Aidan Shufelt (FLWC)
Seach Park Hibler (Apex)
Jeffrey Ellert (Underground)
Kaden Rice (Wawc)

48:
Gianni Silvestri (Tioga Central)
Ashton Seymour (Mike’s Garage Grapplers)
Davis Motyka (Rock Solid)
Rylan Padelford (Colonie)

53:
August West Hibler (Apex)
Nicky Callaghan (G2)
Luca Manfredi (Newtown Youth)
Ryder Machado (Underground)

60:
William Henckel (Newtown Youth)
Zak Ryder (Underground)
Luca Duva (Iowa Style)
Andrew Reall (Predator Wrestling)

70:
Sonny Sasso (Dark Knights)
Andrew Filip (Underground)
Jack Richardson (Marcaurele)
Benjamin Shue (Basement Boyz)

95:
Ethan Gallo (Underground)
Eddie Terreri (Njac)

 
MIDGET

50:
Jaden Pepe (Rock Solid)
Isiac Paulino (NE Elite CT)
Evan Kinney (Doughboy)
TJ Morton (NJ Scorpions)

60:
Nicholas Palso Jr (Journeymen)
Carlson Porter (Smitty’s Barn)
Daniel Wask (Scorpions)
Nate Chandler (Doughboy)

65:
Ryan Defoney (Intensity)
Cooper Price (Rock Solid)
Jimmy Harrington (Doughboy)
Will Fish (Dark Knights)

70:
Jayden Scott (G2)
Joshua Sharron (Newport Rec)
Nicky Fea (Goshen)
Hayden Rabideau (Catamount)

75:
Caleb Galloway (Hornell)
Luca Pirozzolo (G2)
Stefan Wade (Hoosick Falls)
Ian Burke (Smitty’s Barn)

80:
Preston Machado (Underground)
Sean Kinney (Dark Knights)
Justin Onello (Olympic)
Mark Thomas (Doughboy)

90:
Cooper Kropman (Penfield)
Jeffrey Crooks (Journeymen)
Tylynn Lukens (Team Dynamic)
Brady Roux (Salem Bulldogs)

100:
Hunter McKenna (Journeymen)
Jamikael Boutin (NE Elite)

 
JUNIOR

60:
Zachary Soda (Doughboy)
Joe Scheeren (Journeymen)
Braeden O’Brien (NE Elite)
Nate Chandler (Doughboy)

65:
JJ White (Rock Solid)
Nico Provo (Team Tugman)
Dylan Cedeno (Scorpions)
Greg Diakomihalis (G2)

70:
Drew Munch (Dark Knights)
Zachary Martinez (Olympic)
Aidan Canfield (Iowa Style)
Gregory Hotaling (Journeymen)

75:
Tyler Sung (Apex)
Ryan Burgos (G2)
David Krokowski (Rock Solid)
Max Kropman (Penfield)

80:
Brock Delsignore (Journeymen)
John Worthing (Tioga)
Dean Shambo (Mexico)
Andrew Laubach (Tioga)

85:
Jackson Erb (Sepa)
Malachy Farrell (G2)
Joseph Simons (Farmingdale)
Keenan Taylor (Catamount)

90:
Julian Chlebove (Dark Knights)
Corey Connolly (Longwood)
Ryan Burgbacher (631 Elite)
Hunter Adams (Fisheye)

95:
Zachary Lawrence (Journeymen)
Reid Colella (Olympic)
Dylan Batlle (Newtown Youth)
Shaun Allen (Cobra)

100:
Noah Call (Catamount)
Stefan Major (631 Elite)
Carson Licastri (Iowa Style)
Bassam Qasrawi (Wobum)

110:
Harrison Shapiro (Mercury Rising)
Sampson Wilkins (Catamount)
Liam Mooney (Journeymen)
Jack Dardia (Delaware Valley)

135:
Shaine Luzietti (Newtown Youth)
Nolan Mcneill (Warrensburg)
Chris Charleston (Farmingdale)
Mason Lazorchak (Cannonball)

 
INTERMEDIATE

73:
Michael Gonyea (Journeymen)
Kevin DePalma (Team Evolution)
Jared Defoney (Intensity)
Zachary Cummings (Salem Central)

78:
Dylan Ryder (631 Elite)
Cameron Enriquez (Dark Knights)
Ruddy Paulino (NE Elite)

83:
Adam Busiello (631 Elite)
Jakob Camacho (Dywa)
Orion Anderson (Hoosick Falls)
Cole Wyman (Dungeon)

90:
Brian Kelly (631 Elite)
Dillan Palaszewski (Journeymen)
Conor Thompson (NE Elite)
John DeRidder (VHW)

95:
Dane Heberlein (Alexander)
Ryan Luth (NE Elite)
James Trezza (631 Elite)
Jake Silverstein (631 Elite)

100:
Sam Sasso (Dark Knights)
Rowan Braga (Journeymen)
Tyler Mitchell (G2)
Thomas Leuci (Newtown)

105:
Hector Colom (Scorpion/Cobra)
Ben Tepperman (631 Elite)
Josh Stillings (Sepa)
Christian Gramuglia (Journeymen)

110:
Michael Venosa (Superior)
Anthony Sobotker (631 Elite)
Edward Lovely (Newtown Youth)
Andrei Steinjann (Newtown Youth)

115:
Tyler Delorenzo (Dark Knights)
Colin Hogan (Cellar Dwellers)
Michael Ross (NE Elite)
Shane Connolly (Olympic)

125:
Tyler Hazard (Journeymen)
Eoghan Sweeney (Journeymen)
Nicholas Robbins (Journeymen)
Darrin Simons (Farmingdale)

135:
Anthony Falbo (Newtown Youth)
Trent Goodman (Wrestlers Way)
Travis Stefanik (Dark Knights)
Tyler Barnes (Journeymen)

150:
Cade Moisey (Dark Knights)
Clifton Wang (ISW)
Jason Hoffman (Journeymen)
David Crow (Thorobred)

175:
Joseph Eiden (631 Elite)
Benton Whitley (NE Elite)
Daniel Knapp (Whitesboro)
Brandon Cousino (Vergennes)

230:
Ryan Pinkham (NE Elite)
Cole McKee (Cellar Dwellers)

'Anyone's Kryptonite, But Not Him': Scott Kropman's Battle With Cancer

On Friday November 30, an oncologist confirmed to Scott Kropman that he has Stage 4 neuroendocrine cancer.  So, what did he do next?

Scott Kropman

“He packed up his kids and went to a two-day tournament,” said G2 World Wrestling Academy co-owner Adam Burgos.  “He got the worst news of his life, but said, it’s time for wrestling – let’s go.  He’s amazing, absolutely amazing.”

Kropman watched the Penfield team at those duals, including undefeated performances from his sons Parker and Skylar.  They aren’t the only wrestlers in the family, as Cooper and Max are decorated youth grapplers.  In fact, the Kropman family of seven children, ranging from 14 months to a junior in high school, is heavily involved with the sport pretty much year round.  The love for wrestling is obvious.

The Kropman Children

“I would summarize Scott by saying he’s a passionate person,” Burgos said.  “He’s passionate about his wife and kids and the sport of wrestling.”

There’s very little doubt about that.  Despite his diagnosis, he has been in practice, running Friday beginner practices at the YMCA and coaching two days per week at G2, as well as traveling on the weekends with the kids.

“He’s superman,” Burgos said. “He has Stage 4 cancer but he’s at practice.  He’s determined and focused.  He doesn’t want to let anything stop him.  He’s taking it step by and step, talking about battling like it’s nothing.  The strength and resolve he has – it’s just incredible.”

Kropman didn’t have any signs or symptoms of cancer when he had a routine x-ray about a month ago, which revealed a spot on his shoulder and the need for additional tests, according to Burgos.  Those tests showed cancer in several places in his upper body, including his lung, liver and pancreas.

Last week he began his chemotherapy treatments and as those progress, he knows he isn’t alone in the fight.  He frequently says “Love Will Prevail” and he has received tremendous support from his family as well as the wrestling community.  And there are a number of ways for more people to get involved.

On December 21, there will be an event at the Irondequoit Bay Fish and Game Club in Irondequoit from 5-8 p.m., which will feature a fish fry, DJ and cash bar.  The cost is $25 and the goal is to raise money and awareness for the Kropman family in the fight against cancer.

In addition, ScottStrong bracelets (pictured) are for sale and other donations are being accepted. (See link at the end of the article).

To keep tabs on Scott Kropman’s progress, you can take a look at his Caring Bridge page, (link here) on which he has documented his journey and challenges.  What jumps out is that he is ready to face what lies ahead.

“You would think this would be anyone’s kryptonite, but not him. The odds are against him and he knows that, but he will fight,” Burgos said. “He has a lot to live for.  That’s his character – he believes he’ll get his hand raised at the end of the match.”

Indeed, he does.  In a recent entry in his Caring Bridge blog, he wrote, “They feel that I have had this cancer for years.  Being that it is stage 4, it is currently incurable, but those that know me know that I am very unique and plan on being the first.”

—–

To help the Kropman Family, see the following link: Scott Kropman Donations.   For more information on the December 21 Fish Fry, contact adamburgos@g2wrestling.com.