State Champion Realbuto and Returning Placers White, Barbaria and Aslanian Lead the Way for Section 1 in 2012-13 (Season Preview)

New York Wrestling Newswill be taking a look at the Sections across the state over the next few weeks.  We began with a story on Section 1 stars Dylan Realbuto and Trey Aslanian, which can be found here.

In addition to returning state champion Realbuto and runner up Aslanian, Section 1 welcomes back two other placewinners from 2012 and more than 15 additional qualifiers.  The following takes a look at some wrestlers to keep an eye on this year, some potential breakout stars and the teams to beat for the 2013 campaign in Section 1. 

 

Division I

 

Returning State Placewinners (from 2012)

State Champion: Dylan Realbuto (12) Somers, 113 Pounds

Fifth Place: Dale White (12) John Jay East Fishkill, 145 Pounds

Sixth Place: Nick Barbaria (11) New Rochelle, 99 Pounds

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

113 Pounds: Alex Delacruz (11), Ossining

120 Pounds: Jake DeMarsico (12), North Rockland

126 Pounds: Matt Caputo (11), North Rockland

138 Pounds: Tom Grippi (12), Fox Lane

170 Pounds: Steven Sabella (12) Yorktown

285 Pounds: David Varian (12) Yorktown

 

Seniors to Watch

Dylan Realbuto (Somers) – Realbuto won his first state championship in dramatic fashion, taking Hilton’s Vincent DePrez down as the buzzer sounded in the third to capture an 8-7 decision.  He’ll try to add a second title in his last year, which would bring his family’s total to five (older brother Brian captured championships in 2009, 2011 and 2012).

Dale White (John Jay East Fishkill) – White showed he was a contender for All-State honors last year at the Eastern States where he pushed two-time New York champion Jimmy Kloc in the finals before losing 7-6.  White had only five other setbacks during his junior season, four of which were by one point (and another by two points).  He looks to climb higher on the podium than his fifth place showing in 2012.

Tom Grippi (Fox Lane) – A returning Section champion, Grippi began his run in Albany last season by defeating eventual third-place finisher David Almaviva of Shenendehowa.  Grippi went on to a 2-2 record at the state tournament, falling one win short of placing.  He posted a 45-6 mark as a junior while splitting time between 138 and 145 pounds and will be a strong candidate to earn All-State honors in Feburary.

Steven Sabella (Yorktown) – Sabella went 42-4 in 2011-12 at 170 pounds with 21 pins.  He won a pair of matches at the state tournament, coming within one round of medaling in Albany.

 

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Nick Barbaria (New Rochelle) – Barbaria stood sixth on the podium at 99 pounds as a sophomore following a 36-7 season.  He defeated All-State wrestlers Cheick Ndiaye (the Division II runner up) and notched a pair of victories over fourth place finisher Joe Calderone and a win over Bryan Lantry. (Both Calderone and Lantry also both avenged those results).  In January, Barbaria had a strong run to the silver medal at the Eastern States Classic. Barbaria has been active in the offseason, competing at events such as the Ken Lesser Memorial Summer Heat and the Journeymen Classic.

Blaise Benderoth (North Rockland) – As a ninth grader, the North Rockland wrestler went 36-6 at 106 pounds and made the podium at the prestigious Eastern States Classic.  Benderoth had several quality victories, including wins over state placer Nick Barbaria of New Rochelle and a pair of triumphs against qualifier Vinny Skokos of Nanuet.  However, he missed the state tournament after he dropped the Section 1 final to Michael Parise of Brewster 3-2, who eventually came within one match of getting on the podium in Albany.  Benderoth made the trip upstate for the postseason as an eighth grader and looks to do it again in 2013.

Alex Delacruz, Photo by Boris V

Alex Delacruz (Ossining) – Delacruz earned a ticket to Albany last year after upsetting eventual state champion Dylan Realbuto during the Section 1 tournament, avenging an earlier loss to the Somers grappler.  Although he went 1-2 at the Times Union Center, Delacruz had a strong 36-6 season in which he defeated another state finalist – Division I runner up Justin Cooksey of MacArthur.  With big victories like that one, he will be expected to have a big year in 2012-13.

Of those who haven’t been to the state tournament before, keep tabs on Thomas Murray of Yorktown who lost in the Section 1 final to eventual state runner up Jacob Berkowitz of Scarsdale.  “Tom’s been working really hard and I think if he’d gone to state last year, he could have placed,” coach Max Askren said.

Also working hard and ready to take another step forward is Byram Hills freshman John Errico.  As a 99-pound eighth grader, Errico took third in the Section and was 34-4 overall.  He also tested himself against some of the Northeast’s best at the recent Journeymen Classic.

Team Race

In 2012, Fox Lane took the Division I title, sending longtime coach Joe Amuso out with a flourish.   The Foxes went into the last session of the Sectionals needing all four of their finalists to win in order to grab the team title and they all delivered.  Three of those wrestlers, Sam Speno, Matt Pasqualini and Dan Ventura graduated.  However, Tom Grippi returns and the new coach has talent at his disposal, including a pair of juniors who won over 30 matches last season and placed at the Sectionals – Ben Ettlinger and Brendon Fay.

Last year’s second place team, North Rockland and 2012’s fifth-place group from Yorktown return a handful of Section placewinners and look to be leading contenders for the championship.

North Rockland, which was edged by just 3.5 points by Fox Lane in February, boasts three returning finalists – Jake DiMarsico (Champion at 120), Blaise Benderoth (2nd at 106) and Matt Caputo (2nd at 126).  In addition, new head coach Jeff Swick can expect to pick up points from a trio of grapplers who were fourth a year ago — Derek DiMarsico, Troy Feniger and Conner Reigotti.

Yorktown also has significant firepower scheduled to come back, including 2012 Section 1 champions Steven Sabella (170) and David Varian (285) as well as runner up Thomas Murray (182).   Fellow senior Joseph Mastro was 40-3 last campaign, with two of his losses to state placers (Mike Caputo and Dale White).  Mastro is coming off a silver medal in the Sections at 145 while classmate James Kaishian earned 36 wins at 120 and a fifth place showing at Pace University.

The teams that took third and fourth last year, New Rochelle and Somers, both have some standouts, but suffered heavy losses to graduation.  The Huguenots feature All-State wrestler Nick Barbaria in the lightweights as well as Justin Douglas, who was a runner up in the Sectionals, but graduated placers Aaron Butler, Jonathan Stokes, Tyler Lilly and Bryan Ferrandi.  Somers will have Albany title threat Dylan Realbuto in the lineup although his brother Brian and Dom DeVita are among the highly successful wrestlers who completed their Tuskers careers.

Division II

Returning State Placewinners (from 2012)

Second Place: Trey Aslanian (12) Edgemont, 113 Pounds

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Tyler Aslanian (11) Edgemont

99 Pounds: Joe Dillon (11) Nanuet

106 Pounds: Vinny Skokos (10) Nanuet

120 Pounds: Anthony Calvano (12) Nanuet

126 Pounds: Drew Longo (12) Ardsley

138 Pounds: Matt Dillon (12) Nanuet

145 Pounds: Brett Pastore (12) Irvington

170 Pounds: John Messinger (12) Putnam Valley

195 Pounds: Dan Breit (12) Nanuet

220 Pounds: Matt Acevedo (11) Pawling

 

Seniors to Watch

Trey Aslanian (Edgemont) – The three-time state placer hopes this will be the year.  Aslanian qualified for the finals the past two seasons in Albany but came away with runner up status at 103 in 2011 and 113 last year.  He looked tough over the summer, registering a 7-1 record for the Empire State at Junior Duals in Freestyle and competing at Fargo.

Drew Longo (Ardsley) – In 2012 he found himself out of the medals at a loaded 126-pound bracket at the state tournament, but he’s been on the stand before.  In fact, as a freshman, Longo was the runner up at 96 pounds and he followed that up with a fifth place finish in 2011.  He looks for one more drive to the podium in his last campaign for Ardsley.

 

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Tyler Aslanian (Edgemont) –  The second of three Aslanian brothers currently wrestling for Edgemont, Tyler went 30-8 as a sophomore at 99 pounds.  He notched a pair of victories over fellow Section 1 state qualifier Joe Dillon and came within one bout of making All-State at the Times Union Center.

“Tyler was just short of placing last year and he has worked tremendously hard since the end of the season,” Edgemont coach Peter Jacobson said.  “Our hope is that he makes All-State this year – he’s definitely an All-State caliber wrestler.”

Vinny Skokos (Nanuet) – Skokos had a strong ninth grade campaign for the Golden Knights, earning 32 victories and a Section title.  He topped All-State wrestlers Nick Barbaria and Cody Carbery as well as NHSCA All-American Kyle Quinn of Wantagh.

“Skokos has a track record for working hard and making big improvements,” Jacobson said.  “He had a tremendous freshman year and works year round.  I would expect him to make a big jump this year and turn some heads.

Anthony Calvano (Nanuet) – Calvano went 16-5 a year ago and made a dominant run through the Section tournament with a pin and two decisions in which he outscored his opponents by a combined 16-3 tally.  He went 0-2 in Albany but at least one opposing coach thinks he’ll be far better this time.

“I thought his showing at the state tournament last year was not at all reflective of the wrestler that he is.  I believe he will place at the state level this year,” Jacobson said.

 

Team Race

In Division II, Nanuet won the crown by over 40 points a year ago and has a slew of contributors back.  In addition to Section champions Vinny Skokos (106), Anthony Calvano (120) and Dan Breit (195), the team offers four more finalists in Joe Dillon (99), Matt Dillon (138), Mike Buhlmann (160) and Kevin Brundage (182).  But that’s not all. Nanuet has several other wrestlers who were in the top six in 2012 on its roster, including three bronze winners.

Mounting a strong challenge will be Edgemont, led by the Aslanian brothers. Three-time state placer Trey was the Section titlist at 113 a year ago after defeating teammate Skylar KorekTyler Aslanian was the Panthers’ other Section 1 victor at 99 pounds, where sibling Kyle also wrestled as an eighth grader (and won 18 bouts).  Silver medalists Colin Hopkins, Jack McCormack and Chris Kim will once again be in the mix, as could Will Graybeal and Ross Kantor, who were both top four.

“We both have a lot of returning finalists and placefinishers,” Jacobson said. “A lot will depend on who ends up going what weight — matchups will be key.  But none of it on paper means that much. It’s going to be a product of what guys have done for the past nine months and will do for the next few months and who has a better weekend. [Nanuet] is the team to beat.  They do a great job, consistently developing their athletes and that isn’t going to change.  But I think the team title could go either way.”

Overcoming those squads will be difficult, but 2012’s bronze team Putnam Valley aims to put some wrestlers on the podium.  One grappler to watch is John Messinger, the 170-pound titlewinner who pinned his way through the event last season.

 

Special thanks to all of the contributors to this article.

All results from the NWCA Scorebook.

Aslanian and Realbuto, All-State Wrestlers and Workout Partners, Seek to End Their Careers on Top of the Podium

Photos by Boris V

Over the next few weeks, New York Wrestling News will previewing New York’s high school Sections. We begin in Section 1 with a look at two of the top lightweights the Empire State has to offer.

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The 113-pound finals at the state tournament in February presented a bit of a pleasant challenge for Section 1 fans.  Two of the area’s best, John “Trey” Aslanian of Edgemont and Dylan Realbuto of Somers, were on the mats at the same time, each battling to win the championship against a Section 5 opponent a year after finishing second in Albany.

Having both wrestlers make the title bout at the Times Union Center two years in a row wasn’t an accident.  In fact, they helped each other get there.  Although Edgemont and Somers are at least 30 minutes away from each other, the two wrestlers have trained together since fifth grade and have continued to work out quite a bit, often at the Askren Wrestling Academy.

“I feel lucky because it’s such a good situation for both of us,” Aslanian said. “Dylan’s one of my best friends.  Since he’s big school and I’m small school, we know we won’t have to compete with each other at states, so it’s ideal.  Dylan is incredibly hard to score on with his funk, so if I can score on him, I feel like I can score on anyone in the state.  I think we push each other so much because we’re such different wrestlers and seeing a totally different style is never a bad thing.”

Not a bad thing at all.  In fact, it’s a really good thing, according to coach Max Askren.

“They are almost exactly opposite in their styles,” Askren said. “But it’s totally complementary.  Both are very, very technical wrestlers. But Trey wrestles from ties, likes to control things that way.  Dylan really wrestles from out in the open. So it works to have them train together.  If these guys want to wrestle in college, they should be wrestling together.”

Both Realbuto and Aslanian do plan to compete at the Division I level, with Aslanian considering Penn, Princeton and Harvard.  However, they first have some business to take care of at the high school level.

For Aslanian, that means a first state title.  He took fifth as a freshman and second the last two seasons at 103 and 113, respectively.

“Finishing second the last two years was obviously disappointing,” Aslanian said. “I go into every year wanting to win a state championship and when you come so close but don’t get it, it’s really difficult.  Last year, I was more confident because I had already been in the finals before, so I think I was that much more disappointed not to get the job done.”

Aslanian felt he dropped the title bout to Sean Peacock of Midlakes because he was focused too much on his opponent and not on himself.

“I didn’t get to my gameplan and most importantly, I didn’t get to my offense,” he said. “I needed to force my offense – my shots and my takedowns – and instead I was thinking too much about what he was doing and lost sight of what I do well.”

Since stepping off the mat in Albany, Edgemont coach Peter Jacobson believes Aslanian has made significant improvements, partially due to his offseason wrestling.

The outstanding student made a smooth transition to freestyle, getting his hand raised often. At the Junior Duals in Oklahoma City, Aslanian went 7-1 for Team New York and he won four matches at Fargo. (He was an All-American in North Dakota in 2011).

“There’s great translation from strong freestyle skills to folkstyle skills and Trey has taken that to heart,” Jacobson said.  “He wrestled some really strong matches at the Junior Duals and at Fargo went up against some very high level competition.  I know he feels that he didn’t wrestle as well as he could have, but I can see already that the experience has made him better.”

“I think I grew a lot as a wrestler,” Aslanian added. “I got to wrestle some of the best kids in the country and I think I grew, just getting to see that national competition. I hoped to place or possibly win Fargo and I didn’t have my best performance.  But I know I’ve gotten better.”

In addition to the top-notch opposition and additional practices in places like Vougar’s Honors Wrestling on Long Island, Aslanian’s improvement stems from significant time invested in video study.

“I love watching John Smith,” Aslanian said of the multiple-time NCAA and World Champion who now coaches at Oklahoma State. “He’s always attacking and pushing his offense. I also watch a lot of Ben and Max Askren.  They’re so entertaining with their funk.  Not too many people use the techniques they use.  I learn so much by watching.”

“I think Trey’s biggest strength is the amount of time he puts into honing his craft,” Jacobson added.  “He’s very much a student of the sport.  He watches films of himself and standout wrestlers from around the world.  If you line him up against the best in the state, he won’t be the strongest kid or the best natural athlete.   He’s achieved what he has by working hard to play to his strengths.”

Helping him do that are two other members of his family and team – younger brothers Tyler and Kyle.  Tyler, a junior, was one match from placing a year ago in Albany, while Kyle competed at 99 pounds as an eighth grader.

“It really benefits them to be pretty close in weight.  They can work out at home or can drill whenever and wherever they want,” Jacobson said of the three Aslanians.  “It’s not like the 190-pound older brother wrestling the 120-pound younger brother and expecting it to be beneficial.  Having them all in the room couldn’t be better – they’re supportive of each other with totally different personalities.  Tyler has the ability to make the podium this year and Kyle will make a huge jump.  He’s the best natural athlete of the group and most of the matches he lost last year were size and strength related. He’ll be a full-sized 99 pounder this year and will see more success.”

Trey Aslanian believes more success is in the cards for all of the Aslanian brothers in 2013. (A fourth brother, Wyatt, is in elementary school).

“Last year’s Sectional tournament was probably the most memorable moment for me in my career, with Tyler and I both winning titles,” he said. “That’s probably the best I ever felt in wrestling.  The plan for this year is for all three of us to win.”

But that’s only part of the plan.  Trey Aslanian said he hopes to go undefeated after a 39-2 campaign in 2012, but even that isn’t most important.  There’s one thing he can’t get out of his mind.

“I want to be a state champion,” he said.  “I’ve wanted that ever since I started in this sport in fifth grade.  I think about it every second of every day.”

He’s come close twice before and he knows this is the final opportunity before he heads off to the Ivy League.

“This season is the last of a lot of things,” he said. “I really enjoy wrestling with my brothers and it’s the last time to compete with them.  It’s such a unique situation and I’ll miss it. I want to win states and I know there’s a lot of pressure because it’s now or never.”

Now or never was the situation Realbuto was in during last year’s state finals bout. He trailed by a point with just a few seconds left and it looked like he was going to get the silver again.  But in dramatic fashion, he took Hilton’s Vincent DePrez down as time expired to win.

“I thought it was over just the same as everyone else thought it was,” Askren said. “Some people said Dylan was lucky, but if that’s true then he put himself in the position to be lucky.”

Realbuto and his frequent training partner Aslanian will try to put themselves in that gold medal position in February.  Realbuto will make another leap in weight, according to Askren, going either 126 or 132.  Aslanian, according to Jacobson, is still growing and will be at 120 or 126.

If both are at 126, Section 1 fans hope to have to divide their attention between the mats during the state finals, as they did in 2012, to watch Aslanian and Realbuto both try to complete their careers with a state championship.