Section 9 Preview: Five State Placers Return, Looking for More in 2013-14

 BY MIKE CAREY

Section 9 is the home of the top in-season tournament in New York – the Eastern States Classic.  However, it’s also the home of a number of wrestlers who made the medal stand in 2013 and have the potential to do even more this upcoming campaign.  Read on to find out more about what the Section has to offer in 2013-14.

Division I

Four Division I wrestlers return after reaching the podium in Albany a year ago — the Port Jervis duo of Dylan Booth and Dan DeCarlo, as well as Monroe Woodbury’s Vinny Vespa and Pine Bush’s John Stramiello.  Let’s take a look at those wrestlers, plus some others to watch in 2013-14.

Vinny Vespa (Monroe Woodbury) – After battling cancer, Vespa made an incredible return to the mat for the Crusaders, winning 40 matches and taking fifth at the state tournament at 99 pounds.  We’ll see what he can do for an encore, likely at 106.

John Stramiello (Pine Bush) – Stramiello, a four time state qualifier and three-time Section 9 champion, made his second appearance on the podium last February, taking sixth at 113 pounds.  (He was sixth at 106 as a sophomore).  In his senior campaign, Stramiello is looking for his highest finish, likely at 113.

Photo by Josh Conklin

Dylan Booth (Port Jervis) – Booth topped Stramiello three times last season, including in the fifth place bout at the Times Union Center.  After a strong season in which he racked up 34 victories, Booth will be looking for another All-State showing, either at 113 or 120 pounds.

Dan DeCarlo (Port Jervis) –  Like his teammate Booth, DeCarlo nabbed fifth in Albany last year (at 152 pounds).  A two-time Section 9 titlewinner, DeCarlo, who also was fourth at the Eastern States Classic, will move up to 160 this year.

Other than those returning placers, who is ready to make an impact?

From Monroe Woodbury, Evan Barczak and Rob Kelly are good candidates.  Barczak, now a freshman, was a Section champion as an eighth grader at 106 pounds and won a match at the state tournament.  In fact, his two losses in Albany were to the second and third place finishers, one of them in overtime.  He’s projected at 120 pounds this year.  Senior Rob Kelly was the runner up in Section 9 to NYS fourth placer Josh Bonneau at 220 pounds.  Kelly, who had 30 wins last year, will be a factor at either 220 or 285.

Minisink Valley’s Mike Raccioppi and Chris Truglio will be wrestlers to watch as well.  Raccioppi, a two-time state qualifier, was sixth at the Eastern States in a 43-victory campaign in which he defeated All-State wrestler Ryan Snow and won twice in Albany.  He’ll be a podium threat, likely at 138, this year. Truglio is expected to be back at 132, where he notched a win at the state tournament. Their teammate Gerard Daly was the Section 9 champion at 99 pounds in 2012, but missed last season with an injury.  He’s back and will surely be a factor at 113 or 120.

Warwick Valley junior Thomas Wightman dropped an overtime decision to All-State wrestler Matt Caputo in the opening round in Albany last year. The Section 9 champion won 28 bouts in 2012-13.  Look for him to make waves at 145.

James Bethel of Saugerties won 38 matches last year and really boosted his stock with a great offseason, including an undefeated showing at the Cadet Freestyle National Duals and an All-American performance at Fargo in Greco Roman (third at 220).

[2013 Eastern States champion at 99 pounds, Chris Cuccolo of Pine Bush, is now attending school in New Jersey.]

Team Race

Monroe Woodbury and Minisink Valley are the two teams everyone is looking at, but Section 9 will have a bit more depth this year than in the past few seasons.  Monroe Woodbury finished 2012-2013 ranked eighth in the New York State Sportswriters Association poll and they return a state placer (Vespa), two qualifiers (Barczak and PJ Smoot), and three other 20+ win wrestlers.  Meanwhile, Minisink Valley ended last season ranked 17th in New York and the squad returns Raccioppi, Truglio, and multiple other 20+ win wrestlers.

Warwick Valley will once again be in contention with an extremely strong middle of the line up featuring Wightman, Ryan Ferro, and AJ Aeberli.  Cornwall, with NYS Wrestling Hall of Fame coach Don Blaine, should never be overlooked and will have a few wrestlers with a legitimate shot at going to Albany.  Speaking of Hall of Fame coaches, Jeff Cuilty and Wallkill will surprise a lot of teams this year as a program on the rise.  We can also anticipate significant improvement out of Port Jervis, Middletown, Saugerties and NFA as the squads feature several wrestlers who have put in a lot of offseason work.

Division II

Ingraham, courtesy Skip Dickstein/Times Union

Highland’s Austin Ingraham earned sixth place at 113 pounds last year in Albany after coming one win from placing as a sophomore.  The senior will look to end his career in style, possibly at 113 but more likely at 120.

Who Are Some Other Wrestlers to Watch?

Matt Rauch (Red Hook) – The senior was undefeated going into the state tournament last year and had a solid performance in the state capital, finishing one win from placing at 126 pounds.

Sean Cramsie and Troy Grant (New Paltz) Like Rauch, both Cramsie and Grant represented Section 9 in Albany last year.  Both won a match at the Times Union Center, Cramsie at 132 and Grant at heavyweight.  Can they notch a few more victories this time around, likely at 138 and 285, respectively?

Dustin Mackenzie (Onteora) One of the most improved wrestlers in small school Section 9, the senior was a state qualifier last year at 195 pounds.  Look for him to build upon the 33 wins he compiled as a junior.

Edon Lulanaj (Eldred/Fallsburg) – The 2013 Section 9 finalist lost 1-0 to the previously mentioned Grant.  The senior is new to the sport, however, and has a lot of upside for his final high school campaign after going 20-3 last season.

Team Race

Onteora, Red Hook and Highland will be the teams everyone is gunning for this year in Division II.  All three squads are traditionally among the best in the Section and each also has five returning Section 9 medalists returning this year.  Ellenville could be the surprise team of the year, as the Blue Devils also bring back five Sectional placers, including finalists Nick Disessa-Leon and Javier Cortes.

[Aidan Mathews of Marlboro, a qualifier last year at 170, has moved to Wyoming Seminary].

Division I

Returning State Placers from 2013

Vinny Vespa (Monroe Woodbury) – fifth at 99

Dylan Booth (Port Jervis) – fifth at 113

Johnny Stramiello (Pine Bush) – sixth at 113

Dan DeCarlo (Port Jervis) – fifth at 152

Returning Qualifiers from 2013

Evan Barczak (Monroe Woodbury) 106

PJ Smoot (Monroe Woodbury) 120

Mike Raccioppi (Minisink Valley) 126

Chris Truglio (Minisink Valley) 132

Thomas Wightman (Warwick Valley) 138

Kyle McGuire (Newburgh) 170

Division II

Returning State Placer from 2013

Austin Ingraham (Highland) – sixth at 113

Returning Qualifiers from 2013

Taylor Benson (Red Hook) 99

Mike Felicano (Highland) 106

Matt Rauch (Red Hook) 126

Sean Cramsie (New Paltz) 132

Dustin Mackenzie (Onteora) 195

Troy Grant (New Paltz) 285

For more on Section 9 wrestling, see here.

 

For other Section previews see (more to come):

Section 3

Section 10

SUNY Sullivan Wrestling: Head Coach Jared Kahmar Looks to Make an Immediate Impact in the Program's First Year

When Jared Kahmar had to give up coaching wrestling at Port Jervis High School due to his Athletic Director responsibilities, he was heartbroken.

“For the first two years I was Athletic Director, I was still able to coach wrestling,” he said. [Kahmar said he coached for seven years at the JV and Varsity levels]. “But when I went full time in an administrative position, I wasn’t allowed to coach any longer.  I had to step away from the program and it always tore at me.  Wrestling is something inside of you and I wanted to be a part of it.”

He’s part of the sport again.  In fact, he’s the first leader of the brand new SUNY Sullivan wrestling program, which will take the mat for the first time in 2013-14.

“This avenue opening up was just perfect,” he said. “I’m just so excited and grateful.  You never know when you’ll be presented with a great opportunity, but the way it worked out for my family is great.  It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and everything came into place at SUNY Sullivan with my family’s support.”

Kahmar officially has a part time role with the Generals in addition to his duties as an Assistant Principal at Port Jervis.

“I know it will be like having two full time positions,” he said. “And I’m really excited to get after it.”

He certainly has had to “get after it” right away. After coming on board in mid July, Kahmar has been on a mission to get the foundation in place for the rapidly approaching school year.

“As you can imagine, I started a little late in the game, with the semester starting in about a month,” he said.  “There was a lot of excitement about a program beginning here and our Athletic Director [Christopher DePew] did a great job. Only so much can be done without the coach in place, though.  My panic button kicked in about bringing kids in and getting situated.  We had a mat when I started, but not too much in place as far as a schedule and a roster.”

He said the wrestling community, particularly in Section 9, has been instrumental thus far.

“It’s tremendous – we’re already getting so much support from the Section 9 area,” the coach said. “Bringing more college wrestling to Section 9 is something our coaches and community want to support.   The phone has been ringing off the hook from kids and parents. The buzz is amazing.”

That buzz has led to an emerging roster.  Kahmar said he’s shooting for 20 wrestlers in year one and currently has between 10 and 15 “solid commitments going through the registration process”.  He said he’s thrilled by the response to what Sullivan has to offer.

“We’re building a pretty tough lineup,” he said. “We haven’t had a kid step on a scale yet, but I think we’ve filled most of the weights. We’ll wait and see.”

Those wrestlers will have the chance to hit the ground running with a slate that will allow them to get solid competition in their first season as members of the Generals.

“In my mind, it’s getting close to being finalized,” Kahmar said. “I think we’re putting a great schedule in place that will challenge our kids and strengthen them.”

Kahmar expects to compete on around 12 dates, with a mix of opens, invitationals and tri/quad meets.  He looks forward to a trip North during which the squad will square off with Southern Maine and American International and then stay in Maine the following day for a tournament.  He also mentioned working on the details for a quad meet with Springfield, Nassau and Niagara as well having grapplers take the mat at the East Stroudsburg and Wilkes Opens.

Putting together what the inaugural campaign will look like has occurred rapidly with the help of many, including prominent Section 9 alums such as Joe Pistone, Rocco Mansueto and Steve Garland.

“Joe Pistone sent a letter to coaches at the Junior College, Division II and III levels to introduce SUNY Sullivan one morning at 6:30,” Kahmar said. “When I looked at my phone around 8, I already had a lot of responses.  Alberto Nieves from Springfield Technical Community College also reached out and has been very helpful.  It all helped us build our schedule.”

Of course it’s not only a quality schedule that Kahmar is focused on building.

“Building the program from the ground up was probably the most enticing thing for me,” he said.  “It will be brand new and it will be what we make it.  We’ll set lofty goals because at the Junior College level, with a two-year turnover, you’re a few solid recruits away from having an impact regionally and at the national level. There really isn’t a reason we can’t be competitive in the very near future.  We’re looking to get kids to nationals and to produce All-Americans.”

That’s not all Kahmar expects to do.

“I think what sold [Athletic Director Depew] on hiring me is my vision to bring quality kids into the program and create a quality schedule to showcase their talent because many want to move to the next level.  We want to have kids graduate and get them into the career field of their choice or to a four-year program.  That’s the goal.  That’s our recruiting tool. We want kids to have great experiences here and an opportunity to move forward in a career and in wrestling.”

And for Kahmar, there’s no better place to do it than in Section 9, a place he knows well.

“I’ve been amazed at the support from those in the wrestling community,” he said. “There are coaches who will be recruiting some of the same wrestlers as us, but they have done nothing but embrace the new program and ask how they can help.  We want to do our part – to grow the program, grow wrestling in general and continue to build wrestling in Section 9 and New York.”

Pop & Flo National Duals: X-Cel Takes Third … and Much More from Lake Placid

 
 
A year after winning the tournament championship, X-Cel once again made a strong impression at the Pop & Flo National Duals with a third place showing.

“I really feel that the kids showed tremendous heart to come back and win against a team full of PA studs to take third,” said X-Cel coach Nick Garone. “But we felt that we went up there with the best team and still feel that way. The guys are really disappointed, but to go out of the tournament with a win in our last match was nice, especially for all of our seniors.”

The squad opened with three consecutive triumphs on Saturday to make the semifinal round against Iron Horse, the eventual champions.

In the semis, the New Jersey club got off to a fast start, capturing four of the first six bouts, including two pins, to take a lead that would never be relinquished in a 30-25 result. (One of those falls for Iron Horse was by Section 1 star John Muldoon of Pearl River, who was joined by fellow New Yorker Dale White on the title-winning team).

In the bronze bout, X-Cel rebounded to defeat Pennsylvania’s Young Guns despite dropping the first four bouts to fall behind 14-0. (The dual began at 130 pounds).

However, X-Cel took over from there, beginning with a 7-3 win by Connetquot’s Brendan Dent at 152. It was the first of seven consecutive victories for the Long Islanders, as Corey Rasheed picked up a forfeit at 160 and Steven Schneider (170), Gio Santiago (182) and Steven Mills (225) notched decisions. Putting up key bonus points were Chris Chambers (195) and Mike Hughes (285), who both recorded falls. After the heavyweight bout, X-Cel had turned a large deficit into a 30-14 lead.

“Brendan Dent started us off with a win, and that was great,” Garone said. “All our guys stepped up. Chambers had a really nice throw to get the pin and Hughes just worked the kid, kept working and working. At the end of the second, he closed it out with a really big pin for us. We knew were in good shape going into the lower half, even if we lost a few. Travis Passaro (125) ended the match with a really big one, beating the NHSCA National champ Josh Patrick in overtime, 1-0.”

It was one of many quality wins Garone pointed to from the two-day event. Those triumphs and the overall experience had Garone already talking about the return trip to Lake Placid in 2014.

“Everyone played a key role for us,” Garone said. “It’s a great bunch of guys. To take third at that tournament – it’s nothing to sneeze at. But it’s not what we wanted. Trust me when I tell you that we’ll work all year to get back to the top of the national scene.”

———

X-Cel was the highest placing team from New York in the field, but many other Empire State squads had success over the weekend.

The 32 teams in the high school competition were split into four divisions after the opening round matches. Here’s a rundown of the results for New York:

X-Cel wasn’t the only New York team in the “A” bracket, as Journeymen Black took eighth. The host squad won its first two duals against Pioneer and Doughboy Black on Saturday to make the quarterfinals before falling to a pair of Pennsylvania groups – Young Guns and Dark Knights. In the seventh place dual, Smitty’s Barn came out on top 41-22.

“B” Bracket (For the teams that lost in the first round of the “A” Championship bracket)

631 Elite began the experience in Lake Placid with a setback against the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club 39-28, but then went on a winning streak, taking three in a row over Atlas, Razor and Catamount to earn a spot in the title bout of the “B” Bracket. During that run, the team’s smallest margin of victory was 22 points.

The Long Island-based group kept it going, besting Apex II for the top spot in the “B” Division and finished the weekend with a 4-1 record. Picking up wins in the final dual for 631 were Matteo Devincenzo (106), Jesse Dellavecchia (113), Joe Calderone (120), Jack Taddeo (130), Jimmy Leach (135), Dennis Ferro (152), Dylan Kane (160) and Vincent Feola (225).

Also placing in the same bracket were Iowa Style Black (fourth) and Razor (eighth). Iowa Style notched triumphs against Barre Wrestling Club and Doughboy Gold by a commanding combined score of 102-43 after an initial loss.

Razor was eighth, collecting a win over Metrowest United in Round 2, led by a pin by Chaz Leo at 225 and four major decisions.

“C” Bracket (For the teams that won in Round 1 and lost in Round 2 in the “A” Championship bracket)

In this bracket, Empire State teams claimed third through eighth places.

Cobra took the bronze after getting past Finger Lakes Wrestling Club 33-28, winning nine of the bouts. The contest featured a pair of two point decisions between All-State wrestlers as William Koll topped Kellen Devlin 2-0 at 125 and Vincent Deprez edged Connor Lapresi in sudden victory, 3-1, at 152. Both of those squads were 2-2 heading into their clash in the third place tilt.

Meanwhile, Ascend recorded fifth with a 55-9 victory over Journeymen Gold. It was the third dual win of the weekend for the Nassau County-based club, led by undefeated wrestlers Chris Koo and Jaison White.

In another battle of New Yorkers, Cellar Dwellers picked up seventh with a 53-10 decision over Iowa Style Gold. The Cellar Dweller squad began and ended the tournament with wins.

“D” Bracket

Port Jervis grabbed third, finishing with a 37-33 triumph over Metrowest United. The Section 9 squad also topped Powers Forty High 33-15 in its third meet of the weekend.

For full results, see tournaflex.com.