Grapple at the Garden Recap: Cornell Tops Illinois and Maryland; Hofstra Wins a Pair of Duals and Much More

Cornell and Hofstra both went 2-0 at the second annual Grapple at the Garden in New York City on Sunday, with one dual coming to down to the wire for each squad.

Lane, Photo by BV

In the spotlight meet of the day, the #6 Big Red took on #7 Illinois.  While more than 10 ranked wrestlers took the mat in the dual, it came down to the only bout not featuring at least one nationally-ranked grappler — heavyweight.  Entering the 285 pound contest, the score was deadlocked at 15.  And after two periods, Stryker Lane and Chris Lopez were tied at 2, with riding time at over a minute and a half for the Illini competitor.  Lane rode out the third to send it to overtime, where in the second set of tiebreakers, the Cornell senior got the early escape during his turn on bottom and then hung tough on top to earn the victory and an 18-15 triumph for the Big Red.

Both teams won five matches, with only one bonus point contest – a pin for Gabe Dean at 184 pounds over Nikko Reyes.  In that pivotal bout, Dean trailed 4-2 entering the third, but quickly escaped and kept pushing the pace.  He notched a takedown with less than 30 seconds to go and then turned Reyes for back points and the fall with just five seconds remaining.

Cornell dropped into a 6-0 hole early, with #1 Jesse Delgado topping #2 Nahshon Garrett 6-2 and Zane Richards winning the battle of super freshmen at 133 over Mark Grey.  Cornell rebounded by taking three decisions in a row, by Mike Nevinger (141), Chris Villlaonga (149) and Brian Realbuto (157) to go ahead 9-6.  The first two got out to early leads and controlled their matches, while Realbuto came from behind with a dominant third stanza to win 8-3 over #15 Zach Brunson.

The Illini pulled ahead 12-9 with wins at 165 (Jackson Morse) and 174 (Tony Dallago) before the previously mentioned Gabe Dean pin made it 15-12 Cornell.  The win by Mario Gonzalez at 197 over Jace Bennett set up the 15-15 tie and Lane’s heroics.

The first dual of the day had a lot less drama, as the Big Red captured a 31-9 victory over Maryland. Nahshon Garrett got the Big Red off to a strong start with a fall and Mark Grey followed up with a decision in which he controlled the bout throughout.  At 141, Mike Nevinger‘s season debut was spoiled by Shyheim Brown, who used solid mat wrestling to get the Terps on the board with a decision.  However, the Big Red responded with four consecutive victories, beginning with Chris Villalonga‘s 5-0 win at 149.  It was then bonus point time as Brian Realbuto majored Danny Orem at 157, Dylan Palacio held a commanding lead at 165 before his opponent injury defaulted and Duke Pickett came out on top by double digits at 174.

Then, at 184, freshman Gabe Dean faced #2 Jimmy Sheptock.  In a hard fought bout, the Maryland All-American picked up a 5-3 decision.  Jace Bennett collected Cornell’s seventh win of the morning with a technical fall at 197 before #7 Spencer Myers edged Stryker Lane at heavyweight, 2-1.


Hofstra Takes Two

New York teams Hofstra and Army squared off in Round 1 on Sunday in a dual that came down to the final match.  It was Pride freshman Mike Hughes picking up a 6-4 win at 285 over the Army’s starting 197-pounder Bryce Barnes to make the final score 23-16.

Franco, Photo by BV

The Pride began well, capturing the first four contests via decisions by Jamie Franco at 125 and Cody Ruggirello at 149 as well as bonus victories by Jamel Hudson and Luke Vaith at 133 and 141, respectively.  Hudson majored Logan Everett 11-3, while Vaith pinned Tyler Rauenzahn.

Army got things rolling after that, taking four of the last six.  Paul Hancock avenged a loss at the last weekend’s New York State Intercollegiates when he majored Nick Terdick at 157. Alex Smith (174) and Austin Wilding (197) grabbed decisions for Army, with Ryan Tompkins adding valuable points with a fall at 184.  That set up the big finish at heavyweight.

Hofstra’s next dual didn’t come down to the wire.  In fact, the Pride nabbed eight victories, including falls by Jamie Franco (125) and Jamel Hudson (133) to give the squad an immediate 12-0 advantage.  Also winning by bonus were Luke Vaith (141), Frank Affronti (174) and Zeal McGrew (197) while Cody Ruggirello (149), Joe Booth (165) and Dwight Howes (184) also were victorious.


And More New York Action . . .

After the close dual with Hofstra, Army had another tight clash with Princeton in the afternoon, with the Tigers winning 21-15. The Black Knights picked up three decisions – by Tyler Rauenzahn (141), Coleman Gracey (165) and Ryan Tompkins (184).  In addition, Hunter Wood got the fall at 125 over 2013 NYS champion Trey Aslanian of Edgemont.

In a NCWA showcase, two local teams, Stony Brook and Westchester took the mat at 10 a.m. After Westchester’s Charles Gonzalez earned a 14-6 major at 125, Stony Brook won the next eight contests, including three falls (by Michael LaNasa at 141, Michael Shimer at 149 and Jon Campenelli at 197).  Matt Frey and Kris Martin both picked up majors, at 165 and 184, respectively, while Jonathan Crespo (133), Joe Jackson (157) and Scott Dunkirk (174) also got their hand raised. Obum Anayiche of Westchester brought a positive ending for his squad with a fall at heavyweight.

NYU at the NYS Intercollegiates, Photo by BV

Additional nearby squads, NYU and Stevens Tech competed in the second session in a Division III meeting.  All-American Brandon Jones won by major at 141 for NYU, while Patrick Sheehan also got his hand raised at 184, however the New Jersey team grabbed a 25-7 decision.

Seeing action in freestyle matches were a number of New Yorkers, including former Cornell All-American Frank Perrelli and Long Island native Jenna Burkert. In addition, assistant coaches Hudson Taylor of Columbia and Enock Francois of Army both won their bouts, with Francois blanking Austin Trotman 7-0 at 185 pounds and Taylor besting Rustam Ghsiev, 10-2 at 220.  Former Buffalo star Kyle Cerminara also came out on top, beating Ryan Martinez in a 285-pound bout.

The box scores for the Grapple at the Garden college matches involving New York teams are below (courtesy of Track Wrestling):

Cornell defeated Illinois 18-15
125 – Jesse Delgado (Illinois) over Nahshon Garrett (Cornell) Dec 6-2
133 – Zane Richards (Illinois) over Mark Grey (Cornell) Dec 4-2
141 – Michael Nevinger (Cornell) over Steven Rodrigues (Illinois) Dec 7-2
149 – Christopher Villalonga (Cornell) over John Fahy (Illinois) Dec 8-3
157 – Brian Realbuto (Cornell) over Zach Brunson (Illinois) Dec 8-3
165 – Jackson Morse (Illinois) over Dylan Palacio (Cornell) Dec 8-4
174 – Tony Dallago (Illinois) over George Pickett (Cornell) Dec 9-4
184 – Gabriel Dean (Cornell) over Nico Reyes (Illinois) Fall 6:55
197 – Mario Gonzalez (Illinois) over Jace Bennett (Cornell) Dec 7-1
285 – Stryker Lane (Cornell) over Chris Lopez (Illinois) TB-2 4-3

Cornell defeated Maryland 31-9
125 – Nahshon Garrett (Cornell) over Paul O`Neill (Maryland) Fall 3:00
133 – Mark Grey (Cornell) over Tyler Goodwin (Maryland) Dec 4-1
141 – Shyhiem Brown (Maryland) over Michael Nevinger (Cornell) Dec 5-0
149 – Christopher Villalonga (Cornell) over Derrick Evanovich (Maryland) Dec 5-0
157 – Brian Realbuto (Cornell) over Danny Orem (Maryland) Maj 16-5
165 – Dylan Palacio (Cornell) over Tyler Manion (Maryland) Inj 3:23
174 – George Pickett (Cornell) over Anthony Gardner (Maryland) Maj 12-2
184 – Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland) over Gabriel Dean (Cornell) Dec 5-3
197 – Jace Bennett (Cornell) over Chris Jastrzebski (Maryland) TF 19-1
285 – Spencer Myers (Maryland) over Stryker Lane (Cornell) Dec 2-0

Hofstra defeated Army 23-16
125 – Jamie Franco (Hofstra) over Hunter Wood (Army) Dec 3-1
133 – Jamel Hudson (Hofstra) over Logan Everett (Army) Maj 11-3
141 – Luke Vaith (Hofstra) over Tyler Rauenzahn (Army) Fall 5:15
149 – Cody Ruggirello (Hofstra) over Mark Marchetti (Army) Dec 4-0
157 – Paul Hancock (Army) over Nick Terdick (Hofstra) Maj 15-6
165 – Joseph Booth (Hofstra) over Coleman Gracey (Army) Maj 14-4
174 – Alex Smith (Army) over Frank Affronti (Hofstra) Dec 3-1
184 – Ryan Tompkins (Army) over Victor Pozsonyi (Hofstra) Fall 0:50
197 – Austin Wilding (Army) over David Heitman (Hofstra) Dec 8-4
285 – Michael Hughes (Hofstra) over Bryce Barnes (Army) Dec 6-4

Hofstra defeated Boston Univ. 35-6
125 – Jamie Franco (Hofstra) over Chris McGinley (Boston Univ.) Fall 3:20
133 – Jamel Hudson (Hofstra) over Dane Harlowe (Boston Univ.) Fall 1:27
141 – Luke Vaith (Hofstra) over Tyler Scotton (Boston Univ.) Maj 8-0
149 – Cody Ruggirello (Hofstra) over Nick Tourville (Boston Univ.) Dec 7-0
157 – Nestor Taffur (Boston Univ.) over Nick Terdick (Hofstra) Dec 4-2
165 – Joseph Booth (Hofstra) over Mitchell Wightman (Boston Univ.) Dec 4-1
174 – Frank Affronti (Hofstra) over Andrew Maksimovic (Boston Univ.) Maj 9-0
184 – Dwight Howes (Hofstra) over Aaron Conrad (Boston Univ.) Dec 5-2
197 – Zeal McGrew (Hofstra) over Unknown (Unattached) Forf
285 – Kevin Innis (Boston Univ.) over Michael Hughes (Hofstra) Dec 3-1

Princeton defeated Army 21-15
125 – Hunter Wood (Army) over John Aslanian (Princeton) Fall 4:28
133 – Jordan Laster (Princeton) over Logan Everett (Army) Dec 5-2
141 – Tyler Rauenzahn (Army) over Christopher Perez (Princeton) Dec 8-4
149 – Kevin Moylan (Princeton) over Mark Marchetti (Army) Dec 7-4
157 – Mathew Gancayco (Princeton) over Paul Hancock (Army) Dec 5-3
165 – Coleman Gracey (Army) over Judson Ziegler (Princeton) Dec 4-1
174 – Brett Harner (Princeton) over Alex Smith (Army) Fall 2:52
184 – Ryan Tompkins (Army) over Scott Gibbons (Princeton) Dec 9-3
197 – Daniel Santoro (Princeton) over Bryce Barnes (Army) Dec 6-4
285 – Cole Lampman (Princeton) over Stephen Snyder (Army) Dec 3-2

Stevens Institute of Technology defeated New York Univ. 25-7
125 – Rob Murray (Stevens Institute of Technology) over Wayne Yuan (New York Univ.) Dec 3-0
133 – Ryan Wilson (Stevens Institute of Technology) over Corbin Lee (New York Univ.) Dec 3-2
141 – Brandon Jones (New York Univ.) over Rick Perrine (Stevens Institute of Technology) Maj 17-6
149 – Mike Polizzi (Stevens Institute of Technology) over Darryl Albonico (New York Univ.) Maj 13-2
157 – Jake Odell (Stevens Institute of Technology) over Matt DiGiovanni (New York Univ.) Dec 4-0
165 – Conner Bass (Stevens Institute of Technology) over John Messinger (New York Univ.) Dec 8-6
174 – Ryan Dormann (Stevens Institute of Technology) over Brian Anderson (New York Univ.) Dec 3-0
184 – Patrick Sheehan (New York Univ.) over Tristan Hollenbaugh (Stevens Institute of Technology) Dec 4-0
197 – Alex Moreno (Stevens Institute of Technology) over Daniel Brereton (New York Univ.) Dec 7-1
285 – Chris Florek (Stevens Institute of Technology) over Anthony Chu (New York Univ.) Dec 3-2

Stony Brook defeated Westchester CC 35-10
125 – Charles Gonzalez (Westchester CC) over Austin Hecher (Stony Brook) Maj 14-6
133 – Jonathan Crespo (Stony Brook) over Frank Lazo (Westchester CC) Dec 8-6
141 – Michael LaNasa (Stony Brook) over Kevin Jiminez (Westchester CC) Fall 1:12
149 – Michael Shimer (Stony Brook) over Mike Figueroa (Westchester CC) Fall 6:58
157 – Joe Jackson (Stony Brook) over David Rivera (Westchester CC) Dec 6-0
165 – Matt Frey (Stony Brook) over Ibrahin Simreen (Westchester CC) Maj 15-2
174 – Scott Dunkirk (Stony Brook) over Ray Ramos (Westchester CC) SV-1 8-6
184 – Kris Martin (Stony Brook) over James Danko (Westchester CC) Maj 13-4
197 – Jon Campenelli (Stony Brook) over Adolphe Lubin (Westchester CC) Fall 2:07
285 – Obum Anayiche (Westchester CC) over Lautaro Epstein (Stony Brook) Fall 1:32


Kicking Off With the Pride: Hofstra 2013-14 Season Preview

Hofstra sent three wrestlers to the NCAA tournament in Iowa in 2013.  Two of those grapplers, Jamie Franco and Luke Vaith, return and with the addition of some fresh faces to the lineup and the development of some returners, there is a lot of optimism in Hempstead about what could be in store. New York Wrestling News spoke to assistant coach Zach Tanelli about changing conferences, the addition of transfers and the projected lineup for the 2013-14 campaign.

New York Wrestling News (NYWN): You had a lot of success in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).  How do you feel about the move to the EIWA conference this year?

Zach Tanelli (ZT): We’re really excited about the opportunity to be in a conference as prestigious as the EIWA. Nothing against the CAA, but we just feel that this is a conference that better suits our team and will provide us with some tough challenges.

NYWN: Last year, you began the season with Minnesota and Wisconsin and faced a number of other top teams in the first half of the campaign, such as Iowa and Ohio State. What are some of the highlights of this year’s schedule?

ZT: We toned down our schedule a little bit, in part because we’ll be seeing some better teams in the EIWA.  A lot of our rivalries were with EIWA teams anyway, so we’re looking forward to those matches having added meaning.

You always want to have a good dual meet team but unless and until scoring is changed at the NCAAs, you need individuals to perform in the tournament setting where there’s adversity and you have to know how to respond if you take a loss.  So it’s always important to go to some of the top tournaments in the country because they’re test runs for the NCAAs. We’ll be doing that by going to [The Cliff Keen Invitational in] Las Vegas and the Southern Scuffle. These tournaments give you an opportunity to show you belong with the top guys.  To win those tournaments or place high, you have to beat some of the best.  Our team will have that opportunity.

NYWN: What do you think are the expectations for the team this year?

ZT: Expectations are lower for us externally, with only Luke Vaith in many of the rankings, but we feel differently.  We feel like we’re a darkhorse.  We think we’re definitely a top three team in the conference. We know there are tough teams like Cornell and Penn, but we feel that we match up well.  We need to win those head to head matchups, but we think a top three finish is likely and that we can sneak in higher in our first year. We definitely think we have guys who have what it takes to be All-Americans this year and other guys who will be national qualifiers. Time will tell.  We’re really excited about the season.

NYWN:  The season is right around the corner.  You have the Hofstra Wrestling Kickoff Banquet [6:30 p.m. at the Long Island Marriott] this Saturday, followed by the season opener against Rutgers at home on Sunday.  Tell us about those two events.

ZT: We like to do our kickoff to bring people together before the high school season starts, to get everyone excited about the season.  It will be an opportunity for people to meet [former Hofstra wrestler and UFC champion] Chris Weidman and see what he has to say.  He’ll also be at the match.  The Rutgers match should be a good dual to start off the season against a local team that we want to be facing every year.

NYWN: Let’s take a look at the wrestlers who look to play key roles for the Pride in 2013-14.


Franco, Photo by BV

Jamie Franco started for Hofstra at 133 for the past few years, making NCAA tournament appearances in 2012 and 2013.  This March, he won a pair of bouts in Des Moines.  For his senior season, the former Section 9 star will move down to 125, where he hopes to end his career on the podium.

“Jamie feels great at this weight,” Tanelli said. “I’m amazed at how he’s progressed and how strong he is.  It’s a natural fit for him.  He’s not getting much respect in the rankings, but we don’t care about that.  It’s a good spot to be in – low expectations for now. He wrestles well as an underdog and will prove himself early on.”


Jamel Hudson and Maverick Passaro were both Division I New York state champions in 2012.  Hudson had a successful redshirt year for the Pride and looked strong in freestyle, placing at events such as the University Nationals. Passaro returned to Long Island from Rutgers after an year disrupted by injuries. Hudson won the wrestle-off last week by a 7-2 score and will take the mat for the Pride against the Scarlet Knights.

“We think our lower weights are very strong and 133 is a big part of that,” Tanelli said. “Jamel is a really exciting wrestler and we think he can do very well this year.”


Vaith, Photo by BV

Luke Vaith topped multiple All-Americans last year and won a bout at the NCAA tournament.  The staff believes he has what it takes for a breakthrough senior campaign.

“Luke will be tested right off the bat, especially on our trip to Virginia [November 8-10],” Tanelli said. “He’ll face All-Americans Devin Carter (Virginia Tech) and Evan Henderson (North Carolina). They’re both ranked in the top five. It’s a heck of a time to show the country you’re a true contender.  We feel confident he can beat both of those guys and we feel strongly as a staff that he can win a national title.”


Cody Ruggirello and Cam Tessari faced off in last Friday’s wrestle-offs with Tessari winning by a 5-3 score.  It will be Ruggirello who will begin the season as the starter, however, as Tessari plans to return to action later in the campaign.

“They’ll probably wrestle off again close to the second semester,” Tanelli said. “Cody is our starter for the first half of the year. He looks good. Cam will be ready by the Southern Scuffle.  He’ll acclimate and adjust and be ready to go for the second part of the year.  The National Duals are at Ohio State this year and he’s hoping to compete in front of his family.” [Tessari is from the Buckeye State].


Nick Terdick started for the squad as an undersized 165 pounder a year ago, but has moved down to 157 for 2013-14.

“Nick is a super talented guy who has come a long way with his confidence,” Tanelli said. “He was in a weight class that wasn’t ideal for him last year, but he’s put in a nice offseason and is hitting his stride. I think he’s ready for a big jump.”


Joe Booth’s sixth-year of eligibility was officially granted by the NCAA a few weeks ago.  Now, the former Drexel grappler, a multiple-time NCAA qualifier, will look to take advantage of the opportunity in his last season as a college wrestler.

“It’s refreshing to have Joe in the room,” Tanelli said. “He’s a guy who really wants to be there because he has perspective from not fulfilling all of his goals.  He was training for the first month without knowing if he’d get the year from the NCAA.  He was training blindly, just hoping to get his shot.  It was a big sigh of relief for him and he views it as a second chance to finally accomplish his goals.  I think he struggled in the past with workout partners and maybe got in his own way sometimes. Having [assistant coaches] Dan Vallimont and Ryan Patrovich to work with has given him a whole new confidence. We feel very strongly about what he can do in March – we expect him to be an All-American.  He’s a pleasure to have in the room.”


Last Wednesday, a 174-pound wrestle-off took place, including last year’s starter, Jermaine John, Dave Heitman and Victor Pozsonyi.  A year after splitting time at higher weights (184/197) as a true freshman, it was Pozsonyi, the sophomore from New Jersey, who defeated the other two competitors (3-2 over John and 5-3 over Heitman).  Tanelli said earlier this week that either Pozsonyi or John will start, with the other redshirting.

“Victor has made huge gains since last year,” Tanelli said. “He’s come a long way and we’re excited to see what he can do.  Jermaine has been on a steady incline since he got here.  He’s gotten better every year.  He’s a fighter who is a very good listener and hard worker.”


After Pozsonyi won the initial 174-pound competition, the previously mentioned John, Heitman and freshman Dwight Howes took the mat in a round robin event at last Friday’s wrestle-offs. Howes went 2-0 in the mini-tournament, topping Heitman (6-2) and John (6-5).  The freshman from Colorado arrived in Hempstead this year after spending time after high school training at the Olympic Training Center and Tanelli said he will be the starter at this weight.

“Dwight doesn’t mind people shooting on him – he’s actually comfortable when guys get in on his legs,” the assistant coach said. “He scores off other people’s attacks.  He’ll have to make adjustments as the season progresses, but it’s always exciting to watch him compete because he loves to wrestle live.  It’s a good thing – you want guys who enjoy competition as much as he does.”


There weren’t any 197 pound wrestle-off bouts last week.  However, according to Tanelli, Heitman will take this spot for the Pride.  In addition, Tanelli said Zeal McGrew, who competed at heavyweight a year ago, has begun to make the move down to be in the mix for the 197 spot.

“[Heitman] has a lot of heart and works very hard,” Tanelli said. “You never have to watch him and wonder – he’s always on track, doing the right things. He’s a great guy for the room who has earned his shot.”


Photo by BV

Mike Hughes had a perfect high school season for Smithtown West in 2012-13, winning a state championship with 42 wins and 31 pins.  He has separated himself in the Hofstra room and will get the nod as a true freshman at heavyweight.

“Mike Hughes is our starter,” Tanelli said. “He’s come in and done a great job. He looks very good in the room. We’re excited about his future here.  We just need him to stay healthy and keep moving forward.”


Can Jamie Franco and Luke Vaith end their Hofstra careers on the podium?  How high will the squad place in its first season in the EIWA? We’ll see very soon what the Hofstra Pride will look like in 2013-14, as the season kicks off this Sunday at home against current EIWA foe Rutgers at 1 p.m.

Time for Wrestle-offs! See Results from Hofstra and Binghamton (More to be Added)

The college season is almost upon us.  On Friday, Hofstra, Binghamton and Army took steps toward finalizing their lineups with wrestle-offs.  See below for more.


With the Pride’s opening dual against Rutgers on November 3 just around the corner, Hofstra held the 174 pound bouts on Wednesday and the remainder of the matches on Friday afternoon.

Courtesy Hofstra wrestling twitter

The results, courtesy of the Hofstra staff are:

Wednesday Results:

174 pounds: Victor Pozsonyi dec Dave Heitman, 5-3

174 pounds: Victor Pozsonyi dec Jermaine John, 3-2

Friday Results:

125 pounds: Jamie Franco dec Kyle Krasavage, 2-0

125 pounds: Kyle Krasavage pin Mike May

133 pounds: Jamel Hudson dec Maverick Passaro, 7-2

141 pounds: Luke Vaith tech fall Alex Mirante, 17-0

149 pounds: Cam Tessari dec Cody Ruggirello, 5-3

149 pounds: Cam Tessari dec Jahlani Callender, 5-1

149 pounds: Cody Ruggirello pin Cory Goshkagarian

157 pounds: Nick Terdick dec Russ Benner, 8-3

157 pounds: Russ Benner dec Mike Caputo, 7-3

165 pounds: Joe Booth major Sam Schwartzapfel, 15-3

184 pounds: Dwight Howes dec Jermaine John, 6-5

184 pounds: Dwight Howes dec Dave Heitman, 6-2

184 pounds: Dave Heitman dec Jermaine John, 5-1

285 pounds: Mike Hughes dec Zeal McGrew, 6-1



The Bearcats held wrestle-offs on Friday, with the following wrestlers coming out on top, according to the staff:

125 pounds: David White

133 pounds: Nick Tighe

141 pounds: Nick Kelley*

149 pounds: Joe Bonaldi

157 pounds: Colton Perry

165 pounds: Vincent Grella

174 pounds: John Paris

184 pounds: Caleb Wallace

197 pounds: Cody Reed

285 pounds: Tyler Deuel

*Note: Another wrestle-off will likely take place at 141 with Kelley possibly redshirting.



The Black Knights held wrestle offs on Friday evening. Here are the results, courtesy of Army Athletic Communications

Gold Team 23, Black Team 10

125: Hunter Wood (G) maj. dec. Nathan Santhanam (B), 12-3
133: Logan Everett (G) dec. Justin Seim (B), 9-3
141: Tyler Rauenzahn (G) dec. Mark Marchetti (B), 3-2
149: Ryan Bilyeu (G) dec. Shane Connolly (B), 3-2
157: Paul Hancock (B) maj. dec. Javier Rodriguez (G), 15-5
165: Chandler Smith (G) dec. Alex Dahl (B), 3-2
174: Alex Smith (B) dec. Brian Harvey (G), 11-6
184: Ryan Tompkins (B) dec. Nathan Dow (G), 4-0
197: Bryce Barnes (G) maj. dec. Mason Kumashiro (B), 12-2
HWT: David Farr (G) dec. Stephen Snyder (B), 3-2 (sv)


Staying Home: All-American Travis Passaro Selects Hofstra

Travis Passaro has traveled around the country seeking the best competition.  But when it came time to decide on his future home, he didn’t want to go far at all.

After considering Cornell, Duke and Maryland, the Eastport South Manor (ESM) senior announced a few days ago that he would attend Hofstra in the fall of 2014.

His arrival will double the number of Passaros on the Pride squad as older brother Maverick is now a freshman on the Hempstead campus.

“My brother transferring to Hofstra made me really want to go there,” Travis Passaro said. “I’ve worked out with him my whole life – he’s a great workout partner.  We’ve been drilling for a long time.  That gave me a big reason to go there. I also think the team will just keep getting better.  There are some really good Long Island kids who want to go to Hofstra. And I like that it’s close to home.”

Travis Passaro, Photo by BV

Passaro will get the chance to stay on Long Island, a place where he is already a three-time Suffolk County placer.  He captured his first Section 11 title in 2013 during a 49-4 campaign in which he made a statement in his initial appearance at the state tournament in Albany.

After winning his first two bouts at the Times Union Center, Passaro dropped his semifinal contest against Steve Michel.  However, he responded in the consolations, topping Commack’s Mike D’Angelo in a rematch of the Sectional finals before majoring Pearl River’s John Muldoon, the number two seed, 12-4 to earn bronze.

“I was looking to win the state title going into the tournament, so taking third was a big letdown,” Passaro said. “But, I have another year to come back and win it, so I’m really happy about that.”

For that last campaign, Passaro has set his goals high.

“I want to go undefeated during the season, win states and then go to the FloNationals finals,” he said.

The FloNationals is a significant event for Passaro.  He has had success at a number of events outside of the Empire State, including a fourth place showing at the NHSCA Nationals as a freshman.  However, he said that his eighth place medal at FloNationals in the spring really stands out to him.

“It’s a great tournament, with great competition,” he said. “I wanted to do better, but placing at Flo was something I was really excited about.”

Before he gets another crack at that event, Passaro will face a loaded field at the Super 32 Challenge in October.  A year ago, he came within one win of the podium at the prestigious tournament, losing to Florida’s Jared Prince twice.

This time, he’ll take the mat in Greensboro, North Carolina at 126 pounds, the weight he expects to wrestle for ESM this year.

He got off to a great start in the new class over the weekend at the Journeymen Classic, taking the title (at 130) in a bracket that included All-Americans Kevin Jack (CT) and Zach Valley (PA) as well as New York state champion Alex Delacruz.  He picked up a commanding 6-0 victory in the championship match over Payton Shuford, a multi-time North Carolina placer/2013 3A State titlist.

The future college 133 or 141 pounder believes it’s only the beginning of what he’s capable of accomplishing this year.

“I’ve been training every day, whether it’s lifting or wrestling,” he said. “I’ve been working out with [two-time state champion Nick] Piccinnini, [NHSCA National champion Chris] Mauriello and [Suffolk finalist] Jimmy Leach. I’m just focused on getting better every day.”


Travis Passaro wanted to thank his workout partners, his parents and his coaches.

What's Happening at Hofstra? Assistant Coach Zach Tanelli Talks About All-American Tessari, Transfers and More As the Season Gets Closer

Hofstra brings back a pair of NCAA qualifiers –  Luke Vaith and Jamie Franco – and has added a number of transfers and other newcomers to the roster for the upcoming campaign.  New York Wrestling News caught up with assistant coach Zach Tanelli to talk about some of the new faces and the outlook for this season.


New York Wrestling News (NYWN):  Is the transfer of [2012 All-American] Cam Tessari from Ohio State official?

Zach Tanelli (ZT): Yes. [Last week] Cam Tessari was accepted to Hofstra and he’s enrolled in classes.

We’re really excited about it.  Cam was looking for a home and it’s a weight class [149 pounds] where we felt we needed more experience.  It’s a great thing that it worked out. It really solidifies the lower part of our lineup.

He has a redshirt available, but we’re not looking to redshirt him this year. Right now we’re looking to have him ready to go for the Southern Scuffle.  He is coming off an injury and we’ll be easing him back. We expect him to be healthy and strong and ready to make a deep run at the national tournament.  He has two years of eligibility left and three years to do it in.

NYWN: Joe Booth, who wrestled for Drexel, has also been rumored to be transferring to Hofstra.  Is there anything you can share on that?

ZT:  Joe has been accepted into grad school at Hofstra, so it’s just a matter of waiting to hear whether the NCAA will grant him a sixth year of eligibility.  He’ll be at Hofstra next year in grad school, in a business-related program that they didn’t have at Drexel.  We feel pretty confident that the NCAA will grant him the extra year, but you never know. We’ll just have to wait and see.  We have some experience with sixth year guys, like Justin Accordino last year. It’s great to have guys like that around the team.  Justin was a role model and a leader; a voice the guys listened to.  Having those sixth year guys around has benefits beyond wins and losses.  If Joe gets the year, he would wrestle at 165.

NYWN: In addition to Tessari, Booth and Maverick Passaro, who we profiled a few weeks ago (here), do you expect any other transfers on your team this year?

ZT: I’d say our roster for next year is full.  Those three transfers are the only ones we expect this year, and I’ll definitely take it.  We’re really excited about them.

NYWN: There are some other new faces that could see mat time this year.   One wrestler who had a good redshirt year and some success in freestyle in the offseason is 2012 state champion Jamel Hudson.  What expectations do you have for him this year?

ZT: The plan right now is for him to go 133.  It looks like he will be competing with Maverick Passaro for the spot. He had a good redshirt year with some impressive wins.  Probably the best win was against Franklin & Marshall’s Ricky Durso, who made the Round of 12 at NCAAs.  Jamel was one of Durso’s few losses coming into the NCAA tournament.  Jamel showed signs of being able to perform at a very high level.  He’s a performer – he really enjoys the spotlight. I think the sky’s the limit if he has his weight under control.  He needs to grow throughout the season and mature wrestling-wise.  But he’s a very confident young man and he could have an impact on the national scene.

NYWN: Another newcomer familiar to New York wrestling fans is Smithtown West state champion Mike Hughes at 285.  Do you expect him to step on the mat right away?

ZT: It will be a competition between him and Zeal McGrew, two New York guys. We’ll see how it goes. They’ll wrestle off.  It looks as though Mike is the frontrunner at this time. But Zeal’s been working and is motivated to try and get in the lineup.  We’re excited about that weight class because we feel like we’ll be scoring points there this year.

NYWN: What can you tell us about [184-pounder] Dwight Howes, who spent time at the Olympic Training Center (OTC) after graduating high school?

ZT:  Dwight spent the majority of 2012 and 2013 at the OTC competing in freestyle, trying to make a US World Team.  He’s done a nice job and really developed with some great wins on the freestyle circuit. Now, he’s adapting to college wrestling.  He’s done a great job so far; he really loves wrestling.  He also loves Hofstra. He wants to put that singlet with an ‘H’ on his chest and represent this university. He’s excited to come to the room every day – he doesn’t care if you’re 125 pounds, 225 pounds or 325 pounds, he wants to wrestle and wrestle hard.  He needs to get his conditioning up and work on his mat wrestling like most freshmen.   I feel optimistic about his future in this program.

NYWN: You mentioned Jamel Hudson and Maverick Passaro at 133 earlier.  Is Jamie Franco moving down to 125 for his senior year?

ZT: Yes.  It’s a little more of a natural weight for him. He built himself up to be a 133, but 125 is his natural class.  I think he’s right around the weight he should be right now.  He’s done a great job. He’s really focused and motivated and taking all the necessary measures to be an All-American.

NYWN: Will Luke Vaith be back at 141 pounds?

ZT: Yes. I think Luke is going to have a breakout year.  He’s a very self motivated wrestler. He’s always asking to work.  He had a great season last year; although a little inconsistent at times.  The biggest thing he learned is that he belongs at this level.  He belongs in the conversation with All-Americans and national champions.

The biggest change this offseason for him is his mat wrestling. He’s worked a lot with [Edinboro NCAA champion] Gregor Gillespie, who was one of the best in the NCAA in top wrestling.  Luke has been hammering the mat work.  We’ve had lots of conversations that at the highest level, you have to be able to ride those last 15 seconds or you have to be able to escape in those last 15 seconds. It’s pivotal and he gets that.

He’s a really tough critic of himself.  He almost didn’t believe how good he was until after he looked back at his total body of work last year. When he looks back at last season, he sees he beat All-Americans like [Minnesota’s Nick] Dardanes and [Cornell’s Mike] Nevinger.  He has a lot more confidence and I think he’s poised and ready to make a deep run this year.

NYWN: Anything else going on at Hofstra that you’d like to share?

ZT: We’re just soaking up these last two weeks, and before you know it, school’s here. Everyone is on their summer programs and we’ll be hitting the ground running in a few weeks.  We’re excited for a new year. We feel like we have a nice mix of guys, new and veteran, who will help us do much better and outperform what we did last year.

Hofstra's Steve Bonanno Earns First Team Academic All-American Honors


Photo by BV

Hofstra’s Steve Bonanno has received a number of honors during his career with the Pride. On Thursday, he added to that list when he was named to the Academic All-American First Team. (The squad is named by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA and is for “at large” sports such as fencing, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, rifle, skiing, swimming, tennis, volleyball, water polo and wrestling). Bonanno was one of three wrestlers included, along with Penn State’s Matt Brown and Nebraska’s Josh Ihnen.

Bonanno, was also an Academic All-American in 2012, when he earned second team accolades. During that season, he made the podium at the NCAAs, taking eighth at 125 pounds. The Wantagh native was the CAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year as a junior and senior and is currently a graduate student working toward his MBA.

For the full story from, see here.

No Time to Waste: Michael Hughes Looks to Keep Winning (and Pinning) at Hofstra

About 50 minutes.  That’s the total time future Hofstra heavyweight Michael Hughes spent on the mat this year on his way to an undefeated campaign and a state championship for Smithtown West.

That’s an average of less than a minute and a half per match (for his 34 bouts, excluding forfeits).  Not too surprising since he wrestled into the second period only six times all season.

“I expected to be really dominant this year,” Hughes said. “After training with the partners my coaches brought in for me, who are bigger than me and tossed me around, it was so much easier in the matches.  I went on the mat thinking there would be no fooling around.  No matter who I was wrestling or how good they were, I wanted to end it as quickly as possible and show everyone I was the best.”

Photo by BV

The best in Section 11?  He demonstrated that with an exclamation point.  It took him less than two and a half minutes to pin his four Suffolk tournament opponents to capture his second straight Sectional title and punch his ticket back to the Times Union Center.

“I guess I was a little surprised at how fast it was,” Hughes said. “I think I was expecting it to take a little bit longer — but not too much longer. When I got after people, they couldn’t stay with me.  I went all out.”

And that’s exactly what he planned to do in his last chance in Albany as well.  As a junior, he took sixth at the state tournament.  In 2013, he was determined to show that he was #1 in the Empire State despite entering as the number four seed.

“I definitely couldn’t wait to go back [to the state tournament],” he said. “I lost my last two matches there as a junior. It was a tough way to finish. I knew that wasn’t who I was as a wrestler.  It made me step up my training. I think taking sixth actually helped me.”

It may have done that, because the road to a title had a number of potential roadblocks, including foes such as 2012 state runner up El Shaddai Van Hoesen of Columbia and Seaford’s James O’Hagan, the only wrestler to go the full six minutes with Hughes prior to the postseason (in a 4-0 Hughes victory).

“After looking at the bracket, I knew I had the tougher half,” Hughes said. “Last year, I had four of the six placers on my side and the same thing happened this year.  I knew I would have a tough match in the semis [which wound up being a 1-0 decision over O’Hagan], but I was confident about the finals.  I told the coaches that when I made the finals I would pin the kid no matter what.”

His prediction came true as he earned the fall against Spencerport’s Austin Coleman in just two and a half minutes.  And he didn’t just accomplish his mission to win it all.  He made some history as well, becoming Smithtown West’s first-ever state champion.

“I thought it was really cool,” Hughes said. “Knowing all the good wrestlers that came from Smithtown before and watching a lot of them when I was growing up, it was great to get the title for myself and for the school.”

The victories kept coming for Hughes.  He pinned Eric Chakonis in the decisive bout of the Pinning Down Autism Charity Challenge to ensure New York’s third straight dual victory over rival New Jersey.  And a few weeks later, he rebounded from an early 4-1 deficit against the previously mentioned Van Hoesen with a late third period takedown to win 5-4 in the Long Island vs. Upstate Challenge, which eventually ended in a tie.

And he still wasn’t done.  Hughes said he wanted to make his mark on the national level and he checked that off the list as well as he made the trip to Virginia Beach to compete at the NHSCA Senior Nationals.

“I wanted to go down and compete against the best in the country to see how I would do,” he said. “I had no clue who anyone was or how good they were. I just thought if I wrestled hard, I could compete with anyone.  My goal at first was to be an All-American.”

He did more than that, going all the way to the championship contest before finishing as the runner up to Will Geary of Kansas.

“Making it to the finals was great.  I couldn’t be any happier,” Hughes said.  “I wish I won the last one, but second place was really great.”

It also spoke to the potential of the three-sport athlete who will fully focus on wrestling in the future after splitting his attention among football, wrestling and track in the past.

“For me, at the start of my senior year, I was trying to figure out what the best fit would be in college,” Hughes said. “I was torn between football and wrestling for a while, but in February, I decided.  I realized then that I didn’t have to ask myself which one I preferred anymore, I just knew that I wanted to wrestle.”

He’ll do that for the Pride after also considering Buffalo, Bloomsburg, Ohio and Sacred Heart.

“I wanted to stay close to home,” Hughes explained. “Hofstra has a great wrestling program and I loved the coaches. They have great personalities and are motivated to push the wrestlers to be the best they can.”

Hughes looks forward to the challenge and said he may add some size as he transitions to being a heavyweight at the college level.  However, he emphasized the importance of maintaining his quickness.  And he expects some other things to stay the same as well.

“I like when things come down to me,” he said. “I don’t want to settle for close matches, I want to keep ending them as quickly as possible.”


Mike Hughes had a few people he wanted to thank:  “I want to thank my coaches for everything they’ve done for me, especially bringing people in to work with me and spending time after practice just working on the little things that made a difference.  I also want to thank all my friends and family for coming to watch me and supporting me. It was always a great feeling seeing they were there.”

**All match times taken from the NWCA High School Scorebook