Fargo Recap: Honoring Jeff Blatnick, the Porters, Bringing Home National Titles and More

The 2013 ASICS/Vaughan Junior and Cadet National Championships in Fargo have come and gone.  Here are some thoughts and observations on Team New York’s highlights in North Dakota. 

The singlets worn by Team New York at the tournament said “Dream Big” on the back.  Underneath that phrase was a picture of the late, great Jeff Blatnick.

There’s no question that Blatnick would have been excited about some of the performances put together, including that of a competitor he worked with at the Journeymen Wrestling Club – Jesse Porter.

Porter, who was a Section 2 champion as a freshman in 2012, didn’t get a chance to shine in the postseason last year.  The Shenendehowa wrestler suffered an injury and was only able to compete in November and December for the Plainsmen as a sophomore.

Now healthy, he made a huge impact at the summer’s biggest event.  A year after taking fourth in Cadet Greco Roman at Fargo, he went to the finals at 152 pounds in the same tournament, where he earned the silver medal.  Then, in freestyle, Porter nabbed a fifth place finish, running his overall record in North Dakota to 14-3 against top-notch competition.  During the Greco Roman finals, one of the announcers said he wasn’t that familiar with Porter before the event, but he knew now that “Porter is a stud.”  It’s clear he’ll be a middleweight to watch in the Albany area . . . and beyond in 2013-14.

The Champions

Jesse Porter wasn’t the only member of his family to stand out for the Empire State.  His sister Alexis Porter captured gold again, winning the 148-pound championship in Junior Women’s Freestyle a year after taking gold in both Cadet and Junior competitions.  She was joined on the top of the podium by Rachel Hale, who won it all at 121 pounds.

It wasn’t just individual glory for the women, however.  Team New York made history, becoming the first squad other than California or Texas to win the Women’s Duals at Fargo.  In appropriate fashion, the group captured the title by defeating the prior titlewinners, dominating the Texans in the first match of the championship bracket before topping the Californians, 39-17.

In pool play, the team faced California and decided to rest the starters for a big run at the crown.  The move paid off for coach Rob Hirsch and the squad.  Later in the day, the rematch was a completely different story.  New York won nine of the 12 bouts, including five straight at the end to seal the victory.

During that event, many contributed key performances.  That included Alexis Bleau, who was the only woman to earn trophies in both the Cadet and Junior tournaments, taking second and fourth, respectively.  It also included Kelsey Gray, who went undefeated in the dual portion of the event, despite not placing individually. Alexis Porter, Rachel Hale and Rosemary Flores also sported unblemished records during the dual tournament.  Flores collected an individual bronze as well, as did Destane Garrick.

Speaking of Bronze . . .

Speaking of bronze, William Koll picked up his first medal in Fargo when he took third in Junior Greco at 126 pounds.  The Lansing Bobcat just missed making the medal stand in both events, as he went 4-2 in Freestyle.  Another two-time state finalist, Nick Casella of Locust Valley, also made his debut on the medal stand in Fargo after grabbing seventh at 120 pounds in Greco.

Something About 220

New York had more All-Americans at 220 pounds than any other weight.   James Bethel followed up his undefeated run at the Cadet Duals with a third place showing in Greco.  He was dominant in his victories, with all coming by pin or technical fall. He was joined on the podium in that tournament by Garyn Huntley, a sixth placer coming off a 20+ win campaign for Oxford Academy as an eighth grader.  In the Junior division there was another 220 pound All-American – Rafal Rokosz of Southampton, who was sixth with three pins along the way.

It wasn’t just Greco.  In Cadet Freestyle, Mamaroneck’s Youssif Hemida won four matches by technical fall to capture seventh place at 220.  Looks like there are some candidates for breakout years in the heavier weight classes in 2013-14.

(Another upperweight who made his mark was Roland Zilberman, who after sporting a perfect record at the Junior Duals in Oklahoma, continued his hot streak with a fifth place medal in Junior Greco).

And the Middleweights Too . . .

In addition to Jesse Porter’s performances at 152, the middleweights had a number of strong showings, including at 145 pounds in Cadet Freestyle.  Jordan Bushey of Peru, Jakob Restrepo of Sachem East and Gino Titone of Connetquot all finished with 5-2 records in pool action.  Titone, who had a 25-5 mark last season, fell just short of placing.  However, Bushey, who came within one win of All-State status in Albany at 138 in 2013, was seventh in Fargo (with an injury default victory over Restrepo, who took eighth).  Look for all three to make a serious push for the medal stand at the Times Union Center next February.

Another Year, Another Medal

Pine Bush’s Chris Cuccolo is very familiar with the awards handed out at Fargo as he placed in both 2011 and 2012. This year was no different, as he picked up another plaque with a sixth place showing at 106 in Greco.  Alpha Diallo of the PSAL was also an All-American in that bracket, earning seventh.

In Summary . . .

So, in the end, a total of 25 All-Americans were crowned, with at least one medalist in all competitions except Junior Freestyle.

New York walked away with a pair of individual national titles and a team championship on the women’s side.  And every time a New York wrestler took the mat, the memory of Jeff Blatnick was honored for everyone in the Fargodome to see.

 

All-Americans from New York, Fargo 2013

Cadet Greco Roman

Jesse Porter, 2nd at 152

James Bethel, 3rd at 220

Garyn Huntley, 6th at 220

Nick Casella, 7th at 120

 

Cadet Freestyle

Jesse Porter, 5th at 152

Jordan Bushey, 7th at 145

Jakob Restrepo, 8th at 145

Youssif Hemida, 7th at 220

 

Junior Greco

William Koll, 3rd at 126

Roland Zilberman, 5th at 195

Rafal Rokosz, 6th at 220

Chris Cuccolo, 6th at 106

Alpha Diallo, 7th at 106

 

Women’s Cadet

Alexis Bleau, 2nd at 143

Jennifer Juarez, 3rd at 108

Vivian Vu, 6th at 154

 

Women’s Junior

Rachel Hale, Champion at 121

Alexis Porter, Champion at 148

Rosemary Flores, 3rd at 125

Destane Garrick, 3rd at 172

Alexis Bleau, 4th at 139

Yuneris Taveras, 6th at 198

Kim Cardenas, 7th at 97

Kennedi Eddins, 7th at 159

Mariana Olalde, 8th at 172

Porter, Titone, Bushey and Restepo Undefeated on Day 1 of Cadet Freestyle; NY Women Win Dual Meet Championship

With Greco Roman finished at Fargo for 2013, the Cadet Freestyle tournament got underway on Wednesday.  New York will be well represented as the competition continues on Thursday with more than 10 wrestlers remaining.

Cadet Greco Roman runner up Jesse Porter continued his strong run in North Dakota with a 5-0 record at 152 pounds.  The Shenendehowa grappler wasn’t the only unbeaten New Yorker, as Leonard Merkin won all four of his bouts at 132 and a trio of 145 pounders – Gino Titone, Jordan Bushey and Jakob Restrepo – all went undefeated.

The following is the list of Empire State wrestlers who are in the hunt for medals in Cadet Freestyle:

120: Ben Lamantia 4-1

132: Leonard Merkin 4-0

145: Gino Titone 5-0

145: Jordan Bushey 4-0

145: Jakob Restrepo 4-0

152: Jesse Porter 5-0

170: Jacob Woolson 2-1

195: Tyler Hall 2-1

220: Youssif Hemida 2-0

220: James Bethel 2-1

285: Peter Strassfield 1-1

(To see the additional wrestlers that competed in Cadet Freestyle, see the end of this page).

New York – Dual Meet Champions

In addition to boasting a pair of national champions (Alexis Porter and Rachel Hale), Team New York celebrated an additional title on Wednesday as the squad finished in first place in the Women’s Dual Meet event.

The team began with a 33-22 victory over Washington before losing to California while forfeiting seven bouts.

In the championship bracket, the team trounced Texas 49-8 while winning 10 of 12 matches. In the title meet, New York faced the Golden State group for the second time of the day and came out on top 39-17.  After California captured the opening bout, New York grabbed four consecutive matches, including two technical falls and a pin, to take control.  The West Coast group rebounded with two wins, but New York sealed the crown with triumphs in the final five contests.

Going undefeated on the day were Kelsey Gray (112), Rachel Hale (121), Rosemary Flores (125) and Alexis Porter (148).

 

The following wrestlers also took the mat for New York in Cadet Freestyle action on Wednesday:

88: Drew Schafer, Justin Lopez, Oscar Lainez

106: John Luke DeStefano, Vinny Vespa, Johnathan Lauricella, Sean Miller

113: Evan Barczak, Taylor Picciano

120: Nick Casella

126: Christian Briody, Michael Berkowitz, Ian Lupole

138: Zachery Bendick, Wyatt DeMarree, Sam Ward, Frank Jilling

145: Kevin Parker

152: William Marcil, Brandon Aviles, Collin LaBombard, John Vouzonis

160: Zafar Iskandarov, Andrew Cummings, Vance Cuffie, Logan Burnick

182: Colby Stayley, Joseph Sabia

195: Aidan Mathews, Nick McShea

220: Garyn Huntley

285: Alex Gonzolez

 

National Champs! Alexis Porter and Rachel Hale Earn Titles For Team NY While Seven Others Place

Last year, the Empire State squad left Fargo with three national titles in the women’s competition.  Once again, multiple first place plaques will be making their way back East as Team New York’s Rachel Hale (121) and Alexis Porter (148) captured gold.

For Porter, it was a familiar story at Fargo as she captured championships in both Cadet and Junior competition last July.  In 2013, the Shenendehowa wrestler only took the mat in the Junior bracket but was once again dominant, going 5-0 while outscoring the opposition by a combined 44-2 (plus a pin).

Hale was also 5-0 without a close match.  She notched a 14-2 technical fall over Cassidy Jasperson of Texas in the title bout and her smallest margin of victory was 10 points.

Both Rosemary Flores and Destane Garrick garnered third place, at 125 and 172 pounds, respectively.  Flores, a former double titlewinner at Fargo, picked up four victories – all by fall.  In fact, she pinned Taylor Alva of Texas in just over a minute to take bronze.  Garrick also got her hand raised four times, including a 13-2 result against Michigan’s Kaitlyn Hill for third.

Alexis Bleau collected her second medal of the week on Tuesday night.  After taking silver in the Cadet division a few nights ago, she nabbed a fourth place finish in the Junior bracket at 139.

Also representing the Empire State on the medal stand were Yuneris Taveras (sixth at 198), Kim Cardenas (seventh at 97), Keneddi Eddins (seventh at 159) and Mariana Olalde (eighth at 172).

For full results, see http://www.trackwrestling.com.

 

Next Generation of Studs Shine at the PSAL Holiday Tournament

 

By Matt Diano

With many of their collegiate wrestling heroes competing directly next to and/or across from them, the student-athletes from nearly 40 schools, spanning everywhere from Long Island, the five boroughs, and New Jersey proved that it will not be long before it is them participating in the main event at the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden.

Having earned the right to take part in the historic Grapple at the Garden (the first college wrestling event ever hosted by the 34th Street Mecca of sporting events) by surviving an elimination tournament the previous day at Harry S. Truman High School, the top 8 grapplers in each weight class excitedly took their turns creating lifelong memories. Whether they won or lost their respective placement matches, no one will ever be able to take away the fact that their legacies are forever carved into foundation of the building that knows no equal and needs no introduction. And, in the end, hand raised or not, there were no losers. We (fans, competitors, media, etc.) all won because we got the experience the best of both worlds; we were privy to seeing the best of the present, while equally mindful that we were getting treated to a rare and unmatched look at the future. For every Dake/Caldwell or Garrett/Waters match, there was a scholastic equivalent, such as Kelly/Ndiaye, Roberts/Rose, or Thompson/Green. While only 26 (including the ladies) individuals would leave as titlists, all entered and exited as champions.

Getting the party started at 99 pounds would be freshman phenom John Busiello from Eastport South Manor in Suffolk County. A decorated wrestler on the youth level, Busiello, who was a 20+ match winner for the varsity as an 8th grader, entered the Garden as the #3 ranked wrestler in his weight class in Section XI. If he wrestles the rest of the season the way he did this weekend, there is every reason to foresee him moving up a few spots on that totem pole. Going 3-0 between the two day affair, Busiello recorded bonus points in all of his bouts, outscoring his first and last victims by a combined tally of 31-3, sandwiched around a third period fall in the semifinals. He would claim the hardware with a 19-3 technical fall over fellow Long Islander Matt Maquet, of Long Beach in Section VIII.

Brooklyn would be in the house at the 106-pound weight class as defending NYS Private School Champion, Noah Malamut of Poly Prep, would score one for the five boroughs when he bested Maquet’s teammate, Charlie Spada, in a high scoring finals battle. Jumping out to the early lead, including a pivotal tilt for near-fall points, the junior from PP would have to contend with a late rally from his opposition, showing strong defense down the stretch to emerge with the 11-8 decision. Malamut would be the only individual champ for Poly Prep, leading the hometown favorite to a top-10 (8th) finish in the team standings.

Kelly vs. Ndiaye, http://www.phototrens.com

113 would be one of the highlight bouts of the afternoon as Chenango Forks’s two-time defending NYS DI Champion, Kyle Kelly, would be pitted against the 2012 NYS DII runner-up, Cheick Ndiaye, of Brooklyn International. With points expected to be at a premium in such a hotly contested battle of returning Empire State finalists, it would be the Binghamton University bound Kelly that struck in a big way, locking up a cradle and taking it over to gain the early lead. He would not look back, fending off the athletic and immensely polished Ndiaye 6-4. For the weekend, Kelly went 3-0, with Ndiaye being the only foe who was able to make it out of the first period against him.

Two weight classes later, it would be Kelly’s teammate, Jake Green, making it 2-for-2 for Forks over opponents from Brooklyn. Regarded as a slight underdog in the 126 pound title bout after his opponent, 2012 PSAL Large School Champion, Keanu Thompson (Grand Street Campus), defeated NHSCA All-American Travis Passaro (ESM) 7-3 in the semifinals, Green refused to be intimidated, scoring the only takedowns of the match to win a hard fought 4-2 decision. This victory should serve as a major confidence booster for Green as he looks to repeat as a Section IV champion and earn his first All-State placement in 2013. For Thompson, who prior to the loss had been on a hot streak (including a win over Ndiaye earlier in the season), the goal is to put the loss behind him and get back on track. The senior captain from Grand Street Campus came one victory short of the podium last season in Albany.

Getting Staten Island in the win column was standout extraordinaire, Santo Curatolo. A senior who is seeking his fourth career PSAL DI title, Curatolo might be among the fastest growing prospects in the Empire State. After falling to place in Albany for the third straight season, the Tottenville student-athlete has been on a tear, commencing with an All-American finish in Junior Greco-Roman in Fargo this past summer. Curatolo would show no mercy on the field this weekend, pinning two of his opponents and adding a 13-1 major decision to reign supreme at 120 pounds. His finals win, a 1:38 fall via cement mixer (I call it a Billman Mixer in tribute to former Pennsylvania great, Jamarr Billman, who hit a similar variation of the move in the 1997 AAA state finals his senior season) came over Wingate’s Kenton Greaves in what could potentially represent a preview of the 2013 NYC finals.

After watching two of his PSAL peers fall short of their championship goals, one wrestler who had no intention of kowtowing to Coach Rick Gumble’s mighty Forks squad was New Utrecht 132 pounder, Saidyokub Kahramonov. A runner-up in 2012 to current Brown University freshman, Ahmed Elsayed, Kahramonov is a heavy favorite to make his second consecutive trip to the state capital after being an injury placement last season. He certainly had his “A” game on full display 72 hours ago, finishing a perfect sweep of pins when he stuck returning Section IV bronze medalist, Carl Rouse, with 24 seconds remaining in the second period. Kahramonov also had falls over 2012 USA Wrestling Schoolboy Greco-Roman All-American, Leonard Merkin (Poly Prep), and 2012 Catholic High School Athletic Association returning placewinner, Ralph Maio, of Monsignor Farrell.

Starting a trend that would see his school take the titles at three of the next four weight classes was Long Branch’s Nick Menkin. A winner of just under 30 matches as a sophomore, the wrestler who missed out on the chance to compete at the New Jersey State tournament when he finished 4th at the regional qualifier, was not in a generous mood on Saturday and Sunday. 4-0 on the weekend, Menkin did not have a match closer than six points (his 9-3 win in the finals over Farrell’s Karl Weisner), pinning one of his opponents, teching another, and major decisioning the third (15-4) en route to the title bout and the eventual hardware. Complementing the efforts of their teammate were a pair of Georges (cousins). Striking first in the battle for ultimate family bragging rights would be 145-pounder, Nick, who after hanging on for a 6-4 decision in the semifinals over two-time PSAL runner-up, Nigel Williams of Eagle Academy, really poured it on in the finals, controlling all of the action and scoring the only takedowns of the match, defeating Columbia High School’s (Section II) Jim Devine 8-2 in the championship bout. Not to be outdone, at 160, it was Jake, whose older brother, William is a wrestler at Cornell University, making it an even 2-for-2 for the family when he made it back-to-back victories over foes from Columbia (their third consecutive finalist), outlasting Chris Morrissey, 7-5 in overtime. 220-pounder, Vincent Roselli, would also win in overtime, 5-3 over Paul Okeke of Clarkstown South, to account for the fourth and final individual gold for the eventual team champs from across the bridge.

Preventing Columbia from dropping three straight championship matches was Angelo Kress at 152 pounds. A state qualifier at this weight last season as a sophomore, Kress finished 6th (in the adjusted placements that do not include CHSAA or PSAL representatives). If he wrestles in Albany the way he did in the Big Apple, it is almost a surefire guarantee that the defending Section II champion will move up a few rungs on the proverbial ladder. Pinning his first two opponents in an average time of 2:22, Kress must have had big plans on Sunday afternoon as he wasted no time at all coming, seeing, and conquering. Pitted against 2012 PSAL Large School bronze medalist, Konstantin Parfiryev, from James Madison, Kress would put leave no doubt as to who the best of the best was, pinning his finals opponent in 54 seconds, the quickest fall of the championship round. One of two champs on the day for Columbia (the other coming in the last bout of the tournament), Kress would lead his team to a runner-up finish in the final polls.

Having gone four straight weight classes without some local flavor taking home a title, junior Adis Radoncic of RKA, would nip the issue in the bud, snapping the streak with 10-4 decision over Long Branch’s Nick Pappayliou at 170 pounds. Already a two-time PSAL Small School champion (on pace to be a four-time NYS DII qualifier), Radoncic just missed placing at the Times Union Center in 2012, falling one victory short of the podium. A lethal thrower, next to Ndiaye, Radoncic is considered the best medal threat for the PSAL in the Division II ranks. Pappayliou, who transferred to the Garden State perennial powerhouse for his senior season after competing for Ocean Township the first three years of his scholastic career, finished 4th in the district tournament in 2012.

Matt Roberts, Photo by Philip Rufo

Winning a war of returning NYS qualifiers was Monsignor Farrell’s Matt Roberts at 182. Trailing 2-0 early on in his title match against Eagle Academy’s Nathanael Rose, the 2012 CHSAA State Champion, Roberts, did what he does best, utilizing his deep gas tank to claw his way back into the match. Pushing the pace against Rose, who won the PSAL DII title as a freshman last season, Roberts would ascend to the top step of the podium following an 8-5 victory. The senior leader would be the lone champion for the Staten Island program who for the first time in history (after dominating the Mayor’s Cup since its inception) finished behind a fellow five borough school (Brooklyn Tech) in a major city wide tournament.

Speaking of B’Tech, the Todd Bloom led program would not be shutout this weekend, getting on the scoreboard at 195 with senior Kevin Tynes. A PSAL runner-up last last season to McZiggy Richards (the wrestler who finished 3rd in NYS and is currently attending St. Benedicts Prep), Tynes may be one of the hungriest wrestlers in the city this season after seeing the success of the man who beat him in last year’s Large School finals. Cruising in his first three matches (pin, 16-1 TF, 10-1 MD), Tynes would get his first test of the tournament in the finals when he faced the twin brother of the 170 pound runner-up, Chris Pappayliou. A 3rd place finisher at the district tournament, the Long Branch transfer would make his NYC counterpart work for every point, leading to perhaps the most entertaining and competitive title bout. In the end, the home court advantage would be too much for the Jersey boy to overcome as he dropped the bout 7-6 to Tynes.

El Shaddai VanHoesen, Photo by BV

Closing the show in emphatic fashion would Columbia’s other champion, returning NYS DI runner-up, El Shaddai VanHoesen. A full sized heavyweight who makes his impact felt every bit as much on the football field as he does on the wrestling mat, VanHoesen has every reason in the world to want to end his grappling career on top. Having suffered an injury early in the football playoffs, the big man had the misfortune of having to watch as his team was eliminated, powerless to do anything about it. A student-athlete with championship dreams, with one door having been closed, you can bet he will not let anything stop him from going all the way on the mat. He seemed every bit the proverbial man on a mission, notching four straight pins (including two in under 1:00) to stream roll his way to the last title of the afternoon. While not sure if it would be considered a benefit or a curse, the wrestler who found himself in the position of being the final notch on the belt of the VanHoesen locomotion was Tynes’s teamamte, Shaq Williams. The top-ranked 285 pounder per the GCW rankings, Williams will be looking for revenge when the calendar hits February.

Turning our attention to the fairer sex, leading the group of 10 champions for the young ladies was All-American Rosemary Flores of Curtis. A double freestyle champion in Fargo two summers ago, you name it and Flores has seemingly won it at some point in her career. An ASICS 1st Team honoree last year, Flores had little trouble adding another trophy to her growing collection, spending a combined 90 seconds on the mat in pinning two opponents to earn the the 132 pound crown. While she is by far the most well known, Flores is not the only elite philly in the Curtis stable as he was joined on the top step of the medal stand by teammates Leslie Schoberl (120) and Shannon Henry (138). In similar fashion to Flores, Shoberl and Henry would never see the third period as the three blue chippers combined for seven falls in seven matches. Curtis was the only program on the ladies side to have three gold medalists. Other champions in the women’s tournament included the following: 99- Kim Cardenas (Petrides), 106- Ana Salazar/160- Karina Lozano of Grover Cleveland, 113- Jennifer Juarez (Robert Wagner), 126- Sarah Andresen (Hunter), 145- Idalis Graciano (Springfield), and Wingate’s Destane Garrik at 170 pounds.

To see the full results from both the male and female varsity tournaments, please click the following links: 2012 Boys; 2012 Girls

For more information on New York City wrestling, visit Gotham City Wrestling

Porter and Westman Capture Freestyle National Titles and Eight Become All-Americans in Junior Greco

Now there are three National Championship plaques heading back to New York.

On Saturday night, Alexis Porter picked up the first National Title for the Empire State in Cadet Women’s Freestyle action at 143 pounds.  On Tuesday, Porter made it two-for-two at Fargo, capturing her second crown of the week, this time in Junior competition at 139 pounds with a 1-0, 1-0 victory over Jasmine Mendoza of California.

Joining Porter on top of the podium on Tuesday evening was Mary Westman, the title winner at 159 pounds.  The Jamestown College-bound wrestler topped Kiaya Von Soyoc of Washington in the title bout.  After dropping the opening period 7-2, Westman responded by dominating the remainder of the match.  She stayed on the attack, getting to her opponent’s legs often, to take the last two periods by the scores of 7-2 and 3-1.

Also earning All-America honors were Hanna Grisewood of Warsaw, who was the runner up at 112 pounds after picking up five wins, and Rosemary Flores, who took third at 130 pounds after registering pins in five of her six victories. Yuneris Diaz rounded out the New York medalists, grabbing fifth at 172 pounds.

Eight Become 2012 Junior Greco All-Americans

On the men’s side, eight New Yorkers were crowned All-Americans in Junior Greco Roman.  Leading the way was 2012 state runner up Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, who took third at 132 pounds after notching six victories in seven matches.

Joining him on the medal stand were a pair of future Columbia wrestlers, Connor Sutton (fifth at 160) and Chris Loew (seventh at 182).  Sutton’s high school teammate at LaSalle Institute, Brendan Goldup, was also fifth (at 152 pounds), while a trio of PSAL standouts also gained All-America status: McZiggy Richards (fourth at 182), Santo Curatolo (sixth at 120) and Josh Antoine (eighth at 113).  Kyle Kelly (106) grabbed seventh for the second consecutive year in Greco competition.

The Junior Freestyle tournament begins on Thursday.

 Full List of 2012 New York All-Americans – In All Competitions

Junior

106 Pounds: Kyle Kelly, 7th Place Greco

113 Pounds: Josh Antoine, 8th Place Greco

120 Pounds: Santo Curatolo, 6th Place Greco

132 Pounds: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, 3rd Place Greco

152 Pounds: Brendan Goldup, 5th Place Greco

160 Pounds: Connor Sutton, 5th Place Greco

182 Pounds: McZiggy Richards, 4th Place Greco

182 Pounds: Chris Loew, 7th Place Greco

 

Cadet

94 Pounds: Chris Cuccolo, Cadet Greco 5th

132 Pounds: Jesse Porter, Cadet Greco 4th

132 Pounds: Sam Ward, Cadet Greco 7th

182 Pounds: Benjamin Honis, Cadet Greco 7th

 

Women –  Cadet

143 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Cadet Freestyle Champion

143 Pounds: Kennedie Eddings, Cadet Freestyle 6th

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, Cadet Freestyle 3rd

 

Women –  Junior

112 Pounds: Hanna Grisewood, 2nd Place

130 Pounds: Rosemary Flores, 3rd Place

139 Pounds: Alexis Porter, Champion

159 Pounds: Mary Westman, Champion

172 Pounds: Yuneris Diaz, 5th Place

Over 90 New York Wrestlers To Compete at Fargo; Realbuto and Flores Look to Repeat as Champions

The biggest tournament of the summer is here as competition begins in Fargo, North Dakota on Saturday.  Here are a few of the New York storylines to watch.

Will the champions repeat?

Rosemary Flores had a tremendous tournament in 2011, capturing titles in both the Cadet and Junior divisions while winning eight of her nine bouts by pin.  She has enjoyed sustained success throughout the year, earning a spot on the ASICS Girls All-American First Team and taking second at a number of prestigious tournaments including the Cadet Pan Am Championships and the Body Bar Women’s National tournament.  The New York City standout will be back for another run, this time at 130 pounds.

Last summer, Brian Realbuto became the first Men’s Freestyle title winner from the Empire State since Troy Nickerson won double titles back in 2004.  The 145-pound class that Realbuto won was loaded with top tier talent, such as Jake Sueflohn, who won 25 matches as a true freshman at Nebraska last season and top 20 recruits such as Brandon Kingsley, Oliver Pierce and Brian Murphy.  The Somers star wrestled only in a pair of matches at the Junior Duals in Oklahoma City, but is registered to compete at 152 pounds this week where he will once again be challenged by a plethora of formidable opponents such as Ohio’s Anthony Collica, New Jersey’s Dylan Milonas, Murphy, Pierce and a familiar face, Long Beach’s Dylan Palacio.

Speaking of Palacio, can he keep his unbeaten streak alive?

It’s been quite a year for the Nassau County wrestler.  Palacio had an unblemished record during the high school campaign to win his first state championship, then went on to earn gold at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach.  He followed that with dominant performances at the New York Freestyle and Greco States, taking the top spot in both, and then went undefeated at the Disney Duals, beating nationally-ranked grapplers such as Garrett Peppelman and Taylor Simaz.  While he has placed at Fargo in the past (8th in Greco a year ago), he has made it clear that he is looking to reach the top of the podium in North Dakota before beginning his college career in Ithaca.

Which other returning placers are gearing up for a title run?

Juniors

Four-time state champion Quinton Murphy readily admits that while he has had success in folkstyle throughout his career, he prefers Freestyle.  He has proven his capabilities in the international styles as well, including an fourth place at the Youth Olympics Games in 2010.  In 2011, he took bronze at Fargo at 135 pounds, handing the eventual winner Ben Whitford of Michigan his only loss.  Murphy went undefeated in limited action at the Junior Duals in Freestyle a few weeks ago and will be among the favorites at 138 pounds, where he could again meet Whitford.

The 160-pound Junior competition may be of interest to New York fans as several accomplished grapplers take the mat.  Burke Paddock of Warsaw has a long list of achievements, including earning sixth in 2011 in Greco at the same weight and capturing the Junior Greco World Duals event this spring.   Columbia-bound Connor Sutton placed at FILA Juniors in Greco and comes into the week with a lot of momentum.  In fact, WIN Magazine picked Sutton to make the finals at Fargo following his All-Tournament team performance at the Junior Duals in late June where he went 8-0 in the style.

Cadets

Chris Cuccolo was a double medalist in 2011, taking fifth in both styles at 84 pounds in the Cadet division.  The Pine Bush wrestler returns to the Cadet competition, this time at 94 pounds where Intermat has labeled him the favorite on the Greco side.

Shenendehowa’s Jesse Porter has a track record of success in the international styles, including a 2011 Schoolboy National Championship at 105 pounds in Greco.  He is one to watch in Cadet Greco action at 132 pounds.

Women

Mary Westman made the finals in 2011 at 148 pounds, registering three wins by fall, and looks to finish one rung higher on the ladder in the 159-pound class this week.  Alexis Porter wrestled in both divisions in 2011, garnering third (Cadet) and fourth (Junior) in the 124/125 weight classes.  She is currently registered at 143 pounds in the Cadet competition and should be a contender.  In addition, two returning sixth place finishers, Kendra Kenyon and Kennedie Eddings, will look to climb to the top of the podium.

Which wrestlers will make a smooth transition from the Cadet to Junior competition?

There are several wrestlers on Team New York who appear ready to make the jump.  Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer of Cheektowoga was fourth at 125 pounds in Freestyle and has placed in a number of national events in both Greco and Freestyle.  At the Junior Duals, he went 10-2 overall and looks poised to represent the Empire State well following his runner up performance in Albany in February.

Another New York state finalist, Reggie Williams of Johnson City, stood fifth on the podium last year at 215 as a Cadet and will try to repeat that success at the Junior level, this time at 195 pounds.

What other state placers should be watched closely?

A large number of medalists from Albany in 2012 will be fighting for All-America status, including state champions Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks (7th in Greco in 2011 at Fargo) and Dylan Realbuto (126) of Somers.  In addition, several other top four finishers at the Times Union Center such as Columbia’s El Shaddai Gilmore-Van Hoesen (285), McZiggy Richards (182), Troy Seymour (170), Tyler Grimaldi (160), David Almaviva (145) and Nick Kelley (132), Ryan Snow (126), William Koll (120), Nick Casella (100) and Trey Aslanian will look for podium positions.  Aslanian, a two-time folkstyle silver medalist in New York, went an impressive 7-1 at the Junior Duals.

Which of the New York State Freestyle and Greco title double winners will be taking the mat?

In addition to Palacio and Koll, 220-pounder Soslan Gularov was a double champion who is registered.  On the Cadet side, a handful of double titlists will represent the Empire State – Matthew Morris (113 pounds), Freddie Dunau (120), Mike Dusold (152) and Daniel Smith (170).  Josh Antoine was the 113-pound champion in both Freestyle and Greco at the Northeast Regional qualifier as well.

Many wrestlers were mentioned and there are sure to be others who stand out on one of the sport’s biggest stages.

Stay tuned and check back for updates and interviews throughout the week.

 

 2011 Fargo All-Americans from New York

Junior Freestyle

105 – Lucas Malmberg (Marathon), 6th

112 – John Aslanian (Edgemont), 8th

135 – Quinton Murphy (Holley), 3rd and Steven Rodrigues (Fox Lane), 5th

145 – Brian Realbuto (Somers), Champion

Junior Greco

98 – Kyle Kelly (Chenango Forks), 7th

135 – Patrick Hogan (Peru), 8th

152 – Dylan Palacio (Long Beach), 8th

160 – Burke Paddock (Warsaw), 6th

Cadet Freestyle

84 – Chris Cuccolo (Pine Bush), 5th

125 – Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (Cheektowoga), 4th

130 – Jonathan Craft, 8th

215 – Reggie Williams (Johnson City), 5th

Cadet Greco

84 – Chris Cuccolo (Pine Bush), 5th

Junior Women’s Freestyle

105 – Hanna Grisewood (Warsaw), 5th

125 – Rosemary Flores (Curtis), Champion, Alexis Porter (Shenendehowa), 4th

148 – Mary Westman, 2nd

Cadet Women’s Freestyle

88 – Kim Cardenas (Petrides), 4th

101 – Leah Taylor (Alexander), 8th

115 – Kendra Kenyon (Warsaw), 6th

124 – Rosemary Flores (Curtis), Champion, Alexis Porter (Shenendehowa), 3rd

143 – Keneddii Eddings (Niagara Falls), 6th