Going With the Flo: Many New York Wrestlers Prepare for 2013 FloNationals

According to organizers, it will have the “feel of an NCAA championship.” Riding time will be a factor, seasoned college referees will officiate, video review will be used for challenges and many of the nation’s top wrestlers will take the mat.

The scene won’t be Des Moines, Iowa but instead Indiana, Pennsylvania for the FloNationals, beginning on April 5.

Competition will start at 9 a.m. on Friday in the high school division on 12 mats and will continue through the finals on Saturday evening. The action doesn’t stop then, however, as the middle school and elementary tournaments take place on Sunday, beginning at 10.

Kelley, Photo by BV

A year ago, the Empire State featured eight All-Americans at FloNationals. This time, New York will once again be well represented, with over 85 entries as of press time, including state champions such as Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton), Luis Weierbach (Hoosick Falls), Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville), Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa), Tyler Grimaldi (Half Hollow Hills West) and Rich Sisti (Monsignor Farrell).

In addition, a number of medalists, including 2013 top three finishers Vincent DePrez (Hilton), Christian Dietrich (Greene), David Almaviva (Shenendehowa), Joe Mastro (Yorktown), Alex Soutiere (Ravena), Travis Passaro (Eastport South Manor) and Sam Melikian (Fordham Prep) will look to add All-American honors to the All-State accolades they picked up in February.

Registration remains open until Wednesday at midnight here. But for those who won’t be present in person, there are still ways to keep tabs on the New Yorkers as they strive for national titles.

Each match will be streamed live on FloWrestling.org with a Tech Wave subscription, and according to organizers, viewers will be able to see the score and time on the screen to make the bouts easy to track. (In addition, results will be updated throughout the weekend on http://www.trackwrestling.com).

“I think it’s exciting that every match will be shown live on the internet so people back home can watch,” said two-time state champion Nick Piccininni. “It also lets college coaches watch.  I know some coaches will be there in person too and even though I can’t talk to them yet, I want to put myself on their radar for the future.”

Indeed, FloNationals is a place where coaches are on the lookout for potential recruits.  Just ask 2013 New York State bronze medalist Joe Mastro of Yorktown, who recently committed to become a part of Pat Popolizio’s Wolfpack.

“FloNationals was the place that first got the NC State coaches interested in me,” Mastro said. “I’ve been going since my sophomore year and the competition gets tougher each year.  I think it’s really become the premier postseason national tournament.”

Both Mastro (preseeded ninth at 152) and Piccininni (preseeded #1 at 113), fell just short of the podium a year ago.  Both expect better this time.

“Last year, I came within a round of placing,” Mastro said. “The goal is to definitely come home with All-American honors. It’s something I’ve been thinking about since last year.”

“I definitely wasn’t happy with the outcome last year,” Piccininni added. “It doesn’t really matter that I’m preseeded #1. I’m just trying to go out there, wrestle my toughest and dominate each match. It’s a really tough tournament, but my goal is to win the national championship.”



Team New York Pushed to the Limit, But Emerges With 29-21 Victory over NJ in 2013 All-Star Charity Challenge


For the second straight year, all of the talk on the various forums leading up to the All-Star Charity Challenge centered on uneven lineups and lopsided outcomes. And, for the second straight year, nothing would be further from the truth as the student-athletes from the two cross-state rivals would wage war on one another, taking the dual to the final weight class and entertaining all those lucky enough to be on the campus of West Orange High School for this afternoon’s festivities.

For the match-by-match summary, see New York 29, New Jersey 21 Details.

On paper, with 11 2013 State Champions in the lineup, the Empire State was supposed to enjoy a significant advantage. However, as was so eloquently put by event organizer, Jason Bross, when it comes to New Jersey, “we never sleep on them.”

Bross’s sentiments would prove prophetic as in contrast to the opinions of the so-called prognosticators, there was never a moment in the dual that witnessed either side having a moment of relaxation or relief. Every time it would seem that one team would begin to seize momentum, the other would respond with a mini winning streak to keep the dual within reach.

In the end, it would be the wrestlers from New York improving their record to 3-0 against their opponents from the Garden State, 29-21, but in the bigger picture, as is the case every year, there would be no losers as all of the student-athletes did themselves, their schools, and their states proud. On a day where nothing would come easy, the greatest satisfaction was not from winning the dual, it was in the knowledge that 30 young men with bright futures gave selflessly of themselves to do a world of good for two event organizations, Pinning Down Autism and Autism New Jersey. You can’t see on a scoreboard the kind of victory that is earned each and every time these two states go to battle in this event.

Getting the Empire State off to a great start would be Hilton High School eighth grader Yianni Diakomihalis, who scored off the opening whistle and never looked back, collecting another takedown off a scramble midway through the second and then adding a reversal at the beginning of the third to take a 6-2 lead over New Jersey freshman, Alec Kelly.

The St. Peter’s Prep underclassman would cut the lead to 6-3 and would be in deep on a single-leg, but would be unable to finish as the buzzer sounded, making the 2013 NYS DI Champion the winner by decision, 6-3, to give the visitors from New York the 3-0 team lead.

Evening the score for the Garden State at 106 would be regional tournament qualifier, Ryan Freeman, who had a knack for picking his moments, scoring takedowns in the closing seconds of both the first and seconds periods to carry a 4-1 lead into the final two minutes. The freshman 30+ match winner would quickly increase his lead over the 2013 NYS DI champion from Wantagh, Kyle Quinn, getting a body lock and tossing his opponent from Nassau to the ground on the edge of the mat to make the score 6-2. Following a Quinn escape, Freeman would tack on one more takedown for good measure, taking the decision by an 8-2 tally.

Piccininni, Photo by BV

Two-time Division I champion Nick Piccininni would give New York the lead back at 113, dominating his foe, two-time New Jersey placewinner AJ Vindici (3rd in 2013), scoring a takedown and then adding near fall to lead 5-0 at the end of the first period. The Ward Melville sophomore would earn the reversal with half a minute remaining in the 2nd period to jump the lead to 7-0 at the end of the middle stanza. The third takedown of the bout for Piccininni with 1:05 remaining would put him in a position to earn bonus points for the “Evil Empire”. He would ride out the sophomore from Randolph to pitch the 9-0 shutout, making the team score, 7-3. “Picc” improves to 2-0 in as many appearances for New York in the Charity Dual.

Competing in the first match of the afternoon that did not feature a state champion on other side, it would be Eastport-South Manor junior Travis Passaro winning a low scoring affair over 2012 New Jersey 8th place finisher Marc Mastropietro of Hasbrouck Heights High School, 1-0. Scoreless after the 1st period, the 2013 NYS DI bronze medalist would ride out the entire second period and then escape early in the third to record the deciding point. To the credit of his opponent, Mastropietro, would really push the pace following the escape, getting in deep on a single-leg late in the bout. However, maintaining his poise, Passaro whizzered hard and forced a stalemate with only :07 remaining in the match. With so little time remaining on the clock, there would no time for the nearly 40 match winner from the Garden State to pull off the comeback. The victory would increase New York’s cushion to 10-3.

Fabian, Photo by BV

After seeing two non-state champs go to war in the previous bout, 126 would feature a battle of 2013 titlists in Shoreham Wading River’s TJ Fabian and Anthony Giraldo of North Bergen, New Jersey. Striking first would be the #7 ranked wrestler in the nation, Giraldo, earning the takedown and the rideout to lead 2-0 at the end of the 1st period.

With the choice in the second period, Fabian would respond in a big way, choosing down and getting the reversal to the back for 2+2 to take his first lead of the match over the three-time placewinner. It would then be Giraldo’s turn to answer, which he would, reversing back to square the match at 4-4 at the end of the period. In the third period, it would be a third caution against the Jersey grappler that would ultimately prove to be the difference maker, as Fabian gained the 5-4 lead with short time on the clock.

Left with no other alternative, Giraldo would attempt a desperation roll attempt and get caught on his back for three near fall, making the match 8-4 in favor of the future Sacred Heart University Pioneer, Fabian. The “w” for the New Yorker avenged a pair of losses he suffered to Giraldo during the preseason at the Journeymen Classic and the Ironhorse Invitational.

Knowing that he needed to stop the three-match winning streak, Jason Estevez, the senior from Livingston, would answer the call to duty, scoring the only three takedowns of the match to earn the 7-3 decision over Fordham Prep’s Sam Melikian. Using his quickness and polished technique, the two-time New Jersey 3rd place finisher would prove to be too much for his fellow 2013 bronze medalist. Looking for a déjà vu moment from his victory the previous night over New England, Melikian would attempt a cement mixer late in the match, but Estevez would roll through it to preserve his win. The triumph would cut the Empire State lead to 13-6.

In another match where points would be at a premium, it would be the 2013 3rd place finisher from New Jersey, Richie Lewis, scoring a takedown with short time on the clock in the third period to upend three-time New York DII champion, Nick Tighe of Phoenix High School. All tied at 1-1 following the exchange of escapes in the second and third periods, both would have multiple opportunities to grab the lead in the third, but neither would be able to convert until the Toms River East senior was able to come up huge, getting behind the Binghamton University-bound Empire Stater for the 3-1 win to bring his team ever closer on the scoreboard. The win is yet another in the long and growing list of impressive victories for Lewis, whose only loss this season came at the hands of four-time undefeated NJ state champion, Anthony Ashnault.

Making it three in a row for the host state would be three-time finalist/two-time champion, Bryant Clagon, who just missed scoring the fall when he took 2013 NYS DI State champion, Louis Hernandez of Mepham High School down and then put him on his back. Saving the Nassau County representative would be an injury time out. However, the damage had already been done by the Rider University recruit as he would cruise to the 9-2 decision to bring New Jersey within three points. Clagon, who earned his way into this dual by winning a barn burner in the state finals last weekend, remains undefeated in 2012-2013. In a match that the New York contingent felt it could steal, Clagon showed just why he is the third-ranked wrestler in the USA. Clagon has now won his match in back-to-back All-Star Charity Challenges, as he defeated current Brown University freshman, Anthony Finocchiaro, 8-4 in the 2012 event.

Grimaldi, Photo by BV

With momentum beginning to shift in the other direction, New York would turn to two upperclass leaders, junior Corey Rasheed and senior Tyler Grimaldi of Longwood and Hills West, respectively. Well aware that a few 11th hour scratches from the lineup might leave NY vulnerable up top, the pair of 2013 DI State champions would do their jobs and help their squad to regain control of the dual, combining to score seven team points to again open up the NY lead, 20-12, with five bouts remaining.

Asserting his will in every position on the mat, Rasheed would light up the scoreboard, earning bonus points with the 10-0 shutout over Glen Ridge High School’s John Faugno, a regional qualifier who did not advance to Atlantic City in 2012/2013.

Finding it much more challenging, but still stepping up and walking away with the essential victory, would be the future Harvard University student-athlete, Grimaldi. All tied at 2-2 against Delbarton’s 7th place finisher, Josef Johnson, the nationally-ranked Suffolk grappler would fight off a shot in the last half minute and then capitalize on the over aggressiveness of Johnson, countering a TD attempt in the closing seconds to snap and spin behind to survive with a 4-2 decision in a match that in all likelihood, both sides saw as a potential bonus point opportunity for the boys in blue (NY was donning blue singlets).

Having two equally solid choices in the #10 and #14 ranked wrestlers in the nation, New Jersey head coach Damion Logan would elect to go with 2013 NJ State champion Ethan Ramos over the man he defeated by a narrow margin in the title bout last weekend, Jadaen Bernstein. New York would counter with a state champion — the first-ever titlewinner from the PSAL — Adis Radoncic of RKA in the Bronx. Interlocked in a back-and-forth bout, it would be the future UNC Tar Heel, Ramos, taking the 5-4 lead in the third period with a miraculous double-leg. Fighting like a warrior to earn the equalizer, Radoncic would come close to earning a reversal during the final ticks of the clock, but in the end, it would be the still undefeated Ramos maintaining control of his opponent’s leg to ride out the last minute plus to seize victory.

Winning what could be considered the most important match of the dual would be North Carolina State signee Shayne Brady, a two-time NYS DI finalist for Carthage High School, who hoisted the hardware in Albany a few weeks ago. Scoreless after the first period, it would be Ali Yildiz of South Brunswick that would get on the board first when the 2013 3rd place finisher earned a reversal in the second period. Brady would escape late in the second period and then again at the beginning of the third to tie the match up at two apiece. However, again it would be Yildiz going back ahead when he finished a takedown midway through the final period to take the 4-2 lead. All too keenly aware of the fact that his team would have its least credentialed individuals coming up at 195 and 220, Brady would rise up and play the hero, earning a reversal and then riding out the remainder of the period to send the bout to sudden victory. Now one score away from putting his team in a very solid position to win, the 2012 Super 32 8th place finisher would waste little time, getting in deep and eventually popping his head out to emerge with the 6-4 decision to give NY the 23-15 lead. The loss was only the second of this season for the Jersey representative, the other occurring at the hands of eventual state champion, Johnny Sebastian of Bergen Catholic.

In two of the few bouts that they were definitively favored in, the Garden State wrestlers would again prevent their neighbors to the north from establishing control of the dual, as state runner-ups, Anthony Messner and Zack Chakonis, would control the action, whistle to final buzzer in earning 8-2 and 9-3 decisions respectively over 2013 6th place finisher, Kevin Tynes of Brooklyn Tech and 4th place performer, Josh Bonneau of Minisink Valley. Messner and Chakonis, the super sophomore from Don Bosco Prep, would score the only offensive points of their matches make the team score 23-21.

Finding ourselves in the exact same position as we did last season, the dual would come down to the big daddies in a clash of the present versus the future as 2013 NYS champion, Michael Hughes of Smithtown West would be opposed by eighth grade standout, Eric Chakonis, who will join his brother at Bosco next fall.  Utilizing his experience and size advantage, it would be the two-time New York placewinner Hughes opening up a sizable lead heading into the third period before putting the dual to bed with a pin at the 5:40 mark.  Team NY wins 29-21!

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF TODAY’S PARTICIPANTS.  As I say quite often, on a day like this one, you are all champions !!!

For the original story, see Gotham City Wrestling here.

State Champions to Represent New York Against New Jersey and More at Pinning Down Autism All-State Weekend Festival


“I’m in.”

Before Jason Bross even finished his question after the Saturday night finals at the New York state tournament in Albany, 145-pound champion Louis Hernandez of Mepham said yes.

Hernandez, Photo by BV

Hernandez wasn’t alone. He was only one of the top New York wrestlers to enthusiastically commit to representing the Empire State at the Pinning Down Autism All-State Weekend Festival on March 16 and 17 at West Orange High School in New Jersey.

For the past two seasons, Bross has organized the New York vs. New Jersey Charity Challenge, which pitted All-Star squads from the neighboring states against each other in a dual meet to raise money for autism causes.

With the success and excitement around this “Border War” in recent years, the event was expanded in 2013. On Saturday, the teams from the Garden and Empire States will battle squads from Michigan, New England and Delaware. (For the schedule, see below).

While there is sure to be some great competition in those Saturday duals, the main event will take place on Sunday when New York and New Jersey do battle at 1 p.m..

Every wrestler taking the mat for Team New York for the feature dual has been a state champion, with 14 of the 15 capturing gold medals at the Times Union Center in 2013. (Another three champions and seven silver/bronze medalists will compete on Saturday). In all, 10 different sections will be represented.

Needless to say, the list is an impressive one (see below for details). After all, state pride is on the line and New York is determined to beat the Jersey crew for the third straight year.

Sisti, Photo by BV

“The event has been very well received,” Bross said. “Most of the guys were really excited to be invited to be a part of it. It should be a great dual because I know losing two years in a row doesn’t sit very well with New Jersey. Last year, they expected to beat us and it didn’t go that way. I expect them to have a ferocious team and you can see that New York will be well represented. I think you’ll see a battle at every weight.”

While the rivalry and the opportunity to wrestle high-level competition prior to the upcoming National tournaments are significant, the weekend’s events will serve another important purpose – to raise money for charity.

“This year’s beneficiary is Autism New Jersey,” Bross said. “What I like most about them is that they provide much needed facilitation for families impacted by autism to find the services they need. When Congress recently had hearings on autism, what struck them most was that most families are left to their own devices and have no idea what to do or where to look for services they need. Autism New Jersey really helps with that and provides great value. We’re happy to be raising money for them.” (For more information on Autism New Jersey, see http://www.autismnj.org)

Entry into the event will be a $20 donation each day. Those who attend will have the chance to participate in a clinic on Sunday with Lee Kemp at 10 a.m. and, of course, will see some top notch wrestling on both weekend days. That includes Round 3 of the New York vs. New Jersey challenge.

“The rivalry speaks for itself now,” Bross said. “Damion Logan from Apex is the Team Leader for New Jersey and he’ll put together a very good team. I have a hunch that the match will look like a Big 10 dual meet with the intensity of something like an Iowa vs. Penn State dual. That’s what we’re hoping for. Great action, great intensity, fire through every match. It should be fun.”

Team New Jersey will be updated when available.

Team New York for the Sunday event (and some Saturday matches) is:

99 Pounds: Yianni Diakomihalis (2013 State Champion, Hilton, Section 5)
106 Pounds: Kyle Quinn (2013 State Champion, Wantagh, Section 8 )
113 Pounds: Nick Piccininni (2013 State Champion, Ward Melville, Section 11)
120 Pounds: Alex Delacruz (2013 State Champion, Ossining, Section 1)
126 Pounds: TJ Fabian (2013 State Champion, Shoreham Wading River, Section 11)
132 Pounds: Tristan Rifanburg (2013 Runner Up, 2010 State Champ, Norwich, Section 4)
138 Pounds: Nick Tighe (2013 State Champion, Phoenix, Section 3)
145 Pounds: Louis Hernandez (2013 State Champion, Mepham, Section 8 )
152 Pounds: Corey Rasheed (2013 State Champion, Longwood, Section 11)
160 Pounds: Tyler Grimaldi (2013 State Champion, Hills West, Section 11)
170 Pounds: Adis Radoncic (2013 State Champion, RKA, PSAL)
182 Pounds: Shayne Brady (2013 State Champion, Carthage, Section 3)
195 Pounds: Dan Choi (2013 State Champion, Syosset, Section 8 )
220 Pounds: Rich Sisti (2013 State Champion, Monsignor Farrell, CHSAA)
285 Pounds: Mike Hughes (2013 State Champion, Smithtown West, Section 11)

On Saturday, the following wrestlers will also compete for New York (and more may be added):

113 Pounds: Dillon Stowell (2013 State Champion, Gouverneur, Section 10)
120 Pounds: Travis Passaro (2013 State Third, Eastport South Manor, Section 11)
126 Pounds: Keanu Thompson (2013 State Runner Up, Grand Street, PSAL)
132 Pounds: Sam Melikian (2013 State Third, Fordham Prep, CHSAA)
138 Pounds: Nick Kelley (2013 State Champion, Shenendehowa, Section 2)
152 Pounds: Rowdy Prior (2013 State Runner Up, Phoenix, Section 3)
152 Pounds: Joe Mastro (2013 State Third, Yorktown, Section 1)
160 Pounds: Steve Schneider (2013 State Runner Up, MacArthur, Section 8 )
170 Pounds: John Vrasidas (2013 State Runner Up, St. Anthony’s, CHSAA)
195 Pounds: Hunter Ayen (2013 State Champion, Gouverneur, Section 10)

Schedule of Events:

Saturday March 16th

Round 1 10:00 am Delaware (DE) vs New England (NE) and New York (NY) vs Michigan (MI)
Round 2 12:00 pm NJ vs NE and DE vs MI
Round 3 2:00 pm NY vs DE and NE vs MI
Round 4 4:00 pm MI vs NJ and NY vs NE
Round 5 6:00 pm DE vs NJ

Sunday March 17th

10 a.m. Feature clinic with Lee Kemp

1 p.m. The main event: New York vs. New Jersey

For more information, see Weekend Festival

Weekend Recap: Titles for Wantagh, Johnson City and S. Jefferson; Mayor's Cup and More News and Notes from Around the State

As the postseason draws closer, the action continues to heat up.  Over the past few days, fans were treated to previews of some of the key matchups we’ll see at state qualifiers in the coming weeks.  We also saw teams like Wantagh, Johnson City and South Jefferson pick up additional trophies, as well as a plethora of other results.  Here are some of the highlights (and more may be added):

  • Wantagh, the Empire State’s top-ranked squad, followed up titles at the Union-Endicott Duals and the Eastern States Classic with the Nassau County Dual Championship at Clarke High School on Saturday. The Warriors ended a dominant four match run with a 45-16 result in the championship match against MacArthur.


  • South Jefferson and Johnson City followed up dual meet crowns in Sections 3 and 4 with additional first place showings at the Frontier League and STAC tournaments, respectively.  Nearby, Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton stood atop the MAC while Holland Patent did the same at the Center States and Phoenix won the Liberty/Patriot League.


  • The Mayor’s Cup in Manhattan showcased the best the five boroughs has to offer.  State contenders such as Sam Melikian, Cheick Ndiaye, Andrew Psomas and Richard Sisti were overpowering champions, while Monsignor Farrell captured the team race.


  • West Seneca West edged Kenmore West at the Ken-Ton Invitational, where Renaldo-Rodriguez Spencer of Cheektowoga was once again dominant in taking the title.  Also in Section 6, Lewiston Porter won the Peter Rao Memorial Tournament with 138-pounder Dan Reagan notching MOW honors at 138 pounds.


  • At the Rockland County Championships, John Muldoon of Pearl River responded to his recent overtime loss to Anthony Calvano by taking the rematch.  A number of other Section 1 stars were on display at that event as well as the Super 16 tournament in Yonkers, where Fox Lane took top billing.


  • John Arceri of Huntington upended Eastern States Champion Chris Cuccolo to take the 99-pound crown at the Big Ten Invitational in Albany over the weekend. More details on that tournament which had representation from Sections 1, 2, 7, 9, 11 and from Massachusetts.  The final results are here:  Big 10 Results


  • It’s worth noting that Westhampton Beach captured a league title over the weekend with a win over Shoreham Wading River in Section 11. A few days earlier, the Hurricanes put themselves in position for the championship when they topped the state’s third-ranked dual team, Rocky Point, 31-28.  In addition to a pin by the state’s top ranked 106 pounder, Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach was propelled by a pair of upsets. Jake Martin upended Sean Ferguson at 220 while Pete Broccoli‘s victory over James Matias sealed the victory for the Hurricanes.  Both Ferguson and Matias are ranked in Suffolk County.


  • In addition, Brockport ended a big week with a 71-15 win over Lansing on the campus of Cornell University. According to head coach Mike Ferris, 113-pounder Barton Peters had a standout performance with a technical fall at 113 while Bobcats junior William Koll also was impressive at 126.  The triumph in Ithaca came a few days after the Blue Devils recorded their first victory over rival Spencerport in 28 years to seal a league title.

For more on some of these stories, read on:

Another Title for Wantagh . . .

Quinn, Photo by Josh Conklin

Wantagh has continued to win week in and week out.  The state’s top-ranked squad captured the Union-Endicott Duals, the team title at the Eastern States Classic and, on Saturday, the Nassau County dual championship.  The Warriors cruised through the event, beginning with a 51-18 pounding of Island Trees.  They followed with a 57-12 win over Division, a 50-18 semifinal result against Mepham and a 45-16 triumph in the finals against MacArthur.  Leading the way were wrestlers ranked among the top 8 in the state –  Danny McDevitt (170), Chris Araoz (126), Vinny Turano (132), Kyle Quinn (106) and James Corbett (182), who combined for eight pins and eight technical falls.

Johnson City Picks Up More Hardware

Williams, Photo by Josh Conklin

Johnson City followed up last weekend’s Section 4 Duals title with another crown – this time at the STAC.  The Wildcats piled up 232.5 points to outdistance runner up Vestal and third place squad Union-Endicott. Johnson City was propelled by four champions (Isaiah Colgan at 106, Joseph Hamdan at 145, Zach Colgan at 152 and Reggie Williams at 195) as well as silver medalists Tyler Brazinski (99), Nick Bidwell (138), Conner Halladay (160) and Dominic Taylor (170).

Vestal’s run was highlighted by 182-pound champion James Benjamin, a returning All-State wrestler who won his title by fall in less than 30 seconds.

Benjamin will be in the mix in Albany for another spot on the podium.  Also prominently figuring into the title picture at the Times Union Center will be two-time state champion Kyle Kelly.  The Chenango Forks star earned a pin in the 113-pound finals against returning state placer Jimmy Overhiser of Corning, who bumped up from his usual weight. Another clash of contenders happened at 126 pounds, where Kelly’s teammate Jake Green edged Ithaca’s Richie Burke, 3-2 in the tiebreakers.  Former state champion Tristan Rifanburg of Norwich also earned gold with a technical fall at 132 pounds.

For more results, see STAC here.

Also in Section 4 . . . BGA Takes the MAC

Also in Section 4, Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton won the MAC tournament at Unadilla Valley.  Leading the way for BGA were a trio of titlewinners, Jesse Griswold (132), Justin Cirigliano (138) and Mark Viviano (195).  Second place Unatego was very strong in the middleweights, boasting winners in three consecutive classes – Codie Nichols (145), Kevin Thayer (152) and Leland Slawson (160).

For more results, see here.

South Jefferson Keeps the Momentum Going

South Jefferson and General Brown have seen a lot of each other lately.  The Spartans won a regular season dual against the Lions and then defeated them again for the Section 3 dual meet title a few days later.  On Saturday, South Jefferson added another trophy with the Frontier League championship, won by over 30 points over General Brown.

Jared Carroll (99), Caleb Beach (106), Jon Crast (132), Daniel Smith (170) and Ryan Charlebois (195) took gold for South Jefferson while Nick Toutant of Indian River was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler after defeating Ryan Snow for the 126 pound crown.

For more results, see here.

Also in Section 3 . . . Holland Patent and Phoenix Victorious

At the Center States tournament, the top three teams finished within seven points of one another, with Holland Patent taking first, followed by Dolgeville and Canastota.  The top squad featured a pair of champions – Hunter Richard at 113 and Josh Langley at 220.

The state’s top ranked 182-pounder, Zach Zupan of Canastota, breezed to the championship with a pin, while his teammates Jesse Puchales (170) and Wyatt Albanese (195) also won titles.

In matches featuring wrestlers who could figure into the picture at the Times Union Center, Ilion’s Laken Cook picked up a 3-1 decision over Rome Free Academy’s Antonio DeLuco at 126 pounds. In addition, highly regarded 99-pounder Ryan O’Rourke of Adirondack won a 2-0 battle against New Hartford’s Kelan McKenna while his teammates Derek Spann (106) and Tyler Spann (160) were named the event’s Most Outstanding Wrestlers.  In a bout between previous state qualifiers, Tyler Spann edged Oneida’s Matt Fisher.

In the Liberty/Patriot tournament, Phoenix was first by a margin of more than 25 points. Nick Tighe dominated his way to the 138 pound crown while teammates Rowdy Prior (152) and Justin Rhodes (160) joined him on top of the podium.

For more results, see Center States and Liberty/Patriot.

West Seneca West, Rodriguez-Spencer Shine at the Ken Ton Tournament

The Ken-Ton Invitational included some of the best in Section 6, including Cheektowoga’s Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer.  The returning state runner up cruised through the competition at 132 pounds, including a technical fall, a first period pin and a 15-6 major over All-State grappler Cody McGregor of Tonawanda.  West Seneca West was the 7.5 point winner of the event over second place Kenmore West.

For more on the event, see here.

Reagan, Photo by BV

A number of other standouts from the same area took part in the Peter Rao Memorial.  Lewiston Porter grabbed top billing, with Lockport next.  Lew Port’s Dan Reagan earned MOW honors after two pins and a major on his way to the 138 pound title.  Other notable winners included Lockport’s Anthony Orefice, an All-Stater who stood atop the podium at 120 pounds.



 Rockland County Championships and Super 16 Feature Section 1 Standouts

Muldoon, Photo by Josh Conklin

In Section 1, a pair of tough tournaments took place over the weekend – the Rockland County Championships and the Super 16. Among the finals bouts that stood out at the RCCs was the 120 pound contest between Pearl River’s John Muldoon and Nanuet’s Anthony Calvano.  Muldoon avenged a recent overtime loss to Calvano with a convincing victory.  Just to reach the title bout, the Pearl River wrestler had to beat the very tough Blaise Benderoth of North Rockland.  Another intriguing contest took place at 138 pounds where Benderoth’s teammate Matt Caputo topped Colby Kash, 9-2.

Among the champions at the Super 16 tournament were multi-time state placer Drew Longo of Ardsley (138) and Yorktown’s Thomas Murray (182), who has had a very strong season.

For an in depth look at these events, see here.


 Who is the Best in the City? Mayor’s Cup Results

Who is the best in the City?  That question was answered this weekend as the best from the five boroughs gathered at the Armory in Manhattan for the Mayor’s Cup.

Monsignor Farrell was the overall winner with 225 points, with Brooklyn Tech second (212 points) and Poly Prep third (168).

Farrell’s victory was fueled by dominant performances from a number of champions.  At 160 pounds, Andrew Psomas earned a pin or a technical fall in all five of his bouts on the path to the title.  Similarly, teammates Richard Sisti (220) and Matt Roberts (182) won by bonus points in all but one of their matches on the way to first place. The final gold medalist for Farrell was 138-pounder Karl Weisner, who topped teammate Blaise Rufo, 7-4, in the championship tilt.

Brooklyn Tech was paced by upperweights Shaquille Williams and Kevin Tynes. Williams defeated Quasar Hampton 1-0 but otherwise stuck all of his opponents at heavyweight while Tynes recorded a trio of falls in addition to his 3-1 title victory at 195.

Melikian, Photo by Josh Conklin

Poly Prep’s Noah Malamut put on an impressive show, pinning his way to the top of the 106-pound podium.  Also demonstrating complete control were a number of wrestlers who competed in Albany last season.  These included returning state runner up Cheick Ndiaye of Brooklyn International at 113, Sam Melikian of Fordham Prep at 132 and Nigel Williams of Eagle Academy at 145.  A highly anticipated showdown between Tottenville’s Santo Curatolo and Grand Street’s Keanu Thompson didn’t come to fruition in the 126 pound final as Curatolo got the win by default.

For the full results, see here.

In the female competition, Curtis had champions in three consecutive weights – Leslie Schoberl at 120, Rosemary Flores at 126 and Shannon Henry at 132.

For the results of the girls competition, see here.

To report results, e-mail newyorkwrestlingnews@gmail.com

In Search of 'Jamel Hudson': CHSAA Looks to 2013 for the Birth of its Next Superstar (CHSAA Preview)



By Matt Diano

Returning Placewinners (2012 Weight):

106 Pounds: Freddie Dunau, St. Anthonys – placed fifth at 96 pounds in 2011; Went 1-2 in 2012 @106 pounds despite wrestling with a 100+ degree fever the day of the state tournament

Other Returning State Qualifiers (2012 Weight):

99 Pounds: John Twomey, St. Anthony’s

120 Pounds: Blaise Rufo Monsignor Farrell

126 Pounds: Sam Melikian Fordham Prep

160 Pounds: John Vrasidas St. Anthony’s

182 Pounds: Matt Roberts Monsignor Farrell

195 Pounds: Rich Sisti Monsignor Farrell


Breaking Down the Top Dogs

John Twomey – Expected to be at a loaded 106-pound weight class this season, it is hardly a foregone conclusion that the Friar upperclassman will make it back to Albany in 2013.  After having a very quiet freshman year in 2011 where he was not officially listed on the St. Anthony’s roster, Twomey had a breakout year last season, winning just under 30 matches and pretty much cruising to the Catholic state crown, going unscored upon in three matches to pitch the 32-0 shutout at the championship tournament.  In Albany, Twomey, who is also an accomplished submission grappler (having won or placed high at multiple NAGA tournaments) went 0-2, having the misfortune of running into the eventual fourth (Joe Calderone) and fifth (Bryan Lantry) placewinners in back-to-back matches.

Freddie Dunau, courtesy of St. Anthony's Facebook

Freddie Dunau – While there never is a sure thing in the sport of wrestling, Friar junior Freddie Dunau may be the closest thing the CHSAA has to it.  A two-time CHSAA champion/NYS qualifier entering his junior year, Dunau has gone untested in two years in the Catholic league, routinely winning all of his matches by bonus points.  Known for his unorthodox style that combines his passion for wrestling with his other athletic interest, gymnastics, Dunau has an uncanny ability to put you on your back in the blink of an eye.  His combination of arm throws and other common freestyle-like scoring maneuvers has drawn comparisons to former U.S. standout, T.J. Hill, who spent some time on the St. Anthony’s coaching staff a few years ago. A NYS placewinner as a freshman in 2011, Dunau was expected to be on the podium last season before the flu bug bit him at the wrong time, causing him to perhaps wrestle over-aggressively to account for a compromised gas tank. When at his best, Dunau is as dangerous as any wrestler in the Empire State.  While there is still some discussion as to whether he will go 120 or 126 in 2013, the consensus is that he will be a heavy favorite regardless.  Note: Competing in the international styles, Dunau is a two-time Double Cadet state champion, having won the gold in both FS and GR the past two years.  He is also a 2010 NYS Schoolboy Folkstyle state champion.

Blaise Rufo, Photo by Philip Rufo

Blaise Rufo – Winning his first CHSAA state title last season after posting previous finishes of second at 96 (2010) and fifth at 103 (2011), the Lion coaching staff has always been high on Rufo.  The younger brother of Gunnar Rufo, who was a two-time CHSAA state placewinner from 2008-2011, the Farrell staff always knew that Blaise was going to be the better of the brothers, dating back to his time as a wrestler at the Lions Club (Farrell’s youth program). Known for his deadly headlocks, when Rufo strikes, it usually means good night for his opponents. Making his first trip to Albany last season, the 2013 Farrell captain garnered a lot of experience, going 1-2, with one of the losses coming at the hands of eventual NYS runner-up, Brady Baron of Section 5. Now, the only real question is whether or not he will get the chance to utilize this experience, as a genuine concern is that he could be destined to run headfirst into Dunau in the CHSAA finals.

Sam Melikian

Sam Melikian- Joining Dunau as a two-time CHSAA champion, Melikian is like a fine wine, getting better with age.  As a sophomore, he was not the favorite on paper to advance to Albany.  However, apparently no one told him that as one by one, he notched the necessary three victories to punch his own ticket. He beat the Nassau/Suffolk league champion in the semis, before wrapping up his tournament by avenging a loss from a few weeks earlier in the NYC league finals by pinning his opponent (4x CHSAA state placewinner, Paul Schianodicola) in the title match.  As a junior, the word “unstoppable” best described the Ram student-athlete, as he rolled through the CHSAA state tournament, dismantling the competition to the tune of a second period pin and a 25-7 tally in two lopsided semifinal and finals bouts. A regular at John Degl’s Iowa Style Wrestling Club in Section 1, Melikian brings every ounce of that Hawkeye mentality with him to the mat, attacking every second of the match and gradually wearing down his foes.  Last year in Albany, this approach witnessed him just barely miss the podium, as he came a single victory short of finishing in the top-6, going 2-2 with his defeats coming to the wrestlers who went on to finish third and fourth, respectively. Now approaching his swan song, Melikian, who is being actively recruited by several top notch academic institutions (including an official visit to the Brown University campus a few weeks ago), seems intent on ending his scholastic career on a high note, hitting every tournament under the sun in an attempt to make himself all the more prepared for one final run at the NYS crown.  Thus far this off-season, Melikian has won the Summer Heat Tournament on Long Island, finished first in his pool at the Journeymen Challenge (beating a pair of 2012 Cadet GR All-Americans), and finished second at the Iron Horse Invitational in NJ.  Melikian will be favored at either 132 or 138 pounds this season.

John Vrasidas (pronounced Ver-Side-is) – The last of the 2x defending CHSAA champions, Vrasidas seems to save his best wrestling for when it matters most.  Considered a contender, but hardly the favorite the past two years (he entered the 2012 Catholic State tournament as the #4 seed despite being a returning champion), the Friar captain just finds a way to get the job done on center stage.  Now a senior and the consensus the favorite to win the 170-pound title, he goes from the role of the hunter to the hunted. Going a combined 3-4 in his two journeys to the state capital (1-2 as a sophomore at 152), Vrasidas would have likely found himself on the podium in 2012 if not for the fact that he had the misfortune of drawing 2011 State Champion/current Columbia University freshman Connor Sutton, in the placement round.  However, despite common knowledge that he enters 2013 as a sizeable favorite to yet again ascend to the top step, Vrasidas is showing no signs of resting on his laurels.  Much like his fellow two-timer, Melikian, Vrasidas is staying active during the offseason, winning his bracket at the Journeymen Classic two weekends ago.

Matt Roberts, Photo by Philip Rufo

Matt Roberts – If NYS titles were given out for guts, Matt Roberts would be Troy Nickerson.  A kid who wills himself to win, the Farrell senior fought off his back in the 2012 CHSAA state finals, rallying from an early 5-0 deficit to gradually fatigue his opponent and emerge with the come from behind victory.  It is this ‘never say die’ attitude that makes Roberts dangerous in any match.  Like any great upset story, when you watch a Roberts match,  you cannot help but think to yourself that if the opposition allows him to stay close, it’s going to be trouble.  Roberts is that thorn in your side that you never see coming.  Because his success relies a lot on his ability to push the pace and tire his opponents, it is not unusual to see Roberts lose to a particular opponent during the regular season (while in the midst of building his cardio to full capacity), only to see him control that same foe in February.  In a way, he reminds me of a younger, albeit larger, version of former 3x Conference Champion, Jon Bonilla-Bowman (Virginia Tech/Hofstra), in that unless you come prepared, he will seize victory from you in the third period. Roberts, who took fourth as a sophomore in the Catholic League, will defend his 182-pound title in 2013.  He will look to improve upon the 1-2 record he posted last season at the NYS tournament, losing to eventual state champion, Nick Bellanza in the first round, before being officially eliminated by the wrestler who went on to take fifth in the state.

Rich Sisti, Photo by Philip Rufo

Rich Sisti – Known by Farrell insiders as the Man Child, Rich Sisti was a legend in Staten Island before he ever even stepped foot inside the school.  This young man (only a junior) is so blessed physically that rumor has it that when he was in eighth grade, he and his family were having dinner at a fine dining restaurant and the server gave Sisti a wine list because she assumed he was over the age of 21. To say that this kid is shredded would be an insult to him. A better way to phrase it must to be to tell the truth, in the decade plus that I have been involved in the sport of wrestling, I sincerely cannot recall a high school junior being this defined. Oh, and by the way, aside from his Adonis-like appearance, the kid can also do work on the mat, a revelation easily seen when Sisti pinned his way through the 2010 NYS Schoolboy state tournament.  Placing third in the Catholic league as a freshman (former 2x Catholic State Champion/current Franklin & Marshall wrestler Paul Alessandrini was in his bracket), there was no sophomore jinx for Sisti in 2012 as he streamrolled the competition, replicating his performance from 2010 by sticking all three of his opponents (all before the third period) to secure his first birth to the NYS DI tournament.  Much like his teammates Rufo and Roberts, Sisti finished 1-2 in Albany, losing to the third and fifth place wrestlers.  However, rather than sulk over what might be considered a disappointing showing in his DI tournament debut, Sisti got back to work and the results paid off as he came a single victory away from making All-American at the 2012 FloNationals.  He followed up this strong effort by winning the NYS Cadet FS title up a full weight class at 220.  In fact, he was so dominant against his peers in Binghamton that rather than wrestle the Cadet GR tournament, he opted instead to enter the Junior Freestyle competition, where he finished fourth (forfeiting his medal match) with a decision victory over Jon Babson, the #4 seed at 220 pounds at the 2012 NYS tournament.  Two weeks ago, Sisti added top honors at the Journeymen Classic to his mantel. While able to make the cut to 195 pounds if need be, the belief at this point of the offseason is that Sisti, who figures into the equation at either weight class on the state level, will ultimately remain at 220 in 2013.

Who Will Break out And Make Their Debuts in Albany (lightest to heaviest)?

Christian Briody (Chaminade) – Briody is a student-athlete who many consider the co-best Flyer prospect since 2x Catholic State Champion/2010 NYS placewinner, Troy Sampson.  Before coming to Chaminade, Briody spent seventh and eighth grade wrestling for Locust Valley, qualifying for the DI sectional tournament twice, but failing to place as an undersized junior high student.  A pupil of former World FS Champion, Vougar Oroudjov at VHW, Briody entered 2012 as the potential favorite to win the 99-pound weight class.  Unfortunately, injury ended the fab frosh’s season before it even got started.  However, since returning to the mat this offseason, the now sensational sophomore is lending credence to why those in the CHSAA wrestling community were so high on him.  A winner of the 2012 Summer Heat tournament, Briody also notched a title at the Steeplechase Open and finished third at the Super-32 regional qualifier in Shippensburg, PA.  It was at these latter two events that Briody notched perhaps the biggest wins of his career to date, as he knocked off 2012 NYS DII state runner up Nick Casella by slim margins at both the Super 32 qualifier and the Steeplechase.  Adding a bit of humor to this situation is the fact that Casella is also from Locust Valley and actually defeated Christian’s brother, Patrick, in the 2012 Nassau County DII finals. Career note: Briody took fourth at the 2011 Schoolboy state tournament.

Ben Lamantia (St. Anthony’s) – Speaking of super sophomores, one that immediately comes to mind is Ben Lamantia.  A varsity competitor at Commack as an eighth-grader, before even starting high school Lamantia proved his worth, winning close to 20 matches.  That same year, he went on to win the 2011 NYS Schoolboy crown (in the same weight class as Briody). As a freshman, Lamantia placed third at 106 pounds, finishing behind Dunau and former 2x Catholic state runner-up, Jimmy Gill, who is currently wrestling for the College of New Jersey.  The tragedy of this bronze medal showing is that in almost any other year, Lamantia likely would have won the Catholic title.  However, just like Sisti in 2012, Lamantia now finds himself in the position to taste the glory of victory if he holds serve and wrestles up to his potential.  In fact, while it isn’t anyone’s intention to put unnecessary pressure on him, it would be accurate to say that not only is a CHSAA title expected in 2013, but so is placement in Albany.  With 113 shaping up to be one of the fiercest fields in the state, Lamantia will need to bring his “A” game to achieve the objective put before him.

Joe Russ, Photo by PhotoTrens

Joey Russ (St. Anthony’s)—The sentimental favorite of the entire Catholic league as a whole, I do not think words can accurately describe the love the CHSAA has for the Russ family.  In fact, on more than one occasion, I have referred to the Russes as the heart, soul, and backbone of the league.  The fourth of four brothers to compete in the CHSAA (all four making the CHSAA state finals at least once in their scholastic careers), Joey will be looking to become the third member of his family to hoist the hardware, joining Derrick (champion in 2003 at 103 pounds for Chaminade) and 3x Catholic champ/3x NYS placewinner, Stephen, who competed for St. Anthony’s from 2004-2007).  A sectional finalist the past two years, it is far from misleading to say that the youngest Russ could easily be a 2x champion at this point of his career if not for the fact that year after year, he runs into juggernauts.  As a freshman, he played second fiddle to his teammate Dunau, losing in the 96-pound finals.  Then, last season, his luck would be just as bad as he found himself in the same 113-pound bracket as 2x Catholic state champion/2x NYS placewinner, Pat Skinner of Kellenberg, who is now wrestling on the NCAA DI level at Rider. Given past history, the question on the minds of the masses is will 2013 be the year that Joe finally gets to make the journey to Albany?  To give a condensed answer, it all depends on what Dunau does.  With talk that Dunau may elect to stay at 126, the 120 pound weight class would be Russ’s for taking.  However, should his two-time defending champion teammate reconsider and make the cut, for the third straight year, Russ may find himself playing the role of bridesmaid.

Danny Jones (Chaminade) – The runner up as a sophomore in 2012 to Rufo, before there was Briody, there was Jones (a reference to the earlier mention of there being co-top prospects walking the hallowed halls in Mineola).  Jones, whose brother Mike was a multiple-time CHSAA placewinner despite battling injuries during most of his career, came to Chaminade with a well established reputation, having placed in fourth in Nassau County as a 103-pound eighth grader for Garden City High School.  But alas, just like his sibling, staying healthy has been a major issue for Jones, who missed the majority of his freshman year because of injury and then had to compete for the better half of 2012 with a facemask after suffering a broken nose.  Despite the fact that he is a returning CHSAA finalist, it is very feasible that we have not even come close to seeing the best that this young man has to offer.   Having spent the last few years working out at Ascend (with Craig Vitagliano) and VHW, if healthy, the world, and for that matter, the Catholic wrestling scene, may prove to be Jones’s oyster.  In speaking to a person with knowledge of the situation, the strategy being discussed would call for Jones to go at whatever weight (132 or 138) Melikian doesn’t.

Declan Gray

Declan Gray (Chaminade) – Once referred to by a former member of the Flyer coaching staff as “a true student of the sport whose depth of knowledge knows no bottom,” Gray heads into his final season at Chaminade looking to win the title that has escaped him thus far.  A fifth place finisher in 2011 at 140 pounds, Gray was on the cusp of a Catholic league title last season, tied at 2-2 with defending CHSAA champion Matt Szilagyi (formerly of St. Anthony’s; currently wrestling for West Virginia) and riding tough, inching closer and closer to backpoints.  And then, in an instant, it all fell apart as Szilagyi reversed Gray to his back for the fall. When you consider that a few weeks later, Szilagyi would go on to finish one victory short of the medal stand, this close defeat demonstrates that Gray is every bit in the mix for a top-6 finish in 2013.  A runner-up at the Summer Heat Tournament to returning Nassau champion/2012 NYS qualifier, Louis Hernandez, Gray will join Dunau, Briody, and Lamantia at the Super-32 tournament later this month.

Andrew Psomas, Photo by Philip Rufo

Andrew Psomas (Monsignor Farrell) – Joining Joey Russ on the all-sentiments team, if there is one person the NYC CHSAA wrestling contingent wants to see go all the way this season, it is the 160-pound senior, Psomas. In yet another example of “all in the family”, in 2009 Psomas’s brother Christian would enter the Catholic state tournament as a heavy favorite to win the 171-pound title and go to the state tournament.  But, as a testament to the phrase “matches are not won on paper”, the elder Psomas was upset in the finals.  Now Andrew, who was a 2011 CHSAA finalist before settling for third last season (lost to Vrasidas both years) finds himself in the same scenario as his big brother; one year left to get it done.  And, perhaps in what can be called a display of God’s sense of humor, the Psomas family is going to have a strong reminder of the 2009 heartbreaking loss as the Catholic finals will be contested this year in the same gymnasium (St. Francis of Buffalo). Will there be deja vu, or will four years of cruel memories be erased once and for all? The truth is that without a shadow of a doubt, Psomas is the most talented person in the weight class.  If he does what he is capable of doing, he will be a champion.  Unfortunately, herein lies the problem; if there is one weakness to polished game of Psomas, it is that he has shown a tendency to let nerves get the best of him, turning matches he’d normally win going away into headshaking, heart wrenching losses. On the bright side, after knocking off 2012 NYS DII qualifier, Austin Weigel (Section IX) in the finals of the Hudson Valley Challenge last weekend, the hope is that Andrew Psomas is now a new man who will deliver a new result come postseason.

Danny Fowler (Chaminade) – To be fair, his return to the mat is still very much in the rumor phrase.  In fact, none of the Flyer coaches have even mentioned him as being in the projected 2013 lineup.  However, a person from within has said that in the past few weeks, Fowler, a 2010 CHSAA placewinner as a freshman at 189-pounds, has recently dropped hints at a return after electing to forego his sophomore and junior seasons to focus on football and lacrosse (he is also an elite goalie who has committed to perennial powerhouse, Duke University).  A Schoolboy champion in 2009, it was the opinion of the populace that Danny had a much bigger upside than his older brother, Brendan (a former two-time CHSAA state champion who was the recipient of the Chaminade Student-Athlete of the Year Award as a senior), who came only one win short of placing in Albany at 215 pounds in 2010. A tailback/fullback on the Flyer varsity football team since sophomore year, Fowler is that rare specimen that is successful in everything he attempts; he is a great student, immensely gifted on the gridiron and a dominant force in the cage.  It is only because of this pattern of achievement that I would even consider a guy fresh off a two year absence a contender to win it all.  Aiding Fowler in his quest to add one more honor to his resume is the fact that with Sisti (who would be favored over Fowler) talking of a move up to 220 pounds, and 2012 195-pound Catholic bronze medalist, Peter Corbett (St. Anthony’s) considering sitting the 2013 season out to focus on other athletic pursuits, the weight class is not expected to be particularly deep, making it ripe for the picking. Of course, this all hinges on the rumors of a comeback being true.

Chris Alianakian (Kellenberg) – A much more natural 220-pounder last season, with 2x CHSAA champion, Andrew Auriemma (formerly of St. Anthony’s) commanding the weight class, the Firebird made the decision to roll the dice and take his chances as an undersized heavyweight.  The gamble would come close to paying off as he navigated his way into the finals behind a pair of pins.  Unfortunately, he would be unable to conquer that final challenge, falling in the finals. Originally, the conjecture was that the senior big man would likely drop down to 220 for his final year of scholastic eligibility.  But, now that Sisti is likely going to make the move up, Alianakian’s intentions may change as he would stand a much better chance of getting to Albany by remaining at 285 in 2013.  A football player (like most high school heavyweight wrestlers), MSG Varsity lists the returning finalist as 235 on the KMHS roster.  When you consider that the biggest obstacle in his path to a title is 2012 285 third place finisher, Mazen Hassan, who if possible has actually gotten larger in the past year (currently listed at 280), one has to wonder whether or not giving away so much size will prove detrimental to lone returning finalist for the Uniondale-based school. Last season, Alianakian did pin Hassan in both of their meetings (including the CHSAA state semifinals).

Impact Newcomers

Garrett Baugher (St. Joseph’s Collegiate)—A 30+ match winner last season wrestling as an eighth grader for Royalton-Hartland, Baugher took third in the Section VI DII sectional tournament in 2012.  Now a Marauder, the gifted lightweight just might be the guy who breaks the curse of five straight years without a CHSAA champion (last accomplished by a Taylor Golba at 96 pounds).  The key to making it happen will be for Baugher to effectively cut down to 99 pounds where his past credentials would make him if not the obvious favorite, at least a very heavily slanted contender.  Should his body not cooperate and force him to go 106, his title hopes will take a major hit, but on raw talent alone, he would be a high placewinner at the higher weight.

Matt Seitz (Monsignor Farrell) – A 2012 Schoolboy state bronze medalist, Seitz has had the Farrell coaching staff excited for the past several years.  A work out warrior, the fantastic frosh routinely makes the trip across the bridge to NJ to hone his skills at the famed Apex Wrestling Club.  In addition, so committed to winning are he and his family that a little over a year ago, arrangements were made to have former Penn State wrestler/2008 NCAA All-American Mark McKnight spend time working as a private coach for the talented youngster.  An almost surefire lock to have placed at the 2012 CHSAA tournament if rules allowed for junior high students to compete for their neighborhood private school, Seitz will bring to the Lions a certain lightweight firepower that they have not had in their lineup since 2010 when both Rufo and Schianodicola were Catholic finalists at 96 and 103 pounds, respectively.  Recently, he proved he was ready to make an immediate impact when he went toe-to-toe with Casella at the Steeplechase Open, dropping a very narrow decision to the returning DII state finalist.   While 106 is hailed as a very deep weight class (Twomey and Briody leading the way), Seitz possesses the skills to make serious noise.  He is a definite top-4 guy at his weight class, and If he gets on a hot streak at the right time, could feasibly ride the wave all the way to Albany.

Laine Cammarata (Monsignor Farrell) – A fellow Schoolboy medalist, taking fourth at 112 pounds, Cammarata will be called upon to score as many points as possible at 113 pounds this season.  While coaches feel he may still be a year away from hitting his stride and becoming the monster that they think he can be, for the time being, they will be content with a solid performance, comparable to the effort they have always been able to get out of their youngsters.  A Lions Club member for a number of years, what will assist Cammarata in making the transition from youth wrestling to the scholastic level is that he has been around the program for as long as he can remember. He knows the system and has seen those that came before him go on to great things.  There is no replacement for the confidence of knowing that you are in a top program that has proven year upon year that it knows how to properly cultivate talent and turns projects into titlewinners.

Team Race:

1. St. Anthony’s – Until someone knocks the three-time defending team champions off the throne, St. Anthony’s has to be considered the team to beat heading into every new season.  A caveat to this is the knowledge that the team was hit hard by graduation in 2012, seeing the likes of NYS champion Jamel Hudson (now at Hofstra) and aforementioned fellow 2012 Catholic champs, Szilagyi and Auriemma, also move on to bigger and better things.  A fourth significant loss comes in the person of 2012 126-pound bronze medalist, Sam Ward, who after having a solid freshman campaign, elected to return to his home district of Locust Valley to finish out his scholastic career.  What the graduations and defections have resulted in is a team that has a bit of a bipolar identity with a mixture of superstars at some stops and holes at others.  Depth wise, with 11 returning All-Catholic wrestlers (not including Corbett who may or may not compete in 2013) from 99-170, the Tony Walters-led Friars look solid, anchored by Will Gutekunst (second at 99 in 2012), Twomey,  Lamantia,  Russ,  Dunau, Nick Ronan (2x CHSAA third place finisher), Kevin Jackson (former NYS Schoolboy state runner-up, who placed fourth last season at 138 pounds), and Nick Alessandrini (brother of Paul, was a 2009 NYS DII qualifier as an eighth grader for Southampton and finished fourth in 2012 at 145).   From 182-285, there is much mystery as the coaching staff will attempt to fill out the heavier weights (220 & 285) with football players.

2. Monsignor Farrell – 2013 brings with it the beginning of a new era for the Staten Island-based school as after years of quality service, head coach Louis DeStefano stepped away to focus on family and career.  Assuming the reins of the NYC Dynasty will be Rob Pavis and Phil Squatrito, who despite being assistants in name up to this point have had a hand in every iota of the success the past decade. With a trio of returning Catholic state champions to counteract that of the rival Friars, what makes Farrell so dangerous is that the team is steady, if not spectacular, at almost every weight.  It’s not always the champions or finalists that bite you, instead the squad kills you in tournament play by finding a way to put someone on the podium at all 15 weights.  This season should be no different as Rufo, Roberts, and Sisti will be complemented by presence of Ralph Maio (fourth last season at 113 pounds), 2012 132-pound runner up, Will Wilson, the previously mentioned Psomas at 160, the Big Daddy Hassan at the backend, as well as a wealth of other veterans who have either not yet made the podium, or who are expected to improve upon low finishes in 2012.  Seitz and Cammarata will headline the surge of young blood.

3. Chaminade – After an unmatched run of six straight Catholic team titles (2003-2008), the past five years have seen a bit of the changing of the guard as the Flyers, led by Hall-of-Famer George Dlugolonski, have not finished higher than third in the team standings the past five years, falling as far as sixth (2011) before rebounding a bit with a fourth place showing last year. Might 2013 be the year that the mighty return to the top?  The answer is that it all depends on how well the team fares in its attempt to remain injury free.  With its strongest group of upperclassmen in quite some time, Chaminade has every reason to believe that with a few breaks and clutch performances, it will be in contention at the end.  Setting the table for the Marianist religious order-affiliated school will be Jones and Gray, who both saw an opportunity to go to Albany slip through their fingers last season.  Joining them among those to watch will be 2x CHSAA placewinner/fourth in 2012 at 106 pounds, Matt Maffucci, as well as returning Catholic placewinners, Connor Watson (fifth at 170), and Charles Pederson (third at 220).  Factor in the return of Briody and the possible relaunch of Fowler 2.0, and all of a sudden you have a team that could crown upwards of four individual champions.  Joseph Boccardo, a title contender at 99 points in 2012, who missed the postseason after suffering an injury late in the regular season, will also be in the equation to do damage, having beaten Seitz at the Steeplechase Open.

4. Kellenberg – Another school hit hard by graduation, the Chris Alfalla-led Firebirds will have to adjust to life without Pat Skinner, as the program’s most decorated athlete has taken his talents to the college ranks.  If Skinner had been the only prominent departure, KMHS would be in solid shape.  Unfortunately, Kellenberg also lost the services of fellow 2012 champion, Matt Matouzzi (145), as well as a quartet of Catholic finalists — Chris Federlin (126), Evan Lenci (160), Matt McDaniels (182), and Dan Centeno (195). With a plethora of experience having left the stable, the onus will fall on the four returning All-Catholic wrestlers that do return, spotlighted by the lone finalist, Alianakian, and reinforced by Joe Crowley  (third at 145), Will Hallett (fifth at 138), and Tim Davison (fifth at 152).

5. St. Joe’s Collegiate – After stepping aside for a short time, ring leader Pete Kennedy is back at the helm and he is bringing with him a team that might lack the overall ammunition to win the team title, but will have the heavy guns to do damage and play a significant role in which of the teams above does claim the top spot. The landing of impact freshman Baugher does give the Marauders a serious title threat and, where there is a title, there is an abundance of points.  Adding to the spark that the rookie will bring to the lineup will be a trio of returning placewinners, Travis Berube (sixth at 126), sophomore extraordinaire Richie Jones (fifth at 145; just missed All-America honors at the 2012 NHSCA National tournament), and Mike Weilgas, who took home a solid fourth place finish at 220 in 2012. With the majority of the guys who finished ahead of them at their respective weights having graduated, there is reason to be optimistic about Baugher having some company among the potential finalists.

More Season Previews:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 9 Preview


Season Preview Feature (more to come):

Section 1 Feature:  Aslanian and Realbuto, All-State Wrestlers and Workout Partners, Seek to End Their Careers on Top of the Podium

Section 5 Feature: The “Miracle” Continues: The Return of Aaron Paddock


Piccininni, Muldoon Win Titles at the Iron Horse Invitational; Fabian, Melikian, Almaviva and McDevitt Take Second

Photo by Boris V

For Nick Piccininni, it was just another undefeated weekend.  There have been quite a few of those recently for the 2012 state champion from Ward Melville as he went 4-0 in South Plainfield, New Jersey to capture the title at the Iron Horse Invitational.  Among his victories were a major over New Jersey qualifier John Amato and a 1-0 decision over Garden State placer Craig DeLaCruz.  The performance was a continuation of a dominant month for Piccininni, which included a title at the Journeymen Classic last Sunday, an unblemished record at the Waterway Duals (while wrestling up a weight) and a dominant championship at the Super 32 Qualifier in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.  He’ll try to keep the momentum going at the Super 32 tournament in North Carolina in a few weeks.

Piccininni wasn’t the only champion from the Empire State at the Iron Horse.  Pearl River’s John Muldoon won gold in his bracket after going 4-0 against opponents from New Jersey.

In a round robin tournament loaded with state champions and placers, four New York grapplers took second.  A week ago at the Journeymen Classic, Shoreham Wading River’s TJ Fabian won each of his matches by pin while taking second behind New Jersey medalist Anthony Giraldo.  On Sunday, it was a similar story.  Fabian pinned three of his opponents in South Plainfield while losing a tight, 3-1 bout to Giraldo to take the silver.

Also competing last weekend at the Journeymen Classic were Fordham Prep’s Sam Melikian and Shenendehowa’s David Almaviva.  Both followed up with second place performances in New Jersey.  Almaviva cruised past Garden State foes Max Elling and Collin Boylan and won a close one over fellow New Yorker Thomas Dutton, 3-1 in overtime.  His only setback was a 2-1 bout in the tiebreakers against Florida’s Aaron Hartman.  Melikian also notched a 3-1 record topping a trio of New Jersey wrestlers by a combined score of 24-7 while dropping his match with Sean Glasgow.

Wantagh’s Dan McDevitt and Joshua Ugalde both completed action with a 3-1 mark in their upperweight bracket, however, Ugalde tallied more bonus points during the day to secure the title.  McDevitt, who finished fifth at the state tournament in 2012, outscored his opponents 23-4 in his three victories.

Taking third place for New York were: Wantagh’s Chris Araoz (including a victory over New Jersey placer and nationally ranked Zack Hertling), Rocky Point’s Thomas Dutton and Shenendehowa teammates Nick Kelley, Levi Ashley and Zach Joseph.  For full results, see below:


Fifth Place: Vinny Skokos, Nanuet (Bracket 3)

Mike Russo (NJ) dec Skokos, Nanuet, 7-5 OT

Max Nauta (NJ) pin Skokos, 2:39

Tyler Casamenti (NJ) dec Skokos, 4-2

Brian Damon (NJ) over Skokos, forfeit


1st Place: Nick Piccininni, Ward Melville (Bracket 5)

Piccininni dec Matthew Lattanze (PA), 6-4

Piccininni over Blake Retell (NY), forfeit

Piccininni over Craig DeLaCruz (NJ), 1-0

Piccininni major John Amato (NJ),10-2


Fifth Place: Blake Retell, Shaker (Bracket 5)

Matthew Lattanze (PA) dec Retell, 1-0

John Amato (NJ) dec Retell, 6-2

Retell forfeited vs. Piccininni and DeLaCruz


Fourth place: Travis Passaro, Eastport South Manor (Bracket 9)

Dave McFadden (NJ) dec Passaro, 3-2

Sal Profaci (NJ) dec Passaro, 8-3

Kyle Brady over Passaro, forfeit


1st Place: John Muldoon, Pearl River (Bracket 11)

Muldoon dec Devon LaFranco (NJ), 5-1

Muldoon major Mike DeFaria (NJ), 13-3

Muldoon dec Tommy Gattinella, 4-3

Muldoon over Mike Van Brill (NJ), forfeit


2nd Place: TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (Bracket 12)

Fabian pin Joe Kratochvil (NJ), 1:20

Fabian pin Troy Shaafsma (NJ), 2:55

Fabian pin Billy Ward (NJ), 1:26

Anthony Giraldo (NJ) dec Fabian, 3-1


3rd Place: Chris Araoz, Wantagh (Bracket 14)

Scott Delvecchio (NJ) pin Araoz 3:57

Mike Pongracz (NJ) dec Araoz, 2-0

Araoz dec Zack Hertling (NJ), 4-0

Araoz major Ryan Burkert (NJ), 19-4


2nd Place: Sam Melikian, Fordham Prep (Bracket 16)

Melikian dec Joe Tavoso (NJ), 10-3

Melikian major Vin Carriddi (NJ), 9-1

Melikian dec Matt Barber (NJ), 5-3

Sean Glasgow (NJ) dec Melikian, 11-6


3rd Place: Nick Kelley, Shenendehowa (Bracket 18)

Kelley pin Miguel Calixto (VT), 4:20

Kelley pin Spencer Carey (NJ), 3:24

Troy Heilmann (NJ) dec Kelley, 10-7

Brian Hamann (NJ) dec Kelley, 3-0


3rd Place: Zach Joseph, Shenendehowa (Bracket 19)

Joseph over Tyler Kozimor (NJ), forfeit

Joseph over Jesse Thorsen (NJ), forfeit

Gary Dinmore (NJ) major Joseph, 13-1

Joseph Grello (NJ) dec Joseph, 10-3


2nd Place: David Almaviva, Shenendehowa (Bracket 20)

Almaviva dec Collin Boylan (NJ), 5-1

Almaviva dec Thomas Dutton (NY), 3-1 OT

Aaron Hartman (FL) dec Almaviva 2-1 tb

Almaviva major Max Elling (NJ), 10-0


3rd Place: Thomas Dutton, Rocky Point (Bracket 20)

Aaron Hartman (FL) dec Dutton, 4-3

Almaviva dec Dutton, 3-1 OT

Dutton major Max Elling (NJ), 11-1

Dutton pin Collin Boylan (NJ), 1:22


2nd Place: Dan McDevitt, Wantagh (Bracket 24)

McDevitt dec Nick Carey (NJ), 7-2

McDevitt dec Zach Spira (NJ), 6-0

Joshua Ugalde (NJ) dec McDevitt, 2-0 OT

McDevitt dec Colin Barber (NJ), 7-2


3rd Place: Levi Ashley, Shenendehowa (Bracket 27)

Ashley dec Austin Price (VT), 7-4

Ali Yildiz (NJ) major Ashley, 10-1

Nathan Bueno (NJ) dec Ashley, 5-2

Ashley dec Matt Correnti (NJ), 10-4

Returning State Placers McDevitt, Fabian, Calderone and Hughes Among the Champions at the Ken Lesser Memorial Long Island Summer Heat



For videos of the event, see the link: videos

Photo by Phototrens, http://www.phototrens.com

In February, Wantagh’s Dan McDevitt took the mat at Hofstra at the Section 8 Championships, winning the Nassau crown and a berth to the State tournament at 138 pounds.

This weekend, McDevitt once again wrestled on the Pride campus and earned a spot on the top of the podium.  However, this time at the Ken Lesser Memorial Summer Heat event, he did it in a class 35 pounds heavier.

“I’m just growing and lifting,” McDevitt said.  “I still have plenty of room to grow.  I’m almost six foot now.  I’ve gained about 40 pounds from when the season ended.  I’m just eating and enjoying myself.”

The rising senior enjoyed himself on Saturday as well as he won a loaded weight that had multiple county champions and placers, including Nassau’s first and third placers at 152 (Dan Tracy and Steven Schneider) and Mattituck’s Tomasz Filipkowski, who was one round from medaling at 170 pounds in Division II, among others.

“The 173 bracket was pretty tough,” said event director Steve Meehan. “McDevitt wrestled well and had a very impressive tournament.”

He began with a 5-0 victory and pin before notching a 10-4 decision over Daniel Grabher in the semis.  The Warrior finished strong, defeating Tracy 10-1 to take the title, which he hopes will catapult him toward his goal of winning a state championship at the Times Union Center in 2013.  The question is, at what weight class?

“As of right now, I’m really not sure,” McDevitt said.  “It’s really up in the air completely.  If the season started tomorrow, I could get down to 52.  But I’m really looking to go 70.  But if I don’t get up to 185 or that range, I really don’t know if that’s reasonable given the size of my competitors.”

There was a large group of strong competitors at the event on Saturday across the weights, with around 280 total wrestlers entered in the high school and open divisions.

“The turnout was pretty good and we ended around the time we expected,” Meehan said, adding that an eighth mat might be added in 2013.  “Having it in an air conditioned building was a plus.  We originally called it ‘Summer Heat’ because it used to be in high school gyms which were very hot.  I think all in all, it was a pretty good success and we saw some very good wrestling.”

One source of that good wrestling was TJ Fabian, who like McDevitt, was on the podium at the state tournament last year (fourth at 120).  The Shoreham Wading River rising senior was in control throughout the day, cruising to the 135-pound championship with two pins, a technical fall and a major.

“Fabian had a really good year last year and he should make some noise at the states again this year,” Meehan said.

Two other wrestlers who made some noise last year at states earned gold on Saturday.  At 116 pounds, Whitman’s Joe Calderone recorded three pins in four matches and at heavyweight, Mike Hughes of Smithtown took the title with a pair of falls.

Several other NYPHSAA qualifiers grabbed first place on Saturday, including Louis Hernandez (Ascend), who dominated in the 155-pound bracket, outscoring his opponents 52-15 during the day.   Meanwhile, Sam Melikian, wrestling for Iowa Style, had one close match – a 4-3 victory over Conor O’Hara of Sachem East – but otherwise won only by bonus points on his path to the 141-pound crown.

Melikian wasn’t alone.  Several champions racked up significant bonus points on their path.  Registering two or more pins were Jesse Dellavecchia at 102, Chris Cataldo at 129, Brendan Dent at 148, Carlos Toribio at 185 and Kevin Tynes at 223.  Also winning titles with some bonus wins were Christian Briody at 109, Joseph Russ at 123 and Chris Chambers at 198 and Christopher Plutchok at 163.

In addition to the efforts on the mat, Meehan mentioned the key role of the many volunteers who helped to make the tournament run smoothly.  Their work exemplified that of the tournament’s namesake, Ken Lesser.

“The tournament is named for [Lesser] for a number of reasons but a big one is because of the pure volunteer that he was,” Meehan said. “The first words out of his mouth were always, ‘what can I do to help?’  He helped his own school and Long Island wrestling so much.”

For the top three placers in each weight, see below.

For full brackets for the High School Division, see this link.

For full brackets for the Open Division, see this link.

For videos, see videos

Championship Matches and Third Place Finishers

102 Pounds: Jesse DellaVecchia (East Islip) over Chris Martorello (VHW), 8-3

Third: Brett Brice (Longwood)


109 Pounds: Christian Brody (Chaminade) over Christopher Meloni (SWR), 4-2

Third: Matt Stallone (Sachem North)


116 Pounds: Joe Calderone (Whitman) over Evan Corso (X-Cel), Fall

Third: Ben Lamantia (VHW)


123 Pounds: Joseph Russ (VHW) over Simon Greebel (Ascend), 4-3

Third: Jack Taddeo (SWR)


129 Pounds: Chris Cataldo (Five Star) over Marshall Winston (St. Anthony’s), 7-6

Third: Tyler Walsh (West Islip)


135 Pounds: TJ Fabian (X-Cel) over Vinny Turano (Wantagh), 9-0

Third: Michael LaNasa (Plainedge)


141 Pounds: Sam Melikian (Iowa Style) over Alex Ynoquio (Beat the Streets)

Third: Conor O’Hara (Sachem East)


148 Pounds:  Brendan Dent (Connetquot) over Matthew Haenel (VHW), 6-1

Third: Kevin Jackson (Ascend)


155 Pounds: Louis Hernandez (Ascend) over Declan Grey (VHW), 13-4

Third: Richie Luxmore (Hogwarts)


163 Pounds:  Christopher Plutchok (Wantagh) over Michael Vespe (Ascend), 9-4

Third: Paul Gernavage (West Babylon)


173 Pounds: Dan McDevitt (Wantagh) over Dan Tracy (Ascend), 10-1

Third: Steven Schneider (VHW)


185 Pounds: Carlos Toribio (Beach Boyz) over Johnny Vrasidas (St. Anthony’s), 4-0

Third: Matt Goulbourne (Central Islip)


198 Pounds:  Chris Chambers (East Islip) over Gio Santiago (Sachem North), 17-4

Third: Jake Horton (Pat-Med)


223 Pounds: Kevin Tynes (Brooklyn Tech) over Endy Nunez (Clarke), Fall

Third: Nicholas DellaPace (Nesconset)


288 Pounds: Mike Hughes (Smithtown) over Lester Enriquez (Hewlett), Fall

Third: Dan Hayden (East Islip)


Open Division

Weight Class 1:

Champion: Andrew Petroulias (Westhampton)  2nd Place: Jonathan Reyes (West Babylon)

Weight Class 2:

Champion: Robert Ferrante (Team Tugman)  2nd Place: John Lanzillotti (Ohio State)

Weight Class 3:

Champion: Davon Russell (Global)  2nd Place: Adam Troy (Huntington)

Weight Class 4:

Champion: Blake Fisher (Seaford)  2nd Place: Sean Messina (Hunter)

Weight Class 5:

Champion: Joe Cataldo (Five Star)  2nd Place: Clint Bodo (New Hyde Park)

Weight Class 6:

Champion: Colin Gironda (Franklin & Marshall)  2nd Place: Patrick Argast (Belmont Abbey)

Weight Class 7:

Champion: Gregory Martin (Kings Park)  2nd Place: Ryan Kelly (Power)

Weight Class 8:

Champion: Brian Slattery (Mount St. Vincent)  2nd Place: Michael Karbowiak (Crossfit)