Hector Colom, Dylan Ryder and Ivan Garcia Finish in the Top Four at the Suplay Kickoff Classic in Tulsa

BY MATT DIANO

With the start of the 2013-2014 high school season right around the corner, a quartet of Empire Staters would make the trek all the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma to compete in the 2013 Suplay Kickoff Classic.  When the dust had settled after two fierce days of battle, three-fourths of the New Yorkers would find themselves in the top-four as Hector Colom would take second and Dylan Ryder would emerge with a third place finish in the 15 & Under division while youngster Ivan Garcia would claim a strong fourth in 10 U competition.

Ryder, a Candlewood resident who was representing the 631 Elite Wrestling Club, would post five wins at 75 pounds. He began with a defeat at the hands of the eventual champion, Kyle Biscoglia of Iowa, in the opening round of the tournament.  (Biscoglia is Flo’s #42 overall junior high prospect and was second at the 2013 Super 32 Middle School Tournament).  Up against a proverbial wall, finding himself in the consolation bracket a lot sooner than he is accustomed, the young Suffolk County stud would respond in a big way, pitching the 7-0 shutout over Oklahoman Spencer Edwards, and then following it up with back-to-back pins in a combined 3:37 against five-time Georgia Kids State Champion, Trevor Burdick (2:59) and 2013 Ohio Junior High State qualifier, Kyle Ryan (0:38).  In the consolation semifinals, Ryder would keep the momentum going, jumping out to a 5-0 lead before surrendering a late takedown to win 5-2 over 2013 Ohio Grade School State Champion, Gabriel Tagg.  In the bronze medal bout, Ryder would be in control from the opening whistle to the final buzzer, recording the only points of the match in a 5-0 decision over Pennsylvania’s Brandon Seidman. (He would lose his true second bout to Malik Heinselman).

Like Ryder, Hectom Colom’s tournament would begin on a bit of a sour note as he too would find himself on the short end of a decision (3-1) in the first round.  In a 101-pound match versus the host state’s Colton Denney, the Dunkirk eighth grader created multiple scramble positions in the third period in an attempt to even the score with a takedown.  To the credit of his foe, Colom would be unable to get himself sufficiently untangled to score the much needed points.  This hard fought loss would be the only one of the weekend for the Buffalo Wrestling Club representative as he would go on to utilize his excellent skills from the top position to reel off seven consecutive wins. Commencing his comeback effort with a 15-0 technical fall over Kansas’s Dante Rodd, Colom would find himself in a bit of a dogfight in his next bout against another opponent from the Jayhawk State, two-time Youth State placewinner (2nd in 2012; 3rd in 2013), Kaj Perez.  With the score all deadlocked at two apiece heading into the third period and Perez having choice, the New Yorker would come up clutch, breaking the tie with a tilt for three near-fall points.  This would prove to be the difference as he would ride out the full 90 second duration to advance with the 5-2 decision. Colom would have a much easier time of it in his next match, dominating Derek Holschlag to the tune of a 4-0 decision.  The runaway train of success would refuse to stop in the consolation quarterfinals when Colom earned a third period reversal to get a 6-4 win over 2013 Missouri Kids bronze medalist, Jackson Henson.

In the consolation semis, a rematch with Denney would await him.  However, unlike the first matchup, Colom would never allow himself to fall behind, fighting off a deep shot attempt in the first period, earning an escape in the second, and then riding out the entire third to walk away with the 1-0 decision.  In the third place match, it would be a case of déjà vu against New Jersey’s Christopher Cannon.  In identical fashion to his previous victory over Denney, a second period escape would be all Colom would need as he rode his way to victory, working a crab ride for much of the last 45 seconds and just missing near-fall on at least two occasions in the last half minute.

He then tackled one more challenge – a true second bout against Tanner Ward.  He emerged victorious in that contest by a 6-4 score to nab silver, a finish that caps off what has been an unbelievable offseason for Colom, as he adds this medal to the gold he won at the Journeymen Classic in September and the bronze he won in the Middle School division of the Super 32 tournament last month.

Last, but by no means least, would be Port Chester’s Ivan Garcia, who went 5-2 with both of his losses coming to the same opponent, California’s Alex M. Ramirez (3-1 decision in the quarterfinals; by fall in 2:27 in the third place bout).  Aside from his inability to master his rival from the West Coast, Garcia would cruise this weekend, using his excellent defensive skills to limit the offense of his foes. He would outscore his five victims by a cumulative tally of 22-2, beginning with 5-0 and 7-1 decisions in the first two rounds over Isaac Klinkhammer (2013 South Dakota Novice State runner-up) and Mitchell Mesenbrink (5th in the 2013 Wisconsin Kids State Tournament), respectively. Garcia would then shake off the disappointment of his first loss to Ramirez by going on a mini winning streak, beating back-to-back Arkansas wrestlers, Tristan Stafford (2-0) and Tripp Mays (1-0), before getting his hand raised one final time in the consolation semifinals, 7-1 over Jackson Eller.  The win over Eller would have to be considered one of the best of Garcia’s career when you consider that the former entered the tournament as a six-time ASICS/USA Wrestling Kids All-American in the international styles (including an Intermediate National Title in Greco-Roman in 2012).  While the weekend would end in defeat, there is no question that the Section I wrestler should be very proud of his effort as his top-4 finish here surpasses the sixth place showing he put forth last month at the Super 32 Tournament.

Tito Colom of Dunkirk was also in action this weekend, going 2-2 at 108 pounds.

For Full results, please visit Trackwrestling.com.

Moving to the Midwest: State Placer John Muldoon of Pearl River Selects SIUE

Pearl River’s John Muldoon was really excited to be first.

First for what? The first announced recruit at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville under new head coach Jeremy Spates.

Courtesy of John Muldoon

“That’s a pretty cool thing to be able to say,” Muldoon said. “It felt like a perfect time to go to SIUE. You’re going somewhere you know you’re wanted and you know they’ll be taking care of you.  Coach Spates has been around success wherever he’s been and I’m excited to help him build a program.”

Spates, an All-American at Missouri who recently was an assistant at Oklahoma and Cornell, took over the SIUE program a few months ago, just a year after the team moved into Division I.

Muldoon, who also considered schools like Sacred Heart, didn’t expect the Midwestern institution to be his destination when he began the recruiting process.

“Going in, I really didn’t think I would be going there,” he said. “But on my visit, I met the community and everyone was so friendly and nice.  They are putting so much time and effort into the wrestling program.  There is so much support academically and athletically and the coaches were great.  It’s a little far from home, but it just felt right. It felt like a perfect fit.”

In fact, Muldoon called his college decision the biggest accomplishment he’s had in wrestling to this point.

“Placing at the states [fourth at 120 pounds] was great, but finding a college that fits me is even better,” he said. “All the summers I missed out on vacations and hanging out with friends, all the work – it’s great to see it all pay off.”

It seems that it’s been paying off for years for the Pearl River senior.  As a freshman, he notched third in Section 1 after racking up close to 25 victories.  A year later at 113 pounds, he went 30-5, moving up to second in the Section behind [2013 state gold medalist] Alex Delacruz of Ossining. [It was a loaded bracket, as Dylan Realbuto of Somers, the state champion that season, took third in the Section].

Going into his 2012-13 junior campaign, Muldoon felt that he was ready to take a few more steps forward.

“Before last season, I had teammates, coaches, everyone telling me I could I compete at the highest level in the state of New York,” Muldoon said. “I started believing it myself.  I felt like the sky was the limit.”

He certainly followed through with a breakout year in another brutal weight in Section 1.  [Both the Division I and II state champions at 120 came from Section 1 and between the two divisions, four Section wrestlers placed in Albany].

“There were no slouches,” Muldoon said. “It was pretty cool to see how stacked it was at 120. You knew what to expect when you went to states after wrestling everybody.”

Muldoon said he believes many of those wrestlers will spread out among different weight classes in 2013-14 to make a stronger Section 1 squad at the Times Union Center.  But there’s one familiar opponent he welcomes another battle with this year.

“You could see another Muldoon-Delacruz matchup,” he said. “He might bump up to make it happen. That would make me happy – to get an extra shot at him.”

Muldoon took two of three contests from Delacruz in 2012-13, including a victory by disqualification on the way to a silver medal at the prestigious Eastern States Classic and a triumph in the Section 1 championship bout to earn his first title.

However, at the state tournament, Delacruz captured an overtime win in a semifinal bout on his way to the New York State crown.  Muldoon bounced back strong, winning his first consolation match and earning All-State honors with a fourth place finish.

This year, Muldoon plans to wrestle at 132 pounds, and while he has personal goals, he is focusing just as much on some other things he’d like to see happen before he leaves the Empire State for college.

“Pearl River hasn’t had a winning team record in a while,” he said. “For the coaches and everyone, this would be the year to do it.  I’d like to see more guys from Pearl River make names for themselves in the Section this year – I think we can be good county-wise.  I obviously also want to win a state title, for myself and also for my coaches. Last year, I thought I had a pretty good shot.  Knowing where I’m going to college, now I can focus on the state title. Before I go to SIUE, that’s another goal I want to knock off my list.”

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John Muldoon wanted to thank the Pearl River coaches — Grier Yorks, Billy Allison and Billy Donnelly — as well as the Pearl River alumni who helped to train him – Phil Donnelly and Matt Homenick.  In addition, he wanted to thank Bob Gullo, the Pearl River parents, all of the people that help out with the Michael O’Connell tournament, Athletic Director Mr. Santabarbara and of course, his parents.

From Shut Down to the Garden: Westchester Wrestling Ready to Grapple Again in 2013-14

Wrestling was back at Westchester Community College for the first time in quite a while.  And then, all of a sudden, the season came to an abrupt halt. The planned trips to national qualifying and then Nationals were no longer possible.

It began in the fall of 2012 for head coach Joe Regan and the squad, operating as a club team out of the student FSA (Faculty-Student Association) office.  Westchester performed well early on, in a tri-meet against Stony Brook and the University of New Haven and then at the Long Island Open and the New York State Intercollegiate ‘B’ event on the campus of Cornell University.

“We had basically three or four weeks to get the guys prepared for the New York tournament, so it was an accelerated process,” Regan said. “Our guys got beat, but were competitive. We had some top five placers at the Long Island Open. I was pretty satisfied with how they competed against a lot of Division I and Division III wrestlers.”

Next up was another tri-meet, this time against Mount St. Vincent and a Division III squad from Ohio.

“We didn’t have a full lineup but it was tough,” Regan said. “We got our butts kicked by the Division III team. We were winning against Mount St. Vincent before we got pinned in two straight matches and wound up losing.  It was frustrating.”

Regan and the Vikings went from being a bit frustrated about the results on the mat to a more significant frustration.

“What happened next – we basically were shut down by the institution because we were being run as a club and clubs needed a faculty sponsor,” Regan said. “It was awful, just terrible.  We were looking forward to going to NCWA [National Collegiate Wrestling Association] qualifying tournament and then the national tournament.  We saw Stony Brook do pretty well at NCWA nationals.  We beat them and I thought we had a couple of guys who could have been All-Americans.  But it was out of our control.  We weren’t allowed to continue.”

According to Regan, the group was determined to find a solution, but didn’t find success initially. In essence, the season was over for the Vikings.

“It didn’t look good for the continuing of our team as a club. There were all these roadblocks,” Regan said. “And then the athletic department called and said they would take us on.  I was flabbergasted. We were working with Adam Frank [the Director of Student Involvement] and he went to bat for us.  He thought we didn’t belong with the Spanish club and all the other clubs – we belonged in athletics.  The Athletic Director told us he didn’t have much of a budget for us, but we could be a part of the department. It was incredible.”

So, according to Regan, the team will return to action in 2013-14.  The Vikings will compete as part of the NCWA, but there’s a different long term plan.

“The next goal is to join the NJCAA [National Junior College Athletic Association] and field a great junior college program in the future,” he said.

Whatever happens next, Regan believes the team has been embraced the surrounding area.

“There’s good support behind us,” the coach said. “We’re excited this is happening for the community. Wrestling is popular in Westchester and Putnam counties and we also draw from Beat the Streets.  It’s a fantastic thing to have an opportunity for wrestlers here.  Not everybody is ready to stop wrestling after high school and only a small percentage go to Division I. With student loans going the way they are, you’ll see more and more kids going local.  Here, guys can go to open tournaments to wrestle Division I and Division III guys but in the end have their own national tournament.”

The nationals won’t be the only big event next season.  The Vikings will also have the chance to take the mat at the World’s Most Famous Arena for the Grapple at the Garden on December 1 alongside some of the country’s top teams.  [Westchester will battle Stony Brook in a dual meet].

“I don’t want to take one ounce of credit for making that happen,” Regan said. “It was all [Stony Brook head coach] Shaun [Lally].  He’s doing a fantastic job and I’m grateful that he wanted to include us as a part of that great event.  He had a good idea to promote local teams at the NCWA level at the Grapple at the Garden and obviously we’re very excited to be a part of it.”

Regan’s also excited about what the future holds.

“We have a lot of work to do,” the coach said earlier in the summer. “We need to recruit and fill some spots. But we have some very good wrestlers back too.”

Among the grapplers that Regan mentioned were David Rivera (149), Justin James (157) and Ray Ramos (174).

Regan had positive things to say about the performances of those wrestlers on the mat and about their development throughout the course of the year.  And, they were also significant in another way, according to the coach.

“Those guys were a huge part of pounding the pavement on campus, fighting for our survival,” Regan said. “They were completely essential in fighting the good fight.”

Regan also thanked Dave Colagiovanni and Dominick Oddo for their help and acknowledged all the work of Alex Yntriago, who worked with the program from the start with initial head coach Joe Boxer, originally as an assistant and heavyweight coach and now in some other capacities as well.

“Alex [Yntriago] has a history with some of the kids from the Beat the Streets program and does a really good job with his relationships in the New York City area,” Regan said. “He likes the promotion side of things and does very well for us in that regard too.”

“Promotions is something I do for a living,” Yntriago added. “I like to work on ways to get coaches and wrestlers interested. My objective is to expand the program by getting New York City hyped about it. I think this program can be a launching pad for New York City, Long Island and local kids. My efforts are also on teaching guys how to be champions in life.”

His efforts also may be spent on the mat, as Yntriago has a year of eligibility left and could compete at heavyweight this season.

So, after a dramatic year, Westchester looks forward to competing again.  Regan discussed a solid schedule, including events such as the Grapple at the Garden, meets with Yeshiva and Bergen Community College, an invitational at the University of Southern Maine and the New York State Championships at Cornell.

“We didn’t think we were having a team for a while, so to be where we are is fantastic,” Regan said. “We have a lot to look forward to here at Westchester.”

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Westchester CC is working to raise funds to continue moving the program forward. (For more information on how to help, see this link).

'Pack' Mentality: Yorktown's Joe Mastro Commits to North Carolina State

 
 
Joe Mastro went to the ACC wrestling tournament in March as a fan. He plans on attending in the future as well – but as a competitor.  

The Yorktown senior, a third place finisher at the Times Union Center in February recently committed to North Carolina State.

“It’s a great environment and a great school,” Mastro said, adding that he chose the Wolfpack over Duke and Air Force. “I’ve known Coach [Pat] Popolizio for a while and I think with Coach Beasley and Coach Kelly, NC State is going to do great things.”

Photo by BV

Mastro sees his future team as a group on the rise. His Yorktown squad was the same way during his career, led by the Class of 2013, which boasted a quartet of state qualifiers, including Mastro, Steven Sabella, David Varian and Thomas Murray. The program achieved new heights, including a runner up showing at the Section 1 tournament this year with three champions and a top 15 finish in the team race in Albany.

“This senior class has been together since eighth grade and we’ve been progressing ever since and moving our way up,” Mastro said. “It’s been exciting. We all want to see continued success of the program. We want to see the guys there now break the records we set.”

One of those marks certainly won’t be broken. Mastro will always be the first-ever state placer from the school, albeit by a thin margin.

“It’s funny because right after I took third, I ran over and my teammate Thomas Murray was just starting his [182-pound] match for third,” Mastro said. “I was the first placer, but it was pretty close – I probably got it by about five minutes.”

Given his bronze medal performance, Mastro also currently owns the best-ever finish in Yorktown history (Murray earned fourth). But it wasn’t easy.

In his first trip to the state tournament, Mastro said the nerves got to him in his opening bout with Konstantin Parfiryev of the PSAL. Before he knew it, he was in a 5-0 hole and despite a furious comeback, he dropped into the consolation bracket with a 7-5 loss.

But it didn’t take him long to turn things around.

“I had to regroup,” he said. “I loosened up and told my coach it was time to come back and take third. It was long and grueling, but I was able to get it done. I really turned it up and felt like I wrestled the way I should have in my first match. It was a total 180 from how I started. I had a short term memory about it and put a lot of points on the board.”

He definitely did.

First, a 17-1 technical fall, then a pair of major decisions over the number two and three seeds, Angelo Kress of Columbia and Zach Joseph of Shenendehowa.

Then, in the consolation semifinals, he met Dan DeCarlo of Port Jervis, a grappler who had beaten him at SUNY Sullivan in January in a close decision.

“I felt like I had controlled that whole match at the Eastern States,” Mastro said. “I had a 1-0 lead with about 10 seconds left and gave up a reversal. I really screwed up. I wanted to go out and prove that I was better than him and the first match was a fluke. I was excited to wrestle him again.”

His excitement showed as he blanked DeCarlo 5-0 to advance to the third place bout, where he captured his fifth straight contest with an 8-4 triumph over Johnson City’s Zach Colgan.

So he’ll enter NC State having finished his high school career on a high note. And he’ll join a growing number of New York grapplers heading to Raleigh.

“I’m definitely looking forward to the warm weather,” Mastro said. “But I think what’s really exciting is that I already know people down there. I’ve known [former Section 1 star and 2013 NCAA qualifier] Sam Speno for a long time and it will be fun to compete with him and some other guys from New York. It’s great that it will be a familiar environment even though it’s pretty far away.”

Who Has Earned Spots in Albany? Sectional Championship Results

 
 
For the results of the Sectional Championships around the state (by Section), click here.

For the list of qualifiers by weight class, click here.

We will update these as information becomes available.
 
 

Two-Time State Finalist Trey Aslanian of Edgemont Picks Princeton

Trey Aslanian, Photo by Boris V

The 2012-13 Princeton roster includes three New York wrestlers.

There will be at least one more next fall as Edgemont’s Trey Aslanian gave a verbal commitment to the Tigers on Thursday after also considering Harvard and Penn.

“Princeton is such a good academic school and that was important to me,” he said.  “But what really separated Princeton was that I fell in love with the coaches.  I felt really comfortable around them and I think they can take me to that next level.”

The Tigers have had recent success in the lower weight classes.  Last season, the squad sent Garrett Frey (125 pounds) and Adam Krop (141) to the NCAA tournament and in the offseason two-time NCAA champion Joe Dubuque joined the staff.

“It’s definitely a great environment for lightweights,” he said, adding that he plans to compete at 125 pounds. “I loved the intensity that I saw.   What really stood out to me was that the team was like a family. Everyone is so close to each other yet they were able to push each other during practice.  I could see myself fitting in really well.”

The future Economics major said he’s happy to have made his decision so he can fully direct his attention to his goal of winning his first state title after making the podium in New York each of the past three seasons (in addition to earning All-America honors at Fargo).

“Now I can focus that much more on getting better,” he said. “I’ve been putting a lot of time in on the mat, rolling around with my brothers, [Cornell recruit] Dylan Realbuto and working with Vougar Oroudjov.  I’m just sharpening my skills, getting ready.”

He’s getting ready to make a run at the top of the medal stand at 120 pounds after taking second at 103 and 113 the past two campaigns.  And then, it’s off to New Jersey.

“I definitely want to thank my parents who have helped me every step along the way,” he said. “Also, [Princeton head coach Chris] Ayers, who has been very welcoming and has helped throughout the process. I’m really happy with my decision. Once I took my visit to Princeton, I knew it was where I wanted to be.”

For more on Trey Aslanian, see this article from earlier in the fall.

Somers State Champion Dylan Realbuto Selects Cornell

Dylan Realbuto, Photo by Boris V

The 2012-13 Cornell wrestling roster has three sets of brothers – the Bosaks, the Davids and the Scotts.  In the future, there will be at least one more to add as state champion Dylan Realbuto committed to join his brother Brian with the Big Red.  (Brian is currently taking a greyshirt year with the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club).

“Having Brian there was a big factor for me,” Dylan Realbuto said. “He never pushed me towards Cornell – he let me make my own decision.  But he always made sure to tell me that he would like if I came to Cornell too.  There were a lot of reasons for my decision.   I really like the school and the campus.  The entire feel I get when I’m there is great – it reminds me of home.  I also know that the training set up is really good.  There are so many good wrestlers between 125 and 141 to train with.”

Realbuto, who chose Cornell over Columbia and North Carolina State, said he plans to compete at either 133 or 141 pounds in college.

As for this season, Realbuto is shooting for a third straight appearance in the state finals in Albany.  As a 96-pound sophomore, he was the runner up to two-time champion Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks.  This past February, he grabbed the gold medal at 113 pounds in what might have been the tournament’s most dramatic ending.   Realbuto earned a takedown as time expired in the third period against previously undefeated Vincent Deprez of Hilton High to capture an 8-7 victory.

“There were four seconds left on the clock and we had a restart.  I remember thinking that I just couldn’t lose,” he said. “When we got on the starting line, I was nervous but I never doubted myself.  I thought I could win that title.”

He attributes part of that belief to Max Askren, who has coached him closely over the past few years.

“Max has helped me tremendously,” he said. “Before he got here, I talked about winning a state championship, but he made me believe it was really possible.  He inspired me to take my wrestling to the next level.”

He’s now striving to make it two titles in a row, either at 126 or 132 pounds.  Then, he looks forward to moving up to Ithaca.

“I’ve gone to visit Brian a couple of times,” he said.  “I was actually there this past weekend and then went up to Buffalo with him [for the Buffalo Invitational, where Brian took third, dominating in his victories and losing only to champion Josh Demas of Ohio State in multiple overtimes].  I think he wrestled well. Brian’s style hasn’t really changed much, but he’s improved so much over the past few months.”

Dylan Realbuto feels that he’s improved as well.  He looks to prove it not only at the Times Union Center in late February but at several events in the spring and summer.

“I want to win states again this year,” he said.  “But I also want to go to NHSCAs in Virginia Beach for the first time and win a title there.  Then I want to go and win Fargo.  I want to end my career ranked and as an All-American before I go to Cornell.”

For more on Dylan Realbuto, see this story, from earlier in the fall.

Max Askren Talks About Leaving New York to Train Full Time and His "Send Off" Clinic in Somers

Courtesy of University of Missouri

On his recent trip to Russia, Max Askren enjoyed taking in the culture and speaking Russian, one of the languages he studied in college at Missouri.  But even more, he enjoyed venturing back into international wrestling, including winning a silver medal at the Dmitry Korkin International at 84 kg in early October.  (He also went 1-1 at the Ramzan Kadyrov Cup).

Another significant part of the experience was the training he did with some of the Russian wrestlers in the week preceding the tournament.

“It’s amazing over there in Russia,” Askren said. “They’re professional wrestlers, getting paid good money to wrestle a couple times a day. That’s the sole obligation.  I realized how different it was from me.  I was running an academy, coaching and doing a little training on top of it, mostly with [former Section 1 wrestler and Penn greyshirt] Harrison Cook and some high schoolers in the area. I knew there would an adjustment period to wrestle with some of the top guys in the world, but I honestly felt pretty good.  It felt natural and I competed pretty well.”

His performance once again raised a question he had thought about after wrestling competitively at the Olympic Trials, where he went 2-2.  Where would he be if he trained full time?

Now, Askren is about to find out.

After spending the past two and a half years in Westchester County, coaching and running the Askren Wrestling Academy, Max Askren will be moving back to Wisconsin to join brother Ben with a strong focus on honing his freestyle skills.

“I’ve always wanted to train as much as possible,” he said.  “And I always wanted to be back with my brother.  Ben told me in May that he and his wife are expecting a baby and we talked about me coming back home.”

When he makes the move back to Wisconsin, he won’t only be working out with Ben, however.  He expects to spend two to three weeks of each month traveling to different locations, including the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs as well as training sites at Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan and West Point.

“I think I’m in a pretty good place with my wrestling,” he said. “It’s not like I’m way off base and need years and years of work to be competitive.  There’s no question I need to work hard and correct a lot of things, but I’m in the mix.”

Courtesy of University of Missouri

While the travel and the potential to move up the ladder excite him, deciding to leave Section 1 wasn’t easy.  In fact, Askren told his brother he would he coming back home in the early summer and then changed his mind more than once over the past few months before making the final call.

“It was a really difficult decision,” he said. “I met a lot of great people here and the wrestling community is really close.  The Realbutos [his host family] are like my family.  Dylan [Realbuto] has another year of high school and he’s like a little brother to me.  It will be really hard not to be here for him and a lot of the guys.”

Askren has unquestionably made an impact in the time he spent in the Empire State.  Numerous wrestlers talked about the strides they made at the Askren Wrestling Academy.  And his original mission was no doubt accomplished.  He first came to New York for a summer to teach freestyle.  A year later, his student, Brian Realbuto, went on to win the Junior National Freestyle title in Fargo and then a third state title while Dylan Realbuto won his first New York championship in 2012.

Askren felt like he gained a lot from the experience as well.

“I knew very little about wrestling in New York when I first got here,” he said.  “I know now that it’s a great place with great competition.  I think New York is right on par with some of the better states, maybe not at the level of Pennsylvania or California yet but right underneath that.  One thing that stands out is that kids here know how to wrestle on top.  In some states, like Missouri where I went to college, referees call stalling in a heartbeat on top.  Then kids get to college and they don’t have the riding and turning skills that are really important at that level.  New York kids do have those skills.”

Askren will work on refining those skills and others one more time with a “send off” clinic on November 9-12 in Somers with 2012 NCAA champion Cam Simaz of Cornell.  For more information, see below.

Afterwards, he will continue a busy month with a national team camp in Hoboken, New Jersey in mid November before attending the Henri Deglane International Challenge in France.  Besides being another huge measuring stick for Askren on the mat, it’s another opportunity for him to practice another of the languages he studied in college – French.

“I basically majored in Russian, French and Japanese,” he said. “I speak those languages and Spanish.  I wouldn’t say I’m fluent but I can converse pretty well.  It allows you to travel to a lot of different places and really appreciate things culturally.”

Askren hopes his travels take him to Hungary for the World Championships in 2013 and, a few years down the road, to Brazil.

“I’m looking to make the next World Team and medal there,” he said. “And, the big goal is the 2016 Olympics.”

Those are some of the items on his agenda for the future.  But his experience in New York allowed him to address a goal he had held earlier in this life – to run his own wrestling school.

“I’d always wanted to run an academy and coach,” he said. “And it was what I thought it would be.  I loved it.  It was a great experience and I really couldn’t have asked for more. The only downside was that it wasn’t in Wisconsin where my brother was.  There’s a lot I’ll miss when I leave.”

Askren was heartfelt about the people and relationships he developed. And there was one more thing he couldn’t leave out.

“The Italian food,” he added. “I had homemade Italian food all the time and it’s awesome.  I’ll definitely miss that.”

For more information on the Askren Wrestling Academy Preseason Clinic on November 9 -12, please see the flyer: AWA Send Off Camp

 

 

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

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

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

 

Division I

 

Returning State Placewinners (from 2012)

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

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

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

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

113 Pounds: Alex Delacruz (11), Ossining

120 Pounds: Jake DeMarsico (12), North Rockland

126 Pounds: Matt Caputo (11), North Rockland

138 Pounds: Tom Grippi (12), Fox Lane

170 Pounds: Steven Sabella (12) Yorktown

285 Pounds: David Varian (12) Yorktown

 

Seniors to Watch

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

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

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

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

 

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

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

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

Alex Delacruz, Photo by Boris V

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

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

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

Team Race

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

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

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

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

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

Division II

Returning State Placewinners (from 2012)

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

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Tyler Aslanian (11) Edgemont

99 Pounds: Joe Dillon (11) Nanuet

106 Pounds: Vinny Skokos (10) Nanuet

120 Pounds: Anthony Calvano (12) Nanuet

126 Pounds: Drew Longo (12) Ardsley

138 Pounds: Matt Dillon (12) Nanuet

145 Pounds: Brett Pastore (12) Irvington

170 Pounds: John Messinger (12) Putnam Valley

195 Pounds: Dan Breit (12) Nanuet

220 Pounds: Matt Acevedo (11) Pawling

 

Seniors to Watch

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

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

 

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Team Race

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

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

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

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

 

Special thanks to all of the contributors to this article.

All results from the NWCA Scorebook.

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

Photos by Boris V

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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