Teammates Now and in the Future: Newark Valley's Trevor Hoffmier and Derek Holcomb Commit to Buffalo

BY ZAKKARIAH ROLFE

Trevor Hoffmier and Derek Holcomb have been friends and teammates since they were five years old.  They are entering their senior seasons at Newark Valley, but they recently ensured that they will be on the same squad for several more years, as both committed to the University at Buffalo.

Hoffmier

“It’s going to be great going to college with someone who is one of my teammates and best friends,” Hoffmier said. “It’s someone I’ve always wrestled with and am comfortable with but also someone who I know is dedicated to his studies and will always be focused and helpful in both the academic and athletic aspects.”

Hoffmier, a two-time Section IV champion, was also looking at Bucknell and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  The future 157-pounder was planning to visit the latter school shortly after going to Buffalo, but after touring the Buffalo campus, he knew where he belonged.

“Coach [John] Stutzman made my decision easy,” Hoffmier said. “I love how he coaches and presents himself.  I have a lot of confidence that he can help me become successful.”

Hoffmier has already been successful in his high school career, racking up more than 25 wins as a sophomore and 32 victories as a junior while making appearances at the state tournament both years (and winning a match each time).  In 2013, he got his hand raised in Albany at 145 pounds against Jamiel Stapleton, sandwiched in between a pair of one-point losses to state placers.

Holcomb had a similar path at the Times Union Center after earning his first Section IV crown with an overtime win at 160 pounds over All-State wrestler Alex Francik, a future teammate with the Bulls.  In Albany, Holcomb, who went 35-3 overall as a junior with 25 bonus wins, picked up a victory before losing in extra time to eventual fifth placer Andrew Psomas of Monsignor Farrell.

Holcomb, who projects at 165 or 174 pounds in college, responded well with a standout showing at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach in the spring, nabbing All-America honors with a seventh place finish at 152 pounds.  He pinned his first opponent before dropping a close decision to Terrence Mason of Nevada in round two.  Holcomb then got to work in the wrestlebacks, collecting five straight victories before beating Mason in a rematch to grab seventh.

Holcomb

It was actually the second consecutive seventh place medal for Holcomb at that event, as he took the same spot at 152 in the NHSCA Sophomore competition in 2012 with a similar run in the consolation bracket.

The strong performances continued at the recent Journeymen Classic as Hoffmier went undefeated at 152 pounds, while Holcomb went 3-1 with a 1-0 victory over NYS champion Adis Radoncic at 170 as well as wins over Pennsylvania state qualifier Johnny Dambro and New England runner up Brad Drover.

Now, the teammates will try to collect some hardware for the Cardinals. According to cnywrestling.com, Newark Valley’s last state champion was Barry Sutter in 1964 and the last placer was in 2000.  Hoffmier and Holcomb look to change the record books before getting their college careers started.

Holcomb called the recruiting process, in which he also considered Binghamton and Bucknell, “very exciting, however very stressful.” In the end, the Buffalo staff won him over.

“I really connected with the coaches and enjoyed the great facilities,” Holcomb said. “I also thought the campus was the best fit for me and my major.”

It didn’t hurt that a familiar face, Hoffmier, had provided his verbal pledge to the MAC institution just a few days before.

“We’ve been partners since five years old,” Holcomb said. “We have molded each other into the wrestlers we are today. I’m happy that everything worked out and we will be able to push for our common goals together.”

Local Star, Bearcat Future: Johnson City's Reggie Williams Commits to Binghamton

Reggie Williams has watched the Binghamton wrestling team closely over the years.  Now, he’s committed to be a part of it.

The Johnson City senior, who lives just a few miles from campus, recently gave his verbal pledge to the Bearcats after also considering schools such as Iowa State, North Carolina State and Oklahoma.

“I decided to go to Binghamton because it’s a great school,” Williams said. “But one of the things that was running in the back of my head was my dad and my family.  I thought it would be a great choice to stay around, making it possible for my parents to see me more. Then you just have a big home crowd that stays and comes to the home matches.”

Photo by BV

Williams, who said he plans to be a 184 pounder in college, didn’t begin wrestling until sixth grade. However, he wasted no time making a name for himself in the sport.  He was a Section 4 runner up as an eighth grader and as a freshman, Williams earned a spot in the New York State semifinals, eventually taking sixth at 189 pounds.

A few months later, the Johnson City senior made an impact at the national level, earning All-American honors in two of the biggest offseason events in the country.  He first took fourth at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach before notching fifth in Cadet Freestyle at Fargo.

The Section 4 standout’s success continued over the years, as he was the state runner up at 195 as a sophomore and nabbed spots on the podium at the NHSCA Nationals twice more – sixth as a 10th grader and second as a junior in 2013.  His impressive run to the finals in Virginia Beach this spring at 195 included a victory over University of Minnesota-bound Nathan Rose, who is ranked #57 among seniors nationwide by Intermat.

Williams is determined to capture a state crown in his last campaign for the Wildcats before making the short journey to start his career in the EIWA.

And when he does begin his college career, he won’t be the only Bearcat in his family.

“On top of everything, I’ll be going to school with my dad because he’s a student at Binghamton as we speak,” Williams said.

The Bearcats brought in a top 25 recruiting class comprised of several top Empire State wrestlers in head coach Matt Dernlan’s first year. With Williams joining Hilton’s Vincent and Anthony DePrez and MacArthur’s Steve Schneider, another strong group is on the way to Binghamton in the fall of 2014.

Power Path to a Championship: New York's Top Sophomore Christian Dietrich Seeks State Gold

We have been discussing some of the top wrestlers in New York over the past few weeks.  We started with our #1 Junior High School grappler in the state, Penfield eighth grader Frankie Gissendanner (see link),then profiled top freshman Yianni Diakomihalisand discussed other ninth graders to watch.  The following takes a look at wrestler at the head of the sophomore class – Christian Dietrich of Greene.

——————————————————————

Wrestling older guys is something Christian Dietrich has done for a long time.  Several years ago, he said he faced the reigning varsity Section 4 runner up at an offseason tournament and won the match.

At the time, he said he was only in fourth grade.

An impressive feat, without a doubt.  But even as a fourth grader, Dietrich was an accomplished wrestler, traveling all over the country to challenge himself.

“We’d do 30 tournaments a year and go to all the big ones,” said Charles Dietrich, Christian’s father. “Tulsa Nationals, Ohio Tournament of Champions, all over.”

Photo by BV

He beat numerous touted opponents, but what set him apart was his willingness to take on anyone and seek out the best competition.

“Christian has never been afraid to lose,” Charles Dietrich said.

That was immediately obvious when he joined the varsity squad at Greene High as a seventh grader.  As the Clyde Cole tournament approached, Dietrich told coach Tim Jenks that he wanted to wrestle Wyoming Seminary’s Eric Morris, a nationally-ranked grappler who is now a freshman at Harvard.

“He lost some weight to make sure he could wrestle Morris,” Jenks said in an interview last year. “He heard about him, knew he was highly ranked nationally and decided he had to wrestle him. That shows you the kind of kid Christian is.  That’s the type of kid you want to coach – the kind that wants the challenge.”

“It was the first high school tournament of my career,” Dietrich said. “I thought it was a chance to see where I was at and what I could do to get better.”

He did lose the bout to Morris, but even at a young age, he came out on top against most high school foes.  In fact, he dominated his way to his first Section 4 title and set out to make waves at the state tournament.

It’s worth noting that in the past six years, only five seventh graders have made the podium at the state championships.  None of the other four (Aaron Paddock in 2011, Tristan Rifanburg in 2010, Corey Rasheed in 2009 or Tim Schaefer in 2008) were above 103 pounds.

None of that mattered to Dietrich, a 152-pounder.

In his first state tournament match, he notched a 17-2 technical fall.  In his next bout, he lost to eventual runner up Brian Walsh before capturing a pair of decisions in the wrestlebacks against seniors to ensure All-State status.  He concluded his seventh grade campaign with a sixth place medal at 152.

“Being at the state tournament was different,” he said. “But I felt like I didn’t have anything to lose, so I just gave it my all.  I think going to the bigger tournaments all my life helped me when I was wrestling kids so much older than me. I was proud of myself afterwards.  But then I got hurt.”

Dietrich suffered a knee injury in the fall and was unable to take the mat at all as an eighth grader for the Trojans.

“It was 10 months of rehab; a really long time,” he said. “I actually had four different operations. It was one thing after another.”

During that time he of course didn’t stay idle.

“I mostly just lifted,” he said. “I did a lot of upper body and followed my team.”

Strength training is another thing Dietrich has been doing for quite some time.  In fact, there’s a youtube video of Dietrich flipping tires with former Johnson City (and current Wyoming Seminary) wrestler Greg Kleinsmith when both were in elementary school.

“I’ve been strength training since I was about 10,” Dietrich said. “I train at IronWorks gym with Dickie White. We do all kinds of things.  I’ve been doing it three times a week for a long time. My last cycle of lifting, I deadlifted 575 pounds for 3 reps, squatted 395 for 3 and benched 285 for 3.”

While he continued to build his strength, he couldn’t wait to get back on the mat as a freshman, looking to pick up where he left off.

“I was anxious to wrestle again,” Dietrich said. “I felt good and ready to go.”

He appeared ready to go from the start, capturing 19 of his first 20 bouts, with just two regular decisions.  (His one loss was to two-time state champion Zack Zupan up at 182).

In mid January, Dietrich entered the prestigious Eastern States Classic as the number four seed.  He quickly dispatched his first three opponents by fall before earning a 13-4 major over Adis Radoncic and a 3-2 decision over Troy Seymour, the top seed in the bracket.  While he dropped the championship contest against Wantagh’s Danny McDevitt, Dietrich showed that he was in the mix for a New York title at 170 pounds.

“Eastern States showed me that I was at the right weight,” Dietrich said. “It showed me how I could do at states since I beat some of the top guys.”

After cruising through the Section 4 tournament, he entered the Times Union Center with a 36-2 mark and the #1 spot in the bracket in Albany.

Dietrich made his way through his first three matches before meeting up with Radoncic for the second time of the season. This time, in the state finals, the outcome was different as Radoncic collected the PSAL’s first-ever NYS crown with a 4-3 decision.

“I was happy to go there as the first seed,” Dietrich said. “It was a little pressure, though, because everyone was out to beat me.  I wasn’t proud of my performance in the finals at all.  I thought I was horrible that day.  I beat him by eight or nine points earlier in the year and I just didn’t wrestle the way I wanted to.”

The state silver medalist didn’t stay frustrated for long, however, as he began to prepare for the next big event.

“I started getting ready for FloNationals,” he said. “I kept wrestling and competing as much as I did during the season.  I thought it was a big opportunity for me because Flo is for all age groups and I wanted to face really tough competition.”

He did.  In fact, in the first three rounds he beat state placers from Pennsylvania and Virginia before topping Michigan gold medalist Teddy Warren. He then faced California state champion [and current North Carolina State freshman] Peter Santos and took control from the opening whistle.

“I felt like I dominated that whole match,” Dietrich said. “I was up by four points in the third when he injury defaulted.”

After losing in the semis, Dietrich rebounded to edge Travis Linton, a current top 100 senior from Ohio, before forfeiting the bronze medal bout due to an injury.

That fourth place showing at FloNationals, in a bracket full of junior and seniors, showed that Dietrich belonged with the nation’s elite.

And people noticed.  Dietrich jumped in the national rankings, currently sitting 11th in the country at 170 pounds and in the top 15 in the Class of 2016 according to both Intermat and Flowrestling.

“I don’t really think about [the rankings],” Dietrich said.  “I don’t want it to get to me.  I’m proud of it, but I know I can always do better.”

He is reminded of that as he tests himself with college level wrestlers on a frequent basis.  He has been a participant at the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club (FLWC) on Cornell’s campus since it began in 2005 and spends plenty of time in Ithaca.

“I’ve been going to FLWC for years,” he said. “I’ve wrestled with the great coaches there for a long time.  Last year, I wrestled a lot with [now Big Red freshmen] Gabe Dean and Taylor Simaz.  There are awesome wrestlers there and to see the higher levels and what I should be doing is awesome.”

Dietrich also finds time to spend on some of his other interests like hunting, fishing and riding four wheelers.  But wrestling is never too far from his mind.

“He’s been working a lot on wrestling smarter and on his technique,” Charles Dietrich said.  “He’s going back to basics and working on his short offense.  What happened in the state finals – he wants to make sure it won’t happen again.”

Dietrich said he may wrestle at 170 pounds again or he may go up to 182.  In either case, he’s ready to not only get back to the title bout at the Times Union Center, but to get his hand raised at the end.

“We weren’t even sure what would happen his ninth grade year after being out for so long,” Charles Dietrich said. “This year, he’s as a strong as an ox and he’s feeling good.  We’re hoping for another great year.”

Section IV's Greg Kleinsmith Ready for the Next Step at Wyoming Seminary

BY ZAKKARIAH ROLFE

In 2012, one of Section IV’s surprises at the state qualifying sectional championships occurred when Johnson City freshman Greg Kleinsmith took out Vestal’s Alex Francik 5-4 at 152 pounds to earn his first berth to the New York State tournament.

Unfortunately, 2013 didn’t end on quite the same high for Kleinsmith. His sophomore season began late after he sustained a concussion in late November, causing him to miss the first half of the campaign.  He returned, but during Section IV’s annual dual meet tournament, Kleinsmith suffered his second injury and was told his season was over.

“Concussions are a serious thing,” Kleinsmith said. “I knew I was out for at least half the season but when it happened again, I was just devastated. I knew I couldn’t just ‘let myself go.’ I had to run and lift whenever I could. Freestyle and Greco still have an important role in my wrestling [career] and my dad and family had a lot of encouraging stuff to say to keep me going.”

Kleinsmith continued to support his teammates and cheer them on as the Wildcats won the Section IV team title. Now, he will try to capture a different set of team championships with his new squad – Wyoming Seminary.

When asked why he’s going to ‘Sem’, Kleinsmith mentioned a number of reasons, but the first was related to academics.

“The education,” Kleinsmith said. “I know I have a better chance at going to a Division I school if I attend a school such as Wyoming Seminary.”

In addition, his familiarity with the leader of the Blue Knight program, Scott Green, played a role.  Kleinsmith wrestled at the Shamrock Wrestling Club out of Binghamton through his pee wee years with the coach and said that Green was a big part of his childhood success.

“Coach Green pushes me,” Kleinsmith said. “Even if I’m in tears, he doesn’t care because he knows it will make me better and I love that.”

“I’ve been Greg’s club coach for years and he is going to be a great asset to our program,” Green added. “He has the experience at national events in the international styles, and will now be fighting hard to earn a spot in our lineup. He will benefit greatly from guys in the room around his size. I am excited to watch him grow in our program.”

That growth will come not only from his practice partners but also the level of competition he’ll face throughout the year.

“They have one of the toughest wrestling schedules in the country and you know it, to be the best you have to beat the best,” Kleinsmith said.

He’ll attempt to do that this year, during which he plans to compete not only on the mat but also on the football field. When asked about his goals, he had a few things in mind.

“I want to wrestle as best as I can,” he said. “I know if I wrestle to my potential and I’m in shape I can give anybody in the country a run for their money.  My goal as a Blue Knight is to not just get a great education but to meet new people from around the world and just do the best I can in everything I do.”

Wrestling Dominates at Art of Combat Four

 
 

BY ZAKKARIAH ROLFE

New York wrestlers from Section Four appeared on the Art of Combat Four card five times on Friday at the Broome County Arena, ending the night with four wins and only one loss.

The first fight on the preliminary card featured Tyler Bayer, a two-time Section Four champion out of Union Endicott. Bayer made quick work of his opponent Jon Ferguson, getting a very quick takedown before transitioning to full mount and raining punches down on his opponent for a TKO in the first round.

Next was another Section Four champion, Andrew Canale of Tioga Central, who got in the cage with John O’Brien. Canale started the fight with a takedown and got some punches in before surrendering a reversal. Things weren’t looking too good for Canale until he caught his opponent in an arm bar and forced the tap out to win by submission in the first round.

Conklin

Another Section Four finalist, Jon Conklin of Union Endicott, took on Dave Lust Jr in one of the best fights of the night. In round one, Conklin and Lust stayed on their feet, exchanging strikes until Conklin got in deep on a double with about three seconds to go and slammed Lust to the mat to secure the round.

In the second, things didn’t go as planned for Conklin as he was knocked down twice. However, after that, something seemed to click for Conklin and he came out looking for blood. He secured three takedowns and unloaded with punches from the top position on multiple occasions.

“After the second round I asked my coaches if I won,” Conklin said. “They said ‘just go out and win the third round.’ So all I had on my mind was really decisively winning the third round.”

He did just that, coming out with a unanimous decision victory.

In another contest decided by decision, Matthew Kurey from Chenango Valley matched up against Tyrone Tilson at 185 pounds. The clash started slow, with the fighters feeling each other out. Kurey seemed to win the first when he capitalized on a throw attempt by Tilson with a takedown at the end of the round.

In the second, the competitors battled for good position and Tilson threw knees and a few punches to win the round. The third was decided when Tilson slammed Kurey to the mat and kept him there, throwing punches and knees to the body. When the winner was announced, it was Tilson.

Perhaps the most well-known wrestler on the card, Derak Heyman, was also the most dominant. He began the fight with Jon Lopez in a three-point stance as if in a wrestling match.

“It was a part of the plan because he’s a kickboxer and you can’t kick an opponent with three points on the ground, and I wanted to get in his head,” Heyman said.

Heyman

The two-time New York state champion came out looking for a takedown early with a low ankle pick attempt that was easily stuffed by Lopez. From then on, whenever Lopez kicked, Heyman caught the leg and ended it with a takedown. He had three in the first round alone.

Entering the second, Heyman picked up another takedown before transitioning to full mount, locking up a merachonda hold and getting the submission victory.

Both Conklin and Heyman said afterward that they want to go professional in mixed martial arts eventually. Both said, however, that they need a bit more amateur experience before taking that big step.

“I want about five more fights before October, and then take eight or nine months just to train. After that get two more fights, see how I feel and then decide if I want to go pro,” Heyman said.

The Section Four alumni weren’t the only New York wrestlers in action. A pair of former grapplers from New Hartford also competed. Marc Giordano lost by submission in the first round to Paul McDonough at 170 while Mike Karam won a decision over TJ Duran at 135.

Overall, Friday was a great night for the wrestlers turned MMA fighters. For the Section Four competitors it was five fights and four wins. More Art of Combat action is coming soon to the area in Elmira on June 8.

Full results from this weekend’s action can be found at this link.

Maryland State Champ Diallo Joins Highly-Acclaimed Binghamton Recruiting Class

Thierno Diallo is no stranger to picking things up quickly.  After all, within months of arriving in the United States in elementary school, he was interacting and communicating in English, a language he didn’t know at all when leaving his native country – Guinea.

So it wasn’t a huge surprise to those who knew Diallo, a future 125 or 133 pounder for Binghamton, that just three weeks after seeing his first-ever wrestling action, he won the county championship at 103 pounds.

It was his freshman year at DuVal High in Maryland and the football coach, who also assisted with the wrestling team, suggested that getting on the mat would help make Diallo better on the gridiron.

“I watched a lot of tape and learned a lot by doing that,” he said. “I didn’t wrestle at the beginning of the season, but once I started, it came together for me.  I had a really good coach who taught me what I needed to know and who helped me make the transition.”

He didn’t only win that county crown just a few weeks into his career, however.  Shortly afterwards, he took fourth at the regional event to qualify for an appearance at the Maryland State championships.

“Wrestling at the state tournament was definitely shocking,” he said. “When I walked in, it wasn’t what I ever expected.  In my first match, I don’t remember anything until the third period.  I was too busy worrying about the people in the stands before I realized that I needed to focus on wrestling.  I lost that match and I learned a lot.  It was a stepping stone for me.”

While he originally began wrestling to help his performance on the football field, he quickly changed course.  Because after even a short period of time on the mat, he decided wrestling was his future.

“I ended up falling so much in love with wrestling that I quit football to focus on it,” he said. “As soon as I started, I realized I liked the one on one part of it. It’s just you, depending on no one else.  I liked the idea of having to do it myself.”

While he had a lot of quick success, he knew longer-term achievements would come from really immersing himself in the sport.

“I spent the time going to camps and as many tournaments as I could,” he said. “I just wrestled and wrestled and wrestled.  It made me so much better in just a few months.  I came back for my next season much more prepared.”

Diallo once again breezed through the county and regional competitions and arrived at the state event with more confidence.  He went all the way to the finals before dropping the title bout to take second.  Then, as a junior, he again lost a single match at the biggest event of the season, picking up a bronze medal.

Without a state championship, he wasn’t satisfied. Diallo set out to make up for it in the offseason by taking on some of the nation’s best.

That began in Philadelphia at the FloNationals, where he entered at 113 pounds.  After a first round victory, he dropped a 3-1 decision to Pennsylvania’s Tanner Shoap.  He knew it was a long road from there to make the podium.

“Going into the tournament, I thought I would be able to be an All-American there if I wrestled the way I knew I could,” he said. “After I lost, I looked at the bracket with my coach and we saw that I would need to win a lot of matches to place.  My coach said, ‘Well, let’s get started.’  I kept doing it one match at a time.”

Diallo won five consecutive contests to get himself in the medal picture.  After a setback against Angel Velazquez of California, he defeated New Jersey’s Luis Gonzalez to capture seventh.

“That was a really exciting moment for me,” he said. “It taught me that I could wrestle against the best of the best and that I could wrestle match after match and not be exhausted.  It was a fun learning experience.”

Another such experience took place a bit later in the offseason, when Diallo decided to make a run at the Junior Freestyle and Greco Roman Nationals.

“I wrestled at the Maryland states in Freestyle and Greco the year before but hadn’t practiced those styles again,” he said. “I liked Freestyle and Greco, though, and I thought, maybe I would try to get to Fargo.”

He did well enough to represent his state in North Dakota and he made an impact there, taking fourth at 120 in Greco.  He said he plans on returning this summer for another chance to get higher on the medal stand.

But despite the accolades at those national competitions, Diallo’s main goal was to get an elusive state crown.  He cruised through the 2012-13 season at 126 pounds, sporting a 31-0 mark coming into last weekend’s Maryland tournament.

In his first three bouts, Diallo outscored his opponents 38-0 to make the finals.  And then, he finished the job with a 7-1 victory in the title match to get the gold medal missing from his collection.

“It was a relief to finally win state title,” he said. “It was the only thing left that I really felt like I needed to win. I had a chip on my shoulder after taking second and third the last two years.  I was really motivated to be the best this year.”

Even prior to finishing atop the podium, Diallo had a number of colleges recruiting him, including Maryland and North Carolina State.  But he felt that Binghamton was the right choice.

“Binghamton seemed like a perfect fit for me,” he said.  “It’s not too far away from home, but far enough.  I loved the look of the campus and the high academic standards.  My parents moved to this country because of better educational opportunities and getting a really good education is something that my family really values. Binghamton had all the right pieces and parts to be the place I want to be for the next four or five years.”

Diallo joins a stellar recruiting class for the Bearcats, which includes a number of the top ranked seniors in New York such as Zack Zupan, Nick Kelley, Nick Tighe, Kyle Kelly, David Almaviva and Bryce Mazurowski.

While those wrestlers have familiarity with the Empire State already, there’s no doubt Diallo will pick up what he needs to know about the Section 4 area in no time.

After all, picking new things up quickly is something he has done many times before.

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.