Back on Top: South Jefferson and Johnson City Capture Dual Meet Titles in Sections 3 and 4

 
 

It had been three years for South Jefferson and a decade for Johnson City, but the wait is over for both. The squads captured the Section 3 and 4 Dual Meet titles, respectively, after living up to their number one seeds.

For South Jefferson, the run had a lot of similarities to the one in 2010.  In that year, the Spartans came into the Section 3 dual tournament undefeated and left as champions.

But the path wasn’t all the same, according to head coach Pat Conners.

“This was a new role for our program,” Conners said. “Instead of being the underdog this year, we were the favorite.  That definitely wasn’t how it was three years ago.  No one believed then that we could beat Fulton in the dual meet finals.  I had people tell me if we even made the finals, it would be great for us.  Then we knocked off Fulton to win it.  There were people who felt that was an ‘on any given day’ kind of thing where the better team doesn’t always win.  This weekend was different because I think our team proved that we are the best in Section 3 this year.”

It certainly looked that way.  Prior to the tournament, (last Thursday) South Jefferson faced off with General Brown in a battle of teams ranked in the latest New York State dual meet poll.  The lower-ranked Spartans came out on top, 40-25.

“Having that huge dual and knocking off General Brown only a few days before actually made me a little nervous,” Conners said. “We were confident going into the weekend, but sometimes it’s tough to get everyone refocused and ready so soon after a big win. But our team has a good mix of veterans and young kids and our six seniors did a nice job of leading.”

Things started off a little slow, according to Conners, in the first meet against Cicero-North Syracuse but the Spartans emerged with a 51-23 victory and followed that up with a 58-22 win over Cazenovia.

The next round brought Baldwinsville.  The Bees took a 10-3 lead after three bouts, but South Jefferson responded, recording falls in four of the next five matches to take a commanding advantage.  Registering pins were Trevor Cowles (160), Daniel Smith (170), Logan LaFlamme (182) and Ryan Charlebois (up a weight at 220). Despite forfeiting the last bout, the Spartans punched their ticket to the finals with a 43-31 result.

“In that case, the 160 to 195 pounders did the job,” Conners said. “They are all good wrestlers and when we get there, we count on bonus points.  We’ve had solid balance all the way through the lineup this year, though. Our 99 and 106 pounders (Jared Carroll and Caleb Beach) are a combined 62-4. [132 pounder] Jon Crast has made a nice comeback from surgery. Many other guys have wrestled very well. What’s been really great to see as a coach this year is that the bigger our matches have been, the better the kids have wrestled.  Our top wrestlers have won with bonus points and the kids who aren’t our top wrestlers have wrestled hard and given up only three points.”

That was true as South Jefferson topped squads such as Northern Adirondack, Victor and Cortland earlier in the campaign.  And it held true in the finals when the Spartans met General Brown for the second time of the week.

In the championship dual, the Lions won five of the first eight matches.  However, all five victories were by decision and with South Jefferson’s two pins and a decision, the score was knotted at 15.  That was the last time it was close.

“Losing five matches but all of them only three point losses was big,” Conners said. “When you wrestle the other team’s top kids and keep it close, it’s as important as a big win on your side.  We were tied and in good shape. And then we got on a roll and poured on points after that.  We only lost one match the rest of the day.”

So a 15-15 tie turned into a 45-19 rout.

“Each week, we’ve been challenging the kids and they’ve stepped up stronger and stronger,” Conners said.  “It’s rare to have a team wrestle well every weekend without real letdowns but this group did that.  It was a total team effort and our depth played a big role.  We had some guys stepping on the mat for the first time in the semis or finals while other teams were exhausted.”

That was one of the reasons Conners cited for the lopsided scores in the event.

“Our goal was to win the duals,” the coach said. “But I never, ever thought we would be as dominant as we were because of the caliber of teams in Section 3.  I was not surprised that we won but very pleasantly surprised that our kids were as dominant as they were.”

Dominant enough to stand atop Section 3.  But will that translate to the top of New York State?

Conners said he might reach out to Midlakes coach Steve Howcroft to see if a dual between the unbeaten Division II powerhouses could be arranged.  (Midlakes is ranked first among small school teams). But whether that happens or not, it’s been a great ride for the Spartans as they demonstrated that they are among the Empire State’s elite.

Johnson City’s Return to the Top

Being among the elite is something Johnson City head coach Jordan Glenn can relate to very well.  When he was a competitor for the Wildcats, he remembers his team being among New York’s best every season.

“In our heyday, from the early 90s to mid 2000s, there was a stretch where we didn’t lose to a Section 4 team for 10 years,” Glenn said.  “I don’t think we finished outside the top 5 at the state tournament very often.  Winning this weekend is absolutely a big deal for us because this is the first event we’ve won as a team in recent years.  The last time we won Section 4 Duals was in 2003.  This builds a good foundation for us and with a team full of juniors and younger wrestlers, we think we can raise the bar for next year and continue to excel.”

They excelled this weekend, beginning with a dominant 50-24 victory over Sidney in the first round of the event. The Wildcats got out to a 31-6 advantage and never looked back.  The second dual was similar, in a 42-27 triumph over Vestal.

“In those first two matches, we were in control most of the way,” Glenn said. “We never take anything lightly because with duals it can come down to matchups and a coin flip. We knew those teams had potential to match up with us, but we were solid all the way through. Our depth also was important. We had a couple of guys injured and we were fortunate to have some other guys fill in and do very well.”

That was the case in the finals match against Union-Endicott.  With the loss of state qualifier Greg Kleinsmith to injury, Johnson City bumped a number of wrestlers up a weight and adjusted the lineup.

One of the wrestlers stepping in was one of the squad’s few seniors, Ben Fay. With his team trailing 6-0 (Johnson City forfeited at 132), he took the mat for his first action of the tournament against  Xavian Hughes, the top-ranked wrestler in the Section.  He held the Tiger wrestler to a decision.

“Ben hasn’t necessarily been one of the guys competing for individual championships, but he had a solid performance. He filled a void and allowed maneuverability that we otherwise wouldn’t have had,” Glenn said. “He preserved points when we needed him to.”

Facing a 9-0 deficit, Johnson City took over, capturing the next six bouts.  It started with a decision by Nick Bidwell at 145 and was followed by another three points for Joseph Hamdan at 152.

“Joe Hamdan was out of the lineup for the better part of a month with injury,” Glenn said. “This was his first competition back and he came through with three wins.  The first two were by pin. In the finals, it was tougher.  The lack of mat time got to him a little. But he found a way to win a close match in overtime. That turned out to be huge.”

Photo by BV

Also huge were the flurry of bonus points the Wildcats racked up next with pins by Zach Colgan (160), Dominic Taylor (182) and Reggie Williams (195).  Added into the mix was a technical fall by Conner Halladay at 170.

“When you have anchors you can count on like Zach Colgan and Reggie Williams, it sets the tone,” Glenn said. “We have a very strong core from 138 to 195 and those guys really came through for us.”

After Williams stuck his opponent at 195, Johnson City had a 29-9 lead.

Union-Endicott mounted a comeback, with Lucas Depofi and Andrew Brinser coming out on top at 220 and 285 to cut the team score to 29-18.

But lightweights Tyler Brazinski (99 pounds) and Isaiah Colgan (106) picked up victories by technical fall and pin, respectively, to put their team up 40-18 and clinch the championship.

“Tyler has had a really good week,” Glenn said. “He was bumped out of lineup last year and didn’t place in the section.  But he came back ready this year and this past week alone he’s beaten three of the four top ranked kids in the Section. He didn’t get scored on by any of them. And Isaiah Colgan has been really solid all year. He won three matches at Eastern States and is certainly on a level where he can compete for a Section championship, as he did last year.”

Union-Endicott finished strong as Mikey Carr, Anthony Noce and Zack Bendick recorded falls in the final three matches of the dual to make the final score 40-36.

“We had the dual meet clinched, but their 113, 120 and 126 wrestled really well with three pins in a row,” Glenn said. “We did our jobs to have the lead that we did. We were talking [Saturday] night that we’re starting to develop a little bit of a rivalry with U-E after they beat us in the semis last year at this tournament. We know they are getting better and developing; you can see the progression with their wrestlers.  As for us, we set lofty goals this year and even though we didn’t do as well as we hoped at U-E Duals [in early January], we are excited to be back as the top Dual Meet team in Section 4 this year.”

Back at the top.  South Jefferson and Johnson City earned it after their performances this weekend.

 

Weekend Notes: New Dual Meet Champs in Sec 3 and 4, Fairport Earns First Monroe Title Plus Recaps from Shen, Edgemont, Kohl, Islip Cup and More

What a weekend. From dual meet championship tournaments to tough individual events, there were great matchups all over the state. The following touches upon some of the notable results and more may be added later.

South Jefferson and Johnson City captured Dual Meet Championships in Section 3 and 4, respectively. The Spartans dominated their finals matchup with General Brown while the Wildcats won a four-point dual over Union-Endicott. 

In individual tournament action:

• Shenendehowa won its own event with five champions, with St. Anthony’s and Yorktown taking second and third. Among the titlewinners for the Plainsmen were highly ranked Nick Kelley, David Almaviva and Levi Ashley.

• Monroe County in Section 5 has a new champion for the first time in 22 years. Spencerport had captured the last 21 titles, but this weekend it was Fairport earning that school’s first county championship. A number of wrestlers who appear in our latest state rankings won titles at this event, including Colton Kells of the champion Red Raiders, who topped Spencerport’s Collin Pittman in overtime at 195.

• At the Islip Cup, a pair of New York contenders at 170 pounds, Joe Piccolo of Half Hollow Hills West and Carlos Toribio of Brentwood, squared off for the second time this season. Toribio took the first meeting by decision but in the rematch, Piccolo recorded an early pin. It continues a strong run by Piccolo, who was third at the Eastern States Classic last Saturday.

• Huntington took first at the Kohl Invitational with five titlewinners, including Most Outstanding Wrestler Joseph Puca at 152 pounds. Puca upset state ranked Dan DeCarlo of Port Jervis.

• Edgemont, led by 120-pound winner Trey Aslanian, was the team champion at its tournament over the weekend, finishing ahead of Section 1 foe Pearl River.

• Clarence took the ECIC Championship, led by champions Ryan Burns (106), Jake Weber (160) and Nate Ward (285).  Taking MOW honors was Cheektowoga’s Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, who won the 132 pound class with a pin.

• At the Beacon, Valley Central won a close team race by three points over Arlington. Leading the way was top ranked Alex Delacruz of Ossining, who notched a technical fall in the finals.

For more details on these stories, read on:

Section 3 and 4 Dual Meet Championships

Johnson City, the top seed in Section 4, opened with a 50-24 victory over Sidney before defeating Vestal by a 42-27 score in the semifinals. In the championship dual, Johnson City took a commanding lead, clinching the dual with three matches remaining. Union-Endicott’s late rally made the final score 40-36.

In Section 3, the conclusion lacked drama. Top seeded South Jefferson, ranked seventh in the latest state dual poll, looked like one of New York’s elite squads throughout the competition. The Spartans began with a 51-23 result against Cicero-North Syracuse before topping Cazenovia 58-22. In the semifinals, the team had its closest meet of the event, 43-31, over Baldwinsville. In the finals, South Jefferson left little to chance, emerging with a dominant 45-19 score.

Earning wins in the opening three duals for the champions were Jared Carroll (99), Caleb Beach (106), Trevor Cowles (160), Dan Smith (170), Logan LaFlamme (182) and Ryan Charlebois (220).

For more on the championships by Johnson City and South Jefferson, check back tomorrow for a more detailed story.

Shenendehowa Tournament

The host team collected 209.5 points, well ahead of St. Anthony’s at 149 and Yorktown’s 95. The Plainsmen received championship performances from five grapplers – Kevin Parker (120), Nick Kelley (138), David Almaviva (145), Chris Naccarato (160) and Levi Ashley (195).

A host of additional wrestlers ranked statewide took the mat in Section 2. At 113 pounds, returning state runner up Cheick Ndiaye edged St. Anthony’s Ben Lamantia 3-2 and Joe Mastro of Yorktown grabbed gold at 152.

A pair of ranked wrestlers were upended in the finals – Luis Weirebach of Hoosick Falls topped Eastern States medalist Golan Cohen of Colonie at 106 while Elliot Antler of Xavier edged St. Anthony’s Johnny Vrasidas at 170. In a battle of 182-pound wrestlers we expect to make some waves in Albany, Thomas Murray of Yorktown topped Hoosick Falls’s Brad Burns.

For further results from the event, see here.

Monroe County Tournament

As mentioned previously, Fairport won its first Monroe County league title after 21 consecutive years of championships for Spencerport. The Red Raiders had a large number of placers, including titlewinners Colton Kells at 195 and Jordan Seidel at 170.

Courtesy of Jason DePrez

This event featured a number of grapplers who are featured prominently in the latest individual state rankings. Among them were top 99 pounder, Yianni Diakomihalis of Hilton, who earned a major in the title match and took lightweight Most Outstanding Wrestler honors. He was joined on top of the podium by teammates Vincent DePrez (138), Anthony DePrez (145) and Mike Spallina (152), an eighth grader. Spallina wasn’t the only young wrestler to take top billing. After impressing nearly everyone in attendance at the Eastern States last weekend, seventh grader Frankie Gissendanner of Penfield put up another outstanding performance, taking the 126-pound crown over top seed Rosario Venniro, 3-1.

Spencerport was well represented among the titlewinners as well, with champions Jonathan Haas at 106, Trent Egenlauf at 182 and Austin Coleman at heavyweight. Grabbing heavyweight MOW honors was 160-pound champion Josh Powell of Churchville-Chili.

For more details, see here.

Islip Cup

Brentwood sat atop the team standings at the Kris McDonald Islip Cup, ahead of Sachem North and Islip. Leading the way for the top squad were champions Alex Romero (145), Luis Rodriguez (152) and David Rodriguez (285).

Photo by BV

Several state title contenders also picked up first place as the Half Hollow Hills West duo of Tyler Grimaldi (160) and Joe Piccolo (170) were victorious. As mentioned earlier, Piccolo avenged an earlier season loss to Brentwood’s Carlos Toribio with a first period pin. Both will be in the podium picture in Albany. Sachem North’s Gio Santiago has experience on the medal stand at the Times Union Center, as he took sixth a year ago. He continued his solid campaign with a fall over Jagger Rebozo in the 182-pound final.

For more results, see here.

Kohl Tournament

Huntington racked up 268 points, outdistancing Monroe Woodbury (201.5) and Port Jervis (166) for the title. The Blue Devils were led by Most Outstanding Wrestler Joseph Puca, who upset state-ranked Dan DeCarlo of Port Jervis for the 152-pound crown, 1-0. Also making the top of the podium for Huntington were John Arceri (99), Corey Jamison (126), Nick Lupi (220) and Anthony Puca (285).

For full brackets, see here.

Edgemont Panther Tournament

Photo by BV

Edgemont won its own tournament by five points over Pearl River on Saturday, spurred by champion Trey Aslanian at 120 pounds. Also making the finals for the host team were Kyle Aslanian (99), Chris Kim (170) and Jason Worobow (182). One of the top 145 pounders in the Empire State, Tom Grippi of Fox Lane, pinned his way to the title.

For more results, see 2013 Edgemont Bracket FINAL RESULTS

 

ECIC Championships

In Section 6, Clarence won the title by almost 100 points over Lancaster.  Clarence had eight finalists, including three title winners.  For full results, see here.

Beacon

In addition to the dominance of Ossining’s Alex Delacruz, there were many standout showings at this tournament. One of those was the 195-pound championship for Horace Greeley’s Scott Wymbs. When Wymbs, named the Outstanding Wrestler, beat Kingston’s Deon Edmond for the title, he became his school’s all-time wins leader.

Dual Meets

For additional dual meet results from the weekend, see here.

Live Stream to Begin at 5 for Windsor Christmas Tournament; Finals Matches Set

The live stream is now complete.  Thank you for your attendance.

Finals Results:

99 Pounds: John Arceri (Huntington) TF Collyn Shippos (Ithaca), 16-0

106 Pounds: Jimmy Overhiser (Corning) fall Kyle Mock (Huntington) :45

113 Pounds: Kyle Kelly (Chenango Forks) fall Dylan Wood (Walton) 1:12

120 Pounds: Nate Hayes (Windsor) dec Anthony Colon (Chenango Valley), 4-0

126 Pounds:  Corey Jamison (Huntington) dec William Koll (Lansing), 3-1

132 Pounds: Tristan Rifanburg (Norwich) fall Jesse Griswold (BGA), 1:52

138 Pounds: Connor Lapresi (Lansing) dec Justin Cirigliano (BGA), 8-4

145 Pounds: Brandon Mendez (Huntington) maj Trevor Parrish (Greene), 11-1

152 Pounds: Kyle Halladay (Chenango Valley) dec Dan Dickman (Greene), 3-2

160 Pounds: Mike Beckwith (Greene) dec Leland Slawson (Unatego), 4-0

170 Pounds: Christian Dietrich (Greene) TF Ryan Marszal (Unatego), 16-0

182 Pounds: Mike Beers (Walton) dec Andy Martinez (Liberty), 4-0

195 Pounds: Mark Viviano (BGA) fall Matt Brozovic (ME), 1:38

220 Pounds: Ryan Wolcott (Waverly) dec Nick Lupi (Huntington), 2-1

285 Pounds: Anthony Puca (Huntington) dec Andrew Brinser (Union Endicott), 3-0

Final Team Scores

1. Huntington 168

2. Greene 123

3. Canandaigua 115

4. Union Endicott 111

5  BGA 106

 

Windsor Christmas Tournament Features Several State Title Contenders – Watch LIVE STREAM of the Finals

 

 

To watch the live stream of the Windsor Finals, see HERE.

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For over a half-century, some of the best in the state have traveled to Section 4 at the end of December for the oldest organized tournament in New York.

The Windsor Christmas Tournament will once again boast talent from around the Empire State and beyond, including squads from at least five Sections and from Pennsylvania.

Last year’s field included four 2012 state champions as well as more than 13 state placewinners, according to Windsor head coach Jeffery Nolan.

A number of those wrestlers will be back, including two-time state champion Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks, who will be looking to add to his storied career.

“Kyle Kelly has won three times,” Nolan said. “In all these years we’ve only had five wrestlers win four titles. It would be special if he joined that pretty elite group.”

Kelly is one of six returning champions from the 2011 event, along with Suffolk County’s Corey Jamison and Anthony Puca of Huntington, Greene teammates Mike Beckwith and Joel Roselle and Tristan Rifanburg of Norwich.

Fans can watch these wrestlers try to get on top of the podium again as for the first time in the tournament’s history, the finals will be available to watch via livestream.

“We take a lot of pride in this tournament,” Nolan said. “When I started here, it became one of my biggest priorities right away. We’ve tried to make small improvements, mostly technological. We are excited for the opportunity to livestream our finals, which is something we’ve wanted to do in the past but hadn’t pulled the trigger.”

The title bouts are scheduled to begin on Friday, December 28 at 5 p.m.  However, given the developing weather situation in the area, that time may change.  Stay tuned.

The link to the livestream is : HERE

Those finals should feature state title contenders at a number of classes.

“There is quality depth at a lot of weights,” Nolan said. “A few stand out right away. 126 should be interesting and 220 is shaping up to be a heck of a weight.”

William Koll, Photo by BV

At 126 pounds, entrants include former state champion William Koll of Lansing, defending champion (at 120) Corey Jamison of Huntington (the number two seed in Albany a year ago) and qualifier Jake Green of Chenango Forks. Green, who recently won a tough class at the PSAL Holiday tournament at Madison Square Garden, split matches with Jamison a year ago.  Additionally, a pair of state qualifiers — the currently undefeated Richie Burke of Ithaca and Austin Ryan of Unatego — will add to the competitiveness at 126 as will Susquehanna Valley’s Ian Lupole.

Another bracket to watch will be at 220 pounds, led by nationally-ranked Nick Lupi of Huntington. The Section 11 wrestler dropped a one-point overtime decision to 2012 state champion Kyle Stanton of Greene in the Windsor title bout last December. Lupi will see some great matches with returning Section 4 champion Ryan Wolcott of Waverly, Matt Abbott of Windsor (third at this tournament in 2011), Canandaigua’s Tyler Ordiway and Union Endicott’s Lucas Depofi in the mix.
In all, more than half of the wrestlers ranked in the top two of their weight classes in the Section 4 rankings are scheduled to be in attendance at the tournament.

Last year, Section 2’s Colonie took the team title by 20 points over Suffolk County’s Huntington. Less than 10 points behind were squads in third to sixth place – Greene, Norwich, Towanda and Union Endicott.  This year, Nolan calls the field “wide open” and believes last year’s ninth place finisher, Unatego, will have an impact on the tournament with wrestlers such as Austin Ryan, Leland Slawson, Codie Nichols, Kevin Thayer and Ryan Marszal.

Action will begin at 5 p.m. on Thursday, December 27, weather permitting.

This year’s participating teams:

Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton, Canandaigua, Chenango Forks, Chenango Valley, Corning, Greene, Huntington, Ithaca, Lansing, Liberty, Maine Endwell, Norwich, Saratoga Springs, Southern Cayuga, Susquehanna Valley, Towanda PA, Union Endicott, Unadilla Valley, Unatego, Walton, Waverly, Windsor

Top 5 Seeds at Each Weight

99 Pounds:

  1. John Arceri (Huntington)
  2. Richard Schrade (Saratoga Springs)
  3. Colyn Shippos (Ithaca)
  4. Jake Lehr (Chenango Valley)
  5. Grant Gannon (Union Endicott)

106 Pounds:

  1. Jimmy Overhiser (Corning)
  2. Cole Rifanburg (Norwich)
  3. Kyle Mock (Huntington)
  4. Jared Lines (Towanda)
  5. Declan Levine (Ithaca)

113 Pounds:

  1. Kyle Kelly (Chenango Forks)
  2. Dominic Inzana (Saratoga Springs)
  3. Kobe Garrehy (Maine Endwell)
  4. Dylan Wood (Walton)
  5. Mikey Carr (Union Endicott)

120 Pounds:

  1. Hunter Rumpf (Saratoga Springs)
  2. Nate Hayes (Windsor)
  3. Logan Robinson (Walton)
  4. Ryan Castle (Greene)
  5. Kyle Hughes (Union Endicott)

126 Pounds:

  1. William Koll (Lansing)
  2. Corey Jamison (Huntington)
  3. Richie Burke (Ithaca)
  4. Jacob Green (Chenango Forks)
  5. Ian Lupole (Susquehanna Valley)

132 Pounds:

  1. Tristan Rifanburg (Norwich)
  2. Jesse Griswold (BGA)
  3. Brock Post (Maine Endwell)
  4. Terrick Vargason (Towanda)
  5. Carl Rouse (Chenango Forks)

138 Pounds:

  1. Connor Lapresi (Lansing)
  2. Justin Cirigliano (BGA)
  3. Zak Garrehy (Maine Endwell)
  4. Austyn Bostick (Waverly)
  5. Vinny Romeo (Canandaigua)

145 Pounds:

  1. Codie Nichols (Unatego)
  2. Trevor Parrish (Greene)
  3. Evan Vershay (Canandaigua)
  4. Brandon Mendez (Huntington)
  5. Joey Peters (Waverly)

152 Pounds:

  1. Dan Dickman (Greene)
  2. Kyle Halladay (Chenango Valley)
  3. Kevin Thayer (Unatego)
  4. Brandon Hamilton (Maine Endwell)
  5. Ian VanValen (Ithaca)

160 Pounds:

  1. Mike Beckwith (Greene)
  2. Leland Slawson (Unatego)
  3. Brandon Ellers (Waverly)
  4. Justin Hunsinger (Towanda)
  5. John Mallouk (Huntington)

170 Pounds:

  1. Ryan Marszal (Unatego)
  2. Christian Dietrich (Greene)
  3. Nathan Bomysoad (Union Endicott)
  4. Isaiah Zimmer (Chenango Forks)
  5. Robert Woodward (Chenango Valley)

182 Pounds:

  1. Andy Martinez (Liberty)
  2. Mike Beers (Walton)
  3. Seth Gordon (Windsor)
  4. Tristian Roche (Susquehanna Valley)
  5. Riley Hanrahan (Unatego)

195 Pounds:

  1. Mark Viviano (BGA)
  2. Matt Brozovic (Maine Endwell)
  3. Gustavo Loarca (Saratoga Springs)
  4. Danny Dillon (Canandaigua)
  5. Jeff Klossner (Waverly)

220 Pounds:

  1. Nick Lupi (Huntington)
  2. Ryan Wolcott (Waverly)
  3. Matt Abbott (Windsor)
  4. Tyler Ordiway (Canandaigua)
  5. Lucas Depofi (Union Endicott)

285 Pounds:

  1. Anthony Puca (Huntington)
  2. Steve Kerrigan (Susquehanna Valley)
  3. Jim Helin (Saratoga Springs)
  4. Austin Lamb (Canandaigua)
  5. Andrew Brinser (Union Endicott)

 

Section 4 Preview: State Champions Kelly, Lapresi, Koll and Rifanburg Look for More Titles; Williams for His First

Section 4 has nine 2012 All-State wrestlers returning, including former state champions Kyle Kelly, Connor Lapresi, William Koll and Tristan Rifanburg, as well as runner up Reggie Williams.  For the teams and wrestlers to watch in 2012-13, please read on.

Division I 

Returning State Placewinners (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Kyle Kelly, Chenango Forks, State Champion

106 Pounds: Jimmy Overhiser, Corning, Fourth Place

182 Pounds: James Benjamin, Vestal, Fifth Place

195 Pounds: Reggie Williams, Johnson City, Second Place

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

113 Pounds: Jake Green, Chenango Forks

120 Pounds: Richie Burke, Ithaca

126 Pounds: Brock Post, Maine-Endwell

132 Pounds: Curtis Grant, Elmira

138 Pounds: Trevor Hoffmier, Newark Valley

152 Pounds: Greg Kleinsmith, Johnson City

160 Pounds: Zach Colgan, Johnson City

 

Leading the Way:

Kyle Kelly, Photo by Boris V

Let’s start with two-time titlewinner Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks.  Kelly boasted a perfect 37-0 junior season with 31 wins by bonus points.  His dominance wasn’t limited to the regular season, as he outscored his opponents in Albany 17-3 and also recorded a pin.  The Section 4 standout, who took fourth as a freshman, will try to finish his career as a Blue Devil with three straight times at the top of the podium at the Times Union Center, likely up a weight or two.

Reggie Williams of Johnson City isn’t a state champion … yet.  But he’ll be favored to get his first title this year. Williams has been one of the top upperweights in the state since his freshman season.  In his ninth grade year, he was sixth in Albany and as a sophomore, he took a few more steps forward, notching second in the Empire State after going 40-3 with all three losses coming to New York champion Tony Fusco of Shenendehowa. To learn more about Reggie Williams, see the link here.

James Benjamin rarely needed a full six minutes for his matches last season. The Vestal wrestler went 38-3 a year ago with 32 pins.  In fact, he won four bouts at the state tournament on his way to fifth place and all four victories were by fall (and all in less than three minutes).  As the highest returning placer from the 182-pound bracket in Albany, Benjamin will have a good chance to end his career at or near the top of the podium.

Jimmy Overhiser, Photo by Boris V

Also looking to step up higher on the medal stand is Jimmy Overhiser, who racked up a 31-4 mark on the way to fourth at 106 pounds and who participated in some high profile offseason events, such as the Disney Duals with Team New York Kong in Florida.

 

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Reggie Williams isn’t the only person to watch on the Johnson City squad.  He is surrounded by quality wrestlers, including returning qualifiers Greg Kleinsmith (26-10 as a freshman 152 pounder) and Zach Colgan (39-8 at 160 pounds with a pin over Fox Lane’s Matt Pasqualini in Albany).  Winning Section 4 titles meant more than just a trip to the state tournament for Colgan and Kleinsmith last year.  According to head coach Jordan Glenn, both made “family history” as their fathers and/or uncles had wrestled for the Wildcats in the past and had come close to capturing Section crowns, but hadn’t quite achieved the feat.  Glenn believes that both will win more matches this year in Albany, and also has high hopes for a number of young wrestlers on the squad, including another Colgan (Isaiah), who won over 20 matches as an eighth grader at 99 pounds.

Jake Green (Chenango Forks) – Kyle Kelly is unlikely to be the only person racking up points for Chenango Forks this year in the postseason. Jake Green went 1-2 at the state championships in 2012, but he did so with a very challenging draw. His three matches were against the top two seeds in the bracket (Mark Raghunandan and Corey Jamison) and the eventual champion, Dylan Realbuto.  Green was in every match, defeating Jamison, while dropping a 6-4 decision to Realbuto and a three-pointer to Raghunandan.  He proved he could hang with some of the best and will look to get over the top in 2013.

“He was good enough to place last year but faced some really tough wrestlers in a strong weight class,” said Union Endicott coach Josh Ruff.  “He put in the time after the season and I would be really surprised if he didn’t place this year.”

Richie Burke (Ithaca) – As a ninth grader, Burke made his second trip to wrestle at the Times Union Center.  He capped off a 29-7 year by going 1-2, losing to the fourth and fifth place finishers. Four of his other setbacks during the season came to qualifier Jake Green (three times) and state champion William Koll, while he registered a victory over Division II qualifier Nate Hayes of Windsor.  Burke will look to build off victories such as that one in his sophomore season.

Trevor Hoffmier and Derek Holcomb (Newark Valley) – As a sophomore, Hoffmier compiled an impressive 28-4 mark with 18 pins.  In Albany, he began with a loss against runner up Alexis Blanco of Section 11 but rebounded with a victory before a one-point setback against Section 1’s Tom Grippi ended the competition for him.  However, he and teammate Derek Holcomb should once again form a formidable duo in the Newark Valley lineup.  Holcomb, who had over 30 wins in 2011-12, recorded several quality victories, including one over All-State wrestler Dan Dickman from Greene.  In addition, Holcomb made the medal stand at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach.  He hopes to add to his accolades in February in the state capital.

“They’re both really talented kids,” Ruff said.  “I could see both of them winning matches at the state tournament.  Holcomb got caught up in a tough match at Sectionals and got upset, but he has a great chance of getting to Albany this year.”

Alex Francik (Vestal) – As a 152-pound junior, Francik sported a 34-2 record, with 23 pins and only six regular decisions.  He defeated Greg Kleinsmith 7-5 in late January before the Johnson City wrestler returned the favor with a one-point win in the Section tournament.   In his final high school season, Francik will look to take the next step to the state championships.

 

The Team Race . . .

Union-Endicott ran away with the Division I team title in 2012 by over 40 points with tremendous balance – 13 wrestlers were fourth or higher in their weight class (and two others competed in the fifth place tilt).  Ten of those grapplers are back, including second place finisher Mikey Carr (106) and third place medalist Heze Morgan (120).  In addition, fourth placers Kyle Hughes, Xavian Hughes, Nathan Bomysoad and Lucas Depofi are slated to take the mat again.

Ruff believes that many of those wrestlers are ready for breakout years. Bomysoad, for example, earned 30 wins at 152 pounds, including a victory over Greg Kleinsmith (who won the rematch).  Ruff believes he is ready to take the next step.

“Nate wrestles so hard,” the coach said. “His work ethic is incredible and he showed he could beat high caliber kids last year.”  Two of the many other wrestlers Ruff believes are ready to compete at a higher level are Zack Bendick, who won over 20 matches as a freshman and Xavian Hughes, who took fourth in the Section as a sophomore at 132 pounds.

“I’m confident that Xavian can wrestle with anyone in the section on his feet.  If he improves on the mat, he could qualify for states.  And Bendick is very talented.  He has improved so much since last season and is ready to wrestle the top caliber guys.”

All of those returners will certainly put significant points on the board, but sizable scoring was lost with the departure of Section champions Richie Lupo and Tyler Bayer as well as Jordan Billet (second), Tyler Hubbert (third) and Tyler Allen (third).  In addition, 2012 Section 4 runner up at 160 pounds, Sammy Davis, suffered an injury in football that will keep him out at least until January.  Those losses will open the door for challengers such as last year’s runner up and third place team, Vestal and Johnson City, respectively.

“We were very well balanced last year,” Ruff said. “We didn’t really have superstars, but we had a tough guy in every weight class.  This year is a little different. We bring back Lucas Depofi at 220 but we graduated most of our other upperweights and now with Sammy Davis’s injury, we’re a little thin there.  We do feel, though, that we’re stacked in the lightweights and middleweights and we do bring back a lot of points.  I think if we continue to work really hard, we’ll be challenging for the title at the section tournament.”

Reggie Williams, Photo by Boris V

Also clearly in the mix is Johnson City, which has significant firepower. The squad is led by the trio discussed above: Reggie Williams, Zach Colgan and Greg Kleinsmith.  In addition, four wrestlers who lost only once at the Section tournament a year ago, juniors Anthony Johns, Joseph Hamdan and Conner Halladay as well as freshman Isaiah Colgan, will look to improve upon their showings.  Meanwhile, Corey McCormick, Nick Bidwell, Joshua Dember and Nikola Cejic will bring experience to the table.  Reggie Williams spoke with excitement about his squad’s potential in 2012-13.

“We have a great coaching staff and a great team,” Williams said. “We’re better than people think.  The sky’s the limit for us at Johnson City.”

Union Endicott and Johnson City will be tested by Vestal, which returns six wrestlers who were top four a year ago, including All-Stater James Benjamin. The Golden Bears graduated 220-pound state qualifier Anthony Osman and fourth placer Andre Strano, but will be a threat with Alex Francik, heavyweight Juwin Jumpp and young up and comers Robert Mastronardi (third at 126 as a freshman), Owen Jarrold (third at 132 in ninth grade) and Hunter Beck (fourth at 106 as an eighth grader).  Other experienced wrestlers who competed in the fifth place bouts last year such as Alex Crostley, Tom Flynn, Collin Vangordon and David Gardner will try to push Vestal higher in the race.

Newark Valley has some heavy hitters to account for, including returning champion Trevor Hoffmier and other top three placers Vinnie Darpino, Dan Geisenhof and Derek Holcomb.

While Union Endicott won the section by a significant number of points a year ago, a 40-point margin between first and second seems a lot less likely this year.

 

Division II

Returning State Placewinners (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Joe Nelson, Oxford, Third Place

113 Pounds: William Koll, Lansing, Third Place

126 Pounds: Tristan Rifanburg, Norwich, Sixth Place

132 Pounds: Connor Lapresi, Lansing, State Champion

152 Pounds: Dan Dickman, Greene, Fourth Place

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Dylan Wood, Walton

106 Pounds: Sean Ballard, Whitney Point

113 Pounds: Nate Hayes, Windsor

120 Pounds: Austin Ryan, Unatego

132 Pounds: Frank Garcia, Norwich

145 Pounds: Kyle Halladay, Chenango Valley

160 Pounds: Mike Beckwith, Greene

170 Pounds: Ryan Wolcott, Waverly

182 Pounds: Mike Beers, Walton

195 Pounds: Mark Viviano, Bainbridge-Guilford-Afton

220 Pounds: Dillon Hurlbert, Marathon

 

Top Wrestlers:

Senior Connor Lapresi of Lansing is looking to end his high school career with a second consecutive state crown before heading off to Bucknell.  After avenging his only regular season loss (to Wesley Blanding) in the semifinals in Albany, Lapresi controlled the finals against Curt Rowley to end his junior campaign with a gold medal.  Lapresi hasn’t limited his wrestling success to the Empire State, as he was an All-American in Virginia Beach at both the NHSCA Freshman and Sophomore Nationals in 2010 and 2011.

William Koll, Photo by Boris V

Lapresi isn’t the only Bobcats grappler with title aspirations.  Teammate William Koll has made the medal stand in both of his appearances at the state tournament.  As a freshman, he captured the 103-pound crown with a fall over multiple-time state placer Trey Aslanian of Edgemont.  This past February, Koll took third at 113 pounds in a bracket that featured at least five past medalists.   He also was the New York State Greco Roman and Freestyle champion in May, winning both brackets in dominant fashion.  Additionally, Koll has demonstrated his national competitiveness on multiple occasions, with strong performances at the Disney Duals and a runner up finish at the NHSCA Freshman Nationals in 2011.

Tristan Rifanburg also knows what it’s like to place second nationally, as he did just that at the NHSCA Freshman tournament this spring.  That showing came after the Norwich wrestler earned his third consecutive medal in Albany, taking sixth in a deep 126-pound class.  Rifanburg will look to get back to a familiar place in 2013 at the Times Union Center – the Saturday night finals.  He was a state champion as a seventh grader at 96 pounds and a runner up a year later.  For all his accomplishments, Intermat has Rifanburg ranked as the #45 sophomore in the country.

Joe Nelson, Photo by Boris V

Section 4 offers a number of other wrestlers who can challenge for top billing this season in Albany.  Joe Nelson of Oxford entered the state tournament as the top seed last year and after absorbing an upset to eventual runner up Nick Casella of Locust Valley, bounced back to earn third place.  Greene’s Dan Dickman also lost his second bout at the Times Union Center last year at 152 pounds, but came back to take fourth.

But other than those who were All-State before, here are some other wrestlers to keep tabs on this year . . .

Lightweights and Middleweights:

Austin Ryan (Unatego) – In his freshman season, Ryan picked up over 30 wins and made an appearance at the state tournament, where he went 1-2.  Scott Stafford, who handed him four of his losses, has graduated and one Section 4 coach mentioned that he believes Ryan is primed for a breakout year.  Unatego teammate Codie Nichols is another wrestler who could have a big campaign after going 37-6 last season.

Frank Garcia (Norwich) – The Norwich wrestler had a strong ninth grade season at 132 pounds, racking up a 36-5 mark with 11 falls and coming within one win of becoming All-State in Albany.  Garcia dropped multiple close decisions to state champion Connor Lapresi, including a 3-2 result in the quarterfinals at the Times Union Center.  The medal stand seems within the sophomore’s reach this season.

Jordan Torbitt (Whitney Point) – Torbitt wasn’t intimidated as an eighth grade middleweight, compiling a 29-6 record with 14 pins at 145 and 152 pounds.  Half of his losses were close decisions against wrestlers who placed in the top five at the state tournament – Dan Dickman of Greene, Wesley Blanding of Chittenango and Isaiah Riccio of Beaver River.  After the tough competition during the season, Torbitt excelled on the national stage, winning the NHSCA Middle School national title at 154 pounds in Virginia.  He will be a freshman to watch.

Kyle Halliday (Chenango Valley) – The senior boasted a 33-3 record in 2012, with 29 victories coming by bonus points.  He injury defaulted out of the state tournament after an opening round defeat, but registered several quality wins during course of the year, including over state qualifiers JT Romagnoli, Tyler Spann (twice), Greg Kleinsmith, and Richie Lupo.

And moving into the higher weights . . .

Mike Beckwith (Greene) – Beckwith faced a number of setbacks in an abbreviated 20-2 season in 2011-12.  However, he was able to get back on the mat for the Section 4 tournament, where he was completely in control of his bouts with two pins and two major decisions.  He has the talent to be on the podium, and although he dropped a pair of two-point matches at the state tournament this past year, he will be looking for more in 2013.

“Mike had a tough year,” Greene coach Tim Jenks said. “First an injury, then a car accident. He only had 11 days of practice between Christmas and the Section finals.  It’s amazing that he won the Section with so little practice.  What hurt him at the states was his conditioning.  In the close matches, he just didn’t have the gas.  We believe he’ll have a great year.”

Christian Dietrich (Greene) – Dietrich has the potential to be one of the Section’s best as he is set to return from a knee injury that kept him out for the 2011-12 campaign.  He accomplished the rare feat of placing in the middleweights as a seventh grader as he took sixth at 152 at the 2011 state tournament.  Now an upperweight who may compete anywhere from 170 to 195 according to Jenks, he is ready to pick up from where he left off two years ago and ascend higher on the podium as a freshman.  Jenks also mentioned that junior Joel Roselle may open some eyes this year after a solid sophomore season where he took third in the Section. “It was the first time he wrestled in a while,” Jenks said.  “He’ll be back and he’ll be tough at 170 or 182.”

While Greene offers some tough wrestlers like Beckwith, Dietrich and Roselle in the upperweights, they’ll have plenty of competition in the Section as three returning top 8 wrestlers will take the mat – Mike Beers, Ryan Wolcott and Dillon Hurlbert, as will qualifier Mark Viviano.

Mike Beers (Walton) – Keegan Cerwinski was a bit of nemesis for Beers last year, handing him three losses. Still, Greene coach Jenks was impressed with what Beers showed in those bouts and pointed to him as a wrestler to watch in 2012-13. The Walton grappler notched 28 victories, including 19 pins and came within one win of earning All-State honors in Albany after he dropped a 2-1 decision in his last bout at the Times Union Center.

Ryan Wolcott (Waverly) – Wolcott didn’t get an easy road in Albany, going 2-2 with both of his losses to top three finishers (Nick Mitchell and Burke Paddock).  Wolcott and Paddock were the only entrants at 170 pounds that weren’t juniors or seniors.  He’ll have a great opportunity to get on the podium this time.

Dillon Hurlbert (Marathon) – Like Beers and Wolcott, Hurlbert split his four matches at the state tournament.  He was third in Section 4, but there was no shame in that, as he stood behind state champion Kyle Stanton and fourth place finisher Nick Talcott.  As a junior, the Marathon wrestler went 40-8 with more than 25 pins.  With only three of the top 8 competitors at 220 pounds returning, he will have a good chance to end his career with a medal.

Not to be forgotten is fellow upperweight Mark Viviano from Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton, who got a wildcard bid to Albany.  He had close to 30 wins, including a victory over state qualifier Kegan Levesque in the Section 4 tournament after losing to him the previous week. With the graduation of Ryan Todd, who defeated Viviano twice, including at the Times Union Center, Viviano will be expected to make a return trip to the state capital.

 

Division II Team Race . . .

Greene, the returning champion, lost All-Staters Keegan Cerwinski and Kyle Stanton to the college ranks.  But the Trojans, who won the Section 4 title by 13.5 points, will enter the campaign as the favorites as they bring back gold medalists Dan Dickman and Mike Beckwith as well as three other placers – Brendan Wheeler (third at 106), Joel Roselle (third at 170) and Trevor Parrish (fifth at 138). The addition of Christian Dietrich will also be significant.

“We have great kids coming back, including some who missed last year with injuries,” Jenks said.  “I think we should be the team to beat, but we do have some questions. I’m not sure whether we’ll have a 99 pounder and we need to figure out some things with our lineup.  We have a lot of great kids in the same weight classes and we’re not sure yet how we’re going to iron it out.  I look forward to a great year.”

Who can challenge Greene for the title?  The list of possibilities is long.

Connor Lapresi, Photo by Boris V

There are teams that are lead by a few top-notch wrestlers, such as Lansing and Norwich, the second and third place teams in 2012, respectively.  The Bobcats feature state champions William Koll and Connor Lapresi as well as freshman Greg Lee, who was fourth at 106 as an eighth grader.  However, they will have to replace the points of standouts Ryan Todd and Corey Dake.

As for Norwich, Rifanburg and Garcia will tally significant points, but they, like Lansing, lost substantial points in the form of four graduated Section placers.

Jenks mentioned a pair of teams that could challenge on the strength of a number of wrestlers that saw success in last year’s postseason – Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton and Unatego.  Bainbridge offers a solid team, with five of its six Section placers returning, including runner up Mark Viviano and a trio of fourth placers – Austin Carr, Justin Cirigliano, and Jesse Griswold.

Unatego had three finalists a year ago and all three are back – Austin Ryan, Kevin Thayer and Codie Nichols.  When you add Ryan Marszal (third at 145), Leland Slawson (fourth at 152) and Lucas DeJoy (sixth at 132) into the mix, it seems likely that the team can improve upon its eighth place showing.

Also looking to make its mark again is Chenango Valley, led by Kyle Halliday and a pair of sophomores – Anthony Colon and Billy Liberati, and Tioga with five 2012 Section medalists, including fourth placers Kaleb Stone and Tyler Spires.

Special thanks to all the coaches and wrestlers who contributed to this story.

 

More Season Previews:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 4 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 8 Preview

Section 9 Preview

CHSAA Preview

 

Season Preview Features (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 4 Feature: Looking for “Number Nine”: Reggie Williams Aims to Make History at Johnson City

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

Section 11 Feature: Nick Piccininni Looks to Continue Winning Streak

 

Looking for "Number Nine": Reggie Williams Aims to Make History at Johnson City

At first, it was about the trophies.

Reggie Williams missed basketball tryouts and he was looking for something to take the place of hoops in his schedule.

“In sixth grade, I didn’t have a sport to play in the winter,” Williams said.  “One of my friends always rubbed in my face that he had all these wrestling trophies.  I got only trophy per season in baseball, basketball and football, but in wrestling there were more.”

So, he decided to give wrestling a shot. And he took to it right away.

When seventh grade rolled around, Williams began on the modified team like most of his classmates, especially those at the higher weights.  But that didn’t last too long.

“I think I was on modified for a week,” Williams said with a laugh. “I pretty much destroyed everyone.”

So the next stop was the junior varsity, where his stay was longer than a week, but still pretty brief.  About halfway into the season, Williams moved up to the varsity squad only about a year after picking up the sport.

He didn’t waste any time finding success, placing fifth at the Section 4 tournament.

“It was pretty cool that I took fifth,” he said. “Coach [Peter] Capone did a great job teaching me some basics – a double leg, a breakdown, a stand up.  But I still didn’t know what I was doing a lot of the time on the mat.”

Photo by Boris V

He asked Capone what he needed to do to get to the next level and then he got to work.  He began lifting, learning more technique and training with a variety of partners.  A wide variety.

There were, of course, partners like the many he works with in the Johnson City room now, such as fellow state qualifiers Greg Kleinsmith, who Johnson City head coach Jordan Glenn said is exceptional on his feet and Zach Colgan, who is excellent in the top position.   But Williams worked with several others as well.

“I honestly believe anyone can wrestle anyone,” he said. “I was beaten up in the room by a guy who weighed 140 pounds.  I mean, brutally destroyed.  Good technique can do anything.  I wrestle with everyone.  I find myself wrestling the little guys more than the big guys.  I love training with the lightweights, so I can change up the pace of my matches.  After my practices, I also love to go wrestle with the pee wees.  They gang up and all attack me at the same time.  It’s fun to see the smiles on their faces and I try to teach them the basic things, because the basics can take you far.”

They took Williams pretty far as an eighth grader.  In the semifinals of the Sectionals, he pinned an opponent who had placed higher than him in a tournament earlier in the year.  He was headed to the Section 4 title bout and he said he was overcome with emotion.

“I looked at my coach and I started crying,” he said.  “My whole family came for the finals and the crowd was packed.  I wrestled my heart out and ended up losing in triple overtime.  I was hoping for a wildcard to states, but didn’t get it.”

Williams said he was disappointed, but not for too long.  His breakthrough was about to come.

“I felt like I really kept getting better and better without taking one step back,” he said of his ninth grade year.

It showed.  He racked up a 32-14 record as a freshman and captured his first Section 4 crown, winning by bonus points in each of his Sectional bouts.

Williams was unseeded in Albany as one of only two ninth graders in the 189-pound bracket, but he was undaunted.  In the second round, he met the number-two seed, Joe Cummings of Nyack, and came out on top 5-4 after hitting a snap down, spin behind in the third period.

In the semifinals, he fought hard against current North Carolina wrestler Frank Abbondanza, but a big move at the end of the second period was the difference in a loss.

“I still don’t remember how it happened,” he said.  “He had my leg and then the next thing I knew, I was trying to scramble and then I was falling backwards and the referee was counting back points.  I was really down after that match and it cost me a lot.  I didn’t bounce back well and I lost to guys I shouldn’t have in the wrestlebacks.  I learned something there about being stronger after losses.”

He put that to good use that summer as he earned All-America status at the NHSCA Freshman Nationals in Virginia Beach (fourth at 189 pounds).  His mettle was tested early as he fought through a close bout in the first round with some recognizable college coaches looking on.

“At Virginia Beach part of the reason that I finished where I did was that I was more of a straightforward wrestler at the time,” he said. “I didn’t really take angled shots.  Learning some Freestyle and Greco really helped me improve with angles.”

He apparently was a quick study as he went to Fargo for the Freestyle and Greco national championships a few months later and got on the podium there as well – while up a weight class (fifth at 215 pounds).

“Going into Fargo, I had an idea of how big the tournament was, but when I got there, I saw it was so much bigger than I expected,” he said. “I didn’t realize how tough it is to wrestle so many matches in such a short time.  You go hard in every single match against good competition and it got to me.  I’ve never been so exhausted.  If I was in better shape, I could have done better but the experience was amazing.”

Amazing could describe his sophomore year back in New York for the Wildcats as well.  In 2011-12, Williams registered a 39-3 mark, with all but six victories coming by bonus points and with all three losses coming against Shenendehowa state champion Tony Fusco.

The final setback was in the state finals, where Williams had quite a crowd pulling for him.

Courtesy of Reggie Williams

He said he remembers looking up at the stands and seeing Doug Stento, his football coach who he speaks fondly of, his mom and dad who don’t often see his matches, and his teammates.  In addition, he caught a glimpse of the t-shirt that was signed by a large number of Johnson City students (pictured).

“I saw all those people and I had that desire,” he said. “I got so fired up and wanted to do well to represent my school and my section.  Honestly, I felt like I was ready to play in the Super Bowl.  I made three mistakes and they cost me dearly.  Tony [Fusco] isn’t offensive or flashy, but he’s tough and strong.  When I made mistakes, he took advantage.  The worst part was that I felt like I let a lot of people down.”

Williams retreated to his hotel room afterwards, where he was soon joined by fellow silver medalist Keegan Cerwinski of Greene and a number of other Section 4 wrestlers.

“It seemed like the whole Section team was there,” he said. “We went out and walked the streets in Albany, talked and had a good time. Sometimes you have to just enjoy the little things in life.”

Right now, that’s enjoying football season where he is a fullback and linebacker and, for a brief time, he eats whatever he pleases.  But his mind doesn’t often stray from wrestling, which he sees far into his future.

Photo by Boris V

He said he has received letters from a number of top schools, including Iowa, Cornell, Columbia, Oklahoma and Lehigh, among others.  Williams isn’t sure what direction he’ll choose, but did stress that he’s looking for a place where his academic success will be a priority.  He also made clear that contrary to what he might have thought in the past, he won’t be a heavyweight.

“Reggie was thinking for a while he could be at 285 in college but then we went to the Penn State vs. Ohio State dual meet,” head coach Jordan Glenn said.  “After he saw the size of the boys at that level, he didn’t think that heavyweight would be the route for him.”

In fact, Williams said he “should have gone 182” last year and that he may certify at that weight for the upcoming campaign.

But at this point, the most important number isn’t his weight – it’s “nine”.

“We tell the boys all the time about the eight individual state champions we’ve had at this school,” Glenn said. “We talk about who will step up and become the ninth. We’re looking to get number nine this year and Reggie has what it takes to do it.”

“I’m thinking all the time about being number nine,” Williams said before quickly adding, “Or number 10 if one of my teammates beats me to it. That’s what’s driving me so much right now.  I’m going all out. I don’t want to lose a match and I want to pin anyone who steps on the mat with me.  My mindset now is that I have to win.  I wanted to be a three-time state champion but now I want to be the first two-time champion in Johnson City history.  I daydream about what I would do after winning states a lot.”

That would be yet another trophy for Reggie Williams.

 

More Season Preview Articles (and more on the way)

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 8 Preview

Section 9 Preview

CHSAA Preview

 

Features (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

Section 11 Feature: Nick Piccininni Looks to Continue Winning Streak