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.

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Buffalo Bound: Two-Time New York State Placer Alex Smythe Commits to the Bulls

After placing at the Section 6 championships four times previously, Eden’s Alex Smythe captured his first Section title in February of 2013 inside Alumni Arena on the campus of the University at Buffalo.

Smythe, a two-time New York State medalist, plans to win many more matches in that location as he committed to head coach John Stutzman and the Bulls a few days ago. He expects to begin at 157 pounds and possibly transition to 165 later in his career.

“I really liked the coaches and it’s a great place for college,” Smythe said, adding that he also considered Binghamton and Eastern Michigan. “I think we’re going to do really well in wrestling and I’ll get a great education.  I also liked a lot of the guys on the team.”

He’s already familiar with a number of his future teammates.

“I know a lot of the guys and I know we’ll work well together,” Smythe said. “It was definitely a factor, especially since my best friend, Rocco Russo, is also going to Buffalo and we’ll be roommates.”

Courtesy of Alex Smythe

Smythe has been working with Russo and other local standouts to prepare for his last high school campaign after taking third at 152 pounds at the New York State tournament as a junior.

“I’m focused on being in good shape and winning all my matches this year,” he said. “I did a lot of training in the summer – a lot of wrestling and running.  I worked out with guys like Rocco [Russo], [state champion] Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer and Jake Weber.  I also did a lot of Freestyle and Greco. Fargo was a good experience, wrestling the best guys in the nation.  [He went 2-2 in Freestyle with two technical falls and losses by 11-10 and 12-10 scores]. I was right there, even in the matches I lost.  I was close.”

He had similar sentiments about the state tournament in 2013.  Although Smythe didn’t come into Albany as a high seed, he had a lot of confidence after a season of more than 40 wins, where his only setbacks came in close decisions against state champion Drew Hull and two-time finalist Eric Lewandowski.  Taking first place at the qualifier provided him with a boost as well.

“Finally winning the Section title was a big weight off my shoulders,” he said. “I definitely felt good coming into the state tournament.”

At the Times Union Center, Smythe began with a major decision and followed up with a 3-1 victory over fourth-seeded Tyler Spann to make the semifinals against the bracket’s #1 grappler, Rowdy Prior of Phoenix.  He had a lead in that bout going into the last two minutes before Prior turned the tide.

“I was winning 4-2 in the beginning of the third period when I got caught and pinned,” Smythe said.

He bounced back in the consolations, shutting out Brett Pastore of Irvington and then edging Spann for the second time to nab bronze.  Still, he wasn’t quite satisfied.

“I was a little down because I came in expecting to win,” he said.

He expected to win partially because of the experience he had in his first appearance in Albany as a freshman in 2011.  Smythe lost a 2-0 decision to the eventual champion in round one but rebounded with four victories in the consolations to work his way back to fifth place at 125 pounds in his ninth grade year.

“That was sweet,” Smythe said. “My teammate Tom Page [now wrestling at American] took third that year at 119 and he was a really good partner.  Wrestling with guys like that in the room made me so much better. After I placed as a freshman, I thought I could place every year. I thought I’d make my mark.”

He began his sophomore campaign strong, but midway through that season, he tore his meniscus and wasn’t the same the rest of the way.

“I tried to wrestle but I wasn’t up to par,” he said. “I was losing to guys I beat earlier.  I messed up at the Section 6 tournament and that was really disappointing.”

Smythe had surgery right after the season and worked through the rehab process.  And he followed up with the third place finish in New York.  With all he’s done since February, Smythe believes he “is much better overall and definitely a smarter wrestler.”

Now, he’s ready for a strong finish to his Eden career before making the short journey to Buffalo for college.

“I feel like I should have won a state championship last year,” he said. “But now my goal is to get that off my mind by going undefeated and winning the state title as a senior.”

———————–

Alex Smythe thanked his coaches, Tom Page and Chuck Rizzo, as well as his dad, for his wrestling success.

Regional Showdown: Section 5 (Western) Comes Out on Top at NYWAY Dual Event Featuring New York Standouts

The scene at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center on Saturday was no doubt an interesting one. At the 23rd American International Karate Championships hosted by Kyokushin Karate Fitness USA, there were teams from several continents participating in various competitions, including those involving swords and boards. (The events included kata, weapons kata, knockdown fighting, grappling, clicker fighting and creative breaking).

And in the middle of it all, was a wrestling mat with some of New York’s top grapplers competing for regional bragging rights.

At the 1st Annual NYWAY Challenge Duals, wrestlers from Sections 5 and 6 took the mat.  After an overtime bout and a number of close matches, it was Section 5 (NYWAY Western Region) that came out on top 37-13 in a contest that included more than 10 state qualifiers.

“It was absolutely incredible,” said Adam Burgos of the G2 World Wrestling Academy, who was an event organizer. “It was a really diverse environment and great to be a part of it.  The wrestling was really intense and it was just exciting overall.”

Spencerport state qualifier Collin Pittman got the meet off to a good start for Section 5 (NYWAY Western Region) with a tight victory over Section 6 champion Jake Weber at 184 pounds.  But Pittman’s job wasn’t done.  He took the mat again in the final bout of the dual at 197, picking up his second victory of the day, this time by major decision.

“It started with a bang with two guys who were at the state tournament last year,” Burgos said of the Pittman-Weber bout. “It was an intense match – 0-0 going into the second.  Pittman wound up taking it 6-4.”

After Mitch Sever of Section 6 (NYWAY Far West Region) evened things up on the scoreboard with a victory over Hilton’s Sammy DePrez at 101, Section 5 went on a run with four wins in five matches, including three bonus point triumphs.

Penfield’s Parker Kropman picked up a close win over Hector Colom at 108 before state champion Yianni Diakomihalis notched a technical fall at 115, Tommy Lancie topped state qualifier Garrett Baugher by major at 128 and, in a battle of state qualifiers, Lou DePrez pinned Andrew Shomers at 134.

Following that last bout, Freddy Eckles took back some momentum with a big win of his own over Frankie Gissendanner at 140. However, Section 5 closed out the dual with victories in four of the last five, including wins by Skylar Kropman (147), Anthony DePrez (154), Joe Lupisella (162, against state qualifier Ryan Kromer) and the previously mentioned Pittman.

Also coming out on top for Section 6 (NYWAY Far West Region) were Sectional champion Ryan Burns, who captured a hard-fought overtime decision over Jake Morley at 122, and Nate Schwab, who edged Josh Goodman at 172.

(Full results are posted at the end of the article).

It was the first time wrestling made an appearance at the longstanding karate event, but it sounds like it won’t be the last.

“The tournament director [Shihan Michael Monaco] was ecstatic about how the wrestling went,” Burgos said. “He definitely wants to expand on it next year.  There was definitely enough space to put in more mats.  With an international presence in the karate tournament, we may even consider doing an international freestyle event.  This was a great start. Two hours of intense wrestling with a lot of high quality kids. It’s great to have this kind of wrestling in September.”

Courtesy of Adam Burgos

 

RESULTS (courtesy of Adam Burgos)

184: Collin Pittman (Western) over Jake Weber (Far West), 6-4

101: Mitch Sever (Far West) over Sammy DePrez (Western), 7-4

108: Parker Kropman (Western) over Hector Colom (Far West), 4-1

115: Yianni Diakomihalis (Western) over Tito Colom (Far West), 16-3

122: Ryan Burns (Far West) over Jake Morley (Western), 9-7 (OT)

128: Tommy Lancie (Western) over Garrett Baugher (Far West), 8-0

134: Lou DePrez (Western) over Andrew Shomers (Far West), Pin 3:10

140: Freddy Eckles (Far West) over Frankie Gissendanner (Western), 17-8

147: Skylar Kropman (Western) over Nate Martin (Far West), 9-3

154: Anthony DePrez (Western) over DJ Marshall (Far West), TF

162: Joe Lupisella (Western) over Ryan Kromer (Far West), 8-3

172: Nate Schwab (Far West) over Josh Goodman (Western), 4-3

197: Collin Pittman (Western) over Tyler Hall (Far West), 14-6

Head Coaches:

Western: Adam Burgos

Far West: Dave Hockenberry

 

Cheektowaga to the Cyclones: National Champion Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer Picks Iowa State

Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer took his official recruiting visit to Iowa State last weekend not knowing what to expect.

He left Ames as a Cyclone, after giving head coach Kevin Jackson a verbal commitment before returning home.

“I just liked everything about it,” he said. “I liked the workout they had and the football game was fun.  I felt really comfortable.  The coaching staff is great and I really like the campus – it wasn’t too big where it was overwhelming.  I thought it was perfect for me.”

The Cheektowaga senior, who projects as a 141 pounder at the next level, said he was also considering Buffalo, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina State and Ohio State.

Rodriguez-Spencer with future coaches Kevin Jackson and Troy Nickerson, courtesy of Todd Rodriguez-Spencer

It’s easy to see why Rodriguez-Spencer, currently ranked #37 in the Class of 2014 by Intermat and #89 by Flowrestling, was highly sought after by schools around the country.

He has medaled at tough tournaments numerous times over the years, including at the Pan American Games in 2010 and at Fargo (third at 132 pounds in Greco Roman) in 2012.

He followed up that All-America performance last summer with a 48-0 junior campaign for Cheektowaga, winning 42 matches by bonus points.  After a runner up finish as a sophomore at the New York state tournament, Rodriguez-Spencer returned to the Saturday night finals this February at the Times Union Center and topped Tristan Rifanburg of Norwich 2-1 at 132 pounds to earn his first state crown.

“I was very excited about the way last year went,” he said. “I wrestled the way I wanted to most of the time. I wanted to go through the season without getting taken down. [He said he was taken down once]. I was really happy to win the title.”

It wasn’t long before he climbed to the top of the podium again.  A few weeks after the high school season concluded, Rodriguez-Spencer nabbed a national championship at the NHSCA tournament in Virginia Beach.  He cruised through his first five matches at 138 pounds before facing Maryland’s Alfred Bannister, a two-time title winner at the event.  Trailing by a point late in the third, Rodriguez-Spencer executed the “flying squirrel” to pick up the winning takedown just before time expired.

“He was pretty low and I couldn’t get to a shot,” Rodriguez-Spencer said a day after that event. “The obvious option was to go over the top. Once I decided to do it, I knew I had to hit it hard and do it strong.”

He stayed strong while transitioning into the international styles, taking fifth at the FILA Juniors in Las Vegas before representing Team New York well at the Junior Duals in Oklahoma.  In the Sooner State, he went 15-1 combined in Freestyle and Greco, and was ready to make some noise at the national championships at Fargo.

It started out well in Greco for Rodriguez-Spencer in North Dakota, as he captured victories in his first five bouts.  However, in his next contest, he suffered an injury.

“I hurt my elbow in the last few seconds of the match,” he said. “I couldn’t move my arm, so I had to drop out of the tournament. It was really hard to do.  I worked so hard getting prepared and went out there to do some big things. To get hurt like that was really tough.”

So, his pursuit of Fargo gold was put on hold.  But Rodriguez-Spencer has his sights set on more trophies as a senior before heading to Iowa State.  He said he will likely begin the 2013-14 campaign at 145 pounds and move to 138 after Christmas.

“I want to win another state title, go undefeated and not get taken down at all this time,” he said.

————————————————–

Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer wanted to thank his mom, dad and family as well as his coaches and everyone else who has supported him.

State Champion Drew Hull Ready to Make His Mark at the University of Virginia

 
 
Going into the third period of the 2013 145-pound Division II state championship match, Drew Hull held a 2-0 lead over Norwich’s Frank Garcia.  While a two-point advantage might not seem like a lot, the way Hull wrestled as a senior, it was nearly insurmountable.

Garcia chose down for the final stanza and two minutes later, Hull completed his high school career with a 45-0 campaign and his first state title.

“I consider top to be my best strength,” Hull said. “I had the reversal in the second period and if it wasn’t in that venue, the state finals, I think I would have pushed the pace and tried to rack up the points.  But I didn’t take chances, didn’t want to get pinned in that spot. I knew I could win 2-0 after he took bottom in the third.”

He did just that.  And now, the three-time state placer and NHSCA All-American is focused on the next step – competing at the Division I level for the University of Virginia.

The future engineering major also looked at Princeton, Binghamton and North Carolina State, but chose the Cavaliers, a program he became familiar with after attending a wrestling camp in Charlottesville as a sophomore.

“There aren’t many places to go in wrestling other than the Olympics and even that might not be an option,” Hull said. “So I wanted to go to a school that was really good academically and in wrestling. The UVA team really focuses on both wrestling and school and Virginia gives a ton of academic support to athletes. I feel like the team is moving in the right direction with great coaches and facilities. It’s the right place to make me a champion.”

A champion, just like he was on New York’s biggest stage in February in a season in which he registered double digit wins over state placers. It was the ending he was striving for after coming up with silver in 2012.

Photo by BV

As a junior, Hull came into the Times Union Center and dominated his way through his first three contests, with a pin and two shutouts before facing Phoenix’s Tyler Button in the title bout.  After falling behind 6-0 after two periods, Hull bounced back with a vengeance, but it wasn’t quite enough in a 6-5 decision.

“I tensed up and didn’t wrestle well until the third period,” he said. “I think I let the pressure get to me. That match was a huge motivator for this year. But what also really motivated me was to become my school’s second state champion. We’re a small school and don’t have a ton of success athletically.  It really drove me.”

He was driven to do more than finish on top of the podium in Albany in 2013, however.

“I didn’t want to only focus on a state title,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I was ready to compete on the college level right away. I thought if I was shooting for a goal higher than the state title, the state title would come. I also really didn’t want to get scored on at all.”

He almost made it through the entire campaign without surrendering offensive points.  The streak was broken in an exciting state semifinal showdown with familiar foe Jude Gardner of Fredonia – the fourth meeting between the Section 6 stars in the 2012-13 campaign.

“I’ve wrestled [Gardner] a ton of times,” Hull said. “That was one of my toughest matches because he knew me so well. When we were young, in eighth grade, he beat me twice.  Since then, we wrestled at least once, and usually more than once, every year, and I won them all.”

But with a spot in the Saturday night championships on the line, Gardner broke the scoreless streak against Hull, notching a takedown to take a brief 2-1 lead in the second period.  A Hull escape tied it at 2 going into the third.  Gardner chose neutral.

“One of my more common shots is the slide by,” Hull said. “I tried it earlier and didn’t get it, but with time running out, I did it again.  I got the takedown with three seconds left to win 4-2 and get to the finals. I was confident that I would beat him, but I knew he could keep it close. After I pinned him early in the season while I was winning 9-1, we had two 1-0 matches. He has some of the best coaches in the state and they had good strategy.”

As good as the strategy was, Hull found a way to come out on top.  In fact, he got his hand raised more times than any wrestler in the history of the Royalton-Hartland program (184 victories) – topping Olympian Lou Rosselli (currently an assistant coach at Ohio State).

“I came into the season wanting to break [Rosselli’s] record for career wins,” Hull said. “I hoped to pass him to someday be the best in my school’s history. I want to beat him in every aspect. I want to win an NCAA title and place higher at the Olympics than he did.”

Like Rosselli, a member of the Western New York Wrestling Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame, Hull was recognized for his excellence, as he was awarded the 2013 Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship.  The honor goes to Western New York’s top wrestler, but is not only based on performance on the mat.

“I always hoped to win that award,” Hull said. “It was a true honor to win because it was about a lot more than just wrestling.  There are academic and community service components to it also.”

Hull, who holds a 94 average in the classroom, also volunteers at youth wrestling and football programs, helps out with political council members and assists at a nursing home.

“I think the discipline you need in wrestling helps with being disciplined in academics,” he said. “You have to work at all the things you do.  You can’t be one-dimensional. I think that’s true in all aspects of life. A one-dimensional wrestler is easy to beat.”

Drew Hull keeps getting better in every dimension of his wrestling. He’s now ready to make his mark at UVA.

———————-

Drew Hull wished to thank his parents, who “did everything they possibly could to help me.” He also wanted to thank his siblings and the fans and supporters in the community, saying “It was awesome to wrestle for Royalton-Hartland.”

He also thanked all his coaches who have helped him along the way. He discussed Jeff Prescott, Dee Gugel, Jeff Brigham, Jeremy Stopa, Kevin Lawson and Cobra Wrestling (Keith Maute).

Aerial Conquest: Rodriguez-Spencer Uses the Flying Squirrel to Win National Championship

 
 
For Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, it was time to take flight.

Trailing by a point with under 15 seconds to go in the NHSCA 138-pound Junior Nationals title bout on Saturday, the Cheektowoga junior knew he’d have to try something different as his previous offensive attempts had been thwarted by his opponent, Maryland’s Alfred Bannister.

“He was pretty low and I couldn’t get to a shot,” Rodriguez-Spencer said. “The obvious option was to go over the top. Once I decided to do it, I knew I had to hit it hard and do it strong.”

That’s what he did, using the “Flying Squirrel” to earn the winning takedown and a 4-3 victory over Bannister, a champion at this event the past two years and Intermat’s #14 ranked recruit in the Class of 2014. See it here.

The triumph made him a national champion at an event he hadn’t attended in the past. In fact, Rodriguez-Spencer, who enjoys wrestling the international styles in the offseason, wasn’t really considering attending the NHSCA event until his high school coaches persuaded him to do so.

Photo by BV

“I initially wasn’t planning to go,” he said. “I was going to get ready for the freestyle season, but my coach thought I could be a national champion and talked me into it. I’m glad I went, it was a good tournament overall and a good time.”

He certainly made the most of the trip, even playing some golf at a driving range in Virginia Beach.

But when it came time for competition, Rodriguez-Spencer was all business at 138 pounds (up from 132, where he was the 2013 Division II New York State Champion).

He majored his first two opponents and then doubled up fellow New Yorker Matt Caputo, 6-3. The Section 6 wrestler then showed his offensive explosiveness again in a 11-3 quarterfinal victory and in his 13-8 semis win over Brock Wingbermuehle, leading him to the title bout where he would win in dramatic fashion with the Flying Squirrel.

It wasn’t the first time he used the maneuver famously utilized by Greco star Ellis Coleman.

“I sometimes do it in practice and I think it did it twice during the year,” he said. “I know it’s there if I need it. It’s one of those moves that no one expects and I know it works.”

Those in attendance certainly appreciated it.

“I normally don’t hear much when I wrestle,” he said. “But I heard the crowd a little bit when I hit the move. And then once I got my hand raised, it was pretty loud.”

Beating an accomplished foe like Bannister and adding a new trophy to his collection made it a great weekend for Rodriguez-Spencer, but he said on Sunday that he already moved on.

“It’s nice to beat good opponents, but it doesn’t change much for me,” he said. “I went there to win and now it’s time to get back to practice to win more national tournaments.”

Photo by BV

Next on the schedule: the FILA Juniors, a freestyle and Greco event in which Rodriguez-Spencer has been successful in the past.

“My goals now are of course to win FILA Juniors in Las Vegas, make a World Team and finally win a Fargo national championship this summer,” he said.

He has placed at Fargo before, including a bronze showing in Greco in 2012.

But he emphasized that it’s time for him to take gold in North Dakota. Who knows, he could get to the top of the podium by going over the top of his opponents again, Flying Squirrel style.

Division II New York State Tournament Recap: PSAL Gets First Champion; MOW Tighe Earns Third Straight and Much More

The New York state high school season has come to an end.  30 wrestlers walked out of the Times Union Center as champions on Saturday night and many others fought to become All-State.

(This article focuses on the Division II tournament.  The Division I recap can be found here.)

In Division II, it was a tight race, but in the end Section 5 reigned supreme, led by the top two schools in the standings – Midlakes and Warsaw.  Midlakes featured five All-State wrestlers – 120-pound runner up Sean Peacock, sixth placer Tyler Smith (195) and a trio of grapplers in the fifth position – Jason Charlette (106), Ralph Mateo (113) and Collin Fox (170).

Just five points behind was Section 6, propelled by the third place squad – Fredonia.  The Hillbillies boasted four medalists, led by the Gardners – Dakota (second at 126) and Jude (third at 145).  Also making the podium for head coach Alex Conti’s squad were Tyler Cassidy and Chris Saden.

Only one team had more than one champion over the weekend, and it was Gouverneur.  Seniors Dillon Stowell (113) and Hunter Ayen (195) made their final high school matches count as they brought a pair of titles back to Section 10.

Speaking of titles, Most Outstanding Wrestler Nick Tighe added another to his collection.  For the third consecutive year, the Phoenix grappler stood on top of the podium.  Joining him was Adis Radoncic, who made history of his own when he became the first-ever state champion from the PSAL.

 

99 Pounds:

The Champion: Derek Spann of Adirondack came in as the number three seed but went all the way to the top, utilizing his solid mat skills to get there.  In the finals, he was trailing after giving up a pair of takedowns to his opponent, Matteo Devincenzo, in the first period, but when Devincenzo took down to start the second, the complexion of the match changed.  Spann used back points there and then again in the third when he chose the top position to seal the title.

And Also . . . Devincenzo was Section 11’s highest placer in the Division II tournament. He had only one loss coming into the weekend (to Division I runner up Vito Arujau) and although not highly seeded, he looked strong throughout the tournament and will be someone to watch in the coming years.

 

106 Pounds:

The Champion: Top-seeded Luis Weirebach opened with a pin and then registered a trio of two-point wins the rest of the way, concluding with a 3-1 victory over Danny Fox in the finals.  The junior, who took fifth in 2012, became the first-ever state champion from his school.

And Also . . . Maple Grove’s Brad Bihler is pretty stingy with points.  Other than his 2-0 loss to Weirebach in the semis, he outscored his foes 31-0 (and added a pin) on the path to third place.  The Section 6 wrestler entered the tournament on a nine-match winning streak and continued to wrestle well in Albany.

 

113 Pounds:

The Champion: Dillon Stowell has significant experience at the Times Union Center, having placed numerous times in the past.  In his last chance as a senior, he reached the top of the podium after beating Nick Casella in the title bout.  In the semis, Stowell topped another veteran of the state tournament, Warsaw’s Austin Keough, by the same score (4-2) as their bout at Eastern States.

And Also . . . Casella knows how to make it to Saturday night. Last year as an unseeded wrestler, he competed for the 99-pound crown, losing a close decision. This weekend he was on a mission to finish higher and once again reached the title bout after defeating the #4 and #1 wrestlers in the bracket.  As a junior, he’ll no doubt be back for another crack at a championship.

 

120 Pounds:

The Champion: The third time was definitely a charm for Trey Aslanian of Edgemont.  In 2011, he led 5-0 before falling to William Koll in the state title match at 103 pounds.  In 2012, he dropped a decision to Sean Peacock of Midlakes for the 113 crown.  But on Saturday night, in a rematch with Peacock, Aslanian came out on top, 4-2, in his final high school contest.  The Section 1 grappler leaves as a champion, with his next destination Princeton University.

And Also . . . The finale against Peacock was a tough, close match but it wasn’t the only one for Aslanian.  In the quarters, the Edgemont standout trailed super freshman Kellen Devlin for much of the match.  (Aslanian won 4-3). Devlin, who came back to take the bronze, completed the year with just three losses and will be among the favorites for the next three seasons.

 

126 Pounds:

Koll, Photo by BV

The Champion: William Koll, a state champion in 2011, said he was disappointed with his third place showing last season.  He got back to the top of the medal stand over the weekend, cruising through the event with his closest match a 6-2 victory over Dakota Gardner in the last bout.

And Also . . . After medaling as an eighth grader in 2012, Gardner had only one setback during the season, in the Section 6 final against Brandon Muntz.  That result likely dropped him to the sixth seed in the bracket, however, he overcame that to get to the title bout as a freshman.  With three campaigns left for Fredonia, New York fans will certainly see Gardner on the podium a few more times.

 

132 Pounds:

Rodriguez-Spencer, Photo by BV

The Champion: In last year’s quarterfinals, Renaldo-Rodriguez-Spencer topped Tristan Rifanburg in overtime, a victory that propelled the Cheektowoga wrestler to the silver medal.  This year, the duo met again, but this time it was in the finals and both came in undefeated.  Rifanburg led 1-0 late into the third period on the strength of an escape and a rideout in the second.  However, Rodriguez-Spencer stayed aggressive on his feet and notched the winning takedown with time winding down.

And Also . . .  Rifanburg is now a three-time state finalist (2010 champion) and a four-time placer . . . and he still has two years of high school left.  Clyde Carey, on the other hand, has now completed his career at Addison. However, he finished on a high note.  A year ago, he wrestled with a significant injury in Albany and came within one match of a medal.  His road wasn’t easy over the weekend as he faced (and topped) returning All-Stater Zach Ayen in round one.  After losing to Rodriguez-Spencer, he captured four straight in the consolations to grab third place.

 

138 Pounds:

Tighe, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Upstate fans were excited about a potential clash between then two-time state champion Nick Tighe and 2012 titlewinner Connor Lapresi at the Eastern States.  It didn’t happen there, but it did occur on Saturday night.  Tighe broke a 1-1 tie in the third with a takedown to pick up his third consecutive crown for Phoenix.  CAA wrestling at Binghamton is next for him.

And Also . . . Lapresi leaves Lansing with another All-State showing as he prepares to take on Division I wrestling at Bucknell.  Also concluding his career with multiple medals was Lewiston Porter’s Dan Reagan.  After taking fourth in this class last year, he moved up to third as a senior.

 

145 Pounds:

Hull, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Royalton Hartland’s Drew Hull outscored his opponents 22-5 on his title run.  Last year, he lost a tight bout in the finals to take second.  This time, he got his hand raised in a 2-0 victory over Norwich’s Frank Garcia.

And Also . . . Garcia, a sophomore, opened with a pin and then won two close matches, in overtime in the quarters and 3-2 in the semis.  After jumping from the top 8 in 2012 to second in 2013, he’ll return looking for more as a junior.

The bronze finisher Jude Gardner of Fredonia had a stellar senior campaign.  He suffered just four losses – and all four were to state champion Hull, including in the semifinals on Saturday morning.  With Hull, Gardner and Eric Lewandowski (second in Division I), there’s no doubt Section 6 was strong at this weight this year.

 

152 Pounds:

Thayer, Photo by BV

The Champion:  At the Section 4 championships, where he took second, Kevin Thayer had an incredible 18-16 victory over returning state placer Dan Dickman of Greene.  His finals victory over Rowdy Prior on Saturday was similarly action-packed.  Prior, a prolific pinner, chose top for the third while trailing and locked up a cradle that seemed likely to give him the gold medal.  Somehow, however, Thayer not only avoided the fall but also got the reversal to seal the title.

And Also . . . Prior provided an exciting semifinal victory.  He was behind 4-2 late in the match but got the pin over Alex Smythe.  Smythe’s tournament is worthy of mention as well.  After taking fifth at the state tournament in 2011, he didn’t get a bid last year.  However, he moved up several weights and had a solid season, coming into the Times Union Center with just two losses (to the previously mentioned Hull and Lewandowski).  One of only two medalists in the bracket not graduating (fifth placer Trey Duvall of Addison is the other), Smythe will look to make a run in 2013-14.

 

160 Pounds:

Paddock, Photo by BV

The Champion: In the semifinals, Mike Beckwith of Greene lasted over three minutes before getting pinned by Burke Paddock.  Beckwith was the only wrestler to stay on the mat with Paddock for that long.  The Warsaw junior stuck all four of his opponents to conclude a tremendous season and collect his first state championship.

And Also . . . Sophomore Nick Gallo fell one victory shy of place on the podium a year ago.  This year, he took several steps forward with a runner up showing.  The Section 2 wrestler defeated third placer Matt Fisher as well as returning medalist Tyler Silverthorn to earn his slot in the title bout.  He should be a force as a junior.

 

170 Pounds:

Radoncic, Photo by BV

The Champion: Coming into the tournament, some were pegging last year’s runner up Cheick Ndiaye, the top seed at 113, as someone who could give the PSAL its first-ever state champion.  Instead, it was Adis Radoncic of Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy who was the first to stand on top of the podium.  The junior did it the hard way – defeating the top two seeds in the bracket.  In fact, it appeared he might be in for an uphill battle in the title bout as he faced #1 Christian Dietrich once before this season at Eastern States and lost that bout 13-4.  However, Radoncic was undaunted and fought off a number of deep shots by the Greene grappler to take a 4-3 decision. Radoncic now has his sights set on being the PSAL’s first two-time champion.

And Also . . .  It’s easy to forget that Dietrich is just a freshman, especially given the way he performed all year.  He amazed many when he placed at 152 pounds as a seventh grader and looked very good all year at a higher weight.  Keeping him out of the top spot over the next several seasons will be a tall order for the rest of the field.

Dietrich’s first round opponent, John Messinger of Putnam Valley, fought back to take fourth.  Winning four in a row to get to the bronze match is an accomplishment, but the way he did it was even more impressive.  He trailed late in nearly all of his wrestleback matches and found a way to come out on top, multiple times in the waning seconds.   In one bout, he tied the match up with two points dangerously close to the third period buzzer and then picked up a takedown a few seconds into overtime to move forward.

 

182 Pounds:

Zupan, Photo by BV

The Champion: Zack Zupan had his eye on a repeat championship all year long and he finished the job.  The future Binghamton Bearcat had little trouble making the title bout as he racked up bonus points in his first three contests before controlling the finale, a 3-2 victory over Warsaw’s Tim Schaefer.  He joined future teammates Nick Kelley and Nick Tighe as titlewinners on Saturday night.

And Also . . . Schaefer finishes high school with a plethora of accolades.  He made the podium five times during his career, beginning with a sixth place finish as a seventh grader.

Hoosick Falls had its first champion in Luis Weirebach at 106 and added a third placer in Brad Burns at 182.  The Section 2 grappler was beaten in double overtime in the quarters but bounced back with four in a row to grab bronze.

 

195 Pounds:

Ayen, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Gouverneur had Dillon Stowell win it all at 113.  And then, the Wildcats crowned a second champion at 195 pounds when Hunter Ayen sent Bryce Mazurowski to his second consecutive silver medal.  Ayen fell behind 6-0 in the match, but climbed back into the bout when he threw the Avon wrestler onto his back.  When he was close to the pin, the referee stopped the action for blood time, but Ayen was unfazed as he added another takedown to win 9-6.  The Gouverneur senior had pinned his first three opponents.

And Also . . . One of those foes for Ayen was Matt Booth.  The Section 6 wrestler excelled in the consolation bracket, outscoring his opponents 30-5 to take third.  In the bronze match he topped Dusty Lewis of Salamanca, the wrestler he beat to qualify for the tournament a few weeks ago.

 

220 Pounds:

Bacon, Photo by BV

The Champion: A pair of undefeated wrestlers marched through the tournament and faced off in the finals with Hornell’s Zack Bacon utilizing strong mat wrestling to take the title 1-0 over Ryan Wolcott.  Bacon came back after a silver medal a year ago to end his career in the top spot.

And Also . . . Wolcott made a smooth transition from 170 pounds, where he won two matches in Albany in 2012, up to 220.  He pinned his way to the championship bout and the 1-0 loss to Bacon was his only setback all season long.  In 2013-14, he’ll look to go from second to first the same way Bacon did in his senior campaign.

 

 285 Pounds:

The Champion: Windsor’s Matt Abbott came into the tournament with a 33-1 mark and 19 pins.  (The sole loss was to the previously mentioned Wolcott).  He exited the Times Union Center as a champion.  Heavyweight matches are often low scoring but Abbott put a lot of points on the board, including 11 in the semis and eight in the finals.

And Also . . . Alex Soutiere, last year’s runner up in this class, took third after winning five wrestleback bouts.  In 2012, Soutiere upset top-seeded Kacee Sauer.  The tables turned this year as Soutiere (the #1 seed) was upended in the opening round by junior Connor Calkins of Section 5. Calkins wound up fifth and as the only non-senior placer, will be in the mix for top honors in 2014.

For all the brackets, see this link.

Congratulations to the Division II wrestlers on a great season.