First Annual Long Island/Upstate Challenge Coming Up This Saturday in Ithaca!

Courtesy of Finger Lakes Wrestling Club

Ithaca, NY– The Finger Lakes Wrestling Club will host the 1st Annual Long Island/Upstate Challenge on Saturday, March 30, 2013, at Cornell University’s Friedman Wrestling Center.

The Long Island/Upstate Challenge is the newest premier high school wrestling event in the state of New York. The match has attracted some of the best high school wrestlers in the Empire State, in a two dual meet format. The preliminary dual pits some of the best wrestlers from the central New York area representing the host club the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club against the Rochester-based team Section V at 2:00 PM. This match will feature two state champions (Shayne Brady (FLWC)) and Sean Peacock (V)) and three state finalists (Ryan Snow (FLWC), Ryan Wolcott (FLWC) and Christian Dietrich (FLWC)).

Rasheed, Photo by BV

The feature match of the evening at 4:30 PM showcases the best-of-the-best high school wrestlers from across the upstate New York area challenging the Long Island elite, featuring fourteen current or former state champions. The highlight of this dual will be three matches between 2013 Division I vs. Division II state titlewinners: 126 TJ Fabian (LI) vs William Koll (Upstate), 152 Corey Rasheed (LI) vs Kevin Thayer (Upstate) and 160 Tyler Grimaldi (LI) vs Burke Paddock (Upstate).

Proceeds from the challenge benefit local FLWC resident athletes to aid in their pursuit of International and Olympic glory.

Tickets for the event are available at flwrestlingclub.org and at the door. Ticket prices are as follows: $15.00 Reserved Seating, $10.00 General admission

Contacts:

Kris Harrington 585-738-3906 Fingerlakeswrestlingclub@gmail.com
Rob Koll 607-255-7307 rk45@cornell.edu

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

 
 
BY MATT DIANO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Piccininni, Photo by BV

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

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

Fabian, Photo by BV

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grimaldi, Photo by BV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the original story, see Gotham City Wrestling here.

Team New York Sweeps Three Duals at Pinning Down Autism Event; Prepares for Battle With New Jersey on Sunday

 
 
3-0 and looking for one more win.

That’s the story for Team New York after Day 1 at the Pinning Down Autism All-State Weekend Festival at West Orange High School.  The event, which benefits Autism New Jersey, includes All-Star squads from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Michigan and New England.  For more background, see our preview here.

Yianni Diakomihalis, Photo by BV

On Saturday, the Empire State group began with a 47-18 victory over the Michigan Lumberjacks and next drubbed Delaware 64-6.  To complete Day 1 action, the team defeated New England by a 43-28 tally. For details of those meets, see the end of this story.

Now, it’s time to continue the big rivalry. On Sunday at 1 p.m., New York will look to knock off rival New Jersey for the third consecutive year.  According to the lineups provided earlier in the week, the following are the weight-by-weight matchups for the clash.   Every member of the Empire State squad has won a state title (and 14 of the 15 captured gold in 2013).  New Jersey will counter with a trio of state champions as well as several silver and bronze medalists.

Will New York make it three victories in a row over the Garden Staters?

99 POUNDS: Yianni Diakomihalis, Hilton (State Champion) vs. Alec Kelly, St. Peter’s (State Qualifier at 106)
106 POUNDS: Kyle Quinn, Wantagh (State Champion) vs. Ryan Freeman. St. Joseph
113 POUNDS: Nick Piccininni, Ward Melville (State Champion) vs. AJ Vindici, Randolph (State Third)
120 POUNDS: Alex Delacruz, Ossining (State Champion) vs. Marc Mastropietro, Hasbrouck Heights (State Qualifier)
126 POUNDS: TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (State Champion) vs. Anthony Giraldo, North Bergen (State Champion)
132 POUNDS: Tristan Rifanburg, Norwich (State Runner Up, Champion in 2010) vs. Jason Estevez, Livingston (State Third)
138 POUNDS: Nick Tighe, Phoenix (State Champion) vs. Richie Lewis, Toms River East (State Third)
145 POUNDS: Louis Hernandez, Mepham (State Champion) vs. BJ Clagon, Toms River South (State Champion)
152 POUNDS: Corey Rasheed, Longwood (State Champion) vs. John Faugno, Glen Ridge
160 POUNDS: Tyler Grimaldi, Hills West (State Champion) vs. Josef Johnson, Delbarton (State Qualifer)
170 POUNDS: Adis Radoncic, RKA (State Champion) vs. Ethan Ramos, Hawthorne (State Champion)/Jadaen Bernstein, Voorhees (State Runner Up)
182 POUNDS: Shayne Brady, Carthage (State Champion) vs. Ali Yildiz, South Brunswick (State Third)
195 POUNDS: Dan Choi, Syosset (State Champion) vs. Anthony Messner, Franklin (State Runner Up)
220 POUNDS: Rich Sisti, Monsignor Farrell (State Champion) vs. Zack Chakonis, Don Bosco (State Runner Up)
285 POUNDS: Mike Hughes, Smithtown West (State Champion) vs. Eric Chakonis, Unattached

Results from Saturday

New York 47, Michigan 18 Details

New York 64, Delaware 6 Details

New York 43, New England 28 Details

 

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

 
 

“I’m in.”

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

Hernandez, Photo by BV

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sisti, Photo by BV

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

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

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

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

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

Team New Jersey will be updated when available.

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

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

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

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

Schedule of Events:

Saturday March 16th

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

Sunday March 17th

10 a.m. Feature clinic with Lee Kemp

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

For more information, see Weekend Festival

Check Out Video Interviews With Numerous Wrestlers from the State Tournament

The following are video interviews with a number of wrestlers at the state tournament.  Special thanks to Adam Burgos and Nick Garone for their amazing contributions!

Some browsers may take a little extra time to load.

(To view on youtube, see youtube.com/nywrestlingnews)

 

Tyler Grimaldi (160 Pound State Champ, Hills West) and coach Mike Patrovich with Nick Garone

 

Adis “The Beast” Radoncic (RKA) – First Ever PSAL State Champ (170)

 

Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton), 99 Pound State Champion

 

Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville), 113 Pound State Champion and MOW

 

TJ Fabian (Shoreham Wading River), 126 Pound State Champion

 

Trey Aslanian (Edgemont), 120 Pound State Champion (3x Finalist)

 

William Koll (Lansing), 2x State Champion

 

Burke Paddock (Warsaw), 160 Pound State Champion

 

Corey Rasheed (Longwood), 152 Pound State Champion

 

Louis Hernandez (Mepham), 145 Pound State Champion

 

Dan Choi (Syosset), 195 Pound State Champion with N. Garone

 

Rich Sisti (Monsignor Farrell), 220 Pound State Champion with N. Garone

 

Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (Cheektowoga), 138 Pound State Champion

 

Luis Weirebach (Hoosick Falls), 106 Pound State Champion

 

Hunter Ayen (Gouverneur), 195 Pound State Champion

 

Alex Delacruz (Ossining), 120 Pound State Champion

 

Nick Tighe (Phoenix), 138 Pound State Champion (3x Champion)

 

Shayne Brady (Carthage), 182 Pound State Champion

 

Mike Hughes (Smithtown West), 285 Pound State Champion with N. Garone

 

Dillon Stowell (Gouverneur), 113 Pound State Champion

 

Derek Spann (Adirondack), 99 Pound State Champion D2

 

POST SEMIS VIDEOS

Matteo Devincenzo (Port Jefferson, 99 D2)

 

Adis Radoncic (RKA, 170 D2)

 

Nick Casella (Locust Valley, 113 D2)

 

William Koll (Lansing, 126 D2)

 

TJ Fabian (Shoreham Wading River, 126 D1)

 

Corey Rasheed (Longwood, 152 D1)

 

Rowdy Prior (Phoenix, 152 D2)

 

Luis Weirebach (Hoosick Falls, 106 D2)

 

Derek Spann (Adirondack, 99 D2)

 

DAY 1/Medal Round VIDEOS

Keanu Thompson (Grand Street after Pinning #2 Seed in Quarters)

 

Dan Choi (Syosset after Beating #1 Seed in Quarters)

 

James O’Hagan (Seaford after Topping #1 Seed)

 

Steve Schneider (160, MacArthur after overtime victory)

 

Nick Barbaria (New Rochelle, 106 after the quarters)

 

Nick Weber (Kings Park, 195 Pounds after defeating #2 seed)

 

Jonathan Haas (Spencerport, 3rd place 106 D1)

 

Austin Coleman (Spencerport, 2nd place 285 D1)

 

Levi Ashley (Shenendehowa, 2nd place, after beating #3 seed)

 

Eric Lewandowski (Lancaster, 2nd place, 145 D1)

 

Josh Powell (Churchville-Chili, D1, 160)

 

Marshall Taylor (Lockport, 220 pounds D1, after 3 OT victory)

 

Shayne Brady (Carthage, 182 pound champion on Day 1)

 

Zack Joseph (Shenendehowa, 152 pounds, D1 on Day 1)

 

Donny McCoy (Niagara Falls, 99 Pounds, D1 on Day 1)

 

 

 

 

 

New Champions Crowned: Division I State Tournament Recap

We have a large number of video interviews with wrestlers from the state tournament that will be posted later in the week.  Check back over the next few days to see what the wrestlers had to say!

——————————————————-

Another New York state high school season is in the books.  After two incredible days of wrestling, 30 champions were crowned and a number of other amazing performances were witnessed at the Times Union Center.

(This article focuses on the Division I tournament.  We will post a Division II story as well).

Of the 15 gold medalists in Albany on Saturday night in the large school tournament, 10 were from Long Island.   That part of the state didn’t just impress in the finals, however.  The depth was definitely apparent, as Suffolk finished atop the standings with 312 points with Nassau in second with 222.5.

Representing Section 8 well was Wantagh, which completed a magical year in which the Warriors showed both their dual meet and tournament strength in capturing perhaps the three biggest events in New York – the Union-Endicott Duals, the Eastern States and this weekend’s championships.  Head coach Paul Gillespie’s squad boasted a state titlewinner in 106-pounder Kyle Quinn as well as three other placers (James Corbett, Vinny Turano and Danny McDevitt).

Two other “sections” that made waves this weekend were the PSAL and the CHSAA.   Richard Sisti’s 220-pound title for Monsignor Farrell was a highlight as was the run to the finals by Keanu Thompson of Grand Street, including an upset pin against the number two seed.  The PSAL featured five medalists (in Division I), while the CHSAA had six.  It seems that those numbers will continue to grow in the future. (The first ever PSAL champion was crowned, which will be covered in the Division II story).

Here are some more notes and observations from the state capital:

99 Pounds:

Diakomihalis, Photo by BV

Champion: Yianni Diakomihalis will need to continue to clear space in his room for awards. He’s won just about every tournament he has entered over the past year, and he has traveled all over the country to wrestle some of the best.  The nationally-ranked wrestler picked up his first state title in the ultimate tiebreaker against another stellar eighth grader, Vito Arujau of Syosset.  The two could do battle many more times, but whether they’re at the same weight in the future or not, they will be a treat for New York fans to watch for another four years.

And Also . . . We had Diakomihalis and Arujau atop the rankings the whole year, but also included three Suffolk grapplers for much of the season in the state’s top 8.  They showed why on Friday and Saturday.  Although top seed John Arceri, the Section 11 champion, didn’t medal, he holds wins over both the third and fourth place finishers, John Busiello and Jesse Dellevecchia, respectively.  Those three will be contenders for quite some time.

In addition, when he was just beginning treatments for cancer in the spring, Vinny Vespa’s brother Michael said he was confident Vinny would not only return to the mat this year, but do well in the postseason.  He was right, as Vespa overcame cancer and then some of the state’s top wrestlers in taking fifth place.

106 Pounds: 

Quinn, Photo by BV

The Champion . . . Kyle Quinn came into the state tournament with just two losses.  Both were to All-Stater Nick Barbaria of New Rochelle by two points. Quinn clearly took some lessons away from those contests as he avenged those results with a 7-1 win in the semifinals against the Section 1 wrestler before defeating top seed Alex Tanzman of Westhampton Beach by the same score to grab the state crown.   The Wantagh wrestler looked dominant the whole weekend, including pinning his first two opponents (one of which was returning medalist Jimmy Overhiser).

And Also . . . Spencerport’s Jon Haas was unfazed after dropping his first bout of the tournament 4-3 to John Twomey of St. Anthony’s.  He reeled off five straight victories, including two by bonus points, to take third.  Haas also had a pair of overtime triumphs, including over Colonie’s Golan Cohen in the bronze bout.  Cohen, who was a placer at the Eastern States, put together a very impressive season.

113 Pounds:

Piccininni, Photo by BV

The Champion . . . Nick Piccininni wasn’t just the gold medalist at this weight, he was also named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.  It’s not hard to see why.  The returning state champion was in control the whole way and won three of his four matches by bonus points.  That included the title bout, in which Piccininni dominated the much-hyped clash with two-time champ Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks.  The Ward Melville wrestler will be incredibly hard to stop over the next two years.

And Also . . . Steven Sewkumar didn’t get a ticket to Albany last year after taking second in Nassau behind state runner up Jose Rodriguez.  He made his last chance in his senior year count, however, with a third place showing.   The Section 8 wrestler lost only to Piccininni while twice beating third-seeded Bryan Lantry of Wayne as well as topping All-Stater John Stramiello of Pine Bush.

120 Pounds:

The Champion:  Alex Delacruz was disqualified during the Eastern States semifinals against John Muldoon.  He then took second in Section 1 to the Pearl River grappler.  On the biggest stage, however, he came out on top by first knocking Muldoon off in the semifinals in an overtime match and then earning his spot on the top of the podium after an 11-7 triumph over #1 seed Steve Michel.

And Also . . .  Weights for next season are hard to predict now. But it looks like there will be more intense competition in Sections 1 and 11 in the future around this class.  Besides Delacruz and Muldoon (who was fourth), Section 1 features Blaise Benderoth (one match from medaling) and Nick Tolli, who placed at Eastern States but missed the postseason with an injury.  In Section 11, Travis Passaro (third) and Mike D’Angelo (fifth) could see each other a number of times again in 2013-14.

126 Pounds:

The Champion: TJ Fabian wasn’t pleased about taking third at the Suffolk County tournament.  He responded quite well – by outscoring his opponents 17-0 in his first two matches before notching pins in the semis and finals.  He’s headed to Sacred Heart.

And Also . . . One of the loudest roars of the crowd came during the quarterfinals when the PSAL’s Keanu Thompson pinned two-time finalist Dylan Realbuto.  Thompson was defeated soundly by Fabian on Saturday night but his run to the title bout was outstanding as he defeated the eventual third, fourth and sixth place finishers. That fourth placer was Chenango Forks senior Jacob Green, who after losing to Thompson in his opening tilt, won four in a row to finish his career on the podium.

132 Pounds:

Leshinger, Photo by BV

The Champion:  After taking third at the Times Union Center last year and again at the Eastern States, Matt Leshinger ended his Sayville career in style atop the medal stand.  The future Columbia Lion began with a pin and then methodically beat his next three opponents, including a 4-2 finals win over Amsterdam’s Brandon Lapi.

And Also . . . Lapi made the top 8 in 2010.  Since then, he has finished third, fourth and second.  What’s missing?  Well, a first place showing would complete the pattern.  The Section 2 standout will no doubt be looking for exactly that as he enters his senior season.

138 Pounds:

Kelley, Photo by BV

The Champion: Nick Kelley has been a regular at the state tournament with appearances beginning as a seventh grader.  He’s had a great career with over 250 victories but this weekend he got the most meaningful win of them all – the one in the state championship bout.  The Binghamton-bound grappler took a 5-2 decision on Saturday night to leave as a champion.

And Also . . . Joey Butler of Burnt Hills pushed Kelley in one of their matches during the season, getting out to a big lead before the Shenendehowa wrestler came back to win.  Butler earned third and will one to watch next year, as will Hilton’s Vincent DePrez, a silver medalist for the second consecutive year.  DePrez, who was one of three brothers to compete in Albany, will be back on a mission for his first title.

145 Pounds:

Hernandez, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Louis Hernandez came in as the favorite and left as the champion.  After missing the podium a year ago while wrestling with a significant injury at the Times Union Center, Hernandez put together a one-loss season which included an Eastern States crown.  While known for his excellence on his feet, Hernandez got a big reversal which propelled him to the title.

And Also . . . Eric Lewandowski made an appearance in the finals as a freshman, when he took second.  After not making the medal stand as a sophomore and junior, the Lancaster wrestler once again earned a spot in the title contest as a senior.  On his way there, he edged Shenendehowa’s David Almaviva 1-0 in the semis.  Almaviva showed his toughness by once again wrestling back to third, as he did in 2012. Hernandez will return next season, and he will be the only placer in this bracket to do so.

152 Pounds:

Rasheed, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Don’t blink when Corey Rasheed wrestles.  You might miss it. Rasheed had a technical fall in round one and a pair of pins – both in less than a minute – over the weekend.  That included a 56 second fall in the title bout.  It was the Longwood junior’s third time in the finals and after two runner up finishes, he left with top billing.  He should not only be on top of the New York rankings next year.  He has the talent to represent the Empire State in the national polls as well.

And Also . . . Like Jon Haas at 106, Joe Mastro of Yorktown took third place the hard way.  After losing to Konstantin Parfiryev (sixth place) on Friday morning, Mastro got his hand raised five times in a row.  He didn’t just win, though.  He did it convincingly, beginning with a technical fall and two majors (over the number two and three seeds).  He finished with a pair of decisions.

160 Pounds:

Grimaldi, Photo by BV

The Champion:  Tyler Grimaldi walked off the mat after taking second at this weight to Dylan Palacio in the state finals last year and vowed to do better in 2013.  He got it done, including his third win of the season against Steven Schneider of MacArthur in the title bout.  Next stop: Harvard.

And Also . . . Amsterdam’s James Marquez had a difficult draw, facing second seed (and eventual runner up) Steve Schneider in round one.  Marquez dropped a tough 3-1 battle in overtime but then fought back with a string of close decisions (including three by two points) to reach the bronze bout.  Once there, he finished his last match as a high schooler well, pinning Dale White to take third.   White is worth mentioning as well.  Despite an injury that kept him out for a lot of the campaign, he returned to win the Section 1 tournament and after injury defaulting to Grimaldi, made his way to fourth.

170 Pounds:

Toribio, Photo by BV

The Champion: Carlos Toribio had five losses as a junior, including three against the previously mentioned Tyler Grimaldi.  This year, as a senior, he had just one (to Joe Piccolo), and he avenged it with two wins over Piccolo. In fact, in the Suffolk finals, he was dominant against the Half Hollow Hills West grappler and came into the Times Union Center with momentum that helped take him to the top of the podium.  After a decision, a fall and a major in his first three bouts, Toribio picked up a tight 4-3 win over St. Anthony’s John Vrasidas to capture gold.

And Also . . . Vrasidas had a great tournament, including an upset of top seeded Danny McDevitt in the quarters.  But McDevitt, the future Ivy League wrestler at Penn, rebounded by outscoring his four wrestleback opponents 33-1, including a technical fall in the bronze match.

182 Pounds:

Brady, Photo by BV

The Champion: Before the tournament began, it looked like Shayne Brady’s road back to the finals would be a tough one.  The future North Carolina State wrestler faced a pair of returning state placers – James Benjamin and Gio Santiago in the quarters and semis – and beat both by bonus points.  He then found a way to win in his final high school match with a 5-3 overtime decision over Wantagh’s James Corbett.

And Also . . . Corbett also navigated a challenging path to make the finals in his first trip to Albany.  He suffered just three losses as a senior and will continue his career at Brown.

If you’re looking to see pins, find Gio Santiago.  The Sachem North senior had three falls in the tournament (and was pinned by Brady) after recording 30 during the season.  He earned All-State honors for the second straight year, this time in the third position.

195 Pounds:

Choi, Photo by BV

The Champion:  We shared Dan Choi’s story a few weeks ago, discussing how the future Cornellian came from Korea without his parents just three years ago and earned a full ROTC scholarship to the Ivy League.  Watching him this weekend, it’s hard to believe that he’s been wrestling for only three years.  In a very difficult weight class, the Syosset senior looked aggressive and strong throughout the event, including a major decision over the top seed in the quarters.

And Also . . . When we asked what wrestlers could break out in Section 2 this year, the first answer from multiple coaches was Levi Ashley.  He began the year at 182 and spent quite a bit of time at that weight, where he had plenty of success.  However, when he moved up to 195 around mid January, he really took off.  From there, he won 14 matches in a row entering the weekend.  And he kept things going in the state capital.  Being matched up with the third seed, Ben Honis, in the first round didn’t bother Ashley. He went out and majored the Section 3 wrestler 8-0 and followed with a pair of hard-fought decisions to make the title bout.   With one season remaining at Shenendehowa, he’ll be among the favorites at whatever weight he chooses.

220 Pounds:

Sisti, Photo by BV

The Champion: At the Eastern States, one CHSAA insider told us that Rich Sisti, unable to participate in that tournament due to an injury, would win the state championship – guaranteed.  It seemed bold at the time, but it was a good call.  Sisti, commonly called the “manchild” by many of those at the tournament, indeed won and looked impressive in doing so.  He certainly showed he is capable of capturing close matches against quality competition, as he notched 3-2 victories over a pair of Section 11 wrestlers, top seeded Nick Lupi and Steven Mills, in the semis and finals.

And Also . . . In the Division I tournament preview, we mentioned that there were some “under the radar” wrestlers in the field to watch in Albany.  One of those was Steven Mills of Sachem North, who lost a squeaker to Lupi in the Suffolk tournament.  Mills indeed made the spotlight as he competed for the state championship on Saturday night.  He began his journey with a 5-1 win over second-seeded John Hartnett and then blanked his next two foes to make the finals.

285 Pounds:

The Champions: 42-0 with 39 bonus wins and a state title.  That’s the season summary for Smithtown West’s Mike Hughes.  The senior put an exclamation point on his campaign when he pinned Austin Coleman in the championship bout, his 31st fall of the year.

And Also . . . Remember the name James O’Hagan.  The Seaford junior took third over the weekend with a pair of victories over top seeded El Shaddai Van Hoesen of Columbia.  The statistics above show that Mike Hughes only had three decisions all year. Two were against O’Hagan, including a 1-0 semifinal win on Saturday.   After the tournament, Hughes said that O’Hagan gave him his toughest match and that he thought they should have been the state finalists.  For O’Hagan, that will be the plan for 2013.

 

For all the brackets, see this link.

Congratulations to the Division I wrestlers on a great season.

It's Almost Tournament Time: Division I State Tournament Preview

First, we will be doing a LIVE BLOG of the tournament, starting Friday morning. To access the blog, see here: LIVE BLOG link

Here are some weight class by weight class thoughts on the upcoming Division I state tournament in Albany.  We will be posting a similar article on Division II. The votes have been rolling in, but if you haven’t already, feel free to give us your thoughts on who will win the titles by participating in our prediction contests.

For the Division I contest, click on this link.

For the Division II contest, click on this link.

 

99 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers: None

Huntington’s John Arceri got the top seed, but it’s far from an easy road for him. In a 35-2 season (one of his losses was at 106), he defeated five of the grapplers in this bracket, including the number two, three and four seeds. His reward? A possible meeting with the undefeated Vito Arujau of Syosset if both make the quarterfinals. An intriguing first round bout pits CHSAA winner Garrett Baugher, who has been a force throughout the campaign, against NHSCA Middle School National Champion Kelan McKenna of Section 3.

On the bottom of the bracket, we’re excited to see Jesse Dellavecchia of East Islip against Vinny Vespa of Monroe Woodbury in the opening round. Having Vespa back on the mat this year has been an amazing story after his well-documented battle with cancer. But beyond that, it is always interesting to watch two medal contenders clash early in the event. Speaking of Section 9 wrestlers, number two seed Chris Cuccolo recovered from some early season setbacks to win the Eastern States and breezed through the remainder of the year (other than a loss to Arceri). He could have a meeting with Hilton’s Yianni Diakomihalis in the Round of 8. Diakomihalis has won just about every event he’s entered in the past year and is nationally ranked.

So . . . We’ve had Diakomihalis at #1 and Arujau at #2 for the entire season at this weight. While 99 is often unpredictable at the state tournament, we wouldn’t be surprised to see those two put on a show in the finals as they did in the Super 32 Middle School tournament in the fall when Diakomihalis came out on top and took the title.

106 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Alex Tanzman, Westhampton Beach (Third at 99)
Jimmy Overhiser, Corning (Fourth at 106)
Nick Barbaria, New Rochelle (Sixth at 99)

Alex Tanzman, the top seed, has followed up a stellar junior season with an even better senior campaign. He has a 32-1 mark, with the only loss coming at the hands of state champion Nick Piccininni up a weight at 113. Fellow Section 11 grappler Steven Lee is back in Albany after coming within one win of placing last year. He’ll be part of an intriguing first round bout against Colonie’s Golan Cohen, a wrestler who stood out with a fourth place showing at the Eastern States Classic.

On the bottom half, a number of wrestlers with experience at the Times Union Center will take the mat. Spencerport’s Jon Haas was one bout from making All-State last year and has been on a roll, winning 14 matches in a row since a loss to Diakomihalis. If he gets to the quarters, he could face Nick Barbaria, who made the medal stand a year ago and has an unblemished record (40-0) this year. On the way to the Eastern States Classic title this season, Barbaria topped Corning’s Jimmy Overhiser in an overtime bout and Wantagh’s Kyle Quinn in the championship match. Those two wrestlers are also very much in the mix for titles and could collide in the Round of 8 if they both advance there. (Quinn’s only two losses are to Barbaria).

So . . . This should be a very interesting class, but in the end, we expect Tanzman, the senior from Section 11, to end his career on a high note on Saturday night against the very tough Barbaria.

113 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Kyle Kelly, Chenango Forks (Champion at 99)
Nick Piccininni, Ward Melville (Champion at 106)
Joe Calderone, Walt Whitman (Fourth at 99)
Bryan Lantry, Wayne (Fifth at 99)
John Stramiello, Pine Bush (Sixth at 106)

It’s clear that there are many very good wrestlers at this weight, especially considering how many returning state placers are in the bracket. Bryan Lantry of Wayne and Johnny Stramiello of Pine Bush competed for third at the Eastern States and have both been on the state podium before. Corey Ali of Shenendehowa and Thomas Hill of Fulton have won multiple Section 2 and 3 championships, respectively. Joe Calderone also was All-State last year.

So . . . Despite the obvious quality throughout the field, if anyone other than Ward Melville’s Nick Piccininni and Chenango Forks’s Kyle Kelly takes the mat in the Saturday night finals, it will be a huge upset. It’s a match that fans in Sections 4 and 11 have been talking about all season and one that both Piccininni and Kelly have expressed excitement about in interviews we did with them prior to the season. Both are nationally ranked by at least one publication and both were undefeated state champions in 2012 (Kelly at 99 and Piccininni at 106). The last time Piccininni lost a match in New York, it was to Kelly in the 2011 99-pound semifinals when Kelly went on to win his first state crown. How similar will this match be to that close decision? We expect it to be an absolute battle between two of the very best wrestlers the Empire State has to offer. We’ve had Piccininni in the top spot in the rankings all year . . . we’ll see if we were right.

120 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Anthony Orefice, Lockport (Fifth at 106)
Robert Person, Bellmore JFK (Fifth at 113)
Steve Michel, Lancaster (Sixth at 120)

We go from two state champions, Kelly and Piccininni, to a field full of grapplers who can make the finals. Who will win at 120 Pounds? Great question. Recently, I asked a handful of people and, predictably, I got a handful of different answers.

Will it be Steve Michel, the top seed? He is a returning placer and has had a strong season, including wins over Division II state champion Sean Peacock, three victories over multi-time placer Anthony Orefice and a pair of triumphs against Kellen Devlin of Amherst. At Eastern States, however, where a sizable number of wrestlers in this bracket competed, Michel didn’t place. Neither did another returning All-Stater, Robert Person. However, the Nassau County wrestler seems to be back to form. After all, he lost to MacArthur’s Chris Cataldo at SUNY Sullivan but responded with a commanding major against the same opponent in the Section 8 final.

Ok, but if those guys didn’t place in Loch Sheldrake – who did? The answer: lots of wrestlers who will compete in Albany. John Muldoon of Pearl River took second, Blaise Benderoth was third, Travis Passaro grabbed fourth, Blake Retell picked up seventh and Santo Curatolo took eighth. Alex Delacruz was in the semis before being disqualified.

Let’s face it, everyone mentioned above is capable of being on the podium. As is Mike D’Angelo, who has a win over Muldoon. And Orefice, who has been a placer before. Only one thing seems safe to say – there shouldn’t be a dull match at this weight.

So . . . The winner here will have navigated tough customers in every round. Who will it be? We’ll put forward the wrestler who got the most votes in our informal poll – John Muldoon.

126 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Dylan Realbuto, Somers (Champion at 113)
TJ Fabian, Shoreham Wading River (Fourth at 120)

Fabian, Photo by Josh Conklin

There are so many good story lines here. One that we’ll definitely be watching is how seventh grader Frankie Gissendanner of Penfield fares in his first state tournament appearance. He sure hasn’t looked at all intimidated so far, including during his seventh place finish at Eastern States in a very challenging class. He sits in the top part of the bracket, along with a number of accomplished wrestlers. The #1 seed is Shoreham Wading River’s TJ Fabian, a returning placer who was upset in the Section 11 tournament but came back for bronze. The match that many thought would be the Suffolk finals – Fabian vs. Hauppauge’s Mark West, didn’t come to fruition last weekend. However, it could be a semifinal showdown. Both Section 11 grapplers have plenty to contend with early on, however. For example, West gets Freddie Dunau of St. Anthony’s a former state placer, in Round 1.

The lower half is no cakewalk, either. Returning state champion Dylan Realbuto of Somers begins with upstart Owen Bachelder of Hewlett, who starred in the Nassau County event, including a pin against NHSCA National Champion Chris Araoz of Wantagh. Aroaz, however, will be in the field in Albany for the first time and will start off in another excellent opening round contest as he takes on Frontier’s Rocco Russo. Both Jacob Green of Chenengo Forks and Keanu Thompson have significant Times Union Center experience and will be a challenging matchup for anyone.

So . . . Realbuto has been in the finals for two consecutive years and we think he’ll leverage that experience to get back for the third time, where we could see a rematch of the Eastern States title bout with Fabian. Fabian beat Realbuto on a third period reversal at SUNY Sullivan this year. Realbuto won his state title last year on a last second takedown. With a late charge, Realbuto may do it again.

132 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Matt Leshinger, Sayville (Third at 120)
Brandon Lapi, Amsterdam (Fourth at 113)

Matt Leshinger, the top seed, looks to move up a few spots on the ladder after taking third as a junior. He has wrestled well all year, avenging his one loss against Vinny Turano by beating the Wantagh wrestler the next day to grab bronze at Eastern States. There could be a third meeting in the semis but plenty of wrestlers are capable of stopping that from happening. Turano will have an immediate challenge from freshman Chris Mauriello of Hauppauge.

Brandon Lapi of Amsterdam, the #2 seed, has been on the podium multiple times but will be tested right away by returning qualifier Richie Burke of Ithaca, who has put together a 38-3 season. Also sitting in the bottom half is Fordham Prep’s Sam Melikian, the Eastern States runner up. The CHSAA champion has blitzed through the season.

So . . . Leshinger was the top seed last year at 120 and took third. This time, as the top seed, we think he’ll finish with the gold against Melikian.

138 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Nick Kelley, Shenendehowa (Third at 132)
Vincent DePrez, Hilton (Second at 113)

Shenendehowa’s Nick Kelley and Hilton’s Vincent DePrez had one thing in common last year – both only lost once, and it was at the Times Union Center. Kelley was edged in the semifinals by eventual champion Jamel Hudson while DePrez lost in the waning seconds of the title bout against Dylan Realbuto.

They are the top seeds at 138 (Kelley is at #1). Among the wrestlers on the top half of the bracket to watch are Derrick Gray of Indian River, a five-time Sectional champion, who came within a bout of placing last year and North Rockland’s Matt Caputo, who has over 50 wins according to the NWCA Scorebook.

There are some first round matchups in the bottom half that we’re excited about. One is Rocky Point’s Tommy Dutton, who has been dominant nearly the entire season, against undefeated Danny Graham of West Seneca East. In addition, Isaiah Perry of Massena, who has been at this tournament for many years, will give it one last shot to make the podium, beginning against Joey Butler of Burnt Hills, a returning qualifier who gave Kelley his closest match against a New York wrestler this year in an 8-6 loss.

So . . . Kelley, one of the top pound-for-pound wrestlers in New York and a regular in Albany since seventh grade, has been waiting for the chance to get on top of the podium. We think he’ll get there this time, with a challenge from Dutton.

145 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
David Almaviva, Shenendehowa (Third at 138)

Hernandez, Photo by Josh Conklin

When David Almaviva of Shenendehowa and Louis Hernandez of Mepham squared off in the quarterfinals of the Eastern States, a fan sitting nearby told me it was a preview of the state finals. It could be. Hernandez won that day, 4-2, and went on to win the tournament.

A number of wrestlers will provide very formidable challenges to those two, however. In the top half, where Hernandez sits as the #1 seed, he could see a wrestler such as Anthony DePrez of Hilton, who has just a single loss this year and has been impressive. In addition, Fox Lane’s Tom Grippi is a big threat. He handed Almaviva his only loss at the Times Union Center last year. Jackson Mordente of Sachem East is yet another to keep tabs on.

In the bottom half, Brendan Dent may be under the radar for those outside of Long Island, but he has been strong all year and has yet to lose. In addition, Eric Lewandowski of Lancaster is a very dangerous wrestler who has been to the finals before and is on a mission to get back. Trevor Hoffmier is a formidable first round foe for Almaviva as well.

So . . . We believe the fan at the Eastern States had the title bout pegged. The stage is brighter, but we expect a similar match in Hernandez vs. Almaviva II to what we saw in the Eastern States quarters.

152 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Corey Rasheed, Longwood (Second at 145)

Longwood’s Corey Rasheed is a three-time state placer, including two runner up finishes. If he wrestles the way he has all year, he will be extremely difficult to beat. Eastern States provided a great example of that. In a solid bracket, he pinned his first three foes and then outscored the opposition 28-4 in the semis and finals to earn the crown. He could face some of the other medalists from that event as both Joe Mastro of Yorktown and Dan DeCarlo of Port Jervis sit in the top of the bracket.

Columbia’s Angelo Kress is the number two seed and has topped the wrestler in the number three spot, Zach Joseph of Shenendehowa, twice by a single point in February. For them to meet again, they will have to overcome a number of very strong wrestlers, among them, returning qualifier Zach Colgan of Johnson City, Section 3’s Tommy Quinlan and two-time NHSCA All-American Chris Koo.

So . . . Rasheed has been unbelievable this season. He’s been close to a state title twice before and this time takes gold instead of silver against the very solid (and currently unbeaten) Koo.

160 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Tyler Grimaldi, Hills West (Second at 160)
Dale White, John Jay East Fishkill (Fifth at 145)

Tyler Grimaldi was the runner up in this class last year. He has dedicated himself to making sure he gets that elusive last victory in 2013 before heading to Harvard. Who stands in his way? Clarence’s Jake Weber has put together a good season in Section 6 as has Derek Holcomb of Newark Valley, an NHSCA All-American. Holcomb will have an interesting first match as he faces returning medalist Dale White of John Jay East Fishkill, a wrestler who missed the bulk of the season with an injury but has looked solid upon his return.

Andrew Psomas of Monsignor Farrell announced his presence among the state’s elite with his fourth place showing at the Eastern States. In the bronze bout, he lost to MacArthur’s Steve Schneider. The Nassau County champion has appeared to get better and better as the season progressed and is the #2 seed.

So . . . Grimaldi and Schneider have already faced off twice this season with the Hills West senior getting his hand raised both times. The finals may give us a third battle. Harvard thinks they found a champion.  We agree.

170 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Danny McDevitt, Wantagh (Fifth at 138)

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

Wantagh’s Danny McDevitt is familiar with being the number one seed in Albany as he was on the top line of the 138-pound bracket a year ago, and took fifth. His senior campaign has been nothing short of spectacular as he has seamlessly adjusted to wrestling four weight classes higher. On the way to his Eastern States crown, McDevitt saw (and defeated) some of his challengers, including Half Hollow Hills West’s Joe Piccolo, who is the fourth seed. A number of other grapplers who have appeared in the state rankings are in the top part of the bracket, such as St. Anthony’s John Vrasidas and Monroe Woodbury’s AJ Voelker.

Another one of McDevitt’s victories at SUNY Sullivan was against John Jay East Fishkill’s Brett Perry, who resides in the bottom of the bracket. Perry will have a very tough opening battle with Brockport’s Jared Mesiti, a returning qualifier who is 36-2 this season. Carlos Toribio of Brentwood has suffered just one setback in his senior campaign – against Piccolo by fall. However, he beat Piccolo twice, including a dominant victory in the Suffolk finals in which Toribio looked like he was healthy again after an injury.

So . . . McDevitt completes the perfect season before he begins his Ivy League career as a Quaker at Penn with a squeaker against the impressive Toribio.

182 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Shayne Brady, Carthage (Second at 170)
James Benjamin, Vestal (Fifth at 182)
Gio Santiago, Sachem North (Sixth at 182)

Shayne Brady went all the way to the championship bout last year at 170. After placing at the Super 32 Classic and going 32-1, he’s on top of the bracket this time. A couple of returning placers with a tendency to pin could be in his path. Vestal’s James Benjamin notched four pins at the state tournament last year and 28 overall this campaign. Gio Santiago also knows how to throw opponents to their backs, with 30 falls. Don’t forget about Thomas Murray of Yorktown. At the beginning of the year, when asking about potential sleepers in Section 1, we were told to watch out for Murray and he has delivered with a good season.

James Corbett of Wantagh and Anthony Liberatore of Williamsville South both lost 6-4 decisions to Trent Egenlauf of Spencerport. It was Liberatore’s only setback of the year, while Corbett had only one more (to Zack Zupan). There are a number of other tough wrestlers in the bottom half, but one of these three is likely to get a shot in the finals.

So . . . Finals experience helps Brady get back to the Saturday night main event, but in an upset, we’ll pick Egenlauf to stay undefeated for the title with very close decisions in the semis and finals.

195 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Reggie Williams, Johnson City (Second at 195)

Reggie Williams has been among the best upperweights in the state for years now. As a freshman, he took sixth and last year he was second with all of his losses coming to state champion Tony Fusco of Shenendehowa. He has been focused on one thing since stepping off the mat in Albany last February and that’s winning it all. So far, he has an unblemished record in 2012-13 and sits as the top seed. Will he get that crown? There will certainly be some obstacles for him. Before the brackets came out, we considered some possible finals opponents for Williams. Among those were Dan Choi of Syosset, undefeated pinning machine Chris Chambers of East Islip and Steven Sabella of Yorktown. (Williams beat Sabella with very late points, 7-5, at Eastern States). Guess what? A finals meeting between any of those guys won’t happen because they’re all on the top half.

So, who will emerge from the bottom? Colton Kells has marched through his senior year with an unblemished record. If he wins his first contest, he’ll certainly be tested by either Deon Edmond of Kingston, who came within one bout of placing last year or the tough Nick Weber of Kings Park. After earning All-American status in Fargo, Ben Honis has put together a nice resume with wins over several top 195 pounders and he’ll have a chance to add to that list when he faces Shenendehowa’s Levi Ashley in Round 1.

So . . . All in all, it’s an impressive group of big guys. But despite the many obstacles in his way, Williams has been here before and knows what it takes. We think he’ll get it done in a tight bout over Kells, who came within a match of placing last year and has improved on his feet.

220 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
Nick Lupi, Huntington (Fifth at 220)

We were ready to go with a finals prediction of Nick Lupi of Huntington (31-1 after a fifth place showing in this class a year ago) against Rich Sisti of Monsignor Farrell (25-0, 20 pins). With the way the seeds fell, that won’t happen. There are candidates to upset either of those wrestlers, however. Minisink Valley’s Josh Bonneau showed resilience when he came back from a first round loss at Eastern States to take third. In addition, the winner of the first round tilt between Section 8 champion Tom Sinclair of Island Trees and Marshall Taylor of Lockport could certainly go far.

On the bottom, there are many wrestlers with finals potential. John Hartnett of Tappan Zee and Jason Johnson of Colonie put together solid seasons. We think both Steven Mills of Sachem North and Matt Mott of Lynbrook have been somewhat under the radar this year. Our prediction is that one or both won’t be after the weekend.

So . . . Sisti will make it difficult, but we’ll say Lupi’s experience at this tournament leads him to a crown, over a tough fellow Long Islander.

285 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers
El Shaddai Van Hoesen, Columbia (Second at 285)
Mike Hughes, Smithtown West (Sixth at 285)

Van Hoesen, Photo by BV

Our rankings have showcased El Shaddai Van Hoesen of Columbia at #1 and Mike Hughes of Smithtown West at #2 for the whole season. Van Hoesen, a silver medalist in 2012, has been nothing short of dominant as a senior, going 37-0 with 24 pins and only two regular decisions. “Nothing short of dominant” could be used to describe Hughes as well. His numbers read: 38-0, 29 pins, 1 regular decision (over qualifier James O’Hagan). If Van Hoesen and Hughes continue to wrestle the way they have all year, the two returning medalists would battle in the semis.

Like Van Hoesen and Hughes, Mike Manni of Tappan Zee is unbeaten this year. He defeated returning qualifier David Varian of Yorktown in the Section 1 finals and a rematch could happen in the semis. However, there are several wrestlers who could stand in the way. Austin Coleman of Spencerport has over 35 wins, as does Newburgh’s Terrence Cheeks, who has exchanged wins with Varian this year.

So . . . The top half winner gets the gold. We’ll say that will be Van Hoesen, who will add a few more pins to his collection before the weekend’s over. After testing himself throughout the year, we’ll say Cheeks gets through the bottom.