World Team Member Alexis Porter of Shenendehowa Commits to McKendree University

It’s been quite a week for Alexis Porter.  On Saturday, she picked up a dominant win in international action in her home gym.  And just a few days later, she committed to McKendree University in Illinois, where she will receive a full athletic scholarship.

“I took a visit and I really, really liked the campus,” Porter said. “The school is a good size and there are really good academic programs in areas I’m interested in.  I thought it was the best fit for me.”

It didn’t hurt that the Bearcats have already seen success in their debut season (with wins over the #4 and #5 teams in the nation). And there are plans in place to build a dedicated wrestling building.

Photo by Justin Cummings/Spotlight News Sports Photographer

“The brand new facility wasn’t the deciding factor, but it influenced me,” she said. “I’m definitely excited about it.”

Porter, a four-time national champion who represented Team USA at this summer’s Cadet World Championships in Serbia, also considered King, Campbellsville and Lindenwood.

She said she will finish her last high school season with Shenendehowa, but then looks forward to transitioning away from folkstyle – for good.

“In women’s college wrestling, it’s just freestyle,” she said. “I think I’m better at freestyle and I enjoy it more.  It will keep me on track for my international goals.”

Porter put on a great display of international wrestling this past weekend.  Prior to the USA vs. Russia Dual at Shenendehowa High School, Porter took on Canadian Keagin Collie at 65 kg.  She took command from the start, racing out to a 6-0 lead after the first period and winning by 7-0 technical fall early in the second stanza.

“It was an incredible event,” Porter said. “It was a packed gym and being able to wrestle in front of the home crowd at my own school was amazing.  Not too many people can say that they represented their country at their own school. I felt the adrenaline and really enjoyed it.  It was a great opportunity for me.”

Photo by Justin Cummings/Spotlight News Sports Photographer

Porter will have more opportunities on the world wrestling scene after going 0-1 at the World Championships a few months ago.  She has a developmental camp coming up in Philadelphia and plans to compete in Sweden in February and then in Austria in June.

“I definitely didn’t finish where I expected or hoped at the Worlds,” she said. “Sometimes you learn more from your failures than your successes.  I took a lot from that trip.  I have some more chances coming up to get some redemption and prove myself on the international stage.  I expect there to be a much different outcome.”

For now, though, Porter is excited to go through her senior year of high school with her future much more clear.

“I’m glad to be done with the recruiting process,” she said. “I enjoyed it – it was definitely an experience.  But now I can settle in and prepare for next year.  There were a lot of decisions to be made and places to look at, but I’m really happy with my decision and how it all turned out.”

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Alexis Porter wanted to thank her family, coaches and friends, saying that she “wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am without all of them.”

Taking on the World: Shenendehowa's Alexis Porter Prepares to Make Her Mark at the Cadet World Championships

The summer is nearly over, and Alexis Porter hasn’t caught any waves or spent any time in the sand.  She simply hasn’t had the chance.

“This is definitely the busiest summer I’ve ever had,” she said. “I haven’t gotten to the beach yet, but everything I’ve missed isn’t that important.  I’ll stop when I win a World Championship.  I’ll be ready then.”

She’ll have that chance on August 22 when she takes the mat in Serbia for the Cadet World Championships at 65 kg/143.25 pounds.

It’s a goal she’s had in her mind for quite some time.

“My dad put it in my head a long time ago — way before I was even competing at this kind of a level,” she said.  “He always said that I could be a World Champion or an Olympic champion – even back when I was nine years old.”

When she was nine, Porter competed at the Body Bar FILA Cadet Nationals for the first time, taking second place.  She didn’t return to the event until May of 2013.  This time, the tournament was held in the Sunshine State and served as the qualifier for the World Team. And she had a little extra motivation to put on a show.

“My grandfather, who lives in Florida, came to support me,” she said. “It was the first time he saw me wrestle.  He had just gotten out of the hospital, but he was very adamant that he had to watch me. He was there, wheelchair and all. It kind of gave me an extra edge.”

She used that extra edge to perfection, blitzing through the competition.  Porter began with a 6-0, 8-2 victory before recording a trio of pins, each in less than two minutes.  She then finished things off with a 2-0, 7-0 triumph over Hannah Gladden in the championship contest.

That performance earned Porter spot in Serbia.  And that was just the beginning of an action-packed spring and summer.

“It didn’t hit me until I got back home,” she said of making the World Team. “I was really excited. It’s definitely my biggest accomplishment so far. I feel really lucky – it was a great experience for me. I realized there were a whole bunch of camps I would be going to and that I was about to start traveling.”

One of the places she traveled to was the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs.

“I was at a camp at the OTC and with the elevation, my conditioning got so much better,” she said. “We did a lot of conditioning and strength work.  It was really nice to be there competing.  Everybody was there – the top three in every weight class, pretty much. I was able to drill and train with Elena Pirozhkova, who was really nice and helpful.  I think it made a big difference before Fargo.”

Porter made quite a name for herself in Fargo in 2012, winning a pair of national titles – at both the Cadet and Junior levels.  She expected nothing less than another first place plaque this time around. (She competed only in the Junior division in 2013).

Her finals opponent, Jasmine Mendoza of California, was the same as in 2012.  And the result was the same – a championship for Porter. But her dominance was at another level.  She picked up an 11-2 technical fall in the title bout – and those were the only two points she surrendered.  Her other matches were a pin, 11-0, 10-0 and 12-0.

“Last year, I was conservative,” she said. “I was reserved – I wrestled safe and smart in the finals. I just wanted to make sure I won. This year, I felt like I could open up and make it a much bigger margin.  I wrestled a lot more active and aggressive.”

That individual achievement wasn’t necessarily the highlight of the tournament for Porter.  She was thrilled when Team New York made history, becoming the first squad other than California or Texas to win it all at Fargo in the Women’s Duals competition.

“I might have been more excited for that team win,” she said. “There are some pretty embarrassing pictures of me and how excited I was. A lot of my teammates hadn’t won a match or placed [during the individual competition] but [in the dual tournament] they beat people who were All-Americans. It was exciting to cheer for each other and show our support. Coach [Rob] Hirsch was adamant that no one trained harder than us. We showed everyone that New York is the best team in the country.”

That accomplishment was made more special for Porter because of the uniforms all New York wrestlers wore – with a picture of the late Jeff Blatnick on the back and the words “Dream Big”.

“I felt like Coach Blatnick was with us in spirit,” she said. “Wearing that singlet was a constant reminder of how much our state has gone through and why we deserved it as a team.”

Alexis and Jesse Porter, Courtesy of Porter Wrestling Facebook

Porter’s time in North Dakota was special for more reasons as well.  Her brother Jesse, a rising junior at Shenendehowa, was the only male wrestler from the Empire State to medal in both Greco Roman and Freestyle.  He took second and fifth, respectively, at 152 pounds after his high school campaign for the Plainsmen ended early with an injury.

“I definitely expected Jesse to do really well,” Alexis Porter said. “He didn’t have good luck during the season.  I thought he could win a state championship this year.  But having to sit out made him hungrier than ever.  When he came back, he went full steam, training harder than before.  He fell a little short of his goals in Fargo, but he did really well and I’m really proud of him.  For us, wrestling is a family affair.”

Indeed, Alexis Porter said that she and her brother are often practice partners.  They train at the Journeymen Wrestling Club, which Porter said has been a key component to her success.

She’s had her share of success on the national stage and she’s ready to take it to the global level.

“I haven’t done much international wrestling, but I’m pretty confident that no one in the weight can touch me,” she said. “I believe I should come back from Serbia as a world champion.”

And that won’t be all for Porter.  After the Worlds, she’ll be doing another development camp at the OTC and will prepare for her final year at Shenendehowa.

What happens after that?

“I’m really taking it one day at a time,” she said. “I know how fortunate I’ve been this year. I can’t thank my friends, family and coaches enough because I wouldn’t be anywhere without them.  I feel very blessed and lucky for the year I’ve had – staying healthy and staying successful.  This has been the busiest and craziest summer of my life but it will definitely also be the most fulfilling.”

Porter, Restrepo and Bushey Clinch All-America Honors in Cadet FS; Hemida in Contention (Also See Who Survived Day 1 of Jr FS)

After the second day of Cadet Freestyle, three New York wrestlers clinched spots on the podium with another still in contention when action resumes on Friday.

Jesse Porter of Shenendehowa was the runner up in Cadet Greco earlier this week at 152 pounds and he assured himself two medals at Fargo in 2013 as he will compete for fifth place on Friday against Matt Ferraro of Illinois.  Porter compiled a 6-2 mark in Freestyle with five technical falls and a pin.  In his last match on Thursday, he came back from a late deficit to knot the score at 4, however, he lost on criteria.

Also earning All-America honors were a pair of Empire State grapplers who will take the mat against each other at 145 pounds.  Both Jakob Restrepo of Sachem East and Jordan Bushey of Peru racked up 5-2 records and will battle in the seventh place tilt on Friday. Also going 5-2 in that same bracket was Gino Titone of Connetquot, however, he fell just short of the medal stand.

Youssif Hemida stands at 3-1 and is one of five remaining wrestlers in his half of the 220 pound bracket. (Four of the five grapplers will make the podium).  Hemida’s victories have all been by technical fall and he’s looking for another when he squares off with Kyler Childers of Oklahoma in his next contest.

Also seeing action for New York on Thursday in the Cadet event, but finishing their runs at the tournament, were Ben Lamantia (who finished 4-2), Leonard Merkin (4-2), Gino Titone (5-2), Jacob Woolson (3-2), Tyler Hall (2-2), James Bethel (2-2) and Peter Strassfield (1-2).

JUNIOR FREESTYLE

Junior Freestyle got underway on Thursday and after the first two sessions, the following wrestlers are still alive for Team New York (with record in parenthesis):

113: John Twomey 3-0

120: Matthew Morris 3-1

126: William Koll 4-1

152: Trevor Hoffmier 3-1

160: Troy Seymour 4-0

160: Chris Koo 3-1

170: Andrew Psomas 3-1

182: Cedric Stephens 3-1

Cadet Greco Roman Recap: Jesse Porter Takes Second; James Bethel, Garyn Huntley and Nick Casella Earn All-America Status

Jesse Porter was an All-American at Fargo a year ago in Greco Roman action when he grabbed fourth at 132.  In 2013, Porter moved up several weight classes and up a few spots higher on the podium as he earned second place at 152 pounds behind Nick Reenan of Texas, the same opponent he faced in the medal round in 2012.

It was a back and forth affair with a number of flurries in the title bout. After the first period, the score was knotted at 3.  Then Porter got off to a good start in the second with a body lock and throw that led to a 6-3 advantage.  However, his opponent responded with a takedown and exposure with just under a minute and a half to go on the path to a 9-6 triumph.

Courtesy of Shenendehowa wrestling website

Porter, a Shenendehowa and Journeymen wrestler, simply dominated in his pool, capturing all seven of his matches by pin or technical fall and giving up just two total points. He will try to pick up even more hardware when the Cadet Freestyle event commences later in the week. (At the New York State championships in Binghamton back in May, Porter cruised to titles in both international styles).

Also high on the podium for the Empire State was James Bethel, who took third.  After dropping his first contest in Fargo to eventual runner up Jordan Wood by one point, Bethel went on a six-match winning streak, including a pin over fifth placer Kyler Childers and a 7-0 technical fall over Shane Coombs in the bronze bout.

Joining Bethel on the medal stand at 220 was Garyn Huntley, who grabbed sixth after picking up four victories at the event.  He notched two pins and two technical falls.

One more All-American was crowned from New York – Nassau County’s Nick Casella at 120 pounds.  Casella began Day 2 the same way he finished the first day of competition – with a victory (over Roshaun Cooley of Pennsylvania).  He concluded pool action with a 6-2 record, earning a spot in medal round against Raul Nevarez of Idaho in the 75-person 120 pound bracket.  The Section 8 wrestler trailed 8-2 in the opening period but took over from there on the way to a 13-8 final and seventh place.

Coming within one win of the podium was Leonard Merkin of Poly Prep, who went 4-1 on the opening day of the event, but lost his first contest on Monday to Conner Noonan of Oregon at 132 pounds.

Updates from the Junior Greco Roman tournament, which began on Monday, will be coming later.

Other Participants from New York in the Cadet Greco Roman tournament were:

88: Drew Schafer, Justin Lopez, Oscar Lainez

106: Sean Miller, John Luke Destefano

113: Taylor Picciano, Evan Barczak

126: Ian Lupole, Christian Briody, Michael Berkowitz

138: Frank Jilling, Zachery Bendick, Sam Ward

145: Kevin Parker, Gino Titone, Jordan Bushey, Logan Brunick

152: John Vouzonis, William Marcil

160: Vance Cuffie, Collin LaBombard, Zafar Iskandarov, Andrew Cummings

170: Jacob Woolson

182: Joseph Sabia, Colby Stayley

195: Aidan Mathews

285: Peter Strassfield

 

Fargo Day 2: Bethel and Huntley Become All-Americans While Casella and Porter Go Undefeated in Cadet Greco Roman Action

After the first day of Cadet Greco Roman competition, a number of New York wrestlers remain in the mix for spots high on the podium, with two already clinching All-America status – 220 pounders James Bethel and Garyn Huntley.

Both Bethel and Huntley began with defeats against highly touted foes, but responded with dominant showings the remainder of the day to ensure top-6 finishes.

Bethel lost a 6-5 decision to Jordan Wood, Intermat’s #8 sophomore in the country, in his first bout. However, he came back with technical falls over James McWilliams of North Carolina and Adam Treptau of Minnesota before pinning Jacob Spencer of Alabama in less than two minutes.  To finish off the day, Bethel won 7-0 over James Ford of Ohio. He next battles Kyler Childers of Oklahoma.

On the other half of the 220-pound bracket, Huntley faced Intermat’s #1 junior in the nation, Lance Benick, in round one.  After the setback, he bounced back with authority with two pins in less than 35 seconds and a pair of technical falls to secure at least sixth place. He’ll square off with Shane Coombs of Colorado in his first action on Monday.

Photo by BV

Other Empire State wrestlers remain in the hunt, including a pair of grapplers who went unbeaten on Sunday – Locust Valley’s Nick Casella and Shenendehowa’s Jesse Porter.

Both Casella and Porter breezed through the day with five convincing victories.  At 120 pounds, Casella opened with a fall and then registered four straight technical falls by 7-0, 7-0, 8-0 and 11-3 scores. He will look to continue his winning ways tomorrow morning when he faces Roshaun Cooley of Pennsylvania, who is 3-1 thus far.

Meanwhile, Porter picked up a pair of pins and three 8-0 technical falls at 152 pounds. His next challenge will be Maryland’s Christian Almony who sported an unblemished record on Sunday.

Also moving onto Day 2 of the tournament is Poly Prep’s Leonard Merkin, who started strong with an 8-0 tech fall over Conner Wengreen of Utah.  After dropping his next bout to Ben Hornickle of Wisconsin, Merkin bounced back with a pin and two tech falls over foes from Virginia, Illinois and New Jersey at 132 pounds.  Next up: Conner Noonan of Oregon, who was 4-1 on Sunday.

The Cadet Greco Roman tournament concludes on Monday, while Junior Greco begins.  Check back for more updates.

A number of other competitors from New York took the mat on Sunday in the Cadet Greco Roman event.  They are:

88: Drew Schafer, Justin Lopez, Oscar Lainez

106: Sean Miller, John Luke Destefano

113: Taylor Picciano, Evan Barczak

126: Ian Lupole, Christian Briody, Michael Berkowitz

138: Frank Jilling, Zachery Bendick, Sam Ward

145: Kevin Parker, Gino Titone, Jordan Bushey, Logan Brunick

152: John Vouzonis, William Marcil

160: Vance Cuffie, Collin LaBombard, Zafar Iskandarov, Andrew Cummings

170: Jacob Woolson

182: Joseph Sabia, Colby Stayley

195: Aidan Mathews

285: Peter Strassfield

 

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

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

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

In individual tournament action:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more details on these stories, read on:

Section 3 and 4 Dual Meet Championships

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

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

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

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

Shenendehowa Tournament

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

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

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

For further results from the event, see here.

Monroe County Tournament

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

Courtesy of Jason DePrez

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

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

For more details, see here.

Islip Cup

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

Photo by BV

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

For more results, see here.

Kohl Tournament

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

For full brackets, see here.

Edgemont Panther Tournament

Photo by BV

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

For more results, see 2013 Edgemont Bracket FINAL RESULTS

 

ECIC Championships

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

Beacon

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

Dual Meets

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

Eastern States Recap: The Champions and Other Highlights from the Weekend in Section 9

Another Eastern States Classic is in the books. Wrestling fans were treated to a tremendous weekend of many of the best New York (and a few other states) have to offer.  Wantagh won the team title, led by heavyweight Most Outstanding Wrestler (MOW) Dan McDevitt, the champion at 170 pounds.  Also taking MOW honors were Shenendehowa’s Nick Kelley (middleweights) and Shoreham-Wading River’s TJ Fabian (lightweights).  Fabian had more hardware to take home as well as he captured Champion of Champions honors after winning an absolutely loaded bracket at 126 pounds.

There were many highlights over the two days. Let’s take a look at some of them.

99 Pounds:

Champion: Chris Cuccolo of Pine Bush came into the event as the second ranked wrestler in his weight . . . in Section 9. (He took fifth in the section in 2012).  Cuccolo has had success on the national level in the international styles and came up with a huge weekend in folk, outscoring his opponents 14-4 plus a pin.

And Also . . .  The semifinal matchup between Jake Yankloski of Wayne and John Busiello of Eastport South Manor looked like a battle between two wrestlers we will hear from in the postseason.  (Yankloski won in the tiebreakers). Yankloski began the season dominant up at 106 and has continued to look good at 99 while Busiello won his first three matches by technical fall or pin before a solid win over top seed Andrew Flanagan for third.

106 Pounds:

Photo by Josh Conklin

Champion: Nick Barbaria of New Rochelle was stingy on his path to the championship. After a first round technical fall, he shut out his next two opponents and defeated Wantagh’s Kyle Quinn in the title bout. Barbaria repeated victories over two of the state’s top grapplers  – Quinn and Corning’s Jimmy Overhiser on his way to gold.  He had defeated Quinn a few weeks ago and Overhiser at the Journeymen Classic.

And Also . . . Shoreham-Wading River’s James Szymanski, the eighth seed, impressed throughout the tournament, taking third.  He dropped a 3-2 battle to top-ranked Tony Recco in the quarterfinals but earned four straight wins in the wrestlebacks, including a pin against Overhiser and a major decision over Golan Cohen for bronze.  Cohen, the #10 seed from Colonie, also had a strong run in the consolations to take fourth.

113 Pounds:

Champion: Nick Piccininni began the event as the favorite and showed why as he cruised through a bracket filled with former state placers with a pair of technical falls, a pin, a major and a 5-0 victory in the finals against Gouverneur’s Dillon Stowell.

And Also . . .  There was only one wrestler on the podium at Eastern States who wasn’t All-State in 2012. Rafael Mateo of Midlakes, who made the medal stand in Loch Sheldrake after being seeded 14th, tallied four pins over the weekend and took eighth.

120 Pounds:

Photo by Josh Conklin

Champion: Danbury’s Kevin Jack was an Eastern States Classic champion for the second straight year, this time at 120.

And Also . . .  It’s clear that Section 1 is stacked at 120 pounds as three of the four semifinalists – John Muldoon, Alex Delacruz and Nick Tolli were from that area. Muldoon went all the way to the finals while Tolli was fifth after making an early statement by defeating highly regarded Steve Michel of Lancaster.  Delacruz was in medal position before being disqualified. But that wasn’t all.  Blaise Benderoth, the ninth seed, grabbed third with an 8-1 showing. The North Rockland wrestler was pinned by Eastport South Manor’s Travis Passaro in the Round of 16 but then responded with six consecutive victories, including a win over state champion Sean Peacock and a 7-2 triumph over Passaro in the third place bout. Throw two-time state runner up Trey Aslanian of Edgemont and Nanuet’s Anthony Calvano into the mix (both were at the tournament) and it should be a very interesting postseason for Section 1 at this weight.

126 Pounds:

Champion: When the #8 seed is a recent national champion (Wantagh’s Chris Araoz), you know you have a tough bracket. Emerging above the rest in a field with a plethora of accomplished wrestlers was Shoreham-Wading River’s TJ Fabian, a fourth place finisher at the state tournament in 2012.  Fabian demonstrated his outstanding mat wrestling and his ability to come through in close matches on his way to the title.  He topped former state champions in both the semis and finals (William Koll and Dylan Realbuto, respectively).

And Also . . . There was a lot of talk about seventh grader Frankie Gissendanner of Penfield, and with good reason.  He placed at 126 pounds in a deep weight in which multiple All-State wrestlers didn’t make the medal stand. Gissendanner, who has made a rapid adjustment to the varsity level, reached the quarterfinals before losing to Koll.  He bounced back like a veteran, beating Grand Street’s Keanu Thompson (who was top 8 in Albany last year) in the consolations before edging 2012 state runner up Justin Cooksey to take seventh.  For more on Gissendanner, from an article we published back in May, see here.

132 Pounds:

Champion: Tristan Rifanburg, the number two seed, controlled his matches on the way to the crown. He picked up an opening round fall before outscoring his next three foes 20-0.  In the finals, he defeated Sam Melikian of Fordham Prep, 8-5.

And Also . . . Melikian came within one victory of placing in the state capital last year.  However, he seems to have taken his wrestling to the next level, dominating in his first five bouts before dropping the finals contest to Rifanburg.

138 Pounds:

Champion: Nick Kelley of Shenendehowa repeated as a champion at this event after winning at 132 last season.  Westfield’s Derek Arnold gave Kelley a battle in the semis (a 3-2 Kelley victory), but otherwise, the future Binghamton Bearcat cruised.  He notched pins in his first three bouts and recorded a 9-1 major over Lansing state champion Connor Lapresi for the title.

And Also . . . Unseeded Skylar Kropman of Penfield took fifth place, including victories over the number six and eight seeds, John Diekel of Whitehall and Joey Butler of Burnt Hills.  Rocky Point’s Tom Dutton, an All-American at both the NHSCAs and Fargo this offseason, once again was impressive to watch.  He took fourth after a pair of losses to Arnold, the Virginia native.

145 Pounds:

Champion: One of the matches we were looking forward to after the brackets were released was Mepham’s Louis Hernandez versus Shenendehowa’s David Almaviva, two of the best in the state.  Hernandez not only beat the number two seed Almaviva 4-2 in that match but also top-ranked Beau Donahue of Westfield, 7-3, to win the championship.  Hernandez came into the event seeded seventh, but will be a force in Albany.  A year ago, he went 1-2 wrestling with a significant injury at the Times Union Center.  This time, he expects much more.

And Also . . . There could be some great matches in late February between wrestlers who looked very good this weekend – Hernandez, Almaviva, Lancaster’s Eric Lewandowski and Fox Lane’s Tom Grippi. On the Division 2 side, Frank Garcia of Norwich, who came within a match of placing last year as a freshman, took fifth.  He had missed a chunk of the season with an injury but has made a nice return.

152 Pounds:

Champion: Not much doubt about the top wrestler here. Corey Rasheed of Longwood pinned his first three opponents, then won 15-4 and 13-0 to earn gold.  He has racked up numerous honors, including three All-State medals, in his career and is the favorite to win his first state title next month.

And Also . . . Although he lost to Rasheed in his last bout, Phoenix’s Rowdy Prior showed that he takes the “Pin2win” mentality of his head coach Gene Mills to heart. Prior registered falls in all four of his matches prior to the finals, including over the sixth and seventh seeds, Dan DeCarlo of Port Jervis and Zach Joseph of Shenendehowa.

160 Pounds:

Photo by Josh Conklin

Warsaw’s Burke Paddock positioned himself for a run at his first state title when he dispatched two top small school opponents in Mike Beckwith and Austin Weigel and then defeated Division I returning runner up Tyler Grimaldi of Half Hollow Hills, 8-4.

And Also . . . While some New York fans may have been surprised by MacArthur’s Steve Schneider’s third place finish, those on Long Island certainly weren’t. The Nassau County wrestler lost to Grimaldi for the second time in the past few weeks, but captured his other six bouts and showed his ability to win the close ones.  All four of his consolation victories came by two points or less, including over the fifth-seed Nick Gallo and the sixth-seed Mike Beckwith.  The performance of Schneider’s third place match opponent, Andrew Psomas of Monsignor Farrell, should also be mentioned.  Psomas was unseeded coming into the event and went all the way to fourth, including victories over four seeded grapplers (Tyler Silverthorn, Stephen Aiello, Austin Weigel and Nate Bomysoad).

170 Pounds:  

Champion: If anyone was unsure whether Dan McDevitt could make the leap from 138 pounds to 170 and stay among the state’s elite, this weekend provided the answer. The Wantagh wrestler showed he belongs in the upperweights, topping Christian Dietrich of Greene 6-2 for the title. He also defeated the third and fifth place finishers, Joe Piccolo and Brett Perry.

And Also . . . Both Dietrich and Piccolo defeated top-ranked Troy Seymour, boosting their stock for the rest of the season.  It wouldn’t be very surprising to see a rematch of Dietrich’s 3-2 semifinal win over Seymour in the Saturday night finals in Albany for Division II gold.

 

182 Pounds:

Champion: Zack Zupan was in charge all the way through.  We may get to see him wrestle multi-time state placer Tim Schaefer again in Albany, after Zupan earned a 5-2 win over the Warsaw grappler in the championship tilt.

And Also. . . Several wrestlers outperformed their seeds.  Yorktown’s Thomas Murray was in the eighth spot in the bracket but came in fifth, with his losses to Zupan and in the tiebreakers to Shenendehowa’s Levi Ashley.  Speaking of Ashley, the Shenendehowa wrestler topped unseeded Andrew Grella from Beacon in the first round, 8-6, but Grella then won five straight to eventually grab sixth.  Also making a solid run was #15 Christian Araneo of Ward Melville, a freshman, who took eighth after three consolation wins.

195 Pounds:

Williams, Photo by BV

Champion: Reggie Williams had a very exciting and interesting weekend. He had two matches come down to the wire – his opening bout against Garrett Duval, which he won 12-11, and a 7-5 victory over Steven Sabella in which he scored the winning points close to the buzzer.  The Johnson City star also won two bouts by fall, including his title victory over Gouverneur’s Hunter Ayen.

And Also. . .  Ben Honis of Jamesville-Dewitt/CBA made a statement this summer when he earned All-America status at Fargo. He made another statement over the weekend when he took third place, including a win over All-Stater Tyler Smith of Midlakes. The only loss for Honis was a default in the semis against Ayen.

The opening round match between #15 seed Dan Fowler of Chaminade and Jeff Senecal of Duanesburg probably didn’t get much attention (Fowler won by fall).  However, both wrestlers made the medal stand, with Fowler defeating seeded wrestlers Deon Edmond and Scott Wymbs to take fifth and Senecal beating Wymbs and Canastota’s Wyatt Albanese to notch seventh.

220 Pounds:

Champion: Dan Breit of Nanuet breezed through the competition early with big wins in his first three bouts and then won close ones late, picking up 3-2 victories in the semis and finals against Dillon Hurlbert of Marathon and Mike Silvis of Holley, respectively.

And Also . . . During our Pick Your Champions contest, Minisink Valley’s Josh Bonneau received quite a few votes.  The #15 seed showed why. He lost to Breit in his first bout but then picked up six consecutive wins to finish third. Among the wrestlers he beat were Alex Ortiz of Middletown, Hurlbert and Holland Patent’s Josh Langley.

285 Pounds:

Van Hoesen, Photo by BV

Champion: El Shaddai Van Hoesen continued his winning ways.  It’s become customary for him to pin nearly everyone in his path and he did record three falls, including over Alex Soutiere in the title bout.  He also had an 8-1 decision and a 1-0 victory over Rocky Point’s Brennan Strovink.

And Also . . . Strovink proved that his close match with Van Hoesen wasn’t a fluke when the #16 seed made the podium in the sixth position after a solid tournament.  We also saw that the quality 285 pounders in Section 2 go beyond Van Hoesen and Soutiere. Austin DiCerbo of Colonie was pinned by Van Hoesen but picked up four falls of his own, including over Yorktown’s David Varian, on his way to third place.

Team: It was another great weekend for Wantagh. After capturing the Union-Endicott Duals last Sunday, the Warriors again finished on top with 138.5 points.  Shenendehowa was second with 111.5 while Westfield, Virginia (102.5) and Danbury, Connecticut (77) were next.  Tied for fifth were Colonie and Eastport South Manor with 73.5 points.

For full results, see here.

The results of our Pick Your Champions Contest will be released soon.

Congratulations to the Friends of Section 9 Wrestling, including Tournament Director Jeff Cuilty and the many others involved, who made this an outstanding event.  Thank you to SUNY Sullivan, especially Director of Athletics Chris DePew, for assistance with our live coverage.

And a huge thank you to Matt Diano for his incredible work on the live coverage on Saturday!