U-E Duals Recap: Wantagh Rallies to Capture the Title . . . Plus Other Dominant and Inspiring Performances

Wantagh entered the Union-Endicott Duals as the top team in the Empire State, and after two intense days of wrestling, the Warriors left with that number one ranking intact.

But it wasn’t easy.

After two blowout victories on Day 1 of the event, Sunday brought semifinal and final matches that came down to the wire.  Wantagh prevailed in both, rallying to defeat the number two seed, Sachem East, 35-27 for the championship.

“I’m really happy for our coaches, the guys and the fans,” said 220-pounder TJ Ragusa who has spent much of the season at 220 but wrestled at 285 at times this weekend. “A lot of times these duals are won by the guys who don’t get pinned; who don’t give up bonus. It was a total group effort.”

The finals began at 120 pounds and Sachem East controlled things early, winning six of the first eight bouts and earning a 24-10 lead after Zac Nobre’s decision at 170.

Despite trailing by a sizable margin, members of the team said they believed they would turn things around.

“Our confidence never wavered,” Ragusa said. “We never lost it. I was having a conversation with Danny McDevitt during the dual when we were losing and we were saying that we knew we’d keep fighting and win. One of the keys for our team is that we’re always confident.”

That appeared to be the case, as Wantagh took over from there, capturing six of the remaining seven matches, beginning with a pin from McDevitt at 182.

Afterwards, Wantagh received wins from James Corbett (195), Ragusa (285) and Jonathan Loew (99) to trail by just a point – 27-26.

The Section 8 power then regained the lead in emphatic fashion when 106-pounder Kyle Quinn earned a first period fall to push his squad ahead 32-27. Joe Hill then closed out the championship with a decision at 113.

“Before the match I was thinking I had to get a pin for the team,” Quinn said. “It means a lot for us to win – it gives us something to go home with. I think Wantagh just did a great job as a team.”

The excitement wasn’t limited to the finals.  The third place dual between Islip and Shenendehowa as well as both semifinals (Shenendehowa vs. Sachem East and Wantagh vs. Islip) all were decided in the very last bout.

In the battle for the bronze, the Plainsmen got out to a fast start and following a major decision for 195-pounder Levi Ashley, the Section 2 school was in front 31-15 with five matches to go.  However, Islip took the next four (including two by Shenendehowa forfeit and a huge pin at 106 pounds by Johnny DiPalma) to win 36-34.

Close matches were on tap in the semifinals as well, which started at 106 pounds. Going into the last match at 99, both duals had two point differentials – Sachem East led Shenendehowa 32-30 and Islip was ahead of Wantagh 27-25.

The wrestlers from Sachem East (Bobby Fazio) and Wantagh (Jonathan Loew) both trailed early in their respective matches.

Fazio was behind 4-1 in the second period before notching an escape and a takedown late in the stanza to tie things up going into the third. And he took over from there, earning a technical violation point, an escape, a takedown, near fall and eventually, the pin, to push his team to a 38-30 triumph.

Wantagh’s Loew faced a 2-0 deficit heading into the third but got on the board with a takedown early in that final stanza and rode his opponent out for the last minute and a half to force overtime.  In that extra session, Loew immediately went on the attack, getting the winning takedown and a 28-27 Warrior win.

In other placement matches, Clarence topped Monroe Woodbury for fifth, 34-28, and MacArthur beat Spencerport, 33-29, for seventh.

For full results from all 15 teams see:  Full results here.

A Few Additional (Random) Notes:

Dominance from the Binghamton Trio:  There was some talk at the event about who the most impressive wrestler was for the weekend.  While there was no absolute agreement, two names came up numerous times – Nick Kelley of Shenendehowa and Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks. Both cruised through the competition.

Their future Binghamton teammate, David Almaviva of the Plainsmen, also was outstanding, including controlling a 2-0 bout with the tough Jackson Mordente of Sachem East in the semifinals.

Long Island Looking Good: Suffolk squad Rocky Point, currently ranked #2 in the state Dual Meet poll, wasn’t at U-E this weekend, but Long Island did just fine, taking the top three spots at the event. In addition, MacArthur was seventh despite missing some key contributors such as Justin Cooksey.

Look Out for Clarence:  The Section 6 team didn’t come in as one of the tournament’s most talked about groups, but was very impressive in racking up a 4-1 record on the way to fifth place.  The Red Devils defeated the teams listed #4 and #5 in the first New York State Sportswriters Dual Meet rankings, North Rockland and Monroe Woodbury, by eight and six points, respectively.  (The one loss was to Sachem East).  The lineup’s bookends, heavyweight Nate Ward and 99-pounder Dylan Arena were among those who looked good over the weekend and the team is solid throughout.

And One Last Thing. . . : It’s always a pleasure to see such high level wrestling, but one of the standout performances came from Monroe Woodbury’s Vinny Vespa. Many New York wrestling fans know about Vespa’s fight with cancer this spring and summer. From the start, he and his family were confident that he would not only beat cancer, but also get back on the mat and win. Watching him do that in person was inspiring.

Wantagh Wins U-E Duals; Full Results Available

 

 

Full results here for the Union-Endicott Duals. Recap coming tomorrow.

 

 

 

Top NY Teams to Battle at the Union-Endicott Duals – LIVE Coverage on Day 2

 

 

New York Wrestling News will provide LIVE blog and/or video coverage of Sunday’s semifinals/finals at the Union-Endicott Duals. 

The coverage page will be at this link.

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The outcome of the Union-Endicott Duals typically has a significant influence on the New York State dual rankings.  That seems very likely again this year, in the 30th edition of the event, as four of the top five in the NYS Sportswriters Dual Rankings are in the field.  In fact, 14 of the 15 squads set to compete at the event are either in the top 10 or are listed as honorable mention.

“We always get excited about it,” said Union-Endicott head coach Josh Ruff. “But this year is probably one of the best we’ve had in a while. We feel like we have the best teams and everyone is pretty tough. It should be a fun weekend of wrestling.”

Indeed, it should.

Wantagh, the returning Dual Meet State Champions in Division I, comes in as the top seed.  The Warriors are stocked with quality wrestlers throughout the lineup, including several who are ranked at the state level such as Kyle Quinn (106), Chris Araoz (126), Vinny Turano (132), James Corbett (182) and Dan McDevitt (170).

A year ago, in a contest that essentially decided the Empire State’s top dual team, Wantagh battled to a tie with Shenendehowa at the Civil War Duals and the Warriors were declared the winners on criteria.  A rematch between the two powers could happen this weekend, as the Plainsmen are the number three seed.

While Shenendehowa lost a meet earlier this year to Burnt Hills (with some starters out), the squad was back to dominant form at the Teike Bernabi tournament, with seven finalists and four champions, led by Binghamton bound seniors Nick Kelley (138) and David Almaviva (145), both ranked #1 in New York at their respective weights.

A battle between Wantagh and Shenendehowa would certainly be exciting, but there are a number of other teams traveling to Section 4 who have the ability to make the finals as well.  Among those are the #2 and 4 seeds, Sachem East and Monroe Woodbury.

Sachem East is undefeated and stands atop the current Suffolk rankings.  Undefeated 145-pounder Jackson Mordente has led the way for a lineup that is solid throughout.  The upperweight combination of Cristian Nunez (195), John Vigh (220) and Josh Edmondson (285) has gone a combined 38-4 and two more competitors, Conor O’Hara (132) and Michael Pistone (152) sit in the top two in Section 11.

Monroe Woodbury’s starting group has cruised through the competition. Vinny Vespa, Evan Barczak, JP Vandercliff and AJ Voelker have all made a big splash, including winning the Massapequa Holiday Tournament. Like the teams mentioned above, it’s difficult to find a weak spot in the Crusaders lineup.

The following is a look at each of the pools, including some individual matches of interest. To view the schedule, see here.

 

Pool A: #1 seed Wantagh, Spencerport and Chenango Forks

Spencerport is led by Jon Haas, Trent Egenlauf, Collin Pittman and Austin Coleman.  The first three are all included in the statewide rankings and 285-pounder Coleman was strongly considered. Chenango Forks features one of New York’s best, two-time state champion Kyle Kelly as well as another wrestler who will be in the mix in the postseason – Jake Green.

We expect Wantagh will come out on top of this group, and here are three of the individual matches we’re excited to see.

106 Pounds: Kyle Quinn (Wantagh) vs. Jon Haas (Spencerport) – Both are in the top eight of our first New York State rankings.  Quinn, an NHSCA All-American last year and Haas, a returning state qualifier, are both coming off tournament titles – Haas at the Teike Bernabi and Quinn at the Raider Invitational.

126 Pounds: Chris Araoz (Wantagh) vs. Jake Green (Chenango Forks) – Araoz is fresh off a Most Outstanding Wrestler performance at the Raider Invitational, while Green took third in a tough Windsor Christmas Tournament weight after capturing gold at the PSAL Holiday event.  Both are likely to be fighting for All-State honors in February.

182 Pounds: James Corbett (Wantagh) vs. Trent Egenlauf (Spencerport) – Both Egenlauf and Corbett are ranked in the top eight in New York and both have registered multiple quality victories this year.  (For example, Egenlauf topped Anthony Liberatore of Williamsville South and Corbett beat All-Stater Gio Santiago of Sachem North).  Both are candidates to go far at the Times Union Center. Isaiah Zimmer of Chenango Forks, a bronze medalist at Windsor, shouldn’t be overlooked.

 

Pool B: #2 seed Sachem East plus Clarence, North Rockland and Brockport

Sachem East has faced a challenging slate of opponents and is 12-0.  The Suffolk squad will see more strong foes at the U-E Duals including 18-0 North Rockland, a balanced team led by Matt Caputo, Blaise Benderoth and the DiMarsicosJake and Derek; a Clarence group that comes off a runner up performance at the Teike Bernabi and always-tough Brockport, which has received standout showings from Jared Mesiti and Barton Peters.

Despite the stiff competition, we think Sachem East should live up to the second seed and earn a date in the semis. Here are three matches from this pool that we look forward to seeing.

113 Pounds: Barton Peters (Brockport) vs. Derek DiMarsico (North Rockland) – Peters won his first 15 matches after an appearance at the state tournament last year while DiMarsico already has around 20 wins.

126 Pounds: Brandon Glaubner (Clarence) vs. Anthony Messina (Sachem East) – Glaubner was the champion at the Teiki Bernabi Tournament while Messina has put together a very solid 15-1 season. His only setback was a one-point loss to returning state second placer Justin Cooksey of MacArthur.  Troy Feniger of North Rockland could have some interesting matches at this class as well.

145 Pounds: Jackson Mordente is unbeaten and in the top 8 in New York. Matt Caputo has just one loss and has been putting up a lot of bonus point victories. Should be a fun one to watch. [Caputo may wrestle at 138 pounds].

 

Pool C: #3 seed Shenendehowa plus MacArthur, Minisink Valley and Union-Endicott

MacArthur has already seen a number of top notch opponents this year and has solid wrestlers up and down the lineup. Minisink Valley has received strong contributions from returning state qualifier Mike Raccioppi as well as others such as Josh Bonneau (220) and Union-Endicott had six placers at the Windsor Christmas Tournament, including finalist Andrew Brinser at 285 and third placer Xavian Hughes at 132.

Still, at the end of the day, it will be difficult for any of the teams in the pool to overcome Shenendehowa.

Here are three matchups we look forward to:

120 Pounds: Chris Cataldo (MacArthur) vs. Kevin Parker (Shenendehowa) – Cataldo, 17-1, has won his last five bouts by pin or technical fall.  The Generals wrestler lost his opening contest of the campaign at 126 pounds and has been on a winning streak since.  Meanwhile, Parker pinned his way to the finals of the Teike Bernabi Tournament, where he finished second behind Steve Michel. He is a returning state qualifier.

Cooksey, Photo by BV

126 Pounds: Justin Cooksey (MacArthur) vs. Mike Raccioppi (Minisink Valley) – The two wrestled a year ago in the state tournament at 106 pounds where second-seeded Cooksey earned a 7-3 decision.  Will the match be similar months later and up several weights?

138 Pounds: Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa) vs. Rob Bennett (MacArthur) – Kelley is always fun to watch as he keeps pushing the pace for the entire duration of the match. Bennett sat on top of the Section 8 rankings at this weight, (although he did drop a match in the dual against Sachem East), and is a quality wrestler.

 

Pool D: #4 seed Monroe Woodbury plus Islip, Johnson City and Fulton

Section 9’s Monroe Woodbury has looked like one of the top dual teams in the state this year.  Islip has also excelled, with an 11-1 mark. (The loss was to Sachem East).  Johnson City boasts one of the state’s top wrestlers in 195-pounder Reggie Williams as well as other state qualifiers like Greg Kleinsmith and Zach Colgan.  Fulton, always one of the best in Section 3, has been propelled by a number of wrestlers, such as Mitchell Woodworth (106) and Thomas Hill (120) this year.

It looks like it should be a great battle between the Crusaders and the Buccaneers for a spot in the semifinals.

Here are three of the many matches of interest:

106 Pounds: Mitchell Woodworth (Fulton) vs. Evan Barczak (Monroe Woodbury) – Both Woodworth and Barczak have made a habit out of making the finals of big tournaments. Woodworth, the top ranked wrestler at his weight in Section 3, finished second at both the Andersen and the Kenneth Haines Memorial while eighth grader Barczak recently won the Massapequa Tournament and is #1 in Section 9.  Johnson City’s Isiah Colgan may also make an impact at this weight.

170 Pounds: AJ Voelker (Monroe Woodbury) vs. Greg Kleinsmith (Johnson City) – Voelker stood on top of the podium at the Massapequa Holiday Tournament and has been a strong presence in the Monroe Woodbury lineup all season. Kleinsmith, a 2012 state qualifier as a freshman, recently returned to action at the Teike Bernabi event, where he took second place.

Williams, Photo by BV

195 Pounds: Reggie Williams (Johnson City) vs. Craig Hinrichs (Islip) – Williams is the top wrestler in New York at 195. Hinrichs has piled up wins this year, with a single loss – to the previously mentioned Nunez of Sachem East.

 

We will be providing blog and/or video coverage of the Union-Endicott Duals on Sunday. 

The coverage page will be at this link.

 

Weekend Notes: Dake Earns OW, Nick Kelley Wins Bronze in Reno and More From Around the State

Dake vs. Caldwell, Phototrens.com

The first ever-wrestling event at Madison Square Garden captured a lot of headlines this weekend.  While Cornell and Hofstra both went 0-2, Big Red senior Kyle Dake earned the Outstanding Wrestler Award after his victories over #3 Tyler Caldwell of Oklahoma State and #13 Zach Toal of Missouri.  Dake controlled both matches, earning a reversal and riding time in each.  Also going undefeated on the day for Cornell was returning NCAA champion Steve Bosak, who made his season debut.  The 184-pounder picked up two victories against ranked opponents – #7 Mike Larson of the Tigers and #13 Chris Chionuma of the Cowboys.

For the box scores and descriptions from Cornell and Hofstra, see here and here.

Kelly vs. Ndiaye, Phototrens.com

Fans in attendance in New York City were able to watch some top level high school action in addition to the college duals as the placement matches of the PSAL Holiday tournament took place on Sunday at MSG as well.

Long Branch (NJ) took the team crown at the event, with champions at 138 (Nick Menkin), 145 (Nick George), 160 (Jake George) and 220 (Vincent Roselli).  In second place was Section 2’s Columbia, followed by the PSAL’s Brooklyn Tech.

One of the most anticipated finals happened at 113 pounds where two-time state champion Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks took on 2012 state runner up Cheick Ndiaye of Brooklyn International.  Kelly jumped out to an early lead and looked like he might get the pin but Ndiaye fought his way back into the match.  However, Kelly closed out a 6-4 victory in a battle between two wrestlers who will be among the top contenders at 113 in Albany in Division I and II, respectively.

Kelly’s teammate Jake Green captured first place in a challenging 126-pound field.  Green topped Grand Street’s Keanu Thompson 4-2 in the title bout with multiple time All-American Travis Passaro of Eastport South Manor grabbing third.  (Thompson defeated Passaro in Saturday’s semifinals).

Outstanding Wrestler honors went to Tottenville’s Santo Curatolo, who won at 120 pounds by first period fall.  That was one of three quick pins for Curatolo in the event.  His other victory was a 13-1 major.

The silver medal team from Columbia had a pair of champions, including heavyweight El Shaddai Van Hoesen, who pinned all four of his opponents and was only pushed into the second period once.  His teammate Angelo Kress had a similar experience at 152 pounds – four matches and four falls.

The other champions were: John Busiello of Eastport South Manor (99), Noah Malamut of Poly Prep (106), Saidyokub Kahramonov of New Utrecht (132), Adis Radoncic of RKA (170), Matt Roberts of Monsignor Farrell (182) and Kevin Tynes of Brooklyn Tech (220).

For full brackets, see here.

Outside of New York City . . .

While the focus of many wrestling fans was on the Big Apple, there was plenty of quality wrestling featuring New York wrestlers around the state and even in the Pacific Time Zone.  Here are a few notes from the weekend:

Wantagh saw its first dual action of the season at the David Bloom Memorial event.  The Warriors went 4-0, defeating New Rochelle, Sachem North, East Islip and one of Rhode Island’s top squads, Cumberland.

In one of the significant results of the day, Wantagh’s 182 pounder James Corbett continued his strong start to the season with a 5-2 victory over Gio Santiago of Sachem North, the 2012 Suffolk County champion who was sixth at the state tournament.  Corbett had a solid 32-6 season a year ago while wrestling at 160, 170 and 182 pounds and took fourth at the Section 8 tournament.  Now 7-0 with five pins and a technical fall, he’ll be a wrestler to watch in the upperweights this season.

Barbaria, Photo by BV

In a matchup of wrestlers with a great chance to travel to Albany in February, New Rochelle’s Nick Barbaria, an All-State wrestler at 99 pounds a year ago, picked up a quality win over NHSCA All-American Kyle Quinn, 5-3 at 113.

And Further Upstate . . . 

Spencerport won the Batavia Christmas Tournament on Saturday by almost 30 points over Blairsville, Pennsylvania.  Leading the way for Spencerport were champions Kaleb Pascoe (99), Brandon Barrett (113), Trent Englauf (182) and Collin Pittman (195).  Elmira was third as Sean McGinley took first at 285 and Charlie Kennedy (120) and Curtis Grant (138) earned second.  Royalton Hartland also made its presence felt with a trio of champions – Cameron Swick at 106, Drew Hull at 152 and Alex Jensen at 182.

Schaefer, Photo by BV

The Alexander Green and Gold Tournament in Section 5 showcased a number of state title contenders.  Warsaw won the event by a wide margin, with Rush Henrietta second and Fairport third.

Among the champions were All-State grapplers Corey Hollister of Perry (113), Dan Reagan of Lewiston Porter (145), Warsaw’s Burke Paddock (160) and Most Outstanding Wrestler (182) Tim Schaefer and Zack Bacon of Hornell (220).  For more detailed results, see here.

Koll and Lapresi Impress In Pennsylvania . . .

Lansing took 23rd at the King of the Mountain tournament at Central Mountain High School in the Keystone State . . . and the Bobcats did it with only two wrestlers entered in the event.  2011 state champion Will Koll dominated his way to the 126 pound title, with pins in his first four bouts before notching a 7-4 decision over Ryan Easter in the championship match.  2012 state titlewinner Connor Lapresi made his mark at 138, putting up bonus points in his first four matches before dropping a 7-2 decision in the title bout.

Kelley, Porter Place at the Reno Tournament of Champions in Nevada

Two Section 2 schools, Shenendehowa and LaSalle, headed out West with a handful of their starters to meet some out of state competition at the Reno Tournament of Champions.

Kelley, Photo by BV

Leading the way for the New Yorkers was Nick Kelley, who took third place at 138 pounds.  He began the event on a roll, winning his first four matches by fall, including an 16-second pin in his initial contest.  In the semifinals, Kelley lost an 8-6 match in overtime, however, he came back to dominate his next bout 11-4 to take the bronze.

Also making the podium for the Plainsmen was Jesse Porter at 132 pounds.  Porter entered the tournament as the 14th seed, but made an impressive run, winning his first two matches before dropping a 1-0 decision to eventual third place finisher Robbie Rizzolino of Easton, Pennsylvania. Porter responded with four victories in the wrestlebacks, including three pins.  He won his seventh place tilt 5-2 over Zack Edwards of Broken Arrow High in Oklahoma.

Two Shenendehowa grapplers came within one victory of the medal stand, but took different paths to get there.  182 pounder Levi Ashley dropped his opening match to bronze medalist Ian Baker of California.  However, he quickly rebounded, capturing five straight in the consolations before Brock Warren of Broken Arrow ended his run.  Meanwhile, David Almaviva, the ninth seed, won his first two contests before losing to Tanner Bailey of Broken Arrow. He rallied with two wins in the wrestlebacks.

Zach Joseph went 3-2 for Shenendehowa at 152 pounds while Corey Ali (2-2) and Kevin Parker both took the mat at 120 for the Plainsmen.  Freshman Joseph Clemente turned in a solid showing for LaSalle, with a 3-2 mark at 138 pounds while his teammates Mark Pelton (152), Paul Andreoli (152) and Eric Rider (126) also competed.

Shenendehowa took 21st place as a team in a field of more than 110 squads.  Canon McMillan (PA) took the gold overall.

For the full Reno Tournament of Champions bracket, see here.

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For more results from the weekend, see here.

To report results, e-mail newyorkwrestlingnews@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Section 5 Preview: More Than 10 All-State Wrestlers Return, Including 2012 Finalists Recco, Peacock, DePrez, Mazurowski and Bacon

Division I

Returning State Placewinners

Fifth Place: Bryan Lantry, Wayne, 99 Pounds

Second Place: Vincent Deprez, Hilton, 113 Pounds

 

Additional Returning Qualifiers

99 Pounds: Jon Haas, Spencerport

106 Pounds: Bryan Ruggeri, Fairport

106 Pounds: Barton Peters, Brockport

170 Pounds: Jared Mesiti, Brockport

195 Pounds: Colton Kells, Fairport

Seniors to Watch

Colton Kells (Fairport) – The Red Raiders crowned the first state champion in school history in 2012 when Josh Lackey took the 220-pound title.  Kells, a fellow Fairport upperweight, looks to make it two years in a row.  He came within one victory of making the medal stand as a junior as he won a pair of bouts in Albany.  His 35-8 campaign included a victory over bronze medalist Jake Kelly of Niagara Wheatfield and all but one of his losses came against wrestlers that have now graduated.

Bryan Ruggeri (Fairport) – Like his teammate Kells, Ruggeri made the trip to the state tournament. He had a difficult draw, losing to undefeated champion Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville and fourth place finisher Jimmy Overhiser of Corning.  However, he showed his ability in a 35-win season that included a win over All-State grappler Corey Hollister.  He’ll be looking for more in 2013.

Jared Mesiti (Brockport) – Mesiti went 36-9 at 170 pounds a year ago, making an appearance at the Times Union Center after winning the Section 5 title by a point over Jessi Kimmerli.  The victory was significant because the Spencerport grappler had defeated Mesiti the first three times they met in 2011-12.  (Kimmerli earned fifth in Albany). Now that he’s had a taste of the state tournament, Mesiti is looking to get his hand raised at the event as a senior.

Austin Coleman (Spencerport) – Coleman, the returning Section 5 runner up, had a number of quality wins at 285 a year ago, including over state silver medalist El Shaddai Van Hoesen of Columbia, and looks to punch his ticket to Albany in 2013.  He’s favored to do just that as opposing coaches such as Brockport’s Mike Ferris believe he’s the wrestler to beat at heavyweight this season.

 

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Vincent DePrez, Photo by BV

Vincent DePrez (Hilton) – Deprez had a nearly perfect season as a sophomore that ended just short of a state title.  He went 49-1 at 113 pounds, with his only setback coming on a takedown at the buzzer in the state championship bout against Dylan Realbuto of Somers.  He racked up a collection of impressive triumphs, including wins over Sean Peacock (Division II state champion) and additional placers Cody McGregor, Pat Skinner and Robert Person.  He will be up several weight classes but will be among the favorites to stand on top of the podium in late February.

Barton Peters (Brockport) – Peters is already a two-time Section 5 champion, including the 106 pound title in 2012.  During his 39-win sophomore campaign, he tallied several quality victories, including a pin against Fairport’s Bryan Ruggeri in the first period of the Section championship bout.

Lightweights Jonathan Haas (Spencerport) and Bryan Lantry (Wayne) know each other pretty well.  Two of the top 99-pounders in the state last season, they met three times in February.  Haas came out on top on the first two occasions, including in overtime in the SuperSectional final.  However, when they met in Albany, with a place on the podium on the line, Lantry (45-5) captured a 5-1 victory on his way to fifth.  Both will once again be in the running at the end of the year.

 

Although the following wrestlers didn’t take the mat at the state tournament last year, they will certainly be in the mix to do so this time around.

Anthony DePrez (Hilton) – As a tenth grader, he went 41-6 with three of his losses to state runner up Brady Baron.  The last of those defeats came by a slim 4-3 margin in the SuperSectional title bout.  DePrez had 11 pins and another 17 bonus wins.  Not to be outdone by his brothers Vincent and Anthony, Lou DePrez piled up 29 wins as a seventh grader at 106 and will another important part of the Hilton lineup.

Jacob Pincus (Pittsford) – Pincus took second at the SuperSectionals behind Angelo DeAngelis after a 35-4 campaign.  He registered 20 pins and defeated NHSCA All-American Derek Holcomb of Newark Valley.

Vinny Romeo (Canandaigua Academy) – Romeo took third in Section 5 to cap off a season in which he won 38 matches at 126 pounds, including 16 pins.  His bronze medal match victory at SuperSectionals came against Jacob Boice of Honeoye Falls-Lima, another wrestler to keep an eye on.  Boice had defeated Romeo multiple times earlier in the campaign.

Peter Armbruster (Webster Schroeder) – Armbruster was 40-9 in 2011-12, taking third place in Section 5 behind a pair of state qualifiers Jessi Kimmerli and Jared Mesiti.  He registered some solid wins, such as a victory over Josh Maier of Brockport, and looks to make an appearance in Albany.

Collin Pittman (Spencerport) – Like Armbruster, Pittman was a bronze medalist at the SuperSectionals behind two wrestlers that earned bids to the state capital – Colton Kells and Jesse Kozub.  After his successful junior season at 195 pounds, Pittman will look to make an impact not only in the Section but at the state level in the upperweights.

 

Youth Movement . . . 

Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton) – Diakomihalis captured trophy after trophy in the spring and summer as he won several events in various states, including the Ohio Tournament of Champions, the Empire Nationals and the NYWAY State championships. As a seventh grader, he went 35-3 with his losses coming to Haas (twice) and Lantry. Intermat currently has him pegged as the sixth best Junior High School wrestler in the nation.

He demonstrated yet again that he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in New York this year at the Journeymen Classic at the beginning of October where he went undefeated and won his bracket in convincing fashion, including victories over Suffolk County’s Jesse Dellavecchia and All-American Tommy Aloi of Virginia. For an encore performance, he won the Middle School national crown at the Super 32 in October.

“He is the closest thing I’ve seen to a young Quinton Murphy,” said Section 5 Class Chairman and Byron-Bergen Athletic Director Rich Hannan.  “He’s really special. He doesn’t get rattled and he doesn’t care who he’s wrestling.  He just does his thing and stays composed.”

Parker Kropman (Penfield) – Kropman was another seventh grader who produced good results at 99 pounds, with more than 30 wins. He lost a one-point decision to state champion Tony Recco of Lyndonville and also dropped matches against Diakomihalis (twice) and state placer Nick Barbaria of New Rochelle.   He and brothers Skylar and Cooper will rack up many victories over the years for Penfield. Teammate Frankie Gissendanner will be in his first year of varsity eligibility and is a wrestler to keep tabs on.  He had a highly successful offseason, winning titles at just about every event he entered, including the Ohio Tournament of Champions.

 

Team Race

“The team race will be more interesting than it’s been in years,” Hannan said.  “Brockport has been inching closer and closer to Spencerport each year.  Last year, the team race wasn’t locked up until somewhere close to 220 pounds and that was unusual.  Several teams will be fighting it out this year.”

Brockport coach Mike Ferris agrees that it will be an intriguing race in 2013, naming a number of squads he thinks can contend, such as Spencerport, Brockport, Hilton, Webster Schroeder, Penfield, Fairport and Pittsford.

“It’s always exciting to see how coaches prepare their teams for the final tournament of the year,” Ferris said.  “It seems that this year more than ever, any one of those teams has the ability to finish on top.  The team that finishes hot at the end of the season will prove to be Section 5’s best.”

Let’s take a look at some of those teams.

Spencerport, which finished fourth in the state polls last year, is of course a team that will be in the thick of things. The squad graduated a fair bit of firepower with state qualifiers Steve Maier, Angelo DeAngelis and Jessi Kimmerli moving on.  But Jon Haas, Austin Coleman and Collin Pittman will be back to form a strong core for the always-tough Rangers.

Brockport, eighth in the state a year ago, is in a similar situation, welcoming back Section 5 champions Mesiti, Peters and Class A Section champion Ryan Mattison, but losing a large group of solid competitors in Joe Carter, Jesse Kozub, Alex Love, Josh Maier, Mark Nesbitt, Owen Peters, Jimmy Porteus and CJ White.

“It is always difficult to say goodbye to a special group of seniors like we had last season,” Ferris said, mentioning that his squad sent a Division I team record of six athletes to the state tournament. “However, like every year, it is important to build off of the successes of past athletes to build the future. I am confident our team will be ready to go when it matters the most.”

As always the highly anticipated Brockport vs. Spencerport dual is circled on the calendar for Section 5 wrestling fans. January 24th will be sure to draw a crowd as the Blue Devils host the Rangers in what is typically a battle.

Don’t forget about Fairport. The team’s first-ever state champion Josh Lackey now suits up for North Carolina State and his classmates Dakota Taylor and Pat Van Bortle aren’t wearing Red Raider singlets anymore.  But James Arao, Zack Barker, Colton Kells, Andrew Pieri and Bryan Ruggeri will give Fairport a tough squad to beat.

“Fairport always finds ways to replace talent with young tough kids,” Ferris said. “I’m sure Coach Kohl has his Raiders ready to contend for an AA sectional title once again.”

Other teams that will make their mark include Penfield, which returns Keith Langdon, Parker Kropman, Skylar Kropman and Eric Harley and Hilton which offers a standout lightweight group of the three DePrez brothers (Vincent, Anthony and Lou) as well as Diakomihalis.

Pittsford will be in the mix despite the loss of state runner up Brady Baron with a core made up of Jeff Gould, Tyler Gross, Rob Klotz, Jacob Pincus and Tyler Schaefer.

And while Webster Schroeder said goodbye to Section 5 finalists Alec Dierna, Josh Reed, Andrew Wightman and Mike DeMarco, they are a team to keep tabs on as well, led by returning placers Armbruster and Rosario Venniro.

“Webster Schreoder lost a solid core of athletes but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Coach Salvaggio competes for a AA championship again this year,” Ferris said. “He has some tough kids returning on his team.”

 

Division II

Returning State Placewinners

99 Pounds: Andrew Flanagan, Holley, Fourth Place

99 Pounds: Tony Recco, Lyndonville, State Champion

106 Pounds: Corey Hollister, Perry, Fifth Place

113 Pounds: Sean Peacock, Midlakes, State Champion

113 Pounds: Austin Keough, Warsaw, Sixth Place

170 Pounds: Burke Paddock, Warsaw, Third Place

182 Pounds: Tim Schaefer, Warsaw, Third Place

195 Pounds: Bryce Mazurowski, Avon, Second Place

195 Pounds: Tyler Smith, Midlakes, Fourth Place

220 Pounds: Zack Bacon, Hornell, Second Place

220 Pounds: Mike Silvis, Holley, Fifth Place

 

Additional Returning Qualifiers

106 Pounds: Matt Boyle, Batavia

126 Pounds: Jake Nicholson, Waterloo

132 Pounds: Clyde Carey, Addison

145 Pounds: Austin Hedges Letchworth

182 Pounds: Jeff Day, Letchworth

 

Some of the Wrestlers to Watch . . .

Section 5 was the big winner in Division II in Albany and although outstanding state champions Sam Recco, Quinton Murphy and Chris Nevinger have graduated, as have medalists such as Jeff O’Lena and Kacee Sauer, the Section still returns a host of qualifiers that will account for a large number of points again in February.  In fact, 16 wrestlers who represented the section in 2012 will be back.

Tony Recco, Photo by Boris V

Tony Recco made a tremendous debut at the state tournament, earning a championship to match the one his brother Sam (now at Edinboro), captured.  On his title run in Albany, Recco defeated fellow Section 5 star Andrew Flanagan, who also made All-State.

A few minutes after Tony Recco earned his title, Sean Peacock completed a 49-2 campaign with a crown of his own in one of the brackets most densely packed with former All-State grapplers.  One blemish on his record was a SuperSectionals finals loss to Austin Keough, who was sixth at the states.  Recco, Peacock and Keough will once again be threats to earn gold in 2013.

Bryce Mazurowski, Photo Boris V

A pair of upperweights also stepped on the mat for the Saturday night title bouts in Albany, with both Avon’s Bryce Mazurowski and Hornell’s Zack Bacon coming up just one match short of being state champions themselves.   Mazurowski racked up a 46-2 record a year ago (including a victory over Bacon up at 220) and may be the preseason favorite statewide.  To win the Section 5 crown, Mazurowski defeated Tyler Smith of Midlakes, who took fourth at the state tournament.  They could meet again during the season . . . or in Albany.

Bacon and Mike Silvis may be on a collision course to meet not only to determine the best in Section 5 but also the best in the Empire State. Bacon was dominant a year ago, with all but one of his victories by bonus points coming into the state tournament.  When they met in Albany, Silvis gave Bacon one of his toughest bouts in a 4-1 decision.  Look for some more battles, as according to Hannan, Silvis put in significant work in the offseason, including attending the 28-day J Robinson camp, and is getting serious looks from several Division I college programs.

Two other wrestlers looking to win it all this season are Warsaw’s Tim Schaefer and Burke Paddock.  The pair has combined to make the medal stand seven times, but neither has reached the top yet. Both hope to change that in 2013.

 

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Here are some wrestlers who didn’t make the drive to wrestle in Albany last year, but have a solid chance to do so this year.

Lightweights:

At 99 pounds, Hannan pointed to a pair of wrestlers who could break through this year, Tyler Hamsher of Wayland-Cohocton and Jason Charlette of Midlakes (34-13), the third and fourth place finishers at Supers.  They split a pair of close, late season matches.

“I think both Charlette and Hamsher will be very good,” Hannan said. “Hamsher lost a tight 3-1 match to [state champion] Tony Recco in the semis at the Supers.  I think both are right there at the state level if they’re back at 99.”

Another bonus name to remember over the next few seasons is Dane Heberlein.  The Alexander wrestler made the varsity squad last year as a seventh grader but didn’t meet the minimum weight requirement to compete. However, he has proven himself in a number of events around the country, including winning an NHSCA Middle School National championship in the spring. According to a number of coaches, Heberlein will be dangerous, especially once his weight is high enough.

In the 106/113 range, keep tabs on Matt Boyle of Batavia, who went 34-7 with 11 pins as a sophomore 106 pounder.  He dropped a 2-1 decision to state placer Corey Hollister and would like to join the Perry grappler in the Times Union Center in 2013.   In addition, don’t lose sight of Hunter Taylor of Byron Bergen, who captured 33 bouts as a freshman 113-pounder and took fourth at the SuperSectionals.  Interestingly, Taylor has wrestling in his family as he often watches his uncle, Tim Taylor compete in Greco Roman at high profile events.   Tim Taylor has been second on the Olympic ladder behind Dremiel Byers for a number of years.

While two familiar faces, Sam Recco and Jeff O’Lena, the top two finishers in the state a year ago, are no longer in high school, Section 5 will still be tough at 120 pounds. The top returner, Rafael Mateo of Midlakes, piled up 42 victories as a tenth grader, including wins over state medalists Zach Ayen of Gouverneur (by major) and Dakota Gardner of Fredonia. He faced a tough schedule, battling Recco and O’Lena twice each as well as Dylan Rifenburg.  That experience should help him as a junior.

At 126 pounds, Jake Nicholson of Waterloo came so close to going to Albany in 2012, losing by a point in triple overtime to state placer Dylan Rifenburg at 126 in the SuperSectionals.  In his 33-3 campaign, he lost only to state silver medalist Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer and Rifenburg twice (although he also beat Rifenburg) and recorded 21 pins.

“126 last year was a bag of rattlesnakes,” Hannan said. “I didn’t know who was going to come out of it.  Nicholson wrestled well and won it. He’s very athletic on the mat.”

Speaking of 126 pounds, two wrestlers to monitor this year are Jake Sepor of Pavilion and Derek Draper of York, although one or both may move up to 132.  Draper placed at the SuperSectionals in 2011, according to Hannan, and a top three finish in 2013 could result in a trip to Albany.  Draper has overcome some obstacles to get back on the mat and will be someone to cheer for in his final campaign.

“I’ll be very surprised if Sepor doesn’t make it to states this year.  He’s definitely good enough to do it,” Hannan said.  “As for Draper, he came up with the [Bobby and Alec] Diernas and Quinton Murphy and was right there as a young guy.  He’s had some serious medical issues and at times looks like a shell of his former self but you can still see the glimpses of really great wrestling. If he puts it together, he may be at states and that would be a gigantic victory.”

If either Sepor or Draper are at 132, they might face Addison’s Clyde Carey, who was one victory from placing in Albany last year.  A few things should be noted about that performance.  One, his losses were to eventual state champion Connor Lapresi in the first round and then to bronze finisher Tom Page of Eden by a 4-3 score.  Second, while many compete at less than 100% at the end of the campaign, Carey was far less than that.

“Clyde wrestled with a broken collarbone at the end of the year,” Hannan said. “You could see he was hurting in the semis and finals of the Supers, but he did what he had to do.  He gutted it out.  He actually wrestled well at states, but you’re not going to be able to get away with being that injured and still win at that level.  He doesn’t stop moving.  He’s technically very good.  He beat up on some kids in Section 5 that I thought were very good wrestlers. I’m excited to see what he can do when he’s healthy.”

 

Middle/Upperweights: 

Moving on to the middle and upperweights, Collin Fox of Midlakes is one to keep tabs on this year. The numbers were very good for Fox as he was 46-2 with 25 pins and a bronze medal at SuperSectionals a year ago.  He also defeated qualifier Austin Hedges of Letchworth and hopes to take a few steps forward in the postseason.

Austin Baker from Canisteo-Greenwood was 40-10 at 160 pounds with four losses to New York state medalists (champions Chris Nevinger and Ben Haas and third placer Hayden Wagner) and another four to now-graduated Corey Vail of Pioneer.  He defeated state qualifier Conner Fox of Midlakes and “will be very good” according to Hannan.

At 170 pounds, Nick Winkley, who took fourth at Supers last year is back, and another name to keep an eye on is a grappler who didn’t participate in the postseason after a 32-7 record — Byron Bergen’s Jon Levchuk.

“I think Jon could have been in the finals against Burke Paddock last year in the SuperSectionals if he had wrestled,” Hannan said. “He had a fantastic year and will make some noise this year, even possibly at the state level.”

Yet another upperweight who will be a breakout threat is Penn Yan’s John Martisch.  As a sophomore in 2011-12, Martisch went 43-6 with five of his losses to state placers (four to Tyler Smith and one, a 6-5 decision to Jesse Kozub).  He registered 32 pins along the way.

“He had Kozub on the ropes.  A call went Kozub’s way late in the match but Martisch had him beat.  He’s big and well put together and he can definitely wrestle,” Hannan said.  “Little mistakes cost him last year but if he cleans them up, he can be one of the top guys in the state, that’s for sure.  No one in the state knows his name, kind of like [current Binghamton wrestler] Tyler Deuel a few years ago.  We saw Deuel coming but he surprised a lot of people in New York.  Martisch is the same way and is even built like him.”

 

Team Race

Holley won the team title in 2012 for the first time since 2008, less than 10 points ahead of Midlakes and about 20 in front of Warsaw.   Each of those squads returns multiple SuperSectional placers, but Midlakes may be the preseason favorite, according to Hannan, as the Screaming Eagles bring back a large number of top performers.

State champion Sean Peacock and All-Stater Tyler Smith lead the charge for Midlakes while Collin Fox, Rafael MateoHammond Raes and Jason Charlette, who all finished in the top six at SuperSectionals, will put plenty of points on the board as well.  “I think Midlakes will be very tough to beat.  They have to be at the forefront because of what they did last year,” Hannan said.

Challenging for top billing will be Warsaw, which welcomes back Burke Paddock and Tim Schaefer who are among the best in New York as well as multiple-time state medalist Austin Keough and Colin Royce, who was fourth in the Section a year ago.  Of course, the return of Aaron Paddock strengthens the team on the mat and serves as an inspiration to wrestlers throughout the state and the country.  For our recent story on the Paddock family, see here.

Holley can’t be discounted in its bid to repeat despite the losses of four-time state champion Quinton Murphy and multiple-time All-Stater Kacee Sauer. Andrew Flanagan and Mike Silvis both made the podium at the Times Union Center and Nick Winkley is set to come back after a fourth place SuperSectional showing.

“Holley will be solid,” Hannan said. “No one in Section 5 reloads better than [head coach] John Grillo.  One year, they had seven seniors in the finals of the SuperSectionals and the next year, after all those guys graduated, they scored more points with a new team.   You can’t count Holley out.”

Also offering strong squads will be Canisteo-Greenwood as well as typically tough Palymra-Macedon. Byron Bergen has a solid group of returning starters such as Hunter Taylor, Jon Levchuk, Warren Oderkirk and Austin Yockel. “There’s a nice mix of veterans and a really good group of youth wrestlers at Byron Bergen,” Hannan said.  “The future looks pretty bright.”

Special thanks to all of the contributors to this article, especially Mike Ferris and Rich Hannan.

 

More Season Preview Articles:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 4 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 8 Preview

Section 9 Preview

Section 11 Preview

CHSAA Preview

PSAL Preview

Features:

Section 1 Feature:  Aslanian and Realbuto, All-State Wrestlers and Workout Partners, Seek to End Their Careers on Top of the Podium

Section 4 Feature: Looking for “Number Nine”: Reggie Williams Aims to Make History at Johnson City

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

Section 9 Feature: Unstoppable: Vinny Vespa Wrestles Again After Confronting Cancer

Section 11 Feature: Nick Piccininni Looks to Continue Winning Streak