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.

High School Round Up: Weekend News and Notes from the Road to Albany

It’s February and that means the road to the state championships has begun.  On Saturday and Sunday, a number of postseason events took place across the state, helping to shape the brackets for this weekend’s Sectional qualifiers.

There were too many big matches and results to recap, but here are just a few of the things that caught our eye.  The countdown to the first whistle at the Times Union Center is now just about two and a half weeks away!

In Section 1, Yorktown has had a strong presence in our individual rankings this season with Joe Mastro, Steven Sabella and David Varian included in the last version and Thomas Murray falling just outside our top 8 at 182.  Those wrestlers continued their winning ways this weekend, with Sabella having a tough match with another high quality wrestler – Scott Wymbs of Horace Greeley.  Both of those wrestlers have what it takes to make some noise later this month.

Dale White of John Jay East Fishkill made the medal stand at 145 a year ago and was someone we were tracking as a potential state title contender coming into the campaign.  However, he didn’t compete due to injury until January.  This weekend, he picked up a title and is undefeated in limited action thus far at 160.  Perhaps his time off will benefit him down the stretch run.

Ashley, Photo by Josh Conklin

In Section 2, Levi Ashley spent a bulk of the season at 182 pounds for Shenendehowa where he took fourth at the Eastern States Classic and nearly placed at the Reno Tournament of Champions against some of the nation’s best.  For the past few weeks, however, he has been up at 195 pounds and has gone undefeated there.  That run includes multiple wins over the tough Wayne Burt of Colonie, including a major decision in the finals over the weekend.  He seems primed for a strong postseason.

Meanwhile, El Shaddai Van Hoesen continued his total dominance, quickly pinning Colonie’s Austin DiCerbo, a wrestler who could contend for the medal stand in Albany if he earns the opportunity.

In Section 3, a few wrestlers ranked in the state were upset. At heavyweight, Canastota’s Jacob Morris beat Brandon Fayle of Lowville 3-2 in the semifinals of the Class C tournament before topping Brandon Yager of Ilion for the championship.  Fayle pinned Morris to win the Class title a year ago.

In addition, Ryan O’Rourke of Adirondack (ranked at 99), fell at 106 pounds to Hunter Owen of Sherburne-Earlville while Ben Honis, who was in the honorable mention section of the rankings, continued his strong season with a 3-2 win over Baldwinsville’s Joe Nasoni.  It was Nasoni’s first loss at 195 this year.

In Section 4, Jordan Torbitt of Whitney Point took center stage at the Class B Championships. Last year as an eighth grader, Torbitt won more than 25 matches and took second at the Sectional tournament at 152 pounds behind All-Stater Dan Dickman of Greene.  He has continued to shine as a freshman, bringing a 33-1 mark into the weekend after avenging his only loss to Newark Valley’s Trevor Hoffmeir.  Torbitt impressed again on Saturday, beating Norwich’s Frank Garcia, a returning state qualifier who was ranked in New York.

Dietrich, Photo by Josh Conklin

The Greene middle/upper weights looked solid with Mike Beckwith and Christian Dietrich grabbing first place. Teammate Joel Roselle missed some time in the lineup but returned at 182 pounds where he took second behind Unatego’s Ryan Marszal.

In Section 5, a pair of wrestlers ranked in New York squared off in the finals of the Class A tournament at 99 pounds, with #1 Yianni Diakomihalis pinning Wayne’s Jake Yankloski.  It was a good day for a number of Diakomihalis’s teammates as well, as brothers Vincent, Anthony and Lou Deprez all won Class A crowns.

In that same tournament, Yankloski’s teammate Bryan Lantry picked up a major decision over Brockport’s Barton Peters, who had come in with a 22-2 mark.

Like Diakomihalis, Hornell’s Zack Bacon sat atop our last set of individual New York State rankings.  The 220 pounder has rarely been challenged this season as he won by bonus points in his first 33 matches.  However, John Martisch presented an formidable obstacle as Bacon edged the Penn Yan wrestler 2-1.

In Section 6, in a battle of All-State wrestlers, Steve Michel of Lancaster pinned Anthony Orefice for his second victory over the Lockport wrestler this season at 120 pounds. (The first was a close decision). It wouldn’t be surprising to see the two of them square off again next weekend as they look to get back to Albany.

In another meeting of previous placers, returning state runner up Drew Hull of Royalton Hartland edged Jude Gardner at 145 pounds.  It was Hull’s second victory over the Fredonia wrestler this year.

Gardner’s teammate Chris Saden brought an unblemished record into the weekend, however, he was upended in the finals, as Steven Warthling of Tonawanda earned a 9-6 decision.  It should be an interesting weight at Sectionals.

Troy Seymour became the first-ever wrestler from Section 7 to reach 200 wins.  On Thursday night, the Peru senior pinned Hunter Bishop in the first period at 170 pounds to pick up the milestone victory.  In addition, Peru captured the Champlain Valley title over Saranac.

Hernandez, Photo by Josh Conklin

In Section 8, Mepham’s Jamie Dunn was an All-County wrestler in 2012 and figured to contend for the Nassau title this year.  However, he entered the qualifier with a 23-15 record.  He exited with a title, winning four straight matches, including avenging a loss to Matt Krause and beating top seeded Lucas Pincus in the finals.  His teammates Louis Hernandez and Dan Tracy breezed to championships as well with all bonus wins and look to return to the Times Union Center for the second straight time.

138 pounds will certainly be interesting in the Nassau tournament. Highly ranked wrestlers like Rob Bennett of MacArthur, Quinn Knauer of Baldwin and Rob Rosenberg of Hewlett were among those upset and new contenders emerged, such as Brian Quiroz of Valley Stream Central who came in with a 3-1 record with all four matches in December up at 152 pounds.

Also of note, returning state runner up Justin Cooksey of MacArthur didn’t compete.

Section 9 held its JV Championships over the weekend.  For full results, see here.

In Section 10, Gouverneur closed out another undefeated conference season with a home victory over Massena.  Senior Dillon Stowell collected his 150th career victory and will try for his first state title in a few weeks after placing multiple times.

In Section 11, there were a number of rematches between wrestlers ranked statewide. At 99 pounds, John Arceri of Huntington avenged a loss by fall to John Busiello by edging the Eastport South Manor wrestler 3-2 on Saturday.

In another rematch between two of the top grapplers in New York, Alex Tanzman defeated James Szymanski again, this time by pin. The two had recently wrestled a close bout at 106.

In addition, Islip’s Brad Wade topped Huntington’s Corey Jamison at 126 pounds by a 2-1 score for the second time this season. Wade has been on a very impressive run after a few early losses and looks like a threat to win some matches in Albany – if he can get through the challenging 126-pound Suffolk bracket.

Tyler Walsh of West Islip lost 9-4 to returning fourth placer Joe Calderone of Walt Whitman earlier in the campaign.  This weekend, he prevailed by the same score against Calderone.  Walsh has quietly had a very strong 32-2 year with his only other setback coming against Danbury’s Kevin Jack, the Eastern States Champion at 120.

An article on the PSAL Dual Championship won by Brooklyn Tech, can be found here.

In CHSAA action, Monsignor Farrell crowned seven champions in the New York City qualifier and at least 19 wrestlers from the squad will compete in the Catholic States next weekend.  In the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA League Finals, St. Anthony’s Johnny Vrasidas was named Most Outstanding Wrestler while teammate Joe Russ earned Champion of Champion accolades.

The following is a compilation of some of this weekend’s results. More will be added when available.  That countdown to Albany continues . . .

 

Section 1, Divisional Results

Section 2 Class Results

Section 3 Results

Section 4 Results

Section 5, Class A

Section 5, Class AA

Section 5, Class B

Section 5, Class BB

Section 5, Class BBB

Section 6, Class A

Section 6, Class AA

Section 6, Class C

Section 6, Class D

Section 8, Division I at Mepham

Section 11 Results

Catholic Qualifier (Upstate)

Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA

 

Section 6 Preview: 10 All-State Wrestlers from 2012 Return, Led by Finalists Hull and Rodriguez-Spencer

Division I

Returning State Placewinners from 2012

Anthony Orefice, Lockport, 106 Pounds, Fifth Place

Steve Michel, Lancaster, 120 Pounds, Sixth Place

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers from 2012

99 Pounds: Tyler Hartinger, Lancaster

113 Pounds: Ron Duguay, Kenmore West

113 Pounds: Kellen Devlin, Amherst

120 Pounds: Rocco Russo, Frontier

132 Pounds: Eric Lewandowski, Lancaster

160 Pounds: Jake Weber, Clarence

170 Pounds: Anthony Liberatore, Williamsville South

 

Seniors to Watch

Eric Lewandowski (Lancaster) – Lewandowski, who took second in New York as a 96-pound sophomore in 2010, had another strong year in 2011-12, registering a 43-10 record at 132 pounds.  He captured the Section 6 title with a 7-1 victory over eventual state runner up Dylan Cohen before going 2-2 in Albany with losses to champion Jamel Hudson and fourth place finisher Nick Mauriello.  He will look to return to the podium as a senior.

Anthony Liberatore (Williamsville South) – The senior cruised through Sectionals with a pair of falls and a major decision at 170 pounds.  In Albany, he picked up where he left off in his opening match, earning a first period pin against Cody Smith of Section 10.  He went 2-2 overall to cap off a 40-5 season, coming within one win of making All-State.  That will clearly be on his to-do list for 2013.

Ron Duguay, Photo by Boris V

Ron Duguay (Kenmore West) – After taking second in the Section, Duguay notched an impressive upset in the first round of the state tournament, defeating top-seeded Mark Raghunandan by a 5-3 score.  The road didn’t get much easier after that victory, as Duguay next took the mat against All-State wrestler Robert Person and number two seed Corey Jamison to end his run.  However, Duguay has a lot to build on, including his big victory and a 39-5 overall season.

 

Who Else is A Threat to Place In Albany?

Of course, the conversation has to start with two wrestlers who were on the medal stand in 2012 in the state capital – Lockport’s Anthony Orefice and Lancaster’s Steve Michel.   Orefice is very familiar with the podium.  In 2011, he took fourth at 96 pounds and last season he was fifth at 106 on the heels of a 40-2 campaign.  Orefice had wins over All-State wrestlers Drew Marra of Olean (twice), Freddie Dunau (a 2011 medalist from St. Anthony’s) and Johnny Stramiello of Pine Bush.  His only losses of the season were at the Times Union Center — 11-8 to state gold medalist Nick Piccininni and to Corning’s Jimmy Overhiser (by default).  Orefice’s accomplishments stretch beyond the Empire State.  He has been an All-American at the NHSCA Nationals multiple times.

Meanwhile, Michel began the state tournament with a pair of victories over Section 1 champion Jake DiMarsico and PSAL representative Keanu Thompson before losing to state champion Sean McCabe of Section 11 and forfeiting to sixth.  He will be looking for more in 2013.

Although he was a state placer, Michel didn’t win the Section 6 crown in 2012, dropping the title bout to Frontier’s Rocco Russo. Russo went 43-3 with his only regular season setback coming against Michel.  In Russo’s second appearance in Albany, he went 1-2 but stayed active in the offseason, including a trip to Fargo.

Jake Weber (Clarence) – As a sophomore, Weber was 35-6 at 160 pounds.  At the state tournament, he drew eventual runner up Tyler Grimaldi of Section 11 in round one and dropped his first wrestleback match.   However, he demonstrated the ability to put opponents on their backs, with 21 pins and just five regular decisions.  And he also has national credentials, having placed at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach.  With that experience, he can be expected to get his hand raised in Albany this year.

Austin Acquard (Iroquois) – Acquard won a match in Albany in 2011 at 96 pounds however he didn’t get a return trip back to the Times Union Center after a fourth place Sectional finish at 113.  According to Niagara County Community College coach Keith Maute, he was a small 113 pounder who was caught between weight classes.  Having grown into the weight more, he will have a chance to go back to the state capital.

 

Kellen Devlin had a lot of success as an eighth grader.  Who are some of the other young guns to watch?

Nate Schwab has to be near the top of the list.  As a freshman at 152 pounds, he went 38-9 with seven of his losses to seniors.  At the Section 6 tournament, Schwab lost to state qualifier Luke Falzone 1-0 and then came back to take third.  He has also made his presence felt beyond the New York borders, taking seventh at 152 pounds at the NHSCA Freshman Nationals tournament this past spring. Also worthy of mention is his teammate Ryan Burns, also a sophomore, who recently demonstrated his skills at one of the most challenging tournaments on the high school calendar – the Super 32 in North Carolina.  In a loaded 106-pound bracket, he compiled a 4-2 record after his 40-5 ninth grade campaign for the Red Devils.

Matt Kloc of Iroquois, another sophomore, took third in a tough 120-pound weight behind Michel and Russo.  He lost his first bout 1-0 and then captured three consecutive victories for third to complete a 33-10 season.  The younger brother of two-time state champion Jimmy (now wrestling at Buffalo), will look for his first bid to the state tournament.

Tyler Hartinger of Lancaster racked up a 36-9 mark as a freshman 99-pounder.  He had a difficult first match in his opener in Albany – losing to two-time state champion Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks, but he came back to earn a victory in his next bout.   Hartinger was joined by a number of talented youngsters at 99 pounds a year ago, including fellow sophomore Donny McCoy of Niagara Falls, who was second in the Section and 34-7 overall (1-3 against Hartinger).

Hector and Tito Colom of Dunkirk are likely to both be at 99 pounds this year.  The brothers have earned some quality results, both making the finals at the Ohio Tournament of Champions while Hector took seventh at the Middle School Super 32 Classic. According to Maute, both will make an impact this year, with Tito having the potential to not only make it to Albany but win several matches there.

 

A Few More to Keep an Eye On . . .

Luke Catalano (Lake Shore) – As a tenth grader, Catalano was second in Section 6, compiling a 31-7 mark while splitting time between 220 and 285 pounds.

Marshall Taylor (Lockport) – As a 195 pounder a year ago, he was third in the Section, racking up close to 30 wins and recording over 20 pins.

Danny Graham (West Seneca East) – Graham has placed third in the Section multiple times.  He sported a 34-5 record in 2011-12, defeating All-State wrestler Cody McGregor and topping former state qualifier Austin Acquard three times.  According to Maute, Graham has a very good chance to make the trip to the state tournament this year, possibly up several weight classes at 138 or 145.

Jose Pagan (Lockport) – Pagan took second at 145 pounds in the Section 6 tournament last year, losing the title bout to two-time state champion Jimmy Kloc of Iroquois.  The Lockport grappler won over 30 matches a year ago and the wrestlers who handed him more than half of his losses (Jake Baer, Michael Roman, Luke Falzone and Kloc), all graduated.  Look for him to make an impact in the middleweights in his senior season.

William Brady (Williamsville East) – Brady is the highest returning placer in the 220 pound class after taking fourth as a junior.  He notched over 30 victories in 2011-12, including 21 by fall, and was mentioned as a wrestler to watch in the upperweights in the upcoming campaign.

 

Team Race:

Kenmore West won the title in 2012 by an eight-point margin over Lockport, with Clarence not far behind in third.  Those three squads look like they’ll once again be battling for the Division I crown.

While Clarence was the bronze team in February, Maute believes they may have the upper hand this time around, especially with seven returning team members that finished in the top 6 in the Section tournament a year ago.  While the Red Devils said goodbye to several placers, they return 160-pound runner up Jake Weber, 152-pound bronze medalist Nate Schwab, fourth placers Ryan Burns and Nate Ward as well as Brandan Glauber (fifth at 120), Austin Czaja (sixth at 113) and Austin Krawczyk (sixth at 126).

But, of course, last year’s top two teams, Lockport and Kenmore West, both bring back plenty of firepower.  Lockport has three finalists on the roster, led by All-State wrestler Anthony Orefice.  Section silver medalists Brad Feeney (126) and Jose Pagan (145) will look to move one step higher on the podium while Marshall Taylor (third at 195) and Marcellus Hinton (fifth at 285) will be threats as well.  Wrestlers such as Josh Steinman and Seth Anderson didn’t get on the medal stand a year ago, but will look to pick up some points to compensate for the losses of Mike Feeney (champion at 138) and Joe Sansone (third at 182).

While Lockport will miss Feeney and Sansone, Kenmore West will be without the services of graduates such as Section champions Dylan Caruana and Brandon Lathrop as well as second place finishers Zach Skiba and Nicolas Burgos.   Leading the way in 2012-13 will be 113-pound runner up Ron Duguay, fifth place medalist Christian Bauman (106) and sixth placers Anthony Argentieri (99) and Mark Stucke (138).   Adding some experience will be Shane Currey and Jon Szurczynksi in the upperweights.

Iroquois brings quite a few top notch wrestlers to the table, especially in the light and middleweights.  Returning placers Jacob Slade (third), Austin Acquard (fourth), Matt Kloc (third) and Eric McEvoy (fourth) will lead the charge for the Chiefs in the postseason.

 

Division II

Returning State Placewinners from 2012

106 Pounds: Drew Marra, Olean, Fourth Place

113 Pounds: Cody McGregor, Tonawanda, Fifth Place

120 Pounds: Dakota Gardner, Fredonia, Sixth Place

126 Pounds: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowoga, Second Place

138 Pounds: Dan Reagan, Lewiston-Porter, Fourth Place

138 Pounds: Jude Gardner, Fredonia, Sixth Place

145 Pounds: Drew Hull, Royalton-Hartland, Second Place

285 Pounds: Matt Montesanti, Medina, Sixth Place

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers from 2012

99 Pounds: Dylan Lundmark, Southwestern

113 Pounds: Pat McCarthy, Fredonia

113 Pounds: Ryan Kromer, Lewiston-Porter

120 Pounds: Andrew Lazickas, East Aurora

160 Pounds: Zach Buckley, Fredonia

 

Top Seniors

There’s no question that there are a large number of impact twelfth graders in Division II this year, including four returning All-State wrestlers.

Drew Hull, Photo by Boris V

Drew Hull has twice been on the podium in Albany.  Last year, he went all the way to the state finals, dropping a one-point decision to Tyler Button at 145 pounds.  He followed that up by competing at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach where he was an All-American in the past.  Hull has been active in the offseason and is capable of not only making his third appearance on the medal stand, but standing on the top step.

Dan Reagan and Jude Gardner aren’t strangers on the mat.  They went 2-2 against each other as juniors in the midst of highly successful seasons.  (Gardner was 46-9 overall, while Reagan was 45-6).  They met twice in the postseason with Gardner winning by fall in the Section 6 championship bout and Reagan capturing a 4-1 victory at the state tournament on his way to fourth place.  Meanwhile, Gardner took sixth.   The two could battle a few more times in 2012-13.

Matt Montesanti, Photo by Boris V

Matt Montesanti was 30-3 with 17 pins entering the Times Union Center, where he won his first two bouts at 285 pounds.  The Medina senior then lost to eventual state champion Hayden Head of Beekmantown and forfeited his remaining two matches to take sixth.  One of only two placers to return at heavyweight, his sights are set on a title.

Fredonia teammates Zach Buckley and Pat McCarthy both went 1-2 in Albany to conclude seasons in which they won over 40 bouts and registered some quality victories over state qualifiers.  Joining them at the Times Union Center was East Aurora’s Andrew Lazickas, who also notched a win.  Can they end their careers with a few more wins in Albany?

 

Who Else is A Threat to Place In Albany?

Like in Division I, there are some obvious answers to this question as Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cody McGregor, Dakota Gardner and Drew Marra already demonstrated their ability to place last year.

Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Photo by Boris V

Rodriguez-Spencer was the silver medalist in a difficult weight featuring past state champions like Nick Tighe and Tristan Rifanburg as well as multiple-time placer Corey Dake.  He showed resolve, winning both his second round and semifinal matches in overtime (including an 8-6 win over Rifanburg).  He also shined in the spring and summer in the international styles, which he has done for years.  In 2012 alone, he placed in a number of elite Greco-Roman events, including Junior Nationals in Fargo, FILA Cadets and FILA Juniors.

Marra went 3-2 at the Times Union Center to cap off a 42-7 sophomore campaign in which he was fourth in New York at 106.  Cody McGregor, a fourth place finisher in 2011 as an eighth grader at 96 pounds, made his way onto the medal stand again, this time taking fifth at 113.   He’ll go for his third All-State showing this season, looking to climb his way up the podium.

An opponent McGregor was very familiar with is Lewiston Porter’s Ryan Kromer.  Kromer went to Albany as the Section 6 winner after beating McGregor 1-0 in the semifinals.  They met again at the Times Union Center and McGregor came out on top in the ultimate tiebreaker by the same 1-0 score to eliminate Kromer one victory shy of the podium.  It was Kromer’s second trip to Albany.  He’s looking for the third time to be a charm.

Like McGregor, Dakota Gardner was ready to wrestle some of the state’s best, capping off a strong season by grabbing sixth in the final tournament of the season. He followed that performance off with a third place showing at the NHSCA Middle School Nationals at 127 pounds.

As an eighth grader, Kellen Devlin of Amherst was impressive, notching a 34-5 record, including a dominant performance at the Section 6 tournament on his way to the title (in Division I).  He outscored his opponents 18-1 and defeated Duguay in the championship bout.  It looked like he was on his way to victory in his first match at the Times Union Center against All-Stater Robert Person of Nassau County, however, he was reversed to his back with less than 30 seconds left.  Devlin quickly rebounded after his 0-2 showing in the state capital, winning a number of spring and summer events, including the Ohio Tournament of Champions.   He will be a lightweight to track closely this year, but according to Ross Conti, it will be in Division II this time.

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

DJ Marshall (Lewiston Porter) – Marshall went 33-10 at 120 pounds with a number of his setbacks at the hands of Section 6’s top wrestlers (Dylan Caruana, Dakota Gardner, Andrew Lazickas).  He rebounded from a loss to state qualifier Lazickas in the semifinals to take third place in the Section.

Eddie Hutschenreuter (Alden) – The junior enters the season as a two-time state qualifier who won a match at the state tournament in both 2010 and 2011.  However, he didn’t have an opportunity to make it three years in a row in Albany after he suffered a season-ending injury in December of 2011.  According to Maute, the Alden wrestler has returned to the mat and “is definitely a threat to place; in fact, I think he should place this year.”

Alex Smythe (Eden) – Smythe is familiar with the medal stand on the state level.  He took fifth at 125 pounds in 2011 at the Times Union Center.  Last year, he was fourth in the Section at 145 pounds after amassing a 31-7 mark, with two of the losses to an out of state wrestler and three others to All-State opponents.  Smythe will look to return to Albany.

Zach Bickle (Royalton Hartland) – Bickle is a two-time state qualifier, who came within one win of making All-State in 2011 at 103 pounds.  He will look for his third journey to Albany as a senior after winning more than 30 matches as a junior.  Bickle registered quality wins over Kellen Devlin, Pat McCarthy and Ryan Kromer a year ago.

Austin Lynn (Frewsburg) – Frewsburg’s Nick Mitchell had a terrific season a year ago, with his only loss coming in the state finals at 170 pounds.  Lynn is another Bears upperweight who is primed for a strong season.  He went 33-8 as a junior, taking second in the Sectionals at 182 pounds.

Andrew Shomers (Lewiston Porter) – Shomers, who wrestled at Niagara Falls last season, was second behind Anthony Orefice at 106 in the Section.  In fact, four of his six losses came against Orefice with one other against qualifier Bryan Ruggeri from Fairport.  Shomers certainly knows how to finish a match – he notched 29 victories with 21 of them coming by pin.  He should be an impact player for his new team.

Kyle Blake (Falconer) – Blake was 31-9 in 2011-12 at 99 pounds with a second place showing at the Section 6 tournament.

“He was really impressive last year,” said Ross Conti.  “He lost by a point in the [Section 6] finals and he really came on as the season went on.  He’s a kid that has the look of someone who will definitely do really well.”

Brandon Dallavia, who racked up a 35-4 record at 132 pounds for Lewiston Porter as an eighth grader, has left the Empire State for Blair Academy.  However, there are other young grapplers to watch, including Depew’s Philip Calandra, who according to Maute, has a good chance of winning Division II this year in the lightest weight class.  

 

Team Race

Lewiston Porter won the Division II race a year ago by an incredibly slim margin of 1.5 points over Fredonia.  The two teams look poised to be at the head of the class again with a slew of returning placers.

Fredonia’s lineup looks very tough heading into 2012-13 as the Hillbillies bring back six Section 6 medalists, including champions Dakota Gardner (120), Jude Gardner (138) and Zach Buckley (160).  In addition, Pat McCarthy returns for his senior year as do fourth placers Tyler Cassidy (132) and Christian Saden (195).

Dan Reagan, Photo by Boris V

Lewiston Porter will challenge, however, with 113-pound champion Ryan Kromer back, along with All-State wrestler Dan Reagan and Section bronze winner DJ Marshall (120).  Garrett Rath (fifth at 285) will look for a move up the podium to help offset the lost production of graduates Jason Kromer and Kevin McMurray and the departure of Brandon Dallavia.  The addition of Andrew Shomers will add another top wrestler to the mix.

Royalton Hartland, third in 2012, will put a number of wrestlers on the podium as well, beginning with Drew Hull who was the runner up in the Section as well as in the state.  Taking third a year ago were Garrett Baugher as an eighth grader at 99 pounds (who has since departed for St. Joseph’s of the CHSAA) and Alex Jensen at 220.  Cameron Swick and Zach Bickle also took top 5 spots for the Raiders.

According to Ross Conti, there are a few other teams to keep an eye on in Division II.  Conti said Falconer was the top ranked small school dual team a year ago and will be worth watching again.

“[Falconer] usually has a good wrestler in every weight class, although they don’t have a lot of stars,” he said.  “Fredonia sent four to states and had other kids on the bubble, yet Faulkner beat Fredonia in a dual meet.  They lost a few guys, but they always have solid numbers and a very good coaching staff.  Those kids seem to get better in a hurry.  They’ll be tough, especially in duals.”

Another team Conti mentioned was Ripley.

“I think Ripley might have been the smallest wrestling school in the whole state,” he said. “For years, Ripley’s been a good team with state representatives and placers.  But it’s hard to have depth as such a small school.  Now that they are merging with Westfield and Chautauqua Lake, I think they’ll be a team to watch out for.”

Special thanks to all of the contributors to this article, especially Keith Maute and Ross Conti.

 

More Season Preview Articles:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 4 Preview

Section 5 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 8 Preview

Section 9 Preview

Section 10 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