1000 Islands Duals: Superior Wins the Jr High Event; Buffalo Wrestling Club Takes Second in the HS Division

It was a bit of deja vu for the Superior Wrestling Academy team at the 1000 Islands Duals – in a very good way.

A year after winning the Junior High title at the summer event, Superior did it again, capturing first place with a 4-0 record on the opening day of competition in Clayton, New York.

Superior Wrestling Academy, Courtesy of Gary Ferro

The team began with a pair of dominant performances – topping Lockport and Midlakes. The semifinals round was a bit of a different story, as Nazareth, Pennsylvania pushed the squad to the limit in a 31-28 battle.

According to Gary Ferro, who coached the team along with Ed Schafer, Superior trailed going into the last three weights.  However, back-to-back falls by David Crow and Brandon Cousino at 155 and 165 pounds provided an insurmountable lead going into heavyweight.  (Superior forfeited at the unlimited class throughout the event).

“We faced Nazareth last year too and both times it was definitely our toughest match,” Ferro said. “They have an excellent team and it went back and forth, but our guys came through at the end.  Those two pins were huge.  [David Crow] was losing 4-0 but came back to get the pin.  Then [Brandon Cousino] followed with another one.  It was a great win to get us to the finals.”

The championship bout was less suspenseful, with Superior putting together a double-digit victory over Delaware Valley to finish first.

“The kids enjoyed coming back and taking a second championship and it was definitely exciting for us coaches too,” Ferro said. “Ultimately, for us, it’s about putting the kids on the mat in the summer and seeing them continue to get better. 1000 Islands Duals is the place to go to do that.  It’s amazing to see the wrestlers dedicating their time at this time of year.  That’s something we get excited about.”

Leading the way for Superior were undefeated wrestlers Ethan Ferro (75), Brian Courtney (105) and Mike Venosa (119) as well as Michael Gonyea (82) and David Crow (155), who both finished with one loss.

“We really enjoyed the tournament,” Ferro said. “We’ll be ready for next year and we’ll be looking to three-peat.”

(It was a good weekend overall for Superior, as the High School squad went 4-1 with the lone loss coming in a 32-31 match versus Northeast Elite, a top 8 placer.  The squad, coached by Ferro and Mark Friske, won the Blue Bracket).

Buffalo Wrestling Club in the Finals Again

In the High School action, another New York team made the finals – Buffalo Wrestling Club.  According to coach Keith Maute, the squad just missed out on the title for the second consecutive year at the 1000 Islands Duals.

“We were second last year too,” Maute said. “Last year against Bound Brook (NJ), it came down to the last match.  This year, it came down to criteria.”

Indeed, the championship dual between Buffalo Wrestling Club and Doughboy ended in a 27-27 deadlock.  However, the Massachusetts team was declared the winner using the tiebreakers.

The Buffalo WC squad, which Maute said was made up of wrestlers from the Cobra Wrestling Academy, cruised through the first three meets of the event, losing just a handful of matches along the way.

In the semifinals, however, things got more difficult in an eight-point triumph over Northeast Elite.

According to Maute, his group jumped ahead in the lightweights, but the opposition fought back to within five heading into 195 pounds.  A victory by James Empfield at that weight in the ultimate tiebreaker was crucial, as was another win at 220 by Tyler Hall to clinch a spot in the title match.

That championship dual followed a similar pattern initially.  Once again, the Buffalo WC built up an early advantage.  In fact, the squad led 27-4 going into 160 pounds, fueled by a number of grapplers who went undefeated throughout the tournament – Dane Heberlein (100), Kellen Devlin (130), Cody McGregor (137) and Dakota Gardner (145/152).  In addition, Troy Keller (107), Tito Colom (115), Danny Graham (145/152) and the previously mentioned Empfield (195) each lost only one bout during the weekend, according to Maute.

However, Doughboy responded to 23-point deficit by capturing the remainder of the matches, resulting in the 27-27 score.

“Doughboy was a tough team,” Maute said. “We were winning big, but then we got beaten up top where they were very strong. It was tough, but the guys wrestled well and it was a good tournament overall.”

Superior Wrestling Academy – Jr High Championship Team (provided by G. Ferro)
75-Ethan Ferro
82-Michael Gonyea
90-Drew Schafer
98-Trent Nadaeu
105-Brian Courtney
112-Tanner Cook
119-Mike Venosa
127-Emerson Block
135-Josh Shamp
145-Jake Ginter
155-David Crow
165-Brandon Cousino
Unlimited- None
Buffalo Wrestling Club (Cobra) High School (provided by K. Maute)
100-Dane Heberlein
107-Troy Keller/Hector Colom
115-Tito Colom/Michael Wisniewski
123-Drew Marra
130-Kellen Devlin
137-Cody McGregor/Freddy Eckles/Maulo Wawior
145-Dakota Gardner
152-Danny Graham
160-Lucas McKeever/Garrett Smead
170-Richie Jones
185-Marques Buchanan
195-James Empfield/Tyler Hall
220-Alex Jones
285-Nick Jones
Superior Wrestling Academy High School (provided by G. Ferro)
100-Trent Nadeau
107-Tanner Cook
115-Mike Venosa
123-Dandre Norman
130-Blake Jackson
137-Freddy Eckles
145-Laken Cook
154-Vinny Romeo
162-Jordan Torbitt
172-James Lukaszonas
185-Mark Friske
197-Ben Honis
220-Landry Cook

2013 Northeast Youth Duals: Weaver Elite Takes Gold; Dane Heberlein, Jace Schafer and Scott Kropman Honored

It’s not too often that the champions receive a trophy taller than themselves.  But at the fourth Annual Northeast Youth Duals in Hoosick Falls, that’s exactly what happened for the titlewinners from Weaver Elite (Pennsylvania).

“We like to have special awards,” said event organizer Michael LaPorte. “This year, the first place trophy was a seven-footer with a three-foot base.  You see the eyes light up when the kids see it.”

Weaver Elite, Courtesy of Christina Maag

In an event that featured wrestlers from “14 or 15 states”, according to LaPorte, the crown was decided by the slimmest of margins. In the final round on Sunday, a pair of 7-0 teams met in an exciting dual that ended in a tie. However, Weaver Elite took the hardware on the first tiebreaking criterion over New York Elite, a squad run by Superior Wrestling Academy.

“When the first whistle blew before the scheduled starting time of 9:30 on Saturday, we knew we were off to a good start,” LaPorte said. “The competition was great, especially on the second day.  Things tightened up on Sunday and we saw some unbelievable matches. You’d think you’re watching Cornell and Penn State going at it.  The level of competition just blew me away.”

It wasn’t just the championship bout that came down to the wire.  The fifth place meet, won by Olympic over Team Virginia, also ended in a deadlock. In that case, it took five tiebreaking criteria before the winner was determined.

A year ago, Apex NJ Elite took gold at the event, and this time the Garden State squad was third, defeating Team Maine for the bronze.

“The Maine team came in under the radar – I don’t think people knew what to expect from them,” LaPorte said. “They were a great bunch of guys and a great bunch of wrestlers that really impressed me.”

Heberlein with LaPorte, Courtesy Michael LaPorte

In addition to the showing of those squads, there were a number of standout individual performances.  Taking home Most Outstanding Wrestler (MOW) honors was Dane Heberlein of NY Elite, a grappler who competed for Alexander High this season.

“Dane Heberlein is an animal,” LaPorte said. “Weaver Elite was especially adamant about having him as Most Outstanding Wrestler – they were very impressed by the way he wrestled.  He’s an exceptional athlete.  I believe he will be in the small school state finals this year at 99 pounds. He’s that good.”

According to LaPorte, a number of other competitors were in the mix for MOW, including last year’s winner Brian Courtney (G2 World Wrestling Academy) and a few wrestlers who didn’t give up a point, including Anthony Cirillo and Patrick Glory.  Also in the running was Frankie Gissendanner, who was a state qualifier for Penfield at 126 pounds as a seventh grader in 2012-13.

Jace Schafer of Superior Wrestling Academy was the recipient of another honor handed out at the event – the Scott Kropman Never Give Up Award. Kropman, a coach at G2 World Wrestling Academy and tremendous supporter of wrestling, is battling cancer.

It wasn’t the only way Kropman was honored over the weekend. Donations by teams such as the Hoosick Falls Wrestling Club, NY Elite and Team Virginia as well as others in attendance resulted in over $400 to help Kropman with his medical expenses.  In addition, all of the competitors signed the tournament banner for Kropman, who wasn’t able to be there.

“Last year, we had a similar award in honor of [Monroe Woodbury wrestler] Vinny Vespa,” LaPorte said. “Vinny obviously had a full recovery and not only recovered but wrestled this year [and placed at the state tournament].  It really means so much to be able to do something for these guys.  If we can make any difference at all, we’ll give it the old college try to make it happen.  I made a speech and told everyone that before they fall asleep at night to think of Scott Kropman and then fall asleep with good thoughts and hope something positive comes out of it.”

There were many positives during the weekend. And it looks like the 2014 version of the Northeast Youth Duals is on the path to even more good things.  Despite expanding the event to 14 teams this year, LaPorte had to turn squads away.  He said every group verbally committed to returning next summer, along with the strong possibility of some West Coast flavor.

“A team from Gilroy, California wanted to come this year,” LaPorte said. “But the date conflicted with their biggest fundraiser of the year.  My phone rang on Sunday night and it was the California coach asking if we approved a date change for next year so they could be here.  It will be exciting to have some California kids come out and roll with our East Coast kids.  It will raise the level of the event.”

The level was high in 2013.  And LaPorte wished to acknowledge the many people who helped make it happen.

“There were some great people who played important roles,” he said. “Our club secretary Shannon Roberson went beyond the call of duty with things like custom made scorebooks and brochures to make it a great experience for everybody.  Chris Marsh and my brother Paco LaPorte were great.  And it couldn’t happen without the whole community behind me.  It was a true community effort in Hoosick Falls. I appreciate everything the village has done. Because of the efforts of so many and great competition, I think the event was even more well received than in the past.”


Weaver Elite – Lineup (*From Weaver Elite Website)

48 Ben Finelli

53 CJ Horvath

58 Evan Maag

63 Nico Nardone

68 Wil Guida

73 Tal Flemming

78 Josh Stahl

85 Cole Handlovic

93 LJ Khan

99 Ben Huber

105 Devon Britton

112 Reed Custer

119 Chase Anklum

126 Aiden Montiverdi

134 Mike Labriola

150 Kade Moisey

Superior Wins Ragin Raisins Duals as NY Teams Celebrate Father's Day Weekend

Photos courtesy of Adam Burgos

Quite a few fathers spent the majority of the holiday weekend inside a gymnasium at Mercyhurst University. And loved every minute of it.

“For me, it’s the best Father’s Day there can be,” said G2 World Wrestling Academy coach Adam Burgos. “I wouldn’t trade it for a tie, a dinner out, a gift card to Home Depot or any other typical gift. None of that compares to being with my son, watching him do something he loves. And then spending time with the rest of my family later in the day.”

Burgos and his squad competed at the Ragin Raisins Duals June 15 and 16, along with quality teams from New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio. The event featured 12 squads in both the youth and high school divisions and saw some great competition on Saturday and Sunday.

Capturing the title in the youth bracket was the Empire State’s Superior Wrestling Academy Black. The group went 7-0 over the weekend, earning a 37-21 decision over Ragin Raisins Green in the title bout to win gold.

“We had a very, very competitive all New York team of mostly Superior wrestlers,” said coach Gary Ferro, who led the group along with Ed Schafer. “They put their hearts into it. With each win, the kids kept getting more excited. It was very exciting, with a NY vs. PA final. It was intense and the crowd got into it.”

In the championship round, the first four bouts were decisions, with the Ragin Raisins taking a 9-3 lead. Next on the mat for Superior at 78 pounds was Ethan Ferro, who was set to take on an opponent who had defeated him at the Empire Duals earlier in the spring.

This time, it was different, as Ferro took a sizable lead before recording the pin to tie the dual score at 9 and swing momentum toward New York.

“It was very big for him because it’s an older kid who already beat him this year,” Ferro said of his son. “It meant a lot to him and it really helped the team. It was a great Father’s Day present.”

Superior took over from there, pulling ahead by double digits on the way to victory.

It was the closest match of the event for Superior Black, as the team outscored its opponents by a combined 327-45 in the first six duals. The closest meet prior to the championship was a 31-point victory.

That kind of dominance often comes from a balanced lineup, and that was the case over the weekend. According to Ferro, a number of wrestlers went undefeated – Stevo Poulin (61 pounds), Drew Schafer (84), Dillan Palaszewski (90), Dane Heberlein (98), Mike Venosa (115), Tyler Barnes (135) and Frankie Gissendanner (147). In addition, Ferro said that Jace Schafer (56), Greg Diakomihalis (66), Hammond Raes (106) and Emerson Block (125), all tallied 6-1 records.

At the high school level, one of the host squads, Ragin Raisins Pink, came out on top, besting Lake County, Ohio for the championship.

Placing in the top six for New York were Cobra (third), Superior Black (fourth) and G2 (sixth). G2’s team actually defeated the eventual champions earlier in the competition, 37-23, but finished third in the pool on criteria.

On the youth side, the Empire State was also very well represented as all three squads placed in the top six – Superior Black (first), Super Six (fifth) and Superior Gold (sixth).

The weekend wasn’t only about wrestling, however. On Saturday evening, the Superior wrestlers and their families went to a campground and had a picnic with around 80-90 people.

“It was just a good time, a great time to bond,” Ferro said. “It made it a really special Father’s Day weekend. We love wrestling, so this weekend was a great present.”

Courtesy of Adam Burgos, a number of videos from the event are available, including coach Jason Locke of Ragin Raisins previewing the event, wrestler interviews and a number of heartfelt Father’s Day messages. (Match videos to come).

For the full playlist, see Ragin Raisins Video Link

Here’s a number of wrestlers with Father’s Day wishes:

And event organizer Jason Locke


Final Standings – Youth Bracket

1 Superior Black (NY) 37
2 RR Green (PA) 21
3 Gladiator Swords (PA) 34

4 AWC (OH) 22
5 Super 6 (NY) 41
6 Superior Gold (NY) 15
7 Gladiator Shields (PA)45

8 RR Pink (PA) 18
9 Mt Men (PA) 41
10 Lancaster (PA) 19
11 RR Tye Dye (PA)

Final Standings – High School Bracket

1 RR Pink (PA) 29
2 Lake County (OH) 26
3 Cobra (NY) 84

4 Superior Black (NY) 0
5 AWC (OH) 25
6 G2 (NY) 18
7 Excelsior United 35 (NY)

8 North Shore Edge (IL) 29   9 Falconer (NY) 35

10 Roughnecks 9 (NY) 11 RR Purple (PA) 29
12 Superior Gold (NY) 27

Youth Champions – Superior Wrestling Academy Black Roster (as provided by Gary Ferro)

56 – Jace Schafer
61 – Stevo Poulin
66 – Greg Diakomihalis
72 – Brennan Roe
78 – Ethan Ferro
84 – Drew Schafer
90 – Dillan Palaszewski
98 – Dane Heberlein
106 – Hammond Raes
115 – Mike Venosa
125 – Emerson Block
135 – Tyler Barnes
147 – Frankie Gissendanner
160 – Brandon Cousino
180 – Ryan Flaitz
Alternate-Brian Sharkey

Superior Wrestling Academy Wins 1000 Islands Duals Jr High Event; Buffalo WC Takes Top Three in Both Divisions

Photo courtesy of Gary Ferro


Last week, second place.  This week, champions.

Superior Wrestling Academy wrapped up a busy spring and summer schedule by taking the title at the 1000 Islands Duals Junior High Division after grabbing the runner up spot last weekend at the Northeast Duals in Hoosick Falls.

The squad topped a 19-team bracket that offered teams from New York, Vermont, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, sweeping four meets.

“I think we wrestled really well,” said coach Ed Schafer.  “I think what our performance shows is the importance of wrestling in the offseason.  All the work the kids put in definitely showed.” (For team roster, see below).

In the first two duals, against South Jefferson and Delaware Valley, Superior rolled to victories by large margins (45-15 and 47-9, respectively).

The semifinals, however, brought a strong challenge from Buffalo Wrestling Club, which, according to Schafer, won the tournament on several occasions in the past.  It was a matchup the coach was anticipating leading up to the event.

“That was a great dual,” he said. “They were the champions, so to knock them off was really exciting.  I thought coming in we had the team that could beat them, but it was very close.”

It was indeed close as Superior won by just two points, 28-26.  In describing the key bouts, Schafer first pointed to the efforts of his team in a pair of losses, rather than wins.

“They had Freddy Eckles, a beast from Section 6 and Dakota Gardner, who was a state placer last year,” Schafer said.  “It was the kind of situation where their coaches probably told them they needed to go out and get pins and in that type of situation, they usually get the pins.  We bumped Nathaniel Grubham up to face Eckles and we had Dominic Nassivera, a 12-year old kid, wrestling Gardner.  We told them we needed them to stay off their backs to win the dual.  They not only did that, but they wrestled really well.  Their performances were huge.”

Schafer added that Kelan McKenna, an NHSCA Middle School National Champion, had a key victory against Buffalo as well.

Buffalo Wrestling Club coach Chris Nadeau was pleased with the efforts of his squad, which came back to thump Mt. Anthony 45-6 for third place.

“Our team was really dominant throughout,” he said.  “We lost only five matches in four duals.  We were up big in the semifinals against Superior, but unfortunately gave up three forfeits at the end and lost. I thought the guys wrestled really well.”

After that tense semifinal, Superior faced another tough test in the finals from Nazareth, Pennsylvania.  With the Empire State squad down by six, Austin Worth took the mat at 165 pounds.

“We needed a pin,” Schafer said. “He went out and got us a pin.  That was really big.  Then, they forfeited in the heavyweight match and that was it.”

In addition to Worth’s fall, the championship featured a number of significant victories, including one by Mexico’s Austin O’Reilly.

“O’Reilly came up big in a few of the duals,” Schafer said. “The PA kid he was facing was beating up on everybody all day.  We told him to get pumped up and get ready and he just took it to him.  He also had a big win against Buffalo.  If he can get his weight up, he’ll be tough in the high school season.”

Schafer expects the same from Yianni Diakomihalis, who has won a number of events this offseason.  Diakomihalis, who had more than 30 wins as a seventh grader for Hilton High in 2011-12, was unbeaten at the 1000 Islands Duals, as was McKenna.

So, Superior has completed their offseason schedule on a high note. Or has it?

“We’ve had a pretty good summer and it’s winding down,” Schafer said. “We don’t have anything else on our schedule, but it gets addictive.  It’s such a good group of kids that win so much, it’s hard not to put them on the mat.  We’re supposed to be done, but I think we may try to find one more tournament, to get out there one more time.”

High School Division

In addition to the bronze finish in the Junior High competition, the Buffalo Wrestling Club picked up second place in the High School action (see roster below).

The squad opened the event with a pair of lopsided victories, 51-18 over Summit Wrestling Club and 52-9 against Apex Gold.  The third contest was a little closer, however, Buffalo came away with a 40-25 win over General Brown to set up a semifinal battle with a somewhat unfamiliar foe from West Virginia.

In a nailbiter, the Empire State wrestlers punched their ticket to the finals with a 21-20 decision that came down to overtime in the last match.

With his team trailing by two, 2012 New York state sixth place medalist Matt Montesanti took the mat at heavyweight.  The bout was tied at 1 at the end of regulation and after a scoreless extra session, the match went to the ultimate tiebreaker.

“They had choice and took down,” coach Chris Nadeau said. “It worked out for us because if we had choice, we would have taken top anyway.  Matt threw in legs and was tough on top.  He rode him out and we got the one-point win.  That team was very good and it was an extremely exciting dual.”

The team rode the momentum into the finals, where the Buffalo grapplers led 21-0 early, according to Nadeau.

“We thought we had it in the bag, even though we had to deal with two forfeits,” he said. “We lost some close ones that were tough, especially at 164, where our wrestler bumped up and lost 3-1 on a tough takedown call in a scramble.”

In the end, the team from Bound Brook (NJ) got the seven-point victory, however Nadeau had positive things to say about the experience.

“The kids were incredible,” he said. “It’s such a good time – we’ve been going out for many years and we have a campsite and the kids fish and have a lot of fun.  All the kids wrestled well, including the young guys we had out there like Dakota Gardner and Kellen Devlin.  I was especially impressed with our [rising] seniors [all former state placers].  Eric Lewandowski went undefeated and was dominant the whole time.  Matt Montesanti, Drew Hull and Steve Michel were amazing. They will be factors at the state tournament this year.”

The top finishers in the Gold Bracket in the High School Division were:

Champions: Bound Brook

Second Place: Buffalo WC

Third Place: West Virginia

Fourth Place: Phillipsburg

Fifth Place: Doughboy WC

Sixth Place: General Brown

Seventh Place: Suburban Council

Eighth Place: Delaware Valley


The top finishers in the Junior High Gold Division were:

Champions: Superior Wrestling Academy

Second Place: Nazareth (PA)

Third Place: Buffalo Wrestling Club

Fourth Place: Mt. Anthony

Fifth Place: Lewis County

Sixth Place: Apex Wrestling Club

Seventh Place: Delaware Valley

Eighth Place: Fulton Red


Team Roster for Superior Wrestling Academy (Junior High, 1st Place)

75 – Drew Schafer

82 – Austin O’Reilly

90 – Ian McKenna

98 – Mike Venosa

105 – Kelan McKenna

115 – Yianni Diakomihalis

119 – Blake Jackson

127 – Nathaniel Grubham

135 – Jeremy Boyle

145 – Dominic Nassivera

155 – Josh Farrar

165 – Austin Worth

Hwt – Owen Albanese


Team Roster for Buffalo Wrestling Club (High School, 2nd Place)

Troy Keller

Tito Colon

Jared Price

Kellen Devlin

Steve Michel

Dakota Gardner

Eric Lewandowski

Drew Hull

Jude Gardner

Caleb Lawson

Alex Jensen

Matt Montesanti