Diakomihalis Captures the Super 32 Title as Five Others Place in High School Action; Adam Busiello Strikes Middle School Gold

BY MATT DIANO

One year removed from the heartbreak that witnessed several New York wrestlers come close, but only one Empire Stater (Shayne Brady) make the podium at the 2012 Super 32 Challenge, one could not help but feel that when the NY wrestlers took to the mats this weekend in Greensboro, North Carolina, they would be competing with a chip on their shoulders; a little extra motivation; a need to prove that last year was an exception and not the rule.

With all the dust having now settled in the Coliseum, 2012 has officially been put in the rearview mirror following an amazing collective effort which yielded six top-8 finishes, the second most ever earned by New York in the 14-year existence of the Battle for the Belt. (New York had nine placers in 2009).

Led by 106-pound champion Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton), the Empire State would also emerge with a runner up finish at 182 (Nicky Hall), a bronze medal showing at 152 (Louis Hernandez), a pair of fourth place finishes (Nick Piccininni at 120 and Vincent Feola at 220), and a seventh place effort from Thomas Dutton at 145 pounds.

Diakomihalis

Diakomihalis entered the tournament as the #3 ranked wrestler in the nation per Flo after winning the 2013 NYS large school title as an eighth grader in the 99-pound weight class. The Hilton star would be nothing short of dominant on Sunday, going 3-0, including back-to-back bonus point performances in the quarter and semifinal rounds to punch his ticket to the title bout.  Kicking off the morning by securing a first period fall over Ohio’s Hunter Lucas via cradle, Diakomihalis would make a huge statement in the semifinals when he upended 2013 Ohio DII state champion Tyler Warner, 14-3, in a clash of the #2 and #3 ranked wrestlers in the country.   The fab frosh would take the title with a methodical 3-0 decision over sixth-ranked Cage Curry of Pennsylvania in a bout that was not as close as the score would indicate.  Scoring a takedown in the first period and then adding an escape in the second, Diakomihalis would never give his Keystone State foe an opportunity to get on the board, racking up a plethora of riding time.  After winning the Middle School crown in 2012,  Diakomihalis becomes only the second New York wrestler to ever win a Super 32 High School title. (Joe Booth in 2007 was the first).

Hall, a fifth-year for coach Scott Green at Wyoming Seminary (PA), would make his home state proud in finishing second at 182.  Because he is considered a postgraduate, the former Longwood standout is not eligible for an individual national ranking.  However, this weekend more than proved that he is among the nation’s elite as he would go on to defeat the #20 wrestler in the land, Stephen Loiseau of Lancaster Catholic (PA), 6-0 in the quarterfinals, before besting 2013 Michigan third place finisher/#19 (@195) ranked, Ty Wildmo (who upset the 11th ranked wrestler in the quarters), to advance to the finals.  In the championship match, the recent North Carolina State commit would give a game effort, constantly looking for his offense.  But alas, a second title for the Empire State would not be in the cards as Hall dropped a 5-2 decision to Zack Zavatsky.  With the #9 ranked Zavatsky headed to Virginia Tech next fall, Sunday’s finals match could have been the commencement of a long ACC rivalry between these two talented competitors.

Taking the long way to the bronze medal would be the defending NYS large school champion from Mepham, Hernandez.  A product of the Ascend Wrestling Club, with his mentor, Craig Vitagliano in his corner, the day would begin with a bit of whimper for the #13 ranked wrestler in the nation.  Pitted in a tight quarterfinal bout against #4 Jake Danishek, Hernandez appeared to be the aggressor for much of the duration, but would be unable to convert on any of his takedown attempts.  With the match deadlocked at 1-1, the three-time Ohio state champion out of Dayton would explode for a controversial takedown in the final half minute and would hold on in the closing seconds to earn the 3-2 decision.  This questionable loss would be the only one of the day for the stud from Nassau County as he would go on to win four consecutive bouts in the consolation bracket, highlighted by a 7-5 decision over the nation’s #3 wrestler, Fox Baldwin (Florida) in the wrestleback semifinals.  Hernandez would also post 10-2 and 8-3 victories over National Prep third place finisher, Toby Hague, and New Jersey fourth place medalist Zack Hertling prior to his aforementioned win over the Floridian.  In the bronze bout, Hernandez would win a low scoring affair, recording the only takedown of the match to secure the 3-2 decision over 2013 Virginia runner up, Jack Bass.

Piccininni would demonstrate the heart and perseverance that has made him a two-time NYS champion for Ward Melville, rebounding from Saturday’s disappointing upset loss in the round of 16 to go 4-1 on Sunday.  Beginning his journey back to a top-four placement with a 3-0 shutout over 2013 Pennsylvania bronze medalist Tyrone Klump of Nazareth, the wrestler from Suffolk would survive a bit of a scare when he was taken into sudden victory by fellow nationally ranked (13th) opponent, Kyle Akins of Illinois.  With the match all knotted up at 3-3, Piccininni would waste little time in making sure he advanced, quickly getting in deep and finishing on the 2013 Illinois state champion.  In the consolation quarters, Piccininni would run into a familiar foe in the person of New Jersey’s Anthony Cefolo.  A 3-0 winner over the Garden State representative two weeks ago at the Iron Horse Invitational, the Ward Melville standout would make it two-for-two against the Hanover Park product, notching an 8-4 decision. The Empire State’s top-ranked junior would pick up his final win of the tournament in the consolation semifinals, defeating fan favorite Troy Gregor, from the host state, 5-1.  In the bout for the bronze, Piccininni would come up just short of third place honors, losing a hard fought 4-3 decision to the nation’s top-ranked wrestler, Sean Russell from Georgia powerhouse Collins Hill.  Russell finished second at the Super 32 last season.

Perhaps the most surprising top-8 finisher for New York would be Feola, who came to the Tar Heel State as a relative unknown, but leaves it as a hot commodity following his 2-2 effort on the final day of competition.  The Walt Whitman High School and Vougar Honors Wrestling Club representative may have raised his stock more than any other Empire Stater this weekend.  A fourth place finisher at the Suffolk County Tournament in 2013 for Walt Whitman, he would lock up a spot on the podium when he jumped out early and then kept his composure late to earn a 5-4 decision in the quarterfinals over LaSalle College High School’s Antonio Pelusi.  However, in the semifinals, 2013 Massachusetts state champion Ian Butterbrodt would have his arsenal from the top position on full display, earning several series of back points to deny the Long Islander a spot in the finals with the 11-1 major decision.  Feola would split his final two bouts of the weekend, sticking his consolation semifinal opponent, 2013 Florida runner up Ben Cruz, in 84 seconds before finding himself on the short end of an 8-3 decision in the third place bout to 2012 Georgia silver medalist, Matthew Moore.

Speaking of stock that continues to skyrocket, Rocky Point’s Dutton had another stellar outing. Two weeks after winning the Iron Horse, the junior who finished fourth in Albany last season, would come up clutch again, posting a .500 record (2-2) on day two in North Carolina to become the second member of his family to finish in the top-8 at this event. (Older brother, Stephen, who currently wrestles for the University of Michigan, was a two-time S32 placewinner, including a runner up showing in 2009).

Dutton’s morning would begin on something of a sour note following an 11- 2 major decision loss to two-time Missouri champion/#8 ranked wrestler in the country, Grant Leeth. However, Dutton would need less than a minute in the consolation bracket to guarantee himself a placement finish, earning the fall at the 58 second mark over 2013 Pennsylvania sixth place finisher, Billy Barnes.  Like Feola, Dutton would split his final two matches of the tournament, losing a 10-3 decision to eventual third place finisher, Nick Bennett of Michigan in the consolation semis, but then putting an exclamation on a solid weekend with a 4-3 decision over two-time New Jersey runner up, Gary Dinmore.  This “w” makes two in a row for Dutton over Dinmore, as he also defeated him by one point (3-2) at the Iron Horse.

Falling just short of the podium, but still very deserving of recognition were the following wrestlers who lost in the round of 12: Vito Arujau (113, Syosset), Vincent DePrez (145, Hilton), and Steven Schneider (170, MacArthur).  All were 2013 large school state silver medalists. Arujau would drop a 1-0 decision to eventual eighth place finisher, Eric Hong (PA); DePrez would be defeated by the fourth place medalist, Micheal Longo of California (6-1); and Schneider would be nipped 2-1 by the seventh placer from Ohio, Seth Williams.

Showing that not only is the present bright, but so too is the future were the following Middle School Division placewinners: Adam Busiello (1st @85), Hector Colom (3rd @100), Michael Gonyea (5th @75), Ivan Garcia (6th @ 70), and AJ Burkhart (6th @95).

With a 1-0 victory over Colorado’s Colton Yapoujian in the title bout, Busiello becomes the first New York State wrestler to win multiple Youth Super 32 titles, after cruising to the crown in 2012.  Yapoujian, who won a Super 32 gold medal in 2011 and placed second last season, entered the tournament as the pound-for-pound #6 junior high prospect on the Flo rankings board.  Busiello is expected to compete on the varsity this season as a seventh grader for coach Nick Garone’s Eastport-South Manor squad.

Colom, who set the school record for victories in a single season as a 7th-grader with 37 (37-5) for Dunkirk, would compile a 5-1 record on the day, opening the tournament with three straight wins, including a 4-2 decision over Flo’s #19 junior High School prospect, Mason Turner of Olathe, Kansas. In fact, the 2013 Section VI 4th place finisher appeared destined to go all the way to the winner’s circle before being tripped up in the semifinals by the 32nd rated youth wrestler, Brian Stuart of Maryland. The 12-year-old superstar would return to his winning ways in the consolation bracket, pitching shutouts in each of his final two bouts of the tournament, including a 3-0 decision in the bronze medal match against Council Rock, PA’s Benjamin Radner.

Notching four pins in his five overall victories would be the Journeymen Wrestling Club protege, Gonyea, who went 5-2 with victories over opponents from Vermont, Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.  The two opponents who were successful in getting their hands raised against him would later go on to finish 2nd and 3rd overall in the tournament.

Garcia (representing the Apex Wrestling Club) and Burkhart (Waverly) would go a combined 7-6 in rounding out the NYS youth contingent’s performance with their previously noted sixth place finishes.

Congratulations to all NYS placewinners!

FINAL High School BRACKETS

Final Middle School Brackets (free registration required)

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Super 32 Update: State Champs Diakomihalis and Hernandez Among the NY Wrestlers Still in Contention in Greensboro

Hernandez, Photo by BV

After a full day of competition in Greensboro, NC, New York has a number of wrestlers alive in the chase for the Super 32 championship belt.  That includes a pair of 2013 state titlewinners – Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton, 106) and Louis Hernandez (Mepham, 152).

Diakomihalis, who won a Middle School crown at this event last year, was dominant with two pins and a technical fall during the day.  Hernandez cruised as well, with seven and nine point wins in his first two bouts before receiving a forfeit in the Round of 16.

After winning a challenging bracket at the Iron Horse a few weeks ago, Rocky Point’s Tom Dutton followed up with four straight victories at 145 to punch his ticket to the quarters.  Another champion at the Iron Horse, Steve Schneider of MacArthur, posted a trio of wins, including a pin at 170. Fellow Long Island wrestler Vincent Feola of Walt Whitman notched a fall and a one-point decision at 220, while former Longwood standout (and current Wyoming Seminary grappler) Nicky Hall will also appear in the Round of 8 tomorrow, at 182 pounds.

In addition to the quarterfinalists mentioned above, several other Empire State wrestlers remain in contention for spots on the podium, including state champion Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville at 120 pounds and NYS finalists Vito Arujau of Syosset (113) and Vincent DePrez of Hilton (145).  Also still in the mix after a successful first day on the mat in North Carolina are East Islip’s Dennis Ferro at 152, Clarence’s Jake Weber and Rocky Point’s Joseph Russo at 170 and former Pine Bush competitor Chris Cuccolo at 106.

Sunday’s Scheduled Matches for NY Wrestlers – Super 32 Challenge

In the quarterfinals:

106: Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton) vs. Hunter Lucas (OH)

145: Tommy Dutton (Rocky Point) vs. Grant Leeth (MO)

152: Louis Hernandez (Mepham) vs. Jacob Danishek (IN)

170: Steve Schneider (MacArthur) vs. Chance Marstellar (PA)

182: Nicky Hall (Wyoming Seminary/Longwood) vs. Stephen Loiseau (PA)

220: Vincent Feola (Walt Whitman) vs. Antonio Pelusi (PA)

 

In the wrestlebacks:

106: Chris Cuccolo (St. Benedicts/Pine Bush) vs. Jarrett Reisenbichler (MO)

113: Vito Arujau (Syosset) vs. Patrick D’Arcy (NJ)

120: Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville) vs. Tyrone Klump (PA)

145: Vincent DePrez (Hilton) vs. Chandler Pyke (GA)

152: Dennis Ferro (East Islip) vs. Paden Bailey (OK)

170: Jake Weber (Clarence) vs. Jacob Cooper (MI)

170: Joseph Russo (Rocky Point) vs. Joe Heyob (OH)

Homecoming!: Nassau Wrestler of the Year Choi Receives Awards and a Special Gift from VHW

 
 
Being intimidated was new.  Vougar Oroudjov said he didn’t remember feeling that way – even when competing on the biggest stages, such as the Olympics and the World Championships.

But earlier this week, at the Section 8 Dinner, Oroudjov, the head of Vougar’s Honors Wrestling (VHW), met his match.

Choi, Photo by BV

“I was never scared like that before,” he said. “I went up to give a speech and I couldn’t say anything.  All those people were looking at me. It was very different.  But I had to give the speech.  It was very important to me to give this award to [Syosset senior] Dan Choi.”

It wasn’t the only trophy of the evening for Choi, the 2013 195-pound New York State champion in Division I, who also collected several other accolades, including Nassau’s Most Outstanding Wrestler (Newsday and Friends of Long Island Wrestling), Navy ROTC Award, Matanna Family Scholarship and an NYSPHSAA All-Academic honor.

But the award Oroudjov spoke about was perhaps more valuable.  Because what VHW gave Choi was a chance to finally go home.

“When I found out that Dan didn’t go to Korea to see his mother for two years, I felt terrible,” Oroudjov said. “With my Olympic dream, I traveled a lot – camps and tournaments.  It was non-stop traveling.  I always missed my family and friends. I know that feeling.  So, we bought Dan a round trip ticket to go back to Korea to see his family for the first time in years before he goes to college at Cornell University.”

We detailed Choi’s amazing story of coming to the United States just three years ago without his parents and earning an ROTC scholarship to the Ivy League institution in Ithaca in this article.

However, that story was published before Choi’s tremendous run through the field at the Times Union Center to earn a state championship.  But those victories in Albany aren’t what stand out most for Oroudjov.  The title wasn’t the reason that he and Nebraska recruit Anthony Abidin held a clinic to raise some of the funds for Choi’s journey to Asia.

“He is just unbelievable,” Oroudjov said. “How many high school kids could do everything he has done without seeing their parents for two years?  He works a job, he does great in school, he wrestles. We’ll go to tournaments and he always has such a heavy bag because he’s doing his calculus and other homework at the tournaments.  He also has a lot of fun – we dance Gangnum style together after big wins. We’re going to miss him. He’s a great person to have around. He deserves all his awards but we needed to give him the award of going home.”

——-

Choi wasn’t the only wrestler to come away from the event with hardware.  State champions Kyle Quinn (Wantagh) and Louis Hernandez (Mepham) were also named to Newsday’s All-Long Island team, as was runner up Chris Koo of Great Neck South.  Joining them on the squad were Suffolk grapplers Matt Leshinger (Sayville), TJ Fabian (Shoreham Wading River), Corey Rasheed (Longwood), Tyler Grimaldi (Hills West), Carlos Toribio (Brentwood), Michael Hughes (Smithtown West), Alex Tanzman (Westhampton Beach) and Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville). Piccininni was named Wrestler of the Year for the State of New York by WIN Magazine.

From Korea to Cornell: Syosset's Choi Earns Prestigious Scholarship to the Ivy League

When Dan Choi arrived in the United States, he didn’t know a word of English and he had never stepped on a wrestling mat.

That was just three years ago, but Choi has come a long way.

In a few months, the Syosset senior will head to Cornell University, where he will wrestle for one of the nation’s top teams and begin preparing for his future career, serving his new country.

“I’m very excited about Cornell,” he said. “There are all the things I want. I love math and science and there’s a very good physics major I will be in.  There is also a very good wrestling program and the ROTC.”

Choi said he was one of five recipients in the Northeast of the Navy ROTC Scholarship, which fully covers tuition.

“At Cornell, I’ll be trained as an officer and I’ll work for four years after graduation,” he said. “I would like to be trained for Navy Seals too.  I know it will be tough, but I’m excited about it.”

While Choi said he doesn’t have any connections to the military, he feels a desire to serve.

“I really want to give back to this country,” he said. “I have gotten a good education here that I couldn’t get back in Korea. Moving here changed my life.”

It sure did.

Other than the language barrier, which he said forced him to “look up almost every word” in his books when he first got to New York, he faced other challenges.  For one, he came all the way across the globe by himself.

“I live with a legal guardian, but not immediate family here,” he said.  “We don’t really know each other that well.  My mom is still working in Korea and we talk a few times a week.  But I haven’t seen her for two years.”

In order to make ends meet, Choi began working at a Subway restaurant, a job he still holds today.  But in addition to his time spent in food service and doing homework, he was seeking another extracurricular activity when he arrived.

“I started training in taekwondo when I was seven in Korea,” he said. “I am a black belt in taekwondo and judo.  During my sophomore year, I was looking for a sport and I heard wrestling was similar to judo.  So I asked if I could join.”

He did, but found that wrestling wasn’t that similar to judo after all.

“It was very difficult and very different,” he said. “My experience helped but I didn’t really know the rules for a while so it was hard.”

Despite that, Choi won more than 15 bouts and advanced to the Nassau County Tournament, where he lost his first match.  That summer, he went back to Korea and did some training there.  He also began to work with Vougar Oroudjov at Vougar’s Honors Wrestling.

“Wrestling in the offseason at Vougar’s really helped,” he said. “There are college wrestlers there and that helped me get much better.”

“Dan’s a good kid,” Oroudjov said. “He works at Subway to pay his bills and works very hard in wrestling and school.  He’s very strong physically and he has improved a lot in the past year.”

Courtesy of Dan Choi

The work paid off as Choi showed significant improvement as a junior, compiling a 42-8 record at 182 pounds with 21 falls.  He had more success in the postseason, earning bronze at the Section 8 Tournament.

“I wasn’t surprised that I was third in the county,” he said. “I actually expected more than that.  I was frustrated and disappointed.”

And he thought his season was over.

But shortly afterward, he found out that it wasn’t.  Although he was not originally granted a wildcard bid to the state tournament, an injury to another wrestler gave him a spot in the bracket.

Choi went 2-2 at the Times Union Center, losing to the fifth and sixth place finishers and coming within one victory of making the podium.  But despite the progress he had made in the sport, he wasn’t pleased.

“I was both nervous and excited to wrestle with the best in New York,” he said. “I felt lucky to be there. I wasn’t happy with how I wrestled. I didn’t wrestle the way I normally do. I was too nervous.”

While nerves played a role in his experience on the mat in the state capital, they didn’t come into play during the college selection process.

Choi applied early decision to Cornell and said he wasn’t really considering other schools.  In order to earn his scholarship, he had to interview with military officers.  He said he was much calmer than he was on the mat in Albany.

That calm has carried over to his senior campaign.  He has been an integral part of a banner year for Syosset, which has included the school’s first conference title in over 20 years. And he has enjoyed individual success as well.

Choi is 34-2 overall and all of his victories have been by bonus points. One of his losses came when he bumped up a weight to face one of Nassau’s top 220 pounders, Matt Mott of Lynbrook.  The other, a fall against Nick Weber of Kings Park in the finals at the Syosset Tournament, has stayed on the top of his mind.

“I took [Weber] down twice and was winning 4-2,” he said. “I was at the edge of the circle, close to out of bounds and kind of relaxed. He threw me and pinned me.  I would like to wrestle him again.”

Courtesy of Dan Choi

He was so disgusted that he left the second place medal he received behind when he exited the gym.

However, it was delivered back to him shortly afterwards.

“The father of one my teammates, Mr. Miller, knows my situation and has always helped me,” he said. “He picked up the award for me and told me I should keep it because it means something.  He told me to remember the feeling I had when I got it.”

Choi said he definitely remembers that feeling.  And it helps him as he pushes toward his goal of being a state champion this year.

Not too long ago, Dan Choi didn’t know the first thing about wrestling.  But to see him on the podium in a few weeks wouldn’t be that surprising.

What a difference three years can make.  The next chapter will begin at Cornell.

————————————————-

Dan Choi wished to thank the Syosset parents, especially Mr. Miller and Mr. Gewolb, as well as his Subway Manager Stephanie.

Vougar Oroudjov Reflects on his World Cup Experience with Team USA

A little over a week ago, Vougar Oroudjov returned from Baku, Azerbaijan where he was on the staff of the United States team that finished third at the FILA World Cup.   The two-time World Champion and Olympic bronze medalist talked to New York Wrestling News about his experience with the USA squad.

What was your role with the team?

Zeke Jones called me about two weeks before the tournament and asked if I could come.  I was a Team Leader.  I was born in Azerbaijan and speak the language there so I translated when we needed it, dealt with hotels, referees and things like that.  I was also at practice and the matches.  I did what I could to help the guys. It was great to be a part of it with everyone on the team and the great coaches – Zeke Jones, John Smith, Mark Manning and Brandon Slay.  It was my first time with the US Team and I didn’t feel like an outsider at all.  We all wanted the same thing – to win.  The atmosphere was great.

What did you think about the team’s performance?

The team was very good.  The United States keeps making big improvements in freestyle.  You saw it at the World Championships and again at the World Cup.

We lost to Iran 4-3, but I wouldn’t say they were much better. Maybe a few tactical things made the difference. In the first match, at 55 kg with Nick Simmons, there were a couple of situations where there were calls that could go either way and they went Iran’s way.  Same thing with [Keith] Gavin’s match at 84 kg.   It was a good learning experience.  I think everyone understands that we have some work to do to be the best team in the world, but we’re getting closer.  There is time before the Olympics to focus on our mistakes and fix them.

Who impressed you individually for the United States?

Jordan Burroughs, Coleman Scott and Tervel Dlagnev were all undefeated and wrestled really well.

Burroughs showed why he is the World Champion.  He knew exactly what he needed to do against the competition.  Dlagnev has the experience on this level and it showed.

It was the first time I saw Coleman Scott wrestle and I was amazed. He was really tough and mentally ready. He wasn’t intimidated about wrestling for the national team, he just went out to win. He never stopped moving; was all the time attacking.  I really like his style – he always showed offensive wrestling.  He beat some very good wrestlers.  I thought 60 kg was one of the toughest weights overall at the tournament. If I were the coach, I’d want him on the Olympic team.  Of course, I’m not the coach.

Honestly, there weren’t any guys who didn’t compete well.  Take someone like Jake Varner.  He lost some matches, but he still wrestled pretty well.  He lost to some World finalists.  I still think he’s good enough to do very well in London. The  Olympics are different than the World Cup. I have several friends who never won anything until they put it together and won the Olympics.

What do you think of the freestyle wrestling you saw at the tournament?

The rules just keep changing.  I know I learned a lot because things are different than when I wrestled freestyle.  To me, it’s getting so much more tactical.  In folkstyle, it’s all about intensity; guys going all out the whole match.  In freestyle now, it isn’t like that.  A lot of it is getting one pushout or taking one shot or grabbing the right ball out of a bag.  I don’t like that.  Just go to overtime and see who scores to get the real winner. There also seems to be a lot more questionable calls.  But we all know the rules.  There are no excuses.  We need to train for those rules and those types of matches.

You had a New York wrestler on the team in Cornell’s Kyle Dake.  He didn’t compete in the dual competition, but how did he look in training?

Kyle was there to be the training partner for Jordan Burroughs and to possibly give Burroughs a rest if we could during the tournament.  That didn’t wind up happening.

But even though he wasn’t in the tournament, I saw Kyle wrestle a lot. Each practice, I was in his corner, watching him.  He’s really good and getting better and better in freestyle. The best thing is that he listens.  You say something to him and he appreciates it and makes the changes.  He was impressive. People would be surprised how good he looked and how he looks against Burroughs.

We also had matches before the tournament where he was wrestling the guys from places like Azerbaijan and Russia.  He did very well against them.  I definitely think Kyle will make the next Olympics.  He’s really progressing in freestyle.  He will be a big surprise for everybody in the next Olympic cycle.

What’s next for you?

I will be working with the kids in my club [Vougars Honors Wrestling in Syosset] on freestyle to prepare for Fargo.

Then, we’ll see.  The USA coaches invited me to come with the team to the Olympics.  It was really hard for me to leave my family for the two weeks for the World Cup, so it would be hard to go for a longer time to London.  I missed home.  I missed my wrestlers and my club.  My son Vitali won the NY Freestyle States while I was away.    That’s one of the reasons the decision to go to Baku was so hard – I knew I would have to miss that and the other New York States for Cadets and Juniors.  I’m probably 50/50 right now on going to London.  I am honored that I was asked and it would be an honor to be there and help and give back to America.

Either way, I wish everyone luck.  I’m hoping for some Olympic championships.  We definitely have several guys who have shown that they are good enough to do it.