Hector Colom, Dylan Ryder and Ivan Garcia Finish in the Top Four at the Suplay Kickoff Classic in Tulsa

BY MATT DIANO

With the start of the 2013-2014 high school season right around the corner, a quartet of Empire Staters would make the trek all the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma to compete in the 2013 Suplay Kickoff Classic.  When the dust had settled after two fierce days of battle, three-fourths of the New Yorkers would find themselves in the top-four as Hector Colom would take second and Dylan Ryder would emerge with a third place finish in the 15 & Under division while youngster Ivan Garcia would claim a strong fourth in 10 U competition.

Ryder, a Candlewood resident who was representing the 631 Elite Wrestling Club, would post five wins at 75 pounds. He began with a defeat at the hands of the eventual champion, Kyle Biscoglia of Iowa, in the opening round of the tournament.  (Biscoglia is Flo’s #42 overall junior high prospect and was second at the 2013 Super 32 Middle School Tournament).  Up against a proverbial wall, finding himself in the consolation bracket a lot sooner than he is accustomed, the young Suffolk County stud would respond in a big way, pitching the 7-0 shutout over Oklahoman Spencer Edwards, and then following it up with back-to-back pins in a combined 3:37 against five-time Georgia Kids State Champion, Trevor Burdick (2:59) and 2013 Ohio Junior High State qualifier, Kyle Ryan (0:38).  In the consolation semifinals, Ryder would keep the momentum going, jumping out to a 5-0 lead before surrendering a late takedown to win 5-2 over 2013 Ohio Grade School State Champion, Gabriel Tagg.  In the bronze medal bout, Ryder would be in control from the opening whistle to the final buzzer, recording the only points of the match in a 5-0 decision over Pennsylvania’s Brandon Seidman. (He would lose his true second bout to Malik Heinselman).

Like Ryder, Hectom Colom’s tournament would begin on a bit of a sour note as he too would find himself on the short end of a decision (3-1) in the first round.  In a 101-pound match versus the host state’s Colton Denney, the Dunkirk eighth grader created multiple scramble positions in the third period in an attempt to even the score with a takedown.  To the credit of his foe, Colom would be unable to get himself sufficiently untangled to score the much needed points.  This hard fought loss would be the only one of the weekend for the Buffalo Wrestling Club representative as he would go on to utilize his excellent skills from the top position to reel off seven consecutive wins. Commencing his comeback effort with a 15-0 technical fall over Kansas’s Dante Rodd, Colom would find himself in a bit of a dogfight in his next bout against another opponent from the Jayhawk State, two-time Youth State placewinner (2nd in 2012; 3rd in 2013), Kaj Perez.  With the score all deadlocked at two apiece heading into the third period and Perez having choice, the New Yorker would come up clutch, breaking the tie with a tilt for three near-fall points.  This would prove to be the difference as he would ride out the full 90 second duration to advance with the 5-2 decision. Colom would have a much easier time of it in his next match, dominating Derek Holschlag to the tune of a 4-0 decision.  The runaway train of success would refuse to stop in the consolation quarterfinals when Colom earned a third period reversal to get a 6-4 win over 2013 Missouri Kids bronze medalist, Jackson Henson.

In the consolation semis, a rematch with Denney would await him.  However, unlike the first matchup, Colom would never allow himself to fall behind, fighting off a deep shot attempt in the first period, earning an escape in the second, and then riding out the entire third to walk away with the 1-0 decision.  In the third place match, it would be a case of déjà vu against New Jersey’s Christopher Cannon.  In identical fashion to his previous victory over Denney, a second period escape would be all Colom would need as he rode his way to victory, working a crab ride for much of the last 45 seconds and just missing near-fall on at least two occasions in the last half minute.

He then tackled one more challenge – a true second bout against Tanner Ward.  He emerged victorious in that contest by a 6-4 score to nab silver, a finish that caps off what has been an unbelievable offseason for Colom, as he adds this medal to the gold he won at the Journeymen Classic in September and the bronze he won in the Middle School division of the Super 32 tournament last month.

Last, but by no means least, would be Port Chester’s Ivan Garcia, who went 5-2 with both of his losses coming to the same opponent, California’s Alex M. Ramirez (3-1 decision in the quarterfinals; by fall in 2:27 in the third place bout).  Aside from his inability to master his rival from the West Coast, Garcia would cruise this weekend, using his excellent defensive skills to limit the offense of his foes. He would outscore his five victims by a cumulative tally of 22-2, beginning with 5-0 and 7-1 decisions in the first two rounds over Isaac Klinkhammer (2013 South Dakota Novice State runner-up) and Mitchell Mesenbrink (5th in the 2013 Wisconsin Kids State Tournament), respectively. Garcia would then shake off the disappointment of his first loss to Ramirez by going on a mini winning streak, beating back-to-back Arkansas wrestlers, Tristan Stafford (2-0) and Tripp Mays (1-0), before getting his hand raised one final time in the consolation semifinals, 7-1 over Jackson Eller.  The win over Eller would have to be considered one of the best of Garcia’s career when you consider that the former entered the tournament as a six-time ASICS/USA Wrestling Kids All-American in the international styles (including an Intermediate National Title in Greco-Roman in 2012).  While the weekend would end in defeat, there is no question that the Section I wrestler should be very proud of his effort as his top-4 finish here surpasses the sixth place showing he put forth last month at the Super 32 Tournament.

Tito Colom of Dunkirk was also in action this weekend, going 2-2 at 108 pounds.

For Full results, please visit Trackwrestling.com.

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Journeyman Classic Breakdown: Thoughts and Observations on Sunday's Competition

The Journeymen Classic attracted participants from more than 20 states with top notch talent across the weights. Given that, it wasn’t surprising to see college coaches all over Niskayuna High School, watching the action throughout the day. With six mats in two different gyms, we didn’t watch everything that took place, but here are some thoughts on the event:

(To see videos from the event, click this link).

Corey Rasheed, Frank Popolizio, Yianni Diakomihalis, Nick Piccininni; Courtesy of Adam Burgos

1. Not surprisingly, the undefeated state champions looked like …. undefeated state champions. The Most Outstanding Wrestler honors were awarded to Yianni Diakomihalis (113), Nick Piccininni (120) and Corey Rasheed (160).  All were impressive in going unbeaten and capturing titles.  Diakomihalis faced a tough field (see #2) but continued his winning ways, while Piccininni was in control throughout, including a 10-2 major in the finals against Florida’s Radley Gillis, an NHSCA National champion. Rasheed said that he didn’t feel 100% in his return from injuries, but you wouldn’t know it, as he topped New England champion Andrew Labrie and Fargo All-Americans Jesse Porter and Christian Stackhouse by a combined score of 21-5.  Fellow unbeaten New York gold medalist Rich Sisti cruised to the 225 title, while Louis Hernandez did the same at 152.  And Christian Dietrich, who joins the previously mentioned Empire State grapplers in the national rankings (at 170), went up to 195 pounds and still was in charge all the way through, with a technical fall, a pin and a 12-3 combined score in his other matches.

2. Any time a returning state champion finishes fourth, you know the weight is tough. That was the case at 113 pounds where Wantagh’s Kyle Quinn was defeated early in the day by East Islip’s Jesse Dellavecchia (fourth in New York at 99 in 2013).  Later on, fellow Nassau County grappler and NYS finalist Vito Arujau topped Quinn for bronze, 3-0.  That came after some other great bouts in the bracket, including a state championship rematch between Diakomihalis and Arujau. It’s too early to say whether all of those wrestlers will be at 113 during the high school season, but it was certainly fun to watch this weekend.

3. Those weren’t the only championship performances for New York. At the NUWAY Nationals on the Jersey Shore this summer, Matteo DeVincenzo won the title in a field that included New York placers such as Kelan McKenna and Theo Powers.  That was once again the case on Sunday, as the Port Jefferson state runner up captured a 106 “A” bracket full of heralded competitors, including McKenna and Powers as well as Super 32 Middle School silver medalist Peter Pappas and All-Stater Vinny Vespa.  In Sunday’s finals, DeVincenzo defeated Section 2’s Josh Logiudice, a state qualifier who will be a tough matchup for anyone in his senior season.  Logiudice picked up quality victories over Powers and Vespa.

And how about Connor Calkins of Alfred-Almond?  At the Times Union Center in February, he bested returning state finalist and top seed Alex Soutiere in the opening round of the state tournament and made the medal stand, grabbing fifth.  It looks like he’s ready to go even higher in 2014, as he won the 285 weight at Journeymen with a 6-3 triumph over national champion Jesse Webb of Vermont.

It would be fair to say it’s been a good week for Travis Passaro.  First, he committed to continue his career at Hofstra.  In Albany, he celebrated by winning a challenging weight which included state champion Alex Delacruz, New York placer Mike D’Angelo and All-Americans from out of state such as Kevin Jack and Zach Valley. He cruised in the title bout, 6-0, over Payton Shuford.

4. Several other wrestlers made statements.  One was Jakob Restrepo, who topped a pair of New York silver medalists – Frank Garcia and Brandon Lapi, as well as Pennsylvania state placer Jalen Palmer on his way to the finals in the 145 “A” bracket.  He lost in sudden victory there to New Jersey’s Gary Dinmore, one of the top 100 seniors in the nation according to Intermat.  Restrepo’s performance comes after a successful offseason in which he earned All-America honors in Cadet Freestyle at Fargo and won the Super 32 qualifier at Shippensburg. Another second placer, Sam Ward of Locust Valley, looked good on Sunday, beating multi-time New Jersey placer Joe Trovato as well as Florida medalist Anthony Petrone on his way to the 140 “A” title bout, where he was topped by NHSCA National champion Clay Walker of South Carolina.  He’ll be a contender in Division 2 this year after taking fifth last season at 132.

5. There were plenty of standout showings outside of the “A” brackets as well.  Hector and Tito Colom, who racked up significant victory totals at Dunkirk High last year, breezed through the competition on Sunday, winning all of their matches by bonus points on the way to crowns in the 106 and 113 “B” brackets, respectively.  Middleweights Jimmy Leach (140), Skylar Kropman (145) and Trevor Hoffmier (152) were all unbeaten. Leach went to the Suffolk County finals a year ago and Kropman placed at the Eastern States in 2013.  Both look ready for a breakthrough year as do returning state qualifiers Anthony DePrez (152) and Collin Pittman (182).  Ryan Kromer (160) has already made an appearance on the medal stand in Albany and looks prepared to do it again after beating fellow All-State wrestler Konstantin Parfiryev and qualifier Connor Lawrence at the Journeymen Classic. Jaison White, who won big over the weekend, also went undefeated at the Pop & Flo event in the spring and looks to be someone to keep an eye on at 170.

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