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

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

But it wasn’t easy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Few Additional (Random) Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

Wantagh Wins U-E Duals; Full Results Available

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

The coverage page will be at this link.

———————————————————————————————————————

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

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

Indeed, it should.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Here are three matchups we look forward to:

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

Cooksey, Photo by BV

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

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

 

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

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

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

Here are three of the many matches of interest:

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

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

Williams, Photo by BV

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

 

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

The coverage page will be at this link.

 

Live Stream to Begin at 5 for Windsor Christmas Tournament; Finals Matches Set

The live stream is now complete.  Thank you for your attendance.

Finals Results:

99 Pounds: John Arceri (Huntington) TF Collyn Shippos (Ithaca), 16-0

106 Pounds: Jimmy Overhiser (Corning) fall Kyle Mock (Huntington) :45

113 Pounds: Kyle Kelly (Chenango Forks) fall Dylan Wood (Walton) 1:12

120 Pounds: Nate Hayes (Windsor) dec Anthony Colon (Chenango Valley), 4-0

126 Pounds:  Corey Jamison (Huntington) dec William Koll (Lansing), 3-1

132 Pounds: Tristan Rifanburg (Norwich) fall Jesse Griswold (BGA), 1:52

138 Pounds: Connor Lapresi (Lansing) dec Justin Cirigliano (BGA), 8-4

145 Pounds: Brandon Mendez (Huntington) maj Trevor Parrish (Greene), 11-1

152 Pounds: Kyle Halladay (Chenango Valley) dec Dan Dickman (Greene), 3-2

160 Pounds: Mike Beckwith (Greene) dec Leland Slawson (Unatego), 4-0

170 Pounds: Christian Dietrich (Greene) TF Ryan Marszal (Unatego), 16-0

182 Pounds: Mike Beers (Walton) dec Andy Martinez (Liberty), 4-0

195 Pounds: Mark Viviano (BGA) fall Matt Brozovic (ME), 1:38

220 Pounds: Ryan Wolcott (Waverly) dec Nick Lupi (Huntington), 2-1

285 Pounds: Anthony Puca (Huntington) dec Andrew Brinser (Union Endicott), 3-0

Final Team Scores

1. Huntington 168

2. Greene 123

3. Canandaigua 115

4. Union Endicott 111

5  BGA 106

 

Section 4 Preview: State Champions Kelly, Lapresi, Koll and Rifanburg Look for More Titles; Williams for His First

Section 4 has nine 2012 All-State wrestlers returning, including former state champions Kyle Kelly, Connor Lapresi, William Koll and Tristan Rifanburg, as well as runner up Reggie Williams.  For the teams and wrestlers to watch in 2012-13, please read on.

Division I 

Returning State Placewinners (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Kyle Kelly, Chenango Forks, State Champion

106 Pounds: Jimmy Overhiser, Corning, Fourth Place

182 Pounds: James Benjamin, Vestal, Fifth Place

195 Pounds: Reggie Williams, Johnson City, Second Place

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

113 Pounds: Jake Green, Chenango Forks

120 Pounds: Richie Burke, Ithaca

126 Pounds: Brock Post, Maine-Endwell

132 Pounds: Curtis Grant, Elmira

138 Pounds: Trevor Hoffmier, Newark Valley

152 Pounds: Greg Kleinsmith, Johnson City

160 Pounds: Zach Colgan, Johnson City

 

Leading the Way:

Kyle Kelly, Photo by Boris V

Let’s start with two-time titlewinner Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks.  Kelly boasted a perfect 37-0 junior season with 31 wins by bonus points.  His dominance wasn’t limited to the regular season, as he outscored his opponents in Albany 17-3 and also recorded a pin.  The Section 4 standout, who took fourth as a freshman, will try to finish his career as a Blue Devil with three straight times at the top of the podium at the Times Union Center, likely up a weight or two.

Reggie Williams of Johnson City isn’t a state champion … yet.  But he’ll be favored to get his first title this year. Williams has been one of the top upperweights in the state since his freshman season.  In his ninth grade year, he was sixth in Albany and as a sophomore, he took a few more steps forward, notching second in the Empire State after going 40-3 with all three losses coming to New York champion Tony Fusco of Shenendehowa. To learn more about Reggie Williams, see the link here.

James Benjamin rarely needed a full six minutes for his matches last season. The Vestal wrestler went 38-3 a year ago with 32 pins.  In fact, he won four bouts at the state tournament on his way to fifth place and all four victories were by fall (and all in less than three minutes).  As the highest returning placer from the 182-pound bracket in Albany, Benjamin will have a good chance to end his career at or near the top of the podium.

Jimmy Overhiser, Photo by Boris V

Also looking to step up higher on the medal stand is Jimmy Overhiser, who racked up a 31-4 mark on the way to fourth at 106 pounds and who participated in some high profile offseason events, such as the Disney Duals with Team New York Kong in Florida.

 

Also Keep an Eye On . . .

Reggie Williams isn’t the only person to watch on the Johnson City squad.  He is surrounded by quality wrestlers, including returning qualifiers Greg Kleinsmith (26-10 as a freshman 152 pounder) and Zach Colgan (39-8 at 160 pounds with a pin over Fox Lane’s Matt Pasqualini in Albany).  Winning Section 4 titles meant more than just a trip to the state tournament for Colgan and Kleinsmith last year.  According to head coach Jordan Glenn, both made “family history” as their fathers and/or uncles had wrestled for the Wildcats in the past and had come close to capturing Section crowns, but hadn’t quite achieved the feat.  Glenn believes that both will win more matches this year in Albany, and also has high hopes for a number of young wrestlers on the squad, including another Colgan (Isaiah), who won over 20 matches as an eighth grader at 99 pounds.

Jake Green (Chenango Forks) – Kyle Kelly is unlikely to be the only person racking up points for Chenango Forks this year in the postseason. Jake Green went 1-2 at the state championships in 2012, but he did so with a very challenging draw. His three matches were against the top two seeds in the bracket (Mark Raghunandan and Corey Jamison) and the eventual champion, Dylan Realbuto.  Green was in every match, defeating Jamison, while dropping a 6-4 decision to Realbuto and a three-pointer to Raghunandan.  He proved he could hang with some of the best and will look to get over the top in 2013.

“He was good enough to place last year but faced some really tough wrestlers in a strong weight class,” said Union Endicott coach Josh Ruff.  “He put in the time after the season and I would be really surprised if he didn’t place this year.”

Richie Burke (Ithaca) – As a ninth grader, Burke made his second trip to wrestle at the Times Union Center.  He capped off a 29-7 year by going 1-2, losing to the fourth and fifth place finishers. Four of his other setbacks during the season came to qualifier Jake Green (three times) and state champion William Koll, while he registered a victory over Division II qualifier Nate Hayes of Windsor.  Burke will look to build off victories such as that one in his sophomore season.

Trevor Hoffmier and Derek Holcomb (Newark Valley) – As a sophomore, Hoffmier compiled an impressive 28-4 mark with 18 pins.  In Albany, he began with a loss against runner up Alexis Blanco of Section 11 but rebounded with a victory before a one-point setback against Section 1’s Tom Grippi ended the competition for him.  However, he and teammate Derek Holcomb should once again form a formidable duo in the Newark Valley lineup.  Holcomb, who had over 30 wins in 2011-12, recorded several quality victories, including one over All-State wrestler Dan Dickman from Greene.  In addition, Holcomb made the medal stand at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach.  He hopes to add to his accolades in February in the state capital.

“They’re both really talented kids,” Ruff said.  “I could see both of them winning matches at the state tournament.  Holcomb got caught up in a tough match at Sectionals and got upset, but he has a great chance of getting to Albany this year.”

Alex Francik (Vestal) – As a 152-pound junior, Francik sported a 34-2 record, with 23 pins and only six regular decisions.  He defeated Greg Kleinsmith 7-5 in late January before the Johnson City wrestler returned the favor with a one-point win in the Section tournament.   In his final high school season, Francik will look to take the next step to the state championships.

 

The Team Race . . .

Union-Endicott ran away with the Division I team title in 2012 by over 40 points with tremendous balance – 13 wrestlers were fourth or higher in their weight class (and two others competed in the fifth place tilt).  Ten of those grapplers are back, including second place finisher Mikey Carr (106) and third place medalist Heze Morgan (120).  In addition, fourth placers Kyle Hughes, Xavian Hughes, Nathan Bomysoad and Lucas Depofi are slated to take the mat again.

Ruff believes that many of those wrestlers are ready for breakout years. Bomysoad, for example, earned 30 wins at 152 pounds, including a victory over Greg Kleinsmith (who won the rematch).  Ruff believes he is ready to take the next step.

“Nate wrestles so hard,” the coach said. “His work ethic is incredible and he showed he could beat high caliber kids last year.”  Two of the many other wrestlers Ruff believes are ready to compete at a higher level are Zack Bendick, who won over 20 matches as a freshman and Xavian Hughes, who took fourth in the Section as a sophomore at 132 pounds.

“I’m confident that Xavian can wrestle with anyone in the section on his feet.  If he improves on the mat, he could qualify for states.  And Bendick is very talented.  He has improved so much since last season and is ready to wrestle the top caliber guys.”

All of those returners will certainly put significant points on the board, but sizable scoring was lost with the departure of Section champions Richie Lupo and Tyler Bayer as well as Jordan Billet (second), Tyler Hubbert (third) and Tyler Allen (third).  In addition, 2012 Section 4 runner up at 160 pounds, Sammy Davis, suffered an injury in football that will keep him out at least until January.  Those losses will open the door for challengers such as last year’s runner up and third place team, Vestal and Johnson City, respectively.

“We were very well balanced last year,” Ruff said. “We didn’t really have superstars, but we had a tough guy in every weight class.  This year is a little different. We bring back Lucas Depofi at 220 but we graduated most of our other upperweights and now with Sammy Davis’s injury, we’re a little thin there.  We do feel, though, that we’re stacked in the lightweights and middleweights and we do bring back a lot of points.  I think if we continue to work really hard, we’ll be challenging for the title at the section tournament.”

Reggie Williams, Photo by Boris V

Also clearly in the mix is Johnson City, which has significant firepower. The squad is led by the trio discussed above: Reggie Williams, Zach Colgan and Greg Kleinsmith.  In addition, four wrestlers who lost only once at the Section tournament a year ago, juniors Anthony Johns, Joseph Hamdan and Conner Halladay as well as freshman Isaiah Colgan, will look to improve upon their showings.  Meanwhile, Corey McCormick, Nick Bidwell, Joshua Dember and Nikola Cejic will bring experience to the table.  Reggie Williams spoke with excitement about his squad’s potential in 2012-13.

“We have a great coaching staff and a great team,” Williams said. “We’re better than people think.  The sky’s the limit for us at Johnson City.”

Union Endicott and Johnson City will be tested by Vestal, which returns six wrestlers who were top four a year ago, including All-Stater James Benjamin. The Golden Bears graduated 220-pound state qualifier Anthony Osman and fourth placer Andre Strano, but will be a threat with Alex Francik, heavyweight Juwin Jumpp and young up and comers Robert Mastronardi (third at 126 as a freshman), Owen Jarrold (third at 132 in ninth grade) and Hunter Beck (fourth at 106 as an eighth grader).  Other experienced wrestlers who competed in the fifth place bouts last year such as Alex Crostley, Tom Flynn, Collin Vangordon and David Gardner will try to push Vestal higher in the race.

Newark Valley has some heavy hitters to account for, including returning champion Trevor Hoffmier and other top three placers Vinnie Darpino, Dan Geisenhof and Derek Holcomb.

While Union Endicott won the section by a significant number of points a year ago, a 40-point margin between first and second seems a lot less likely this year.

 

Division II

Returning State Placewinners (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Joe Nelson, Oxford, Third Place

113 Pounds: William Koll, Lansing, Third Place

126 Pounds: Tristan Rifanburg, Norwich, Sixth Place

132 Pounds: Connor Lapresi, Lansing, State Champion

152 Pounds: Dan Dickman, Greene, Fourth Place

 

Additional Returning State Qualifiers (from 2012)

99 Pounds: Dylan Wood, Walton

106 Pounds: Sean Ballard, Whitney Point

113 Pounds: Nate Hayes, Windsor

120 Pounds: Austin Ryan, Unatego

132 Pounds: Frank Garcia, Norwich

145 Pounds: Kyle Halladay, Chenango Valley

160 Pounds: Mike Beckwith, Greene

170 Pounds: Ryan Wolcott, Waverly

182 Pounds: Mike Beers, Walton

195 Pounds: Mark Viviano, Bainbridge-Guilford-Afton

220 Pounds: Dillon Hurlbert, Marathon

 

Top Wrestlers:

Senior Connor Lapresi of Lansing is looking to end his high school career with a second consecutive state crown before heading off to Bucknell.  After avenging his only regular season loss (to Wesley Blanding) in the semifinals in Albany, Lapresi controlled the finals against Curt Rowley to end his junior campaign with a gold medal.  Lapresi hasn’t limited his wrestling success to the Empire State, as he was an All-American in Virginia Beach at both the NHSCA Freshman and Sophomore Nationals in 2010 and 2011.

William Koll, Photo by Boris V

Lapresi isn’t the only Bobcats grappler with title aspirations.  Teammate William Koll has made the medal stand in both of his appearances at the state tournament.  As a freshman, he captured the 103-pound crown with a fall over multiple-time state placer Trey Aslanian of Edgemont.  This past February, Koll took third at 113 pounds in a bracket that featured at least five past medalists.   He also was the New York State Greco Roman and Freestyle champion in May, winning both brackets in dominant fashion.  Additionally, Koll has demonstrated his national competitiveness on multiple occasions, with strong performances at the Disney Duals and a runner up finish at the NHSCA Freshman Nationals in 2011.

Tristan Rifanburg also knows what it’s like to place second nationally, as he did just that at the NHSCA Freshman tournament this spring.  That showing came after the Norwich wrestler earned his third consecutive medal in Albany, taking sixth in a deep 126-pound class.  Rifanburg will look to get back to a familiar place in 2013 at the Times Union Center – the Saturday night finals.  He was a state champion as a seventh grader at 96 pounds and a runner up a year later.  For all his accomplishments, Intermat has Rifanburg ranked as the #45 sophomore in the country.

Joe Nelson, Photo by Boris V

Section 4 offers a number of other wrestlers who can challenge for top billing this season in Albany.  Joe Nelson of Oxford entered the state tournament as the top seed last year and after absorbing an upset to eventual runner up Nick Casella of Locust Valley, bounced back to earn third place.  Greene’s Dan Dickman also lost his second bout at the Times Union Center last year at 152 pounds, but came back to take fourth.

But other than those who were All-State before, here are some other wrestlers to keep tabs on this year . . .

Lightweights and Middleweights:

Austin Ryan (Unatego) – In his freshman season, Ryan picked up over 30 wins and made an appearance at the state tournament, where he went 1-2.  Scott Stafford, who handed him four of his losses, has graduated and one Section 4 coach mentioned that he believes Ryan is primed for a breakout year.  Unatego teammate Codie Nichols is another wrestler who could have a big campaign after going 37-6 last season.

Frank Garcia (Norwich) – The Norwich wrestler had a strong ninth grade season at 132 pounds, racking up a 36-5 mark with 11 falls and coming within one win of becoming All-State in Albany.  Garcia dropped multiple close decisions to state champion Connor Lapresi, including a 3-2 result in the quarterfinals at the Times Union Center.  The medal stand seems within the sophomore’s reach this season.

Jordan Torbitt (Whitney Point) – Torbitt wasn’t intimidated as an eighth grade middleweight, compiling a 29-6 record with 14 pins at 145 and 152 pounds.  Half of his losses were close decisions against wrestlers who placed in the top five at the state tournament – Dan Dickman of Greene, Wesley Blanding of Chittenango and Isaiah Riccio of Beaver River.  After the tough competition during the season, Torbitt excelled on the national stage, winning the NHSCA Middle School national title at 154 pounds in Virginia.  He will be a freshman to watch.

Kyle Halliday (Chenango Valley) – The senior boasted a 33-3 record in 2012, with 29 victories coming by bonus points.  He injury defaulted out of the state tournament after an opening round defeat, but registered several quality wins during course of the year, including over state qualifiers JT Romagnoli, Tyler Spann (twice), Greg Kleinsmith, and Richie Lupo.

And moving into the higher weights . . .

Mike Beckwith (Greene) – Beckwith faced a number of setbacks in an abbreviated 20-2 season in 2011-12.  However, he was able to get back on the mat for the Section 4 tournament, where he was completely in control of his bouts with two pins and two major decisions.  He has the talent to be on the podium, and although he dropped a pair of two-point matches at the state tournament this past year, he will be looking for more in 2013.

“Mike had a tough year,” Greene coach Tim Jenks said. “First an injury, then a car accident. He only had 11 days of practice between Christmas and the Section finals.  It’s amazing that he won the Section with so little practice.  What hurt him at the states was his conditioning.  In the close matches, he just didn’t have the gas.  We believe he’ll have a great year.”

Christian Dietrich (Greene) – Dietrich has the potential to be one of the Section’s best as he is set to return from a knee injury that kept him out for the 2011-12 campaign.  He accomplished the rare feat of placing in the middleweights as a seventh grader as he took sixth at 152 at the 2011 state tournament.  Now an upperweight who may compete anywhere from 170 to 195 according to Jenks, he is ready to pick up from where he left off two years ago and ascend higher on the podium as a freshman.  Jenks also mentioned that junior Joel Roselle may open some eyes this year after a solid sophomore season where he took third in the Section. “It was the first time he wrestled in a while,” Jenks said.  “He’ll be back and he’ll be tough at 170 or 182.”

While Greene offers some tough wrestlers like Beckwith, Dietrich and Roselle in the upperweights, they’ll have plenty of competition in the Section as three returning top 8 wrestlers will take the mat – Mike Beers, Ryan Wolcott and Dillon Hurlbert, as will qualifier Mark Viviano.

Mike Beers (Walton) – Keegan Cerwinski was a bit of nemesis for Beers last year, handing him three losses. Still, Greene coach Jenks was impressed with what Beers showed in those bouts and pointed to him as a wrestler to watch in 2012-13. The Walton grappler notched 28 victories, including 19 pins and came within one win of earning All-State honors in Albany after he dropped a 2-1 decision in his last bout at the Times Union Center.

Ryan Wolcott (Waverly) – Wolcott didn’t get an easy road in Albany, going 2-2 with both of his losses to top three finishers (Nick Mitchell and Burke Paddock).  Wolcott and Paddock were the only entrants at 170 pounds that weren’t juniors or seniors.  He’ll have a great opportunity to get on the podium this time.

Dillon Hurlbert (Marathon) – Like Beers and Wolcott, Hurlbert split his four matches at the state tournament.  He was third in Section 4, but there was no shame in that, as he stood behind state champion Kyle Stanton and fourth place finisher Nick Talcott.  As a junior, the Marathon wrestler went 40-8 with more than 25 pins.  With only three of the top 8 competitors at 220 pounds returning, he will have a good chance to end his career with a medal.

Not to be forgotten is fellow upperweight Mark Viviano from Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton, who got a wildcard bid to Albany.  He had close to 30 wins, including a victory over state qualifier Kegan Levesque in the Section 4 tournament after losing to him the previous week. With the graduation of Ryan Todd, who defeated Viviano twice, including at the Times Union Center, Viviano will be expected to make a return trip to the state capital.

 

Division II Team Race . . .

Greene, the returning champion, lost All-Staters Keegan Cerwinski and Kyle Stanton to the college ranks.  But the Trojans, who won the Section 4 title by 13.5 points, will enter the campaign as the favorites as they bring back gold medalists Dan Dickman and Mike Beckwith as well as three other placers – Brendan Wheeler (third at 106), Joel Roselle (third at 170) and Trevor Parrish (fifth at 138). The addition of Christian Dietrich will also be significant.

“We have great kids coming back, including some who missed last year with injuries,” Jenks said.  “I think we should be the team to beat, but we do have some questions. I’m not sure whether we’ll have a 99 pounder and we need to figure out some things with our lineup.  We have a lot of great kids in the same weight classes and we’re not sure yet how we’re going to iron it out.  I look forward to a great year.”

Who can challenge Greene for the title?  The list of possibilities is long.

Connor Lapresi, Photo by Boris V

There are teams that are lead by a few top-notch wrestlers, such as Lansing and Norwich, the second and third place teams in 2012, respectively.  The Bobcats feature state champions William Koll and Connor Lapresi as well as freshman Greg Lee, who was fourth at 106 as an eighth grader.  However, they will have to replace the points of standouts Ryan Todd and Corey Dake.

As for Norwich, Rifanburg and Garcia will tally significant points, but they, like Lansing, lost substantial points in the form of four graduated Section placers.

Jenks mentioned a pair of teams that could challenge on the strength of a number of wrestlers that saw success in last year’s postseason – Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton and Unatego.  Bainbridge offers a solid team, with five of its six Section placers returning, including runner up Mark Viviano and a trio of fourth placers – Austin Carr, Justin Cirigliano, and Jesse Griswold.

Unatego had three finalists a year ago and all three are back – Austin Ryan, Kevin Thayer and Codie Nichols.  When you add Ryan Marszal (third at 145), Leland Slawson (fourth at 152) and Lucas DeJoy (sixth at 132) into the mix, it seems likely that the team can improve upon its eighth place showing.

Also looking to make its mark again is Chenango Valley, led by Kyle Halliday and a pair of sophomores – Anthony Colon and Billy Liberati, and Tioga with five 2012 Section medalists, including fourth placers Kaleb Stone and Tyler Spires.

Special thanks to all the coaches and wrestlers who contributed to this story.

 

More Season Previews:

Section 1 Preview

Section 3 Preview

Section 4 Preview

Section 7 Preview

Section 8 Preview

Section 9 Preview

CHSAA Preview

 

Season Preview Features (more to come):

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 11 Feature: Nick Piccininni Looks to Continue Winning Streak