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Division 1 State Tournament Recap: What Stood Out Over the Weekend

By BV, 03/03/15, 7:00PM EST

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Here are some of the things that stood out to us in Division 1 during an incredible weekend of wrestling in Albany.  Keep an eye out for the Division 2 article, which will be on the way.

Congratulations to all the wrestlers who took the mat. We're already looking forward to next year!

PICCININNI EARNS HIS FOURTH; SEVERAL REPEAT AS CHAMPS

There were numerous outstanding achievements at the Times Union Center over the weekend.

One such accomplishment took place when Ward Melville's Nick Piccininni earned his fourth state championship on Saturday night, beating a tough nationally-ranked opponent, Ben Lamantia of St. Anthony's, 3-1 in a hard fought match.  Piccininni, who overcame an ankle injury at the league and county tournaments earlier this month, lost just once at the state championships during his career. He finished as a third placer in eighth grade and a champion during his freshman, sophomore, junior and senior seasons. He is now part of a small and elite group of wrestlers with four NYS crowns.

Looking to join that club next year is Hilton's Yianni Diakomihalis, who won his third New York championship in dominant fashion, as a sophomore.

Two other individuals earned state titles for the second time on Saturday night - Jacori Teemer of Long Beach (106) and Vito Arujau of Syosset (132).

HILTON MAKES IT TWO IN A ROW


Photo by BV

It was a great weekend for the Cadets, as Yianni Diakomihalis won championship #3 and Louie DePrez also earned a title (at 160), while Hilton repeated as the team champions in convincing fashion.  The future continues to look very bright for Hilton with Diakomihalis, DePrez and 113-pound sixth placer Austin Hertel all in their sophomore seasons, along with Mike Spallina, who went 2-2 at 170. Some talented young wrestlers are also ready to make strong contributions in 2015-16. (Hobie Strassner and Joe Fuino finished their careers for Hilton in Albany).

Minisink Valley nabbed second, 19 points behind the Cadets, while Ward Melville grabbed third with just two wrestlers in the field - champions Nick Piccininni and Christian Araneo.

SUFFOLK STANDS OUT AGAIN

Six different Sections earned state titles in Division 1 this year. Sections 1, 2 and 10 all featured one champ, while Section 8 had two and Section 5 boasted three.

Leading the pack was Suffolk County, which had seven champions and close to 20 additional placers. Not surprisingly, Section 11 outdistanced runner up Section 8 by more than 130 points in the Section race.

A FIRST ROUND LOSS ISN'T THE END . . .

Quite a few wrestlers dropped their opening round match, but strung together several wins to make the podium. Their efforts are worth mentioning below:

Michael Gonyea (Columbia) - fourth at 99

Ed Matyka (Riverhead) - fourth at 120

Sam Goldman (Port Washington) - fifth at 126

Raeco Jackson (Westbury) - sixth at 126

James Szymanski (Shoreham-Wading River) - fourth at 132

Naquan Warren (Farmingdale) - sixth at 138

Mike Dinardo (Mahopac) - fourth at 182

Nikola Cejic (Johnson City) - sixth at 285

YOUNG ... BUT NOT INTIMIDATED

Six of the Division 1 champions are seniors, meaning nine 2015 titlewinners are expected back next year.  Three of them are juniors (John Arceri, Kevin Parker and Christian Araneo), while another three are sophomores (Yianni Diakomihalis, Vito Arujau and Louie DePrez).  Jacori Teemer and Frankie Gissendanner represented the freshman class atop the medal stand, while two-time finalist Adam Busiello won his first crown as an eighth grader.

TOP RANKED WRESTLERS GET IT DONE

Of the 15 state champions, 12 were the highest ranked Division 1 wrestler in our last state rankings release on February 5. Nolan Terrance (Massena) was the second-ranked Division 1 wrestler at heavyweight, while Louie DePrez (Hilton) was third at 160 among D1 wrestlers and John Arceri (Huntington) was fifth.

Now, let's take a quick look at each weight.

99 POUNDS


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The Champion: Adam Busiello finished second in NYS a year ago as a seventh grader, but this year, there was no stopping him. The Eastport-South Manor middle schooler cruised through the event, beginning with technical falls in his first three matches before an 11-1 major in the finals against another eighth grader who made the podium for the second time - Benny Baker of Newark Valley.

And Also: Our top five wrestlers in the last rankings article in Division 1 were Busiello, Baker, Mitchell Seaver of Lockport, Kyle Mosher of South Side and Michael Gonyea of Columbia. Those wrestlers took the top five spots on the medal stand (although Gonyea was fourth and Mosher took fifth). Grabbing the last spot on the podium was Justin Lopez of Yonkers, who made his presence felt in the tournament. A wildcard entry out of Section 1, Lopez edged Gonyea in the opening round and then beat the tough Kevin Meloni of Shoreham-Wading River to earn a spot in the semis against Busiello.

106 POUNDS


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The Champion: Jacori Teemer of Long Beach is now a two-time champion, as mentioned above. He certainly had a difficult bracket to navigate, with four nationally-ranked grapplers in the field plus another returning placer. Despite that, Teemer looked strong off the bat, with two pins and a major in his first three bouts before a 4-3 ultimate tiebreaker victory over Hauppauge's Jake Silverstein in the title match.

And Also: We mentioned that there were four wrestlers in the national polls in this class. In addition to Teemer and Silverstein, Deer Park's Tommy Cox nabbed third and New Hartford's Kelan McKenna notched fifth. McKenna dropped a consolation bout to North Babylon's Anthony Sparacio, who earned fourth in the state capital for the second consecutive year. Sparacio had some tight battles with Cox, losing in sudden victory in the quarterfinals and then in the tiebreakers in the bronze bout.  North Rockland's Anthony Sulla turned his first trip to the state tournament into an All-State performance, grabbing sixth.

113 POUNDS


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The Champion: The third time was the charm for Huntington's John Arceri. He competed in Albany in 2013 and 2014, winning a combined two matches. This weekend was a different story. Arceri won a number of close bouts with tough opponents during the season and he continued that theme, topping Phil Spadafora of Half Hollow Hills East in a rematch of the Suffolk title tilt in the quarters, edging Hilton's Austin Hertel in double overtime and defeating John Jay East Fishkill's Jay Albis in the tiebreakers in the gold medal bout.  Albis had an excellent tournament as well, denying Wantagh's Kyle Quinn a third-straight trip to the finals with a semifinals victory.  (Quinn took third).

And Also: Two 2014 state placers, Tito Colom of St. Francis and Jemone Carter of Niagara Falls were kept off the podium this time around in a deep bracket. Colom was beaten in round one by the previously mentioned Phil Spadafora, who wound up taking fifth. Arceri and Spadafora were joined by a third Suffolk grappler, Anthony Cirillo of Rocky Point (fourth), on the medal stand.

120 POUNDS


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The Champion: Yianni Diakomihalis made it three straight undefeated state championship seasons in a row when he dominated his way to the 120 pound title. He recorded three pins and a major decision and earned Most Outstanding Wrestler honors for Division 1 . . . and he still has two-plus years of high school remaining before heading to Cornell.

And Also: Diakomihalis met a familiar opponent in the title match - Plainview's Peter Pappas. The two wrestled for the 106-pound crown a year ago.

Both Gerard Daly of Minisink Valley and Ed Matyka of Riverhead delivered upsets in the finals of their state qualifiers. Daly topped Monroe Woodbury's Vinny Vespa (who took fifth), while Matyka won the Suffolk County title match despite entering the third period with a 5-0 deficit. Matyka showed he was ready to go right away in a battle with Pappas in the opening round (a 5-4 Pappas victory). From there, Matyka won four straight in the consolations, including two wins over returning state qualifiers and one over a 2014 placer. His streak was stopped in the bronze match by Daly, who lost only to Diakomihalis on his path to third place. Kenmore West's Anthony Argentieri grabbed sixth.

126 POUNDS


Photo by BV

The Champion: We talked above about Nick Piccininni picking up his fourth title. The future Oklahoma State grappler began with a pair of technical falls on Friday, then topped eventual third placer Anthony Orefice of Lockport, 9-3, in the semifinals before the finals match with Ben Lamantia mentioned previously. Lamantia was also dominant on the way to the title match, with a technical fall and two wins over 2014 state placers - Mitchell Woodworth of Fulton and Parker Kropman of Penfield (who grabbed fourth).

And Also: Anthony Orefice had third and fourth place finishes under his belt early on, but hadn't been on the podium in Albany since his freshman year. The senior ended his high school wrestling career by collecting another medal - bronze.

The wrestler Orefice beat in round one, Sam Goldman of Port Washington, went on to win three in a row in the wrestlebacks before losing to Orefice again. Goldman impressed in his final high school tournament, nabbing fifth by defeating fellow Nassau grappler Raeco Jackson of Westbury in his last bout.

132 POUNDS


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The Champion: Vito Arujau of Syosset went up three weights after winning the state title at 113 pounds last year, but the result was the same. Arujau picked up a technical fall and two pins in his first three matches before defeating Jesse Dellavecchia of East Islip 11-6 in the finale.  Dellavecchia, now a two-time NYS runner up, will wrestle next at Binghamton after an outstanding senior campaign.

And Also: While Da'mani Burns of Newburgh Free Academy notched his second state medal after a third place showing, the wrestler he beat in the bronze bout, James Szymanski of Shoreham-Wading River, picked up All-State accolades for the first time, in his debut in Albany. He split contests during the weekend with Evan Barczak of Monroe Woodbury, a sophomore who nabbed sixth in his third visit to the state capital, while Dempsey King of New Hartford ended his high school career with a fifth place showing.

138 POUNDS


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The Champion: When you watch Frankie Gissendanner of Penfield, it's easy to forget that he's a freshman. Early in the championship match with Mike D'Angelo of Commack, Gissendanner was awarded two points, but that lead was taken off the board after a referee discussion. However, Gissendanner didn't let that bother him as he defeated the nationally-ranked D'Angelo in overtime for the second time this year to complete an undefeated state championship campaign as a ninth grader.

And Also: D'Angelo, a three-time placer going to Princeton, wrestled tough in Albany once again, beating two-time third placer Brad Wade of Islip in the semis in a rematch of the Section 11 title bout. Richie Burke of Ithaca also repeated last year's performance, notching fourth for the second consecutive year. Ricky Stamm of Division suffered his first two losses of the year, but grabbed fifth, beating fellow Nassau wrestler Naquan Warren of Farmingdale in his final contest. 

Gissendanner has three years of high school competition left, while Stamm and Round of 8 finisher Brady Robin of Arlington will be wrestlers to watch next season as well.

145 POUNDS


Photo by BV

The Champion: Tommy Dutton of Rocky Point won his first round match 9-3 on Friday morning - and that was his closest bout. Dutton, a three-time placer headed to Harvard, made his first finals appearance count, with a 10-2 major on Saturday night. He finished with two majors and a pin during the event and had a perfect record in his senior campaign.

And Also: At the Union-Endicott Duals in early January, Minisink Valley's Mike Raccioppi battled Dutton in a 4-3 loss.  After that match, one of the coaches in the gym said he thought there could be a rematch in the state finals - and there was. Raccioppi had come up just short of the podium in the past, but didn't let it happen this time, beating the second and third seeds (Jake Einbinder of Bethpage and Danny Murphy of Ketcham) on his path to the finals.

Raccioppi took second in the state - and also in Section 9. Ryan Ferro of Warwick won that Section title and lost only to Dutton over the weekend on his way to third. (Ferro, who missed placing by one match a year ago up at 152, topped Einbinder in his final match of the weekend). 

Ferro is a sophomore and will return next season, along with fifth placer Jack Taddeo of Shoreham-Wading River, a junior.

152 POUNDS


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The Champion: Jakob Restrepo of Sachem East made no secret about his disappointment after taking second place at the NYS tournament a year ago. There was no disappointment this time around, as he finished off his career with a state title at the end of an undefeated season. 

And Also: Restrepo has had multiple close matches with 2014 placer Jesse Porter of Shenendehowa over the past year. While some anticipated one more bout between them on Saturday night, Fairport's Anthony Bell prevented that when he topped Porter in the semifinals in the ultimate tiebreaker. Porter nabbed third, beating Warwick Valley's Thomas Wightman in the bronze bout.  Great Neck South's Elias Kokalis ended a strong senior campaign when he notched sixth. 

In fact, five of the six podium spots were taken by seniors. The lone returner is Victor's Tristan Ierlan, who lost to Porter but then won three times in the consolations - over returning qualifiers Kirk Feeney of Lockport, Matt Porrello of John Glenn and against Kokalis. Ierlan may have entered a little under the radar but won't be going into next season.

160 POUNDS


Photo by BV

The Champion: Going into the tournament, many saw this as a four-person race among returning state placers Blaise Benderoth of North Rockland, Louie DePrez of Hilton and Chris Mauriello of Hauppauge as well as John Glenn's Brandon Aviles. DePrez dropped close bouts to Aviles and Benderoth at the Eastern States Classic, but in the semifinals and title bout, he avenged both, with 4-1 and 7-3 decisions, to earn gold. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, there was at least one DePrez brother in the finals (Vincent and Anthony). Louie DePrez kept the trend going this year after he grabbed bronze as a freshman a year ago.

And Also: Benderoth finished off an excellent career with his runner up finish, while Aviles bounced back from his only loss to a New York wrestler this year to nab third. Addrian Ferrarie of Mount St. Michael made his last NYS high school tournament a memorable one, including a win over Mauriello on his way to fourth. 

Meanwhile, Mauriello, the sixth placer who was a 2014 state champion, will be back next season, along with DePrez and Minisink Valley's AJ Aeberli, who took fifth to cap off a tremendous campaign. Also look out for Ballston Spa's Tyler Barnes, who made the Round of 8 as a freshman.

170 POUNDS


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The Champion: As we said in our preview, Kevin Parker of Shenendehowa competed in the state capital multiple times before, but had yet to get in the win column. That changed on Friday morning and he just kept on going, outscoring his four opponents 22-5 on the way to gold. In the title match, Parker defeated Clarence's Nate Schwab for the fourth time of the year.

And Also: We'll be seeing a number of the top performers in this class again in 2015-16. In addition to Parker, Indian River's Sonny McPherson (fourth), Eastchester's Nunzio Crowley (fifth) and Huntington's Joseph Puca (sixth) are all juniors, while Round of 8 grappler Mike Spallina of Hilton is a sophomore. McPherson made the podium for the first time in his third appearance in Albany after besting returning placer Quinn Zsido of Cornwall in the "blood round", while Crowley lost to Puca on the front side of the bracket, before defeating him in the medal round. Francisco Bisono was one of multiple placers for Hauppauge after earning third.

182 POUNDS


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The Champion: David Hamil of Deer Park had a spectacular season at 182 pounds and capped it off with a state title and his second All-State performance. Hamil had just one setback all year - by one point to nationally-ranked Christian Dietrich of Wyoming Seminary, and was in control the whole way in Albany, winning all his matches by at least five points.  That's the margin he beat two strong seniors with in the semis and finals, Tom Lane of Garden City and Jake Ashcraft of Burnt Hills. They were the third and second place finishers, respectively.

And Also: Making a strong run to fourth was an unseeded junior, Mike Dinardo of Mahopac. After losing to Ashcraft in the first round, Dinardo impressed with a major and seven-point decision over solid foes Tyreek Bromley of Long Beach and Marcus Bisono of Hauppauge. He'll be someone to watch next year. A pair of seniors who faced each other multiple times this year, Richie Jones of St. Joseph's Collegiate and Ryan Schlager of Clarence, took the fifth and sixth slots.

195 POUNDS


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The Champion: Christian Araneo of Ward Melville didn't place in Section 11 last year. But his performances in the offseason, including at Fargo and the Super 32, showed he was ready to do some damage in his junior season. And he did, losing just once (to Division 2 champ Nathanael Rose of Eagle Academy) in the Eastern States finals on the way to a NYS crown. 

And Also: Araneo was entertaining to watch as he piled up bonus points throughout the year, as did his finals opponent, Nick McShea of Monroe Woodbury. Although he was the sixth seed, McShea's run to Saturday night's title match wasn't surprising, as he's been ranked in the top 4 in the state all year long. Araneo and McShea are both juniors and will be among the top upperweights in NY again next season. Joining them will be another 11th grader, Brockport's Cameron Caldarelli, who nabbed fourth and finished the campaign with just two losses.

Peter Pjetri of Suffern topped Caldarelli for third, after winning four straight in the wrestlebacks. Meanwhile, another pair of seniors took the fifth and sixth spots - Jake Braunscheidel of St. Francis and Andrew Rakitzis of Plainedge. Braunscheidel made a move up to 195 after spending most of the season at 182, a move that certainly paid off. Meanwhile, Rakitzis trailed 7-2 in the Nassau County finals before storming back with a pin. Once he earned his ticket to Albany, he took full advantage, upsetting #2 seed Chris Goudy of Queensbury on his way to the podium.

 

220 POUNDS


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The Champion: Youssif Hemida of Mamaroneck has been a standout, both on the national stage and in New York State, in the past year. He finished off his high school career in fitting fashion, winning his first NYS title. Hemida defeated a very familiar opponent in the title bout - Vin Feola of Walt Whitman.  Feola ends his high school career with two runner up showings in Albany.

And Also: Tyler Hudson of Whitesboro was in our rankings throughout the year and showed why in the state capital, with a number of quality wins, including two over fourth placer Mike Newman of Monsignor Farrell, on the path to bronze.  Taking the fifth and sixth spots were Brock Cvijanovich of Horace Greeley and Anthony DiMatteo of Sachem North, making all six medalists seniors.

285 POUNDS


Photo by BV

The Champion: In the past two seasons, Massena's Nolan Terrance had just three losses. One was to 2014 NYS champ James O'Hagan of Seaford in a 9-7 match and the other two were overtime bouts against John Glenn's Edwin Rubio. Terrance got the rematch with Rubio he was looking for on Saturday night and this time, he came out on top, winning their third overtime contest by a 2-1 score. Terrance, a future Buffalo heavyweight, said afterwards that he was the first finalist from his school in almost 30 years.

And Also: Rubio, who sat in the top spot in our state rankings this season, will be back after taking silver and capturing the Eastern States crown with an impressive victory over nationally-ranked Michael Rogers of Wyoming Seminary. The wrestler who beat him for the Suffolk title, Sean Dee of Sachem East, nabbed fifth.

In the mix to challenge Rubio for top honors next year will be Irondequoit's Cameron Rohr, who grabbed bronze with his only loss in a 1-0 match with Terrance. Rohr ended with an exclamation point, pinning two-time state placer Erik Jessell of Carthage in the third place contest. Another Section 3 wrestler to look out for next year could be David Carnie of Liverpool, who fell to Terrance in the opening round but responded with two wins to make the Round of 8 before losing to sixth placer Nikola Cejic of Johnson City.

14 OUT OF 15 CORRECT - CONGRATULATIONS

Congratulations to Joe Warren, the winner of the Division 1 Prediction Contest. He picked 14 of the 15 champions correctly, missing only at 113 pounds. Congrats!