With the school year underway, we took a look at some of the boys standouts in the sophomore class in New York. Our intention was to highlight five wrestlers, but our contributors were split on the last few spots ... so there are six.
Greg Diakomihalis, Hilton
Diakomihalis made a huge impact in his eighth grade year for Hilton, winning a state championship at 99 pounds after making the finals at the Eastern States Classic. He also had plenty of success in some of the toughest tournaments on the national stage, earning third in Cadet Freestyle at 106 pounds in the summer of 2016 at Fargo and also grabbing second at the same weight at the Super 32 Challenge that fall. Diakomihalis was dominant back in New York as a freshman as well, picking up his second consecutive NYS title, this time at 113. He added a fourth place finish at the UWW Cadet Nationals in the spring. Diakomihalis is ranked in the top 15 nationally at 113 pounds and also sits in the top 30 in the country for the Class of 2020 according to both FloWrestling and Intermat.
Zach Redding, Eastport-South Manor
Redding took the top spot at the Eastern States Classic at 106 pounds as a freshman, defeating eventual state champ Dylan Ryder in overtime. Redding had a stellar campaign, in which he finished third at the state tournament and then continued to roll at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach, nabbing a national title at 113 pounds. He had earned gold in that location the year before, at the NHSCA Middle School event (and silver in 2015). Redding is ranked in the top 40 nationally for the Class of 2020 by Intermat.
Justin McDougald, Niagara Wheatfield
McDougald put together an outstanding ninth grade year for Niagara Wheatfield, including three wins over multi-time state placer Mitch Seaver of Lockport. He earned a spot in the NYS finals at 113 pounds with three bonus point wins in Albany and took the silver medal behind Greg Diakomihalis. McDougald also notched silver at another tough event - the NHSCA Freshman Nationals in March (where he faced Zach Redding in the finals). He was an All-American in Virginia Beach in 2016 as well.
Anthony Noto, Honeoye Falls-Lima
Noto is the second member of the class of 2020 with a state championship. The HFL sophomore defeated 2016 runner up John Worthing of Tioga in the semifinals in Albany and then won an overtime contest over Jordan Titus (NHSCA Nationals runner up and Cadet Fargo Freestyle All-American) in the title bout to walk away with NYS gold and the first ever wrestling state crown for his school.
Willie McDougald, Niagara Falls
Another McDougald also made a strong impact on the New York scene as a freshman in 2016-17. Willie McDougald entered the NYS championships undefeated and left as an All-State wrestler, taking sixth at 126 pounds (behind a junior and four seniors). He defeated returning state finalist John Devine of Columbia along the way. The multi-time state qualifier also picked up hardware at the NHSCA Nationals, snaring fourth at 132 pounds. He also made the podium in Virginia Beach in 2016.
Ivan Garcia, Port Chester
Garcia notched fifth at the state tournament last year after losing in the ultimate tiebreaker in the semis, and has placed at prestigious events around the country, including the NHSCA Middle School Nationals, the Super 32 Middle School event and the Flo Tulsa Nationals. In his ninth grade year, he took fourth at Eastern States and defeated state finalist Jordan Titus. He won a tough 99 pound weight in Section 1, beating returning state qualifiers Dennis Robin of Arlington and Garrett Semenetz of Mahopac.
Terrance Parks of Mott Haven had a spectacular performance in Fargo, taking third at 160 pounds in Greco Roman.
Other NYS placers/National Preps 2017 participants in the mix include:
Len Balducci (Pleasantville), Dove Bonjean-Alpart (Poly Prep), Matt Campo (Mount Sinai), Joe Contrastano (Carle Place-Wheatley), Josiah Encarnacion (Wantagh), Dalton Gardner (Fredonia), Johnny McCann (Long Island Lutheran), Dennis Robin (Arlington), Eli Rodriguez (Norwich), Bryce Smith (Saranac), Mikey Squires (Norwich)
Additional wrestlers who placed at the NHSCAs 2015-2017
Mackenzie Case (Mount Markham), Gage DeNatale (Locust Valley), Kolton Gagnon (Cold Spring Harbor), Michael Leibl (Canastota, champion), Logan Patterson (Copenhagen-Beaver River), Jacob Scibek (Horseheads), Ryan Stencel (Lancaster)
Aiden Rabideau of Clarence is a multi-time qualifier, while Ryan Burgos of Hilton (who defeated Noto last year), Mason Wersinger (Spencerport), Tyler Albis of John Jay East Fishkill and Ethan Cooper (Cobleskill-Richmondville) are among those who could make a big impact.
Who else will make a statement next season from the sophomore class?
Thank you to all the contributors, especially Matt Diano and Michael Carey.