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Salute to the Champions: 2023 NYSPHSAA Girls Invitational

By MD, 01/31/23, 5:15PM EST


HERstory made as 13 Gifted Women Become the first to officially win NYSPHSAA Crowns; Sindoni Knocks of Griffith in Clash of national top-15s; Foufas Makes Bid for National ranking after late reversal surges her to a win over #10 Sibble

On Friday, January 27th, 208 of the finest student-athletes in all of New York State gathered under the roof of the SRC Arena in Syracuse to make history....

The participants in the inaugural NYSPHSAA Girls Invitational, whether you won a title or not, the fact that you are pioneers and trend-setters forever solidifies your place in the record book!!

However, the sentiments above trumping all else, there did have to be winners in our 13 brackets, and these were the gifted women that stood just a little taller than the rest!

Representing eight different sections and coming from 13 unique schools, these were the women that stood front and center for all to cherish and respect!

94 Pounds: Zoey Jewett (General Brown)

Accomplishing a feat that is not easy given the family tree from which she hails, the Lions' fab freshman [Jewett] managed to one-up her legendary father, Joe (3x NYSPHSAA State bronze medalist from 2000-2002), when like a knife through hot butter, she cut through the 94-pound bracket, registering falls in all four of her bouts en route to the crown in the lightest contested weight class...

Extended beyond the first period just once during Friday historic festivities, the 2022 USAW Fargo 16U All-American (5th) culminated her title effort when, leading 4-0 (1st period TD, 2nd period reversal), she would lock up a cradle and stick fellow 9th grader, Sienna Cozzali (Harrison), with 23 ticks remaining in the second stanza!!

As noted above, the fall over her opponent from Section 1 wrapped up a perfect day for the S3 star, as in her previous bouts, she posted pins in times of 0:18, 1:30, and 0:27 respectively against the likes of Kaylee Merrill (Alexander), Bailey Bryman (Attica-Batavia), and Madeline Palulis (Cambridge-Salem)!

Not surprising given the swiftness in which she was able to bank her dubs, but Jewett did not surrender a single point from the start of the day to its conclusion!!

A scary thought for the rest of the Empire is that rumor has it that younger sister, Pearl, is an even bigger beast!!!

100 Pounds: Gabriella Barone (Niagara Wheatfield)

The absence of #15 in the nation/2022 NYS Girls Folkstyle State Champ, Charlie Wylie (Port Jervis) put the 100-pound bracket up for grabs, and when push came to shove, it was the Falcons' 7th grader [Barone] swooping in from out of nowhere (was in the spot reserved for the #15 seed) to not only win the gold, but to buzz saw her way to Titletown by notching four falls in four outings!!

Pitted in a rematch of a 2022 NYWAY State 3rd place bout in the finale, Barone, struck for four late points (TD + half to the back for 2 NF) in the last 20 seconds of the 1st period to carry the 4-0 edge at the end of 2:00 versus Honeoye Falls-Lima 8th grader, Jasmine Brucato.

Starting the 2nd period on top, she's work a tight-waste + half combination to eventually flip her section 5 foe over to her back...After some adjustment and readjustment, she'd cinch in an even deeper half to secure the slap of the mat at the 3:22 mark!!!

The outcome was quite similar to their cited match at NYWAY last season when Barone was a victor by fall of pin in a time of 3:39!!!

Displaying her advanced mat prowess at every stop of the path to the prize, the only points that Barone allowed all tourney occurred in the semifinals when she gave up the initial takedown, but then quickly answered back with a reversal + suck-back to jump in front 4-2 versus the #3 seed from Fulton, junior, Tessa Newton...She's later power a bar off the top to earn the fall with :28 to go in the 1st period to punch her ticket to the ship!!

Her other two victories were falls in 3:07 and 1:39 over 2nd-seeded Leah Waite (Fredonia) & Niskayuna-Schenectady 8th grader, Kalissa Albright!

107 Pounds: Sara Pauls (Minisink Valley)

The next in what is becoming a very storied lineage of Warrior female champions, the Minisink Valley 8th [Pauls] found herself enthralled in a rematch of the ESC finale versus Islip's Mora Peterson (3rd at the 2022 NYS Girls' Folkstyle Championships/2022 NYWAY titlist),  and points were certaintly at a premium..

The only tally recorded coming via a penalty point (grabbing headgear) in the last :15 of the 3rd period, Peterson and Pauls took turns exchanging rideouts after a scoreless opening 2:00...

A much different match then their first meeting in Mid-January (where 10 total points were posted), hoisting the hardware in Syracuse will go a long way towards washing out the bad taste the followed the loss to Peterson (Pauls led 6-4 in the last 70 of regulation before getting caught high and suffering a defensive fall while in the top position)...

Something of a "comeback kid" in her march to the finals, Pauls outstanding top work was a difference-maker, as she used legs + power-half in back-to-back bouts in the quarter and semifinal rounds to pin 2022 NYWAY 3rd, Ava Zucker (Jericho), in 3:26 and turn 2022 NYS Girls' Folkstyle Championship silver medalist. Grace York (Warrensburg/Lake George), for a full count to earn 3pts in an 11-8 decision!!...

In her only additional appearance, the second-seeded Pauls connected with a headlock to earn a sub.-1:00 pin of Shenendehowa 11th grader, Ishita Singh, :41 into the 1st period of their round of 16 bout! 

In the crowd to watch her younger sister hoist hardware was multiple-time USAW All-American, Grace Pauls, who never got the opportunity to compete at a NYSPHSAA sanctioned championship event!!...This triumph was as much about her and all the older sisters that were denied their moment as it was the competitors themselves!

114 Pounds: Yianna Foufa (Mepham)

No Controversy this time!!!!

The last time that Yianna Foufas (Mepham) and nationally-ranked Teegan Sibble (Bolivar-Richburg) wrestled, the ending was bittersweet!!

Handed the 114-pound Eastern States crown by virtue of a penalty point in sudden victory (3-2 decision), the Pirate junior [Foufas] was originally planning to go 120 this weekend; but she had a change of heart and instead had some unfinished business with her rival from S5/#10 in the land/2022 NHSCA AA, Sibble!!

Those affairs has officially been put in order and tied with a championship bow, as Foufas was able to strike for the only two points of the match when she shook Sibble off top and registered a reversal in the final 16 seconds of the 3rd period to emerge as a 2-0 victor...

Both ladies having their opportunities on offense throughout the bout, there were 2-3 occasions in which Foufas was in on a single and Sibble would counter-punch with a chin whip...

The "11th hour" triumph over Sibble was one of two close calls survived by the young lady from Nassau, as it a takedown in the last :52 of the 2nd period that proved to be the difference-maker in a 3-1 semifinal win over Saugerties sophomore/2023 ESC 3rd, Savannah Tittelback!

Foufas, who adds the NYSPHSAA gold to the NYS Girls Folk Championship and NYWAY crowns she seized in 2022, rounded out her outstanding resume by recording 1st periods pins in her first two matches over Oriana Carrasquel (Midlakes) & Juliet Barnabee (Westhamton Beach) in 0:59 and 1:53!

Having now bested a top-10 rival on back-to-back occasions; we are hoping to see her name in the national polls when the next set is released!

120 Pounds: Ashley Diaz (Seaford)

Just weeks removed from a 3rd place showing at the ESC (led her semifinal 7-0 before getting pinned), the junior out of Seaford [Diaz] became just the second individual regardless of gender to bring a NYSPHSAA Wrestling title home to Viking Nation (James O'Hagan won the 285-pound DI crown in 2014)...

Locking horns with the 120-pound champion at the previously referenced Eastern States Classic, Brooke Tarshis (Pine Bush), Diaz would hold a 3-2 lead with 80 ticks to go in the 3rd period when she caught her overly-aggressive foe from S9 trying to drive through with a power-double, and countered it by throwing her from feet to back with a headlock for 2+3 before eventually securing the pin at the 5:02 mark!!

Diaz drew first blood in the match when she evaded a shoot attempt, grabbed the leg, and circled behind for a TD 20-seconds into the 1st period....Tarshis evened the bout when she was awarded a penalty point and earned her E1 prior to the end of the initial 2:00...

The 2nd period started on the feet and yielded no scoring sequences!!!

Having choice in the 3rd, Diaz opted to start on bottom and popped up and out within 23 seconds to set up the exciting conclusion!!!

A collision with Tarshis seemed inevitable from the get-go, as neither lady was seriously tested in any of their prior bouts...

In her three-match run to the ship, Diaz racked up a 20-1 advantage before sticking Isabella Bogardus (Fulton), Delaney Bisaillon (Mechanicville-Stillwater), and Kathryn White (Chenango Forks) at the 2:28, 0:51, and 0:38 marks of their showdowns!

126 Pounds: Alexandra Viera (Rocky Point)

29-0....That was the margin of points scored vs.  surrendered compiled by the Eagles' junior [Viera] in blitzing her way to Long Island's third straight individual gold medal (joining Section VIII reps, Foufas and Diaz)...

A runner-up a few weeks ago at the Eastern States Classic, she had nationally-ranked Emily Frost (Tamarac) on her back early in their finals match, but was unable to close the deal....

This past Friday, there would be no squandered opportunities, as she wasted little time in asserting her will, converting a low-level attack for the TD :12 into the 1st period and then earning a full set of near-fall to propel herself to a 5-0 lead at the end of the 1st period against up-and-coming gem, Newfane 7th grader, Alexa Doxey (2022 NYWAY Bronze medalist)...

On bottom to begin the 2nd,  the 2021 USAW Fargo All-American (5th) stepped off for a reversal approximately :40 into the stanza, and doing so, was able to trap her S6 opponent on her back, where she held her until the slap of the mat came with 1:10 remaining in the period (2:50 overall)!!

Earlier in the day, Viera kicked off her NYSPHSAA debut by establishing a 4-0 lead before eventually pinning Bellport's Cadence Howard (2022 NYWAY 6th) 1:50 of an All-Suffolk 1st round bout...

She continued to stalk her prey in the quarter and semifinal rounds, building edges of 10-0 and 8-0 before punctuating victories over Midlakes junior, Olivia Miles, and John Jay East Fishkill 11th grader, Isabelle Demillio (2022 NYS Girls Folk 4th) at 2:47 and 4:48!

132 Pounds: Emily Sindoni (Tioga)


In what was undeniably the main event of the evening, Tioga Senior, EMILY SINDONI, defended her #1 national ranking when he fought back from an early 4-1 deficit to eventually pin #13 Zoe Griffith (Gouveneur) :44 into the second period of a 132-pound title contest between nationally ranked, 2022 NHSCA & Fargo All-Americans/Champions!!

Surrendering a pair of TDs off of leg attacks against her opponent from Section 10, Sindoni cut into the hole late in the first period when she was able to earn a reversal to trail only 4-3 after 2:00...

Beginning the 2nd period on bottom, the Virginia Beach Champ/FargoDome runner-up out of Section IV would step over on an attempted mat return, initiating a scramble off of which she was able to get into a front-headlock position which she used to whip Griffith (3rd at NHSCA; Junior 4th in Fargo) to her back for the fall!!!

The triumph today avenges a loss from last season when it was Griffith doing in the pinning, she stuck the Tiger in 1:57 at the Sgt. Justin Rogers Memorial Tournament in December 2021!!!

Barely having to break a sweat in locking up the finals berth, Ms. Numero Uno spent only a combined 2:24 in her other three outings, as she commenced her domineering display with a :09 fall over Holland Patent sophomore, Addison Snyder, before tacking on sticks in 1:16 and 0:59 in the quarters and semis versus 2022 NYS Girls' Folk 3rd, Gillian Mills (Saugerties), and 2023 Eastern States Classic bronze medalist, Joan Demetroules (Putnam Valley)!

Sindoni's title on Friday complements the 2022 NYS Girls' Folkstyle gold she seized last March!!!

138 Pounds: Zoey Lints (Duanesburg-Schoharie)

Winning the first of a pair of titles on behalf of Section II was the senior out of Duanesburg-Schoharie [Lints], who got her arm raised in a battle of former and/or returning USAW Fargo blood rounders over the junior from Sherburne-Earlville, Selina Moore...

The bout tied at 2-2 (two-on-one throw-by from Lints to take a 2-0 lead in the 1st; lat drop by Moore to tie the score in the 2nd), the key sequence of the match came with approximately 90 seconds remaining in the 2nd period, when Lints was able to hit a shoulder-throw and step over for the reversal to jump back in front, 4-2....While working from the top position, she'd run a bar for a full allotment of swipes to blow open the match, 7-2...Moore escaped with :58 to go in the 2nd to cut the deficit to 7-3.

The 3rd period went scoreless as Lints rode out the entire 2:00 duration to preserve the "w"!!!!

A bronze medalist at the 2022 NYS Girls Folk Championships, as well as the runner-up at the 2023 Eastern States Classic, the nation's #13-ranked filly [Lints] cruised in her three prior contests, as she stockpiled falls in times of 0:27, 0:27, and 0:31 versus 2022 NYWAY titlist, Kiara Davidson (Johnson City), Bay Shore junior, Valerie Iglesias, & the 11th grader out of Guilderland, Aniella Kennedy!

145 Pounds: Madison Westerberg (Waterloo)

A prom proposal and a State title in the same week!!!

It is darn good to be MADISON WESTERBERG right now!!!

The Waterloo sophomore officially became the answer to a potential Jeopardy question moments ago when she became the first official NYSPHSAA Girls State Invitational Champion (the finals session started with the 138 and 145 bouts on side-by-side mats)...

Ranked 6th in the nation at 138 pounds, but competing up at 145 today, the 2022 USAW Fargo 16U Women's Bronze medalist, just wrapped up a masterful collective effort when she picked up her fourth pin of the day (in four appearances) in a time of 1:34 against West Seneca's Christina Evans (3rd at the 2023 ESC)...

Utilizing her infamous "Burroughs/Williams" Double-leg to score the opening TD :18 into the 1st period, Westeberg would turn to another of her signature moves to close the deal, as she cinched in a cradle as the clock approached half a minute remaining, and once it was locked, the match was OVER!!!

A bonus-point machine who also pinned 2/3s of her opponents (7-2 decision over Lints in the championship match) en route to the top prize at the Eastern States Classic, the three-sport standout (dingers for days; imposing at the net on a volleyball court) utilzed her cradle in the quarter and semifinal rounds to boot as she glued Maia Woertendyke (Oneonta) and 2022 NYWAY runner-up, Brynn Shepardson (Little Falls), in times of 0:29 and 3:11...

In her first round match, she demonstrated some diversity in her top game, as it was a bundle that scored her the 31-second fall versus Riverhead 9th grader, Maria Mach!

While Friday marked her first NYSPHSAA sanctioned crown, the Section V rep is no stranger to Empire State glory...

In 2022, she also never went the distance in claiming the brass ring at the NYS Girl Folkstyle Championships!!!....So in many ways, she is really a "repeat" titlist!!!

Westerberg is the first Waterloo wrestler to win a NYSPHSAA crown since 1985 when Joel Lamson won it all at 119 pounds!

152 Pounds: Isabella Gretzinger (Shenendehowa)

A product of one of the premier perennial programs in all of New York on the boys' side of the aisle, the Plains(wo)men just might have found a heroine to anchor this next chapter of Shen Wrestling!!!

Decisive from the opening whistle to the final buzzer, Gretzinger logged three falls to reach the 152-pound finals and then for good measure, took him the crown by way of a 13-1 major decision!!!

Squaring off with Liverpool freshman, Gabby Gonzales, in the "money match", the Section II rep [Gretzinger] struck with an immediately high-C to take an early 2-0 lead...As the opening period was winding down, she'd administer a tight bar to turn her foe for the full count to increase the cushion to 5-0...

The second period witnessed more of her authoritative style as she would threaten to lock up a counter cradle before switching off to a reverse-half for 2+3 to hold a significant 10-1 advantage heading into the 3rd period...

On her way to riding out the entire 3rd period, Gretzinger added on one additional turn (via bar) to account for the final 13-1 result!

Illustrating a diverse/well-rounded arsenal, in her three previous victories prior to the finals, Gretzinger would use a half to stick Yaritza Acebo (Riverhead) in 0:26, followed by a cow-catcher (while up 8-0) to pin Lockport's Bella Andes at the 2:47 mark!!!....The bread-and-butter bar took care of business in the semis, as he turned 2022 NYWAY 3rd/2021 USAW Girls Folk AA (4th), Janessa Santiago (Cazenovia) with 29 seconds remaining in the 2nd period!

165 Pounds: Renne Kinikin (Mexico)

It has been said that the best offense is a great defense!!!

On Friday night, the Mexico senior [Kinikin] proved this adage accurate as after having her headlock attempted slipped by top-seeded Tallulah Powers (Berlin/New Lebanon), the Tiger senior fought off a TD attempt and in the exchange managed to land on top of her opposition to earn her fourth and most beneficial fall of the day 70 ticks into the 1st period to polish off her unexpected pilgrimage to Titletown (entered the tourney in the #10 spot of her bracket)...

Not only defying the odds, but doing so in a completely ferocious and uncontested manner, if this is the last time that Kinikin dons that singlet for her school, she absolutely went out with a bang and and/or a boom!!!

Never required to see the 2nd period in any of her appearances, Kinikin beat the buzzer in her opening bout, muscling 2022 NYWAY State 4th, Nyla Phillips (Valley Stream North), over to her back with :06 to go and securing the fall at exactly the 2:00 mark!

She later added a fall in 1:28 over another NYWAY 4th, Kyah Nelson (Tioga) in the quarters, and then cut it close to wire in the semis, flipping and cementing Canandaigua Academy 11th grader, Elizabeth Rushman, with :05 still showing on the clock in the 1st period!

185 Pounds: Sophie Pollack (Canandaigua Academy)

While we are fully anticipating seeing her this summer in Fargo (if not before then), what a scholastic/folkstyle sendoff it was for the highly-touted Braves super senior [Pollack)...

Ranked 10th in the land at 200 pounds, the S5er dropped down to 185 and was a one-woman wrecking crew, spending a mere 91 total seconds (1:31) on the mats in four outings to smash her way to the "precious"!!!

Going toe-to-toe in the finals against a surname that is synonymous with NYSPHSAA glory, the 2022 NYS Girls' Folk Runner-up/2021 Fargo All-American (5th), Pollack, became the first person to stand in the way of a Sorenson sibling when she applied a power-half (while up 4-0) to earn the pin in :47 over Homer junior, Lilly Sorenson (older brother/West Point commit, Sam, is seeking his 2nd NYSPHSAA crown/3rd overall NYS title next month)...

Amazingly, her finale with Sorenson was the longest match of the day for Pollack, as she hit a trip + throw at the onset of the 1st period to stick Thomas Edison 9th grader, Abigail Johnson, in a time of 23 seconds to begin her Friday, and then continued to roll from there, smothering the junior from Fallsburg, Alexandra Ruiz, in 12 ticks, as part of the quarters, and then headlocking Lockport 10th grader, Khamya J`Maxwell, in the semis at the :09 mark!!  

The first from her school to claim an NYSPHSAA gold since 2007 (Dan Mandara at 125 pounds), she is the nSave Changesinth overall unique individual (11 total crowns) to ascend to the top of the podium!!

235 Pounds: Mackenzie Laforest (Waverly)

A little less than one year removed from being a bridesmaid at the 2022 NYS Girls Folkstyle Championships, Waverly junior, MACKENZIE LAFOREST, has her State gold!!

Competing in the 235-pound weight class, the Lady Wolverine became the school's first NYSPHSAA State champ (men or women) since 2015 when A.J. Burkhart won the 99-pound DII prize on the boys' side!!!

Already leading her finals match 2-0 (slipped a headlock for the TD + rode out the last 90 seconds) at the end of the 1st period versus Long Islander, Naomi Gonzalez (Valley Stream North), it was like deja vu for LaForest in the 2nd...

Defending yet another headlock to increase her lead to 4-0 approximately half a minute into the middle stanza, the Section IV filly wasn't interested in rideouts this time around, she sunk a deep half and powered Gonzalez over to her back until the slap of the mat sounded with 1:01 remaining (2:59 total)...

One of a pair of falls registered by Laforest (had a 2:34 pin of Pittsford's Athena Hiriram, in the quarterfinals), the S4 rep recorded bonus points in three of four bouts...

All knotted up at 4-4 entering the 3rd period of her opening match with Niskayuna-Schenectady senior, Brianna Newton, LaForest exploded for 8 unanswered points during the last 120 seconds, as she induced a clasp to be awarded a penalty point, earned two escape points (had choice after her opponent took a 2nd injury timeout), and then stuffed a desperation throw attempt in the last :12 for 2+2 to transform a competitive match into a 12-4 major decision!!

Her only appearance that did not yield some form of bonus-point outcome was the semifinals when after a scoreless 1st periods, she amassed the only points of the match when she escaped within the first 10 seconds of both the 2nd and 3rd periods to emerge as a 2-0 decision victor against Chautauqua Lake 10th grader, Gabi Freeburg!

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