On Saturday, three of New York’s Division I programs will travel to Troy for the 11th Annual Journeymen/Asics Northeast Duals. Binghamton, Buffalo and Columbia will take the mat three times each at Hudson Valley Community College.
Here are some of the things we’ll be watching in those meets.
Buffalo (vs. NC State, Sacred Heart, Clarion)
The Bulls will open their dual slate under first-year head coach John Stutzman against North Carolina State. One of the intriguing matches will pit Nick Flannery, who grabbed third at the New York State Intercollegiates last weekend, against former Fox Lane standout Sam Speno of the Wolfpack, who was an NCAA qualifier last year as a true freshman. There are likely to be at least two meetings of Empire State natives, as Tony Lock of Buffalo, fresh off his runner up showing in Ithaca, could face 2013 New York State champion Shayne Brady of Carthage at 184. In addition, All-American Nick Gwiazdowski of NC State, ranked in the top five nationally at 285, could square off with James Benjamin of Vestal at heavy. Meanwhile, Nijel Jones, currently ranked in the top 20 at 165 by at least one publication will challenge either Wally Maziarz or Rrok Ndokaj at 165.
Speaking of New Yorkers on the opposing squads, the next dual could feature a few more as the Bulls square off with Sacred Heart. Former Suffolk County stars Nick Lupi and TJ Fabian, who began his college career with a top six finish at the Binghamton Open, could be in the lineup at 285 and 133, respectively, for the Pioneers. In another potentially interesting contest, Nick Flannery could compete against Andrew Polidore, who led Sacred Heart in victories in 2012-13.
Buffalo’s final competition of the day will come against Clarion. Justin Arthur, a true freshman, is off to a hot start at 149 and will be a tough test for Buffalo rookie Ryan Todora. Another set of freshmen could meet up at 157 with Austin Matthews facing Buffalo’s John Northrup, who was fifth at the New York State Intercollegiates. Mepham graduate Dan Sutherland has seen some action at 184 and 197 for the Golden Eagles and could match up with Tony Lock or Angelo Malvestuto, depending on where he wrestles.
Binghamton (vs. North Carolina, NC State, George Mason)
The Bearcats will take on some challengers from further South. After a fourth-place finish at the New York State Intercollegiates last weekend at 141 pounds, Dylan Caruana will be tested all day, facing returning All-American Evan Henderson of UNC, NCAA qualifier Sam Speno of NC State and Sahid Kargbo of George Mason, who wrestled in the preliminary bouts at the NWCA All-Star Classic.
In addition to Evan Henderson at 141, the Tar Heels will provide some other strong performers, including a pair of wrestlers who made the Round of 12 at the NCAA tournament last year, Nathan Kraisser (125) and John Staudenmayer (165). They are likely to square off with David White and Vincent Grella of the Bearcats. In addition, North Carolina boasts another wrestler who won a match at the NCAAs last year, 184-pounder Alex Utley, who will meet Caleb Wallace, the New York State Intercollegiates third place medalist.
Speaking of Wallace, he’ll be part of another New York state battle in the second dual of the day as he could face the previously mentioned Shayne Brady of NC State. Other highlight matches in that meet include Cody Reed vs. KaRonne Jones at 197, the aforementioned Caruana vs. Speno tilt and the match between Tyler Deuel and former Binghamton heavyweight Nick Gwiazdowski, currently the #3 285-pounder in the country. Deuel is coming off a weekend in which he either pinned or teched all of his opponents at the New York State championships. Of course, the match pits NC State coach Pat Popolizio against Binghamton, the team he formerly led before moving to the ACC.
After facing two teams from North Carolina, Binghamton will next wrestle George Mason. Once again, Tyler Deuel will meet a quality foe in NCAA qualifier Jacob Kettler. And a match we’re excited to see is freshman Nick Tighe of the Bearcats, who was third at the New York State Intercollegiates, against a solid opponent in Vince Rodriguez at 133.
Columbia (vs. Michigan State, Clarion, Lehigh)
At the Michigan State Open a few weeks ago, there were a few head-to-head meetings between the Lions and Spartans. There will be 10 more as the two squads compete in Round 1 on Saturday.
One of the highlight bouts looks to be at 157 where Columbia freshman Markus Scheidel could have a rematch against Ryan Watts of the Spartans, who beat him 3-2 earlier in November. Scheidel then went on to win his next six bouts to take fifth.
Also at the MSU Open, Nick McDiarmid of the Spartans topped Matt Idelson at 197. We’ll see if a second match between the two is in store. One more to keep an eye on is at 184, where the champion of the Freshman/Sophomore division in East Lansing, Zack Hernandez (the fourth place finisher at the New York States last Sunday) could take on a solid opponent in John Rizqallah.
In the finale, Columbia’s three finalists at the New York State Intercollegiates, Penn Gottfried, Matt Bystol and Eric Fajardo, will look to keep the ball rolling against some young Lehigh wrestlers - Darian Cruz at 125, Laike Gardner at 141 and Elliott Riddick at 174. (The first and last are freshmen, Gardner is a sophomore). Additionally, one of the two Lions to place at 133 in Ithaca – Joe Moita (fourth) or Angelo Amenta (fifth) will square off with #6 Mason Beckman, while Markus Scheidel will face another ranked opponent at 157 – Joey Napoli. (Austin Matthews of Clarion, Scheidel's other opponent on Saturday, is also a highly-touted rookie).
Returning NCAA qualifier Josh Houldsworth of the Lions will compete with yet another Lehigh freshman, Brian Brill. And at 184 pounds, Lehigh has started a pair of New Yorkers, Zach Diekel and Austin Meys, this year. We look forward to watching one of them take the mat against the Lions.
Rutgers, Virginia, Central Michigan and Illinois are four other teams not mentioned above that will participate on Saturday.
Not Just College Wrestling . . .
There will be more than college wrestling at the event, however. A high school tri-meet will take place featuring national power Wyoming Seminary, Belmont Hill and St. Vincent Pallotti. And some top notch wrestlers will take the mat for high school All-Star exhibitions around 3:30.
In addition, the Youth Scrap and Scramble Duals, including eight teams made up of kindergarten to eighth grade wrestlers, will begin on Friday and continue through Saturday.
Stephen Hromada, who is bringing a team representing 631 Elite, is excited about the experience.
“It will be great to wrestle next to college wrestlers,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to the weekend.”
The full schedule is as follows: