Last year, New York Wrestling News previewed each Section prior to the start of the high school season. To kick things off this fall, here's a look at Section 3.
Special thanks to John Drew of cnywrestling.com for his significant contributions to this article.
For the past two years, Nick Tighe of Phoenix, Zack Zupan of Canastota and Shayne Brady of Carthage have represented Section III in the finals at the state tournament. Tighe won three New York State championships, while Zupan added two and Brady one. Now, with all three on rosters at Division I schools, who will be next to represent Section III on Saturday night at the Times Union Center?
You don’t have to look far in Division II, as state champion Derek Spann of Adirondack returns, in addition to numerous other medalists. In Division I, New Hartford’s Kelan McKenna is back after earning All-State honors for the first time. Let’s take a glance and see what Section III has to offer for 2013-14.
Seniors to Watch
Ben Honis of Jamesville-Dewitt picked up a bevy of quality victories last season at 195 pounds after making a name for himself nationally with All-America honors at Fargo in the summer of 2012. Honis brought a 39-3 mark into the state tournament after defeating eventual Division II state champion Hunter Ayen and returning placer Tyler Smith during the season. He also took third at the prestigious Eastern States Classic. However, he suffered an injury while capturing gold at the Section III championships and as the number three seed, dropped his first bout in Albany to eventual runner up Levi Ashley of Shenendehowa before defaulting out of the tournament. In his last season, he has the capability to finish high on the medal stand.
Multiple 12th graders won a bout at the Times Union Center in 2013 and will look to win a few more this time around - Thomas Hill of Fulton in the lightweights and Carthage heavyweight Trevor Gibbons. (Kevin Paul of Baldwinsville also wore the Section III singlet in Albany for the second time).
While Joe Nasoni of Baldwinsville and Patrick Quinlan of Fayetteville-Manlius haven’t had a shot at the state championships yet, this could be their chance. Nasoni has been third at the qualifier the past two seasons and had a stellar 41-3 campaign at 195 pounds as a junior, including a December pin over two-time state champion Zack Zupan of Canastota (who bumped up in weight for the match). Quinlan, the Section runner up at 132, won more than 30 bouts, including multiple victories against state qualifiers. In fact, he defeated Connor Grome of West Genesee, who represented Section III in Albany, three out of four times, with the only loss coming at the Section championships.
Who Else is Ready to Make a Run?
Clearly, Kelan McKenna knows the feeling of earning All-State status. He began with a loss in the state capital, but responded with three consecutive consolation victories to make the podium with a sixth place showing. Now, he’ll be looking to climb higher on the ladder.
In his first taste of state tournament action, Sonny McPherson recorded a pin over Suffolk County’s Joe Piccolo at 170. McPherson, a Section champion as a freshman in 2013, followed up with All-America honors at the NHSCA tournament in Virginia Beach. The future looks bright for the Indian River grappler as well as his teammate Nick Toutant, who faced a tough road after topping seventh grade phenom Frankie Gissendanner in his opening bout at the Times Union Center at 126 pounds. Toutant picked up close to 40 victories and has what it takes get his hand raised plenty of times again this year. The same could be said for Fulton’s Mitchell Woodworth, who notched a win at the state tournament as a sophomore at 106 and looks for more after collecting more than 30 victories.
Dempsey King of New Hartford is no stranger to Albany, as he competed in 2012 at the state tournament. Last season, he compiled over 30 wins at 113 pounds, but didn’t get a return ticket. He hopes to change that in February.
King faced Andrew McFarland three times last year and the Carthage grappler won each time. McFarland recorded 33 total wins, including one against state qualifier Thomas Hill (although Hill returned the favor at the Section III event). In addition, McFarland continued his winning ways after the season, becoming an All-American at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach.
Jerrett Norton of Cicero North Syracuse, a transfer from Central Square, had 31 wins last year before sustaining a season-ending injury at the CNY tournament in January. At that time, he looked to be on course to contend for a Section title. He recently wrestled at the Super 32 Challenge and according to John Drew, he’ll be among the favorites at the state qualifier this time around.
Mike Mills of Liverpool had quite a summer. According to Drew, he defeated multiple All-State wrestlers at summer dual meet events. He’ll have a chance to translate that success onto the mats for the Warriors this season.
Baldwinsville won the Section tournament last season with a slim, two-point margin over Fulton. Around 30 points behind was third place CBA/Jamesville-Dewitt. Who will step up to the top this year?
Baldwinsville should have a strong foundation and a lot of returning points as one of the squad’s two champions (Kevin Paul) is back as are bronze medalists Connor Ross, Chad McArdell and Joe Nasoni and fourth placer Gunnar Sutphen.
As for Fulton, champions Mitchell Woodworth and Thomas Hill should be in the lineup again, although finalist Brennan Roberge graduated. Third placer Brandon Hill and fourth placer Joe Abelgore also should pick up significant victories for the Red Raiders.
Keep an eye on Fayetteville-Manlius, a team on the rise that could contend for a top three finish at the Sectionals, according to Drew.
Seven placewinners return in the small school division, including five top four finishers. Leading the way is Adirondack’s Derek Spann, who went all the way to state gold in a one-loss season. Spann actually split 99-pound duties with Ryan O’Rourke for part of the season until the latter wrestler moved up to 106. O'Rourke seemed to handle the transition just fine, as he went on to take fourth in New York at the higher weight.
Seniors to Watch
Ryan Snow has been a fixture at the state tournament. The General Brown senior has taken second, third and fourth in his career. Can he get over the hump to grab the top prize in his last high school season?
His teammate, Tyler Silverthorn, will be looking to do the same thing. A sixth place finisher in 2012 at 160 pounds, Silverthorn moved up to fifth as a junior and is looking to progress a few more spots. Silverthorn has shown the ability to compete at the national level, earning All-America accolades in Virginia Beach on multiple occasions.
Like Silverthorn and Snow, Laken Cook of Ilion (Central Valley) is familiar with the podium in Albany, having placed twice earlier in his career (as an eighth grader and as a freshman). He entered last year’s tournament as the number two seed at 126 pounds, but was unable to get back to medal status. Can he return to the podium one more time?
Nick Koelmel emerged as a contender last year, bringing an undefeated mark into the state tournament at 145 pounds. He ultimately grabbed fourth after garnering a 3-2 record at the Times Union Center, however, he has another chance to go for gold for Immaculate Heart Central.
Daniel Smith of South Jefferson has shown he can go with some of the nation’s elite with victories over wrestlers such as Fargo All-Americans Ryan Preisch (PA) and Christian Stackhouse (NJ). Now, he wants to translate that to state glory. The University at Buffalo recruit has kept very active in the offseason, including a fall appearance at the Iron Horse Invitational, and looks to make it count while moving up in weight. His teammate Logan LaFlamme has placed behind Zack Zupan in the Section the past few years, but earned a wildcard to Albany in 2013 where he registered a pin in less than a minute in his first wrestleback contest. He will look for his first title at the qualifier and more.
And speaking of upperweights that got their hand raised in Albany, Lane Frost (VVS) rode the momentum of his 195-pound triumph at the Section 3 championships to a 12-0 major decision in his opener at the NYS tournament.
Wyatt Morris of Morrisville Eaton will begin the season as one of the top heavyweight prospects in Division II. He won a pair of bouts in Albany last season, coming within one victory of placing. All of his matches in the state capital were nailbiters – a 3-2 opener, an overtime loss to eventual runner up Matt Montesanti in round two, a double overtime triumph and a 1-0 setback against former finalist Alex Soutiere. He’ll aim to turn those close losses into victories as a senior. But he’ll have some notable challengers in the Section, including Canastota senior Jacob Morris, who had 35 victories a year ago and has a Class championship on his resume. Also look out for Tyler Havener of Oneida.
Also Keep an Eye On . . .
Alex Herringshaw of Holland Patent collected All-State honors in eighth grade. He moved up several weights to 132 a year ago and again qualified for the tournament, but didn’t make it back onto the podium. He’ll have another chance as a sophomore to do so. His teammate, Hunter Richard, is another young wrestler to watch. As an eighth grader in 2013, he won the Section and made his Albany debut. He kept active in the offseason, including an 11-2 combined record in Freestyle and Greco at the Schoolboy Nationals in Indianapolis.
How about Dolgeville’s Noah Handy? He racked up over 30 wins, a tournament title (Class D) as well as several second and third place showings in the lightweights. According to Drew, he’s right on the cusp of breaking into the next level after his third place finish in the Section in 2013. And speaking of Dolgeville, after a narrow 4-3 loss in the semifinals to eventual champion Mike Boyle at 120 pounds a year ago, junior Ben Nastovski should make noise. He had more than 30 wins and nearly 20 pins a year ago.
Onondoga junior Tyler Field rolled to a 36-3 mark and four tournament titles a year ago. After a 5-2 semifinal defeat at the hands of Ryan Snow in the 126-pound semifinals at Sectionals, he’s itching to get back on the mat in 2013-14.
Mexico’s Trevor Allard and Jacob Woolson both had successful seasons in 2012-13 with at least 40 wins. Woolson finished second in the Section at 170 behind the previously mentioned Daniel Smith, with four of his seven losses coming to the South Jefferson wrestler. Allard saw success in the offseason, collecting All-America honors at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach with a seventh place showing at 160.
In addition to Allard’s podium finish, Section III was well represented in that tournament. The appearances of Sonny McPherson and Andrew McFarland on the medal stand were already discussed. Additionally, Owen Albanese of Canastota (220), William Hilliard of Phoenix (170) and Riccardo Dawkins of General Brown (182) earned All-America status.
South Jefferson had a magical ride in 2012-13, winning the Section both in the dual and tournament formats.
Two of three finalists for the Spartans will take the mat again, as Daniel Smith and Logan LaFlamme will man the upperweights while lightweight placers Caleb Beach and Jared Carroll will look to move higher. According to Drew, the squad should be tough in tournaments and duals once again.
Don’t count out General Brown, which returns the bulk of the lineup from last year’s 20-plus win team that made a deep run at the Section III Dual championship. The star-studded upperweights, featuring Tyler Silverthorn, Colton Erb, Riccardo Dawkins and Zech Pitre should carry the Lions far again this year.
Mexico returns a number of studs, including the previously mentioned Trevor Allard, Theo Powers and Jacob Woolson. Those wrestlers form the nucleus of the most powerful Tigers lineup in recent memory, according to Drew.
You can never forget about Phoenix. The Firebirds lost a pair of state finalists to graduation (Nick Tighe and Rowdy Prior), however, the squad has the potential to score a lot of tournament points with returning fourth placer Brad Dietz as well as medalists William Hilliard and Tim Gandino, among others.
Looking for a darkhorse? According to Drew, Dolgeville may be a good place to look. The Blue Devils boast one of the best lightweight lineups in the Section with Noah Handy, Danny Fox and Ben Nastovski and when you throw in 40-match winner Triston Engle and class champs Richard Lyon and Kasey Foster, it’s easy to see the squad piling up dual and tournament victories.
Returning Qualifiers from 2013 - Division I
Kelan McKenna, New Hartford (99) - 6th Place
Mitchell Woodworth, Fulton (106)
Thomas Hill, Fulton (113)
Kevin Paul, Baldwinsville (120)
Nick Toutant, Indian River (126)
Sonny McPherson, Indian River (170)
Ben Honis, Jamesville-Dewitt (195)
Trevor Gibbons, Carthage (285)
Returning Qualifiers from 2013 - Division II
Derek Spann, Adirondack (99) - Champion
Theo Powers, Mexico (99) - Sixth
Ryan O'Rourke, Adirondack (106) - Fourth
Hunter Richard, Holland Patent (113)
Ryan Snow, General Brown (126) - Fourth
Laken Cook, Ilion (126)
Alex Herringshaw, Holland Patent (132)
Nick Koelmel, IHC (145) - Fourth
Tyler Silverthorn, General Brown (160) - Fifth
Daniel Smith, South Jefferson (170)
Logan LaFlamme, South Jefferson (182)
Lane Frost, VVS (195)
Wyatt Morris, Morrisville Eaton (285)
To read more of the Section previews released this season, see the links below: