The following discusses Section V for the 2013-14 campaign. For links to previews from other areas of the state, please see the end of this article.
Diakomihalis wasn’t the only Hilton state finalist last year. Vincent DePrez made the title bout again at 138 pounds, after wrestling for the state championship at 113 the year before. The two-time silver medalist and his brother Anthony, a 2013 state qualifier at 145 pounds, will attend Binghamton beginning in the fall of 2014, but look to stand high on the podium at the Times Union Center first. And they only represent half of the DePrez contingent. Lou DePrez collected his first SuperSectional crown as an eighth grader at 120 and won a match in Albany, while Sam DePrez will join the fray as a seventh grader (although an injury will keep him out of the lineup for a portion of the campaign).
Now that we’ve discussed the returning finalists, let’s look at some of the others to watch this year in Section V.
With Diakomihalis no longer at 99, who will take the reins of that class? A good candidate, according to Brockport head coach Mike Ferris, is last year’s fifth place finisher, Derek St. James of Gates Chili.
“St. James is someone I think will be on the [state] podium at the end of the year,” Ferris said. “That kid is tough. He was behind Yianni and Parker Kropman, waiting his turn. It’s here now and I think he’ll be really tough to beat.”
Speaking of Parker Kropman, the Penfield grappler was 34-8 at 99 pounds last season, with three of his losses coming to state champions (Diakomihalis and DII titlewinner Derek Spann). Two of his other setbacks were against out-of-state opponents up a weight. He’ll be at 106 this year.
A year ago, Mike Venosa of Victor racked up 35 wins at 99 pounds, including over Hammond Raes. He’ll be someone to watch this year.
“Venosa will be tough at 113,” Ferris said. “He put in the time and could be the one that makes it out of the Section there. I also think Webster [Schroeder]’s Xiaodi Chen is a good wrestler around that weight.”
Rush Henrietta’s Kevin Palmeri registered numerous quality victories in 2012-13, including over state medalist Austin Keough and qualifiers Lou DePrez, Kevin Paul and Thomas Hill. He didn’t get a ticket to Albany, but is a strong contender to do so this time around.
“There are a bunch of good wrestlers around that weight, but Palmeri has a lot of good wins and may be the best,” Ferris said. “I also really like Zack Barker from Fairport.”
At 126, Barton Peters looks to end his career on a high note. A state qualifier each of the past three seasons, Peters struggled with injuries last season, missing significant time. He nearly turned the 113 pound bracket in Albany upside down when he led two-time state champion (and top seed) Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks 2-0 heading into the third period in the opening round. However, he chose bottom in the final stanza and was turned twice, resulting in a 6-2 setback. He bounced back to win a match, but didn’t get the ending he was looking for after a 25+ win campaign.
“If he’s healthy at the end, he’s as good as anybody in the state,” Ferris said. “Injuries plagued him. He hung in there, but he just didn’t have the health to fight through. He was heartbroken when he lost to Kelly. Because he didn’t place, he’s hungry. The season is up to him. I really believe he’s as good as anyone – he just has to prove it.”
Another wrestler around the same weight to keep tabs on, according to Ferris, is Greece’s Chris Fantauzzo, who took fourth at 120 last year.
Frankie Gissendanner made a huge impact in his first varsity season as a seventh grader at 126 pounds. Ranked among the top 15 Junior High wrestlers in the nation by FloWrestling, Gissendanner took seventh at the Eastern States, captured a SuperSectional crown and won a match at the state tournament. He’s back, at 132 pounds, looking to go back to the Times Union Center as an eighth grader.
In addition, Mike LaLoggia of Webster Schroeder took silver at 132 a year ago after a 30+ win campaign.
Lou DePrez, who was mentioned earlier, will make another weight jump, likely to 138. He’ll aim for a return ticket to Albany, but there will certainly be challengers. Penfield’s Skylar Kropman won all his matches at the Journeymen Classic in the fall after a solid season in which he placed at the Eastern States Classic and went 41-8 with quality wins over Fargo All-American Jordan Bushey of Peru and All-Stater Joey Butler of Burnt Hills.
“Kropman is really tough,” Ferris said. “He surprised me with the way he beat some guys. I also think Vinny Romeo of Canandaigua is someone to watch this year.”
Romeo compiled 34 wins and was third at 138 at the state qualifier.
“Spallina was way more physically mature than the typical eighth grader,” Ferris said. “With the guys he works out with every day, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go to Albany this year.”
The wrestler who finished one spot ahead of Spallina at the SuperSectionals, Anthony Bell of Fairport, completed last year with 38 victories and will look for another strong season as a junior.
Section V returns two placers in the higher classes, both of whom are committed to Division I wrestling programs (Ian James to Buffalo and Sam Eagan to Wyoming).
James, a heavyweight, split four bouts with 2013 NYS runner up Austin Coleman of Spencerport, including a victory in the SuperSectionals title bout. He picked up three wins at the state tournament after losing his opening match in three overtimes, to earn sixth place at the Times Union Center. Now, he’s back, looking to go much higher on the medal stand.
“Ian James will be really tough to beat,” Ferris said. “He’s very competitive and I think he’ll do better than he did last year.”
Like James, Eagan dropped his first bout in Albany (to returning bronze medalist Nick Lupi of Huntington at 220 pounds). However, he responded with three triumphs in a row, including two pins, before losing in three overtimes to Lupi in their second meeting of the tournament. Eagan rebounded to grab fifth and after attending the Junior Duals and Fargo this offseason, Eagan expects his work to pay off in a higher finish.
“I work with Sam very closely. I know he’s capable of really good things,” Ferris said. “I look forward to seeing him achieve more than last year.”
But Ferris also noted that Eagan will have a number of strong challengers at 220 in the Section, including Ryan Mattison of Brockport, Hayden Maltese of Webster Thomas and Tyler Schaefer of Pittsford. Schaefer, who was third at the state qualifier, notched an early-season triumph over Eagan last year.
“There are four or five really tough kids at that weight,” Ferris said. “Coming out of the Section at 220 this year means you were battle tested and will be ready for Albany.”
The 2013 second through fourth placers are back at 195 – Collin Pittman of Spencerport, Gordon Truesdale of Brighton and Ben Klei of Victor, as well as the fourth placer at 182 – Tim Raycraft of Fairport.
“Truesdale is pretty tough and Raycraft is solid,” Ferris said. “It will be interesting to see what happens with Collin Pittman.”
Pittman was a state qualifier after his 31-7 record and silver medal showing at 195 a year ago. [Among his victories was a win over Division II state champion Hunter Ayen]. However, he competed in the offseason down at 182, including an unbeaten performance at the Journeymen Classic. He also wrestled at that weight last weekend.
Also certifying for 182 on the Spencerport roster is Trent Egenlauf, last year’s starter at that weight. Egenlauf entered the state tournament as the #2 seed at 182 after an undefeated regular season in which he topped eventual state runner up James Corbett and placer Anthony Liberatore before going 1-2 in Albany.
“They’re both very good wrestlers,” Ferris said. “Trent is a dominating wrestler – no one touched him at some pretty tough tournaments during the regular season last year. Collin is definitely tough. I’m not sure what will happen as the season goes on.” [Egenlauf won the title at the Andersen Tournament at 195 and also defeated Eagan when he bumped up to 220 during an early season dual].
At 170, Gates Chili’s Josh Goodman returns after a runner up finish a year ago at the Supers. One of the competitors for him, according to Ferris, will be Harald Juergens from Hilton.
Hilton is likely to be among the top squads in the state with the return of four NYS qualifiers. In fact, the Cadets were second at the SuperSectionals last year behind Fairport, but bring back eight placers, including the previously mentioned champions - Yianni Diakomihalis as well as Vincent, Anthony and Lou DePrez. In addition, medalists Mike Spallina, Dan Norris, Harald Juergens and Austin Hertel return. It appears that Hilton will be a difficult team to beat in the Section and beyond.
“I think Hilton is as solid as anybody,” Ferris said. “When you return two state finalists and two other qualifiers – that’s a great group to build around. They have a bunch of other guys who can get to Albany. They will be really hard to beat in a tournament format; they have the horsepower to score a lot of points.”
Ferris also mentioned Webster Schroeder as a squad to watch.
“I think Webster Schroeder is a very good team - very deep with great balance,” he said.
In addition to the previously mentioned Mike LaLoggia, the squad features a number of returning SuperSectional placers, such as Alex Salvaggio, David LaSpina, Joe Lupisella, Xiaodi Chen and Sam Vacchetto, in addition to potential breakout grapplers such as George Bardanis and Tommy Lancie.
Fairport collected the title a year ago and while five top three finishers, including finalists Colton Kells, Bryan Ruggeri and Fritz Kaltenbach graduated, several medalists return, including runner up Anthony Bell, Tim Raycraft, James Arao and Zack and Chris Barker.
“Fairport had some big losses, but they still have good balance with a lot of guys who can place in Section V.”
The 2013 third place team, Penfield, will have big point scorers Frankie Gissendanner and the Kropmans, while you can never count out Spencerport, which will have the previously mentioned Trent Egenlauf, Collin Pittman and Kyle Pittman (31-9 at 132).
“Spencerport has some kids who will score a lot of points in just about any tournament,” Ferris said.
At the end of the year, Ferris believes Section V has what it takes to make an impact in the team race in the state capital.
“We should be top three as a group this year,” he said. “Section V needs to come back to prominence and I think we have the wrestlers to do that this year.”
Burke Paddock made quick work of the field at the 2013 state championships, winning all four bouts by fall – and all in less than three and a half minutes.
The multi-time state placer headed to the University of Iowa will be a heavy favorite to repeat as a gold medalist once again.
“Burke Paddock is a stud,” Ferris said. “He’ll win whatever weight class he goes.”
Peacock, who has finished in the top three in Albany three times, including his title in 2012, said he’s likely to end his career at 132 pounds before moving on to the University at Buffalo. Peacock added to his resume this offseason when he earned All-America accolades at the NHSCA Nationals.
Recco capped off a stellar freshman campaign with a state championship at 99 pounds in 2012. However, he suffered an injury late in his tenth grade year after compiling a 41-3 mark and wasn’t able to participate in the postseason. He is likely going 113 this year. Will he and Peacock return to the top of the podium again?
“Peacock keeps getting better and he comes from a great group at Midlakes,” Ferris said. “He has lots of kids to push him. Recco will do well. He’s a good wrestler, smooth out there and experienced.”
Other than those previous New York champions, who are some of the wrestlers to watch this year in Division II?
Dane Heberlein of Alexander, a decorated youth wrestler who was fourth at the SuperSectionals last season as an undersized 99 pounder, continued to excel in the offseason and will be a force at the lightest weight.
“Heberlein is the 99 pounder to beat,” Ferris said. “He dominates kids in the youth circuits. He’s gotten bigger and I think he’s where he needs to be weight-wise. It was a big surprise to me when he lost at [Supers] because I think he’s really, really good.”
Ferris also mentioned Dylan Walker of Warsaw and Joseph Sliwoski of Wayne as wrestlers to watch in the lightest class.
Last year at 99, both Hunter Olena of East Rochester and Hammond Raes of Midlakes represented Section V in Albany. Both won a pair of matches, coming within one victory of the medal stand. This year, the pair could do battle at 106. Possibly joining them is Tyler Hamsher of Wayland Cohocton, who got his hand raised at that weight in the state capital a year ago after a 30+ win season.
“I think Hammond Raes will do very well at 106,” Ferris said. “There are a bunch of quality guys there. Hamsher is tough; he’ll compete. I think our guys do well in the small school division because there are 53 schools vying to represent the Section. If you’re the best out of that many, you’re usually competitive with the best in the state.”
Pal Mac’s Adam West was third at 106 at the Supers as an eighth grader with more than 30 wins and will be someone to watch as well.
Bryan Lantry of Wayne is a two-time state placer on his way to the University at Buffalo after this year. He took fourth in the large school tournament a year ago at 113 (after nabbing fifth at 99 the year before) and made the national podium at the NHSCA tournament in the spring. He followed with a big upset over Brent Fleetwood (ranked #6 nationally at the time) at the Super 32 Challenge in the fall. He will certainly be a state title contender in 2014.
“Lantry is a stud,” Ferris said. “He’ll be the guy to beat."
Like Lantry, Ralph Mateo of Midlakes made the podium in Albany last year. Mateo dropped his initial bout at the Times Union Center, but won three straight on the backside and ended in fifth. He’ll look for a repeat All-State performance in 2014.
“Mateo is tough – he’ll give you everything he’s got,” Ferris said. “I think given the experience he has and the environment he’s in, he’ll be successful. I think he’ll place again.”
A few more bronze medalists from last year’s state qualifier, Steve Strauchen of Attica and Colin Royce of Warsaw, are two others to track.
“Collin Royce stands out to me,” Ferris said. “He’s really tough. Warsaw always finds a way to breed tough wrestlers.”
Returning 138-pound qualifier Joel Rosko of Campbell Savona will look to improve upon his state tournament showing, while the wrestler who finished one spot behind him at the Supers, Warren Oderkirk of Pavilion, is also a strong returner.
“I like Oderkirk a lot,” Ferris said. “He can definitely compete. I think at 138 or 145 pounds, he’s a state level wrestler.”
Last year’s 152-pound bracket featured three wrestlers who went to the Times Union Center. In fact, Max Lloyd of Pal-Mac and Dan Woughter of Alfred-Almond met in the first round in Albany, with Lloyd notching a 10-7 decision.
Woughter bounced back with a pair of victories to fall just shy of All-State honors. Both wrestlers hope to get another shot at the Albany podium this time around.
Meanwhile, the SuperSectionals champion at 152 last season, Trey Duvall of Addison, came out strong in Albany, capturing his first two bouts, including an upset over the number two seed (Kyle Halladay of Chenango Valley). After losing to the eventual champion in the semis, he finished on a high note with a victory in the fifth place bout. He appears to be making a big jump, as he has wrestled his first few duals up several weights at 182 and 195.
We’ve already mentioned Burke Paddock, the future Hawkeye. His brother Aaron Paddock will look for his second NYS medal after picking up sixth at 103 in 2011. He made an incredible return to the sport last season and despite moving all the way up to 170 pounds, still managed to win 40 bouts, including a victory over state placer Collin Fox of Midlakes.
One of the wrestlers who has moved onto the national radar in the past year is Alfred-Almond’s Connor Calkins. It began with a first round upset by fall over returning finalist Alex Soutiere at heavyweight at the state tournament. Even before the pin, Calkins was in firm control of the bout.
After his All-State finish, Calkins scored some impressive victories in the offseason, including a triumph over national champion Jesse Webb of Vermont at the Journeymen Classic and a title at the Freak Show in Las Vegas in late October. The future Binghamton 285-pounder will certainly be a top contender for state gold in 2014.
“Calkins is a monster,” Ferris said. “He’ll do as well as anybody. I like his length and his strength. With the focus he has on the mat, he’ll do very, very well.”
Calkins was third at the Supers last year, with Christian Shepard of Geneva taking top billing and winning a match in Albany. Also look out for 220-pounder John Martisch of Penn Yan, a threat after a 38-7 campaign last year and Dan Welch of Avon, the highest returning placer at 182.
Midlakes lost a host of contributors, such as Tyler Smith, Jasen Charlette and Collin Fox, but still have plenty of proven talent on the roster, including the aforementioned Sean Peacock, Hammond Raes and Ralph Mateo. The team also boasts additional SuperSectional medalists Will Raes and Jeryd Graham.
“Midlakes already had a big win over Fairport,” Ferris said. “They’re pretty impressive.” [The squad also went 5-0 to win the Palmyra Macedon Duals].
Warsaw has a similar situation with the departure of multiple-time placers Tim Schaefer and Austin Keough. However, the Paddocks and Colin Royce, along with a trio of other 2013 SuperSectional placers – Dylan Royce, Josh Griffith and Mike Galton, make for a strong squad.
“Midlakes and Warsaw are two very good teams,” Ferris said. “And I think you’ll see Wayne give those teams a little bit of a push.”
Wayne is led by Bryan Lantry, but Ferris also mentioned Joseph Sliwoski and Nick and Luke Yankloski as some others to watch.
What other teams could be in the mix? Holley returns Alan White (fourth at 120), Martin Beadle (fourth at 132) and Kevin Avery (fifth at 145) while Palmyra Macedon features placers Todd Brockhuzlen (sixth at 195), Adam West (third at 106) and Max Lloyd (third at 152).
Thank you to all of the contributors to this article, especially Mike Ferris and Adam Burgos.
To read more of the Section previews released this season, see the links below: