The first weekend of 2014 kicks off with a number of great events in New York, including the Union-Endicott Duals. Many of the state's top teams will clash in Section 4 for dual supremacy. The field is stacked - three of the top five squads in the NYSSWA's Division I rankings will be at the event with 10 of the 13 teams taking the mat currently included in the top 20.
We expect to bring you live coverage on Day 2 of the event.
The following is a quick preview of some things we're looking forward to at the tournament.
Group A: Hilton (8), Clarence (9), MacArthur (16) - (ranking is from NYSSWA Dual Poll)
In the first NYSSWA rankings, these squads were all in the top 20, including two top 10 teams - Hilton and Clarence.
Hilton won the Monroe County Championships in dominant fashion in December, fueled by the DePrez brothers - Vincent, Anthony and Lou and the nation's #1 106-pounder Yianni Diakomihalis. Clarence took second at the Teike-Bernabi, led by champion Jake Weber at 170 pounds. MacArthur has a pair of state finalists in the lineup – 2012 silver medalist (at 106) Justin Cooksey and Steve Schneider, a 2013 state runner up headed to Binghamton.
What are we looking forward to seeing in this group?
Let's start with 170 pounds. Schneider and Weber have both taken care of business so far and they are ranked second and third in our most recent state rankings. They met at 160 pounds at this event last year, with Schneider coming away with a 4-2 decision. We're looking forward to seeing what will happen this time around in what could be a preview of a match we'll witness at the Times Union Center. Freshman Mike Spallina of Hilton is 18-2 this season, with one of the losses to Weber. If he stays at this weight, we'll be interested in the rematch.
At 138, the previously mentioned Justin Cooksey could meet up with Hilton's Lou DePrez, a freshman who represented Section 5 at the state tournament a year ago.
Ashley, Photo by BV
Group B: Shenendehowa (4), Spencerport (14), Union-Endicott (20)
There will be some familiar faces in this group, as Shenendehowa and Spencerport both participated at last weekend’s Teike-Bernabi tournament. While those teams were in Section 5 over the break, Union-Endicott nabbed second at the Windsor Christmas tournament.
We may get to see some repeat bouts, as well as some new challenges from the host squad.
What are a few of the matches we’re looking forward to watching in this group?
At 195, we could see two of the state’s top grapplers, Shenendehowa’s Levi Ashley and Spencerport’s Trent Egenlauf, square off again. Ashley edged Egenlauf in the semis, 3-2, last weekend on his way to the title.
Spencerport’s Collin Pittman, the champion at 182 at the Teike Bernabi, could meet up with Union-Endicott’s Sammy Davis, who has put together a solid season and was fourth at Windsor. A pair of finalists at holiday tournaments - Shenendehowa's Kevin Parker (champ at Teike Bernabi) and Union-Endicott's Zack Bendick (runner up at Windsor) could battle at 138.
Group C: Monroe Woodbury (2), Johnson City (20), Brockport
Monroe Woodbury comes in with an impressive unbeaten record and a #2 state ranking. There are some very solid dual lineups in this bracket.
What are a few of the matches we’re looking forward to seeing in this group?
At 126 pounds, a pair of state qualifiers, Brockport’s Barton Peters and Monroe Woodbury’s PJ Smoot, could meet. Both have had good years, but both dropped a one-point decision at holiday events last weekend (Peters to Schroeder’s Tommy Lancie and Smoot to Division’s Ricky Stamm).
Monroe Woodbury's Evan Barczak also wrestled at the Times Union Center in 2013 (as an eighth grader) and he captured the Massapequa title last weekend. He could meet Johnson City's Isiah Colgan at 120. Colgan was third at the Teike Bernabi, and was unbeaten the previous day at the round robin event with a solid win over Rush Henrietta's Kevin Palmeri.
Group D: Minisink Valley (3), Burnt Hills (19), North Rockland, Rocky Point
We were a little surprised not to see North Rockland and Rocky Point in the dual meet rankings with their high quality lineups. Minisink Valley faced Burnt Hills in mid-December and came up with a victory. One thing is for sure – this group is going to be entertaining.
There’s a lot to look forward to here, but we’ll focus on 138 and 145 pounds where we expect that a number of participants will stand on the NYS podium in 2014.
138 Pounds: Matt Caputo of North Rockland is a two-time state placer looking to improve upon his fifth place showing in 2013, while Mike Raccioppi was one bout short of the medal stand a year ago. James Matias of Rocky Point might be less known to some fans, but he has been dominant thus far. Every match at this weight should be fun.
145 Pounds: Tommy Dutton of Rocky Point, Joey Butler of Burnt Hills and Blaise Benderoth of North Rockland all won matches at the Times Union Center last year and all are in the top 7 of our latest NYS rankings. Butler topped Dutton for third in Albany in 2013. There should be some great bouts among those wrestlers . . . and don’t forget about Minisink Valley’s Frankie Hernandez who already has close to 20 wins.
One more thing . . . Jake Ashcraft of Burnt Hills, a returning state qualifier, has had a great year thus far. He could have some tough matches with Rocky Point's Joe Russo (who made it to Day 2 at the Super 32 Challenge this fall), former NHSCA All-American Nick Wentland of Minisink Valley and Nick Didio, who is quietly undefeated for North Rockland, according to the NWCA Scorebook.
Check back for more details on our tournament coverage.