The first weekend of 2014 is officially in the books, and boy was it eventful. With several of the top teams gathered under one roof for the Union-Endicott Duals, the rest of the Empire State knew it needed to work hard in order to command space in the headlines. The challenge was embraced and the New Year was kicked off in blazing fashion. Here is only a sampling of the remarkable efforts put forth outside of U-E:
Kahramonov Wins Loaded 132 Bracket At David Ironman Invitational; Sachem North Takes Home Title
Seeded second at the 29th Annual David Ironman Invitational, returning NYS placewinner Saidyokub Kahramonov (New Utrecht) would be the last man standing in a 132-pound bracket that featured 2x Prep All-American, Jawan Jones (St. Benedicts, NJ), 2013 NYS Private School Champion, Lenny Merkin (Poly Prep) and All-Suffolk wrestler, Sean O’Hagan (Sachem North). Advancing to the title match when he defeated O’Hagan 7-4 in a battle of the fifth and sixth ranked wrestlers in the state, Kahramonov would put the finishing touches on an amazing weekend when he posted a 6-4 decision in sudden victory to upend Jones in the finals.
Winning a battle of returning sectional placewinners at 120 pounds was MLK senior Danny Amancio, who defeated Clarkstown North’s Brian Hong 14-5 in the title match. Amancio, a PSAL DI runner up last season for the Knights, cruised to the title on Saturday afternoon, scoring bonus points in all three of his matches (one pin, two major decisions). The title, which came on the eve of the #1 ranked wrestler in New York City’s birthday, was a heck of a present that he gave to himself.
Speaking of the best of the best in the five boroughs, two young men who made history last season by winning NYS titles continued to roll as the calendar hit 2014. At 170 pounds, Adis Radoncic (ranked 19th in the nation per InterMat) defeated Amancio’s teammate Alex Palmer, 12-4, to win the hardware. Radoncic, who transferred to Poly Prep before the start of the 2013-2014 season, became the first PSAL wrestler in history to go all the way in Albany when he won the crown at this same weight class as a junior at RKA.
Also showing no signs of slowing down was Richard Sisti of the host school, Monsignor Farrell. The defending NYS DI champion at 220 pounds, Sisti was the first Lion wrestler to ascend to the top of the podium when he won gold last season. The #16 ranked wrestler in the land would show those in attendance why he’s considered among the best in the country, pinning all three of his foes in the first period.
Winning the team title was Sachem North, which took top honors with a nine-and-a-half point advantage over second place St. Benedict's Prep. Placing nine guys total, seven of whom were finalists, the Flaming Arrows got championship efforts from Matthew Marino (138), Anthony Nunziatta (145), Bobby Turner (160) and Kenneth Oberlis (182). Dropping their finals bouts were 99-pounder Eddie Galante (lost by first period fall to Xavier’s Dylan Ebanks), 195-pounder Austin Gatti (lost to Farrell’s Michael Newman, 9-2), and Anthony DiMatteo (lost to Sisti by fall) at 220.
Calderone Tops Stramiello; Muldoon Bests D’Angelo; JG’s Depth Leads To Shoreline Title
In a potential preview of a state tournament bout, it was #3 NYS ranked Joe Calderone (Walt Whitman) picking up the signature 5-2 victory over #6 John Stramiello of Pine Bush in the 113-pound final at the Ted Murphy Shoreline Invitational. The win on Saturday evening marked the second straight year that the 2012 NYS placewinner from Suffolk defeated the 2x All-Stater Stramiello in the finals of this tournament. Last season at this same weight class, it was Calderone earning an 8-4 decision over Stramiello.
One of four champions on the day for Whitman, Calderone was joined on the top step by teammates Hekmat Naeemi (138), Terhon Legros (170), and Vin Feola (220) in leading their team to a runner up finish in the team standings. Feola’s “w” in the finals was also notable as he reigned victorious over returning NYS DI qualifier John Hartnett of Tappan Zee, 7-4.
Another war of state-ranked wrestlers pitted a pair of returning large school placewinners at 132 pounds. Getting his hand raised was #3 John Muldoon (Pearl River), who avenged a 7-3 semifinal loss last season at this event by winning a decision in the finals by the narrowest of margins, 3-2 over #7 Mike D’Angelo of Commack. Last season, Muldoon finished 4th at the Times Union Center, while D’Angelo took home 5th place honors. They did not meet at the state tournament.
Pulling one of the few upsets was John Glenn big man Edwin Rubio, who doubled up returning NYS placer Mike Manni of Tappan Zee, 4-2 in the 285-pound title bout. An HM selection in the recent NYWN rankings, more wins like the one he posted on Saturday will be a surefire way for Rubio to launch himself into the future polls.
Rubio was one of two champs for Glenn, the other being 106-pounder, Zach Ancewicz. However, the squad would feature 12 placers in New Rochelle. Leaving town with runner up finishes were Chris D’Amico (126) and Dan Kohout (182); Sean Wieck (99) and Derek O’Brien (152) would be bronze medalists; Greg Witthuhn (106) would claim fourth; Ian Cange and Anthony Pino would go back-to-back in earning fifth place showings at 195 and 220 respectively; and the trio of Tommy DiBenedetto (132), Matt Porrello (160), and Gill Bonilla (170) would round out the placewinners with 6th place performances.
2013 NYS DI champion (@120), Alex Delacruz (Ossining) would repeat as a Shoreline Champion, showing no mercy in his four matches, winning the 126-pound title behind two pins and a pair of major decisions that witnessed him outscore the opposition by a tally of 30-10. Delacruz and Calderone were the only repeat champs on the day.
Speaking of Events in Section 1 ...
Colonie won the Ketcham Dual Tournament over the weekend, going unbeaten in the process. In Colonie's meet against John Jay East Fishkill, there were a few interesting results worth noting. Two wrestlers in last week's NYS rankings met at 195 pounds. JJEF's Brett Perry, #2 at 182, bumped up to defeat Wayne Burt of Colonie (#7 at 195), 6-4. Meanwhile, Perry's teammate Jay Albis topped returning state placer Golan Cohen at 120. Arlington's Brady Robin also defeated Cohen, who (as of late last week) was registered for Eastern States down at 113.
Sem Comes, Sees, and Conquers At The Elinsky
Fresh off a team title at the Bethlehem Hurricane Classic and not far removed from a third place effort at the Beast of the East, the #7 ranked team in the nation, Wyoming Seminary (PA), made the journey to participate in the Stan Elinsky Tournament on the campus of Deposit-Hancock High School in Section IV.
Featuring a roster full of returning Prep All-Americans and two nationally ranked wrestlers, the squad ran away with the team title, led by former Oxford Academy Head Coach/ Binghamton assistant Scott Green. Winning eight of the 15 weight classes with two others settling for runner up honors, the perennial national powerhouse would accumulate 321.5 points, creating and sustaining a 100+ point lead over Middletown High School (208.5).
Included in this lot of champions was native New Yorker John Busiello, who went all the way at 106 pounds. A 2013 NYS bronze medalist as a freshman for Eastport-South Manor in the 99 pound bracket, Busiello transferred to Sem before the start of his sophomore campaign. Busiello was so in control this weekend that his closest match was the 15-0 technical fall he posted in the finals. Prior to that, he had secured a pair of first period pins. Fellow Empire Stater Greg Kleinsmith (previously of Johnson City), would take home the silver at 170 pounds, dropping a 5-1 decision to Quinn Zsido of Cornwall.
In one of the spotlighted finals matches, Sem senior and future Columbia Lion Matt Doggett pinned 2013 Cadet Greco-Roman All-American Garyn Huntley (Oxford) with 40 seconds remaining in the second period to be the last man standing in the 220 pound bracket.
The two nationally ranked wrestlers for Sem who competed this weekend, #10 Nick Reenan (152) and #18 Chris Weiler (160) would combine to go 7-0, with only two of these bouts lasting the full six minutes.
When contacted to speak about his team’s showing this weekend, Green immediately redirected the focus to the resurgence of Deposit’s program, pointing at how it has gone from “at risk a decade ago to just outside of the top-10 in the state.” The host squad would take third place in the team standings, seizing a pair of titles at 99 (#4 in NYS Dean Raymond) and at 126 (Trevor Stiles). In addition, the squad would have five silver medalists - Stephen McKee (106), Brandon Macumber (113), Levi Wormuth, Marcus Shaver (195) and Dan Babcock (285).
Some Battles in Section 3 ....
At the Fallen Heroes Tournament at Canastota, Corning's Blake Abbey captured the 106 pound championship with a 6-5 victory over the #1 99 pounder in last week's NYS rankings, Kelan McKenna of New Hartford. McKenna, a 2013 NYS placer, is expected to return to the lightest class for next weekend's Eastern States Classic. Taking MOW honors at the event were Phoenix's William Hilliard (182) and Holland Patent's Hunter Richard.
Also in Section 3, some wrestlers mentioned in the NYS rankings squared off at the Leo J Sammon tournament. Top-ranked 138 pounder Tristan Rifanburg of Norwich captured an 8-4 decision over Central Valley's Laken Cook for the title. (Rifanburg was named MOW). Meanwhile, Indian River's Sonny McPherson defeated Dolgeville's Triston Engle for the 170-pound crown by a 6-4 score.
45th Peru Wrestling Classic Won by the Host Team
The host team won the title at the 45th Peru Wrestling Classic on the strength of five champions - Carson Dobozy (99), Ethan Feazelle (126), Jay Oakes (138), Tanner Phillips (152) and Jordan Bushey (160).
Massena's Nathan Marshall defeated 2013 NYS placer Tanner Lapiene of Ogdensburg Free Academy for the 113-pound title.
Lapiene's teammate Brody Sheppard picked up some hardware, winning the 120 pound championship and earning lightweight OW honors in the process.
The OW in the heavyweights went to Champlain Valley Union's Grant Poston, who was the winner at 170.
Long Island Tournies Galore
Battle for the Belt At Syosset
The Battle for the Belt on the campus of Syosset High School went to the contingent from Kings Park (Section XI) as they crowned three champions, had two runners up, and five other placewinners to outdistance Northport. The host Braves took 3rd in the team polls. Winning individual titles for Kings Park were Joe Atkins (decisioned Manhasset’s Patrick Fahey 3-2 at 145), Steven Lee (the #4 ranked wrestler in Suffolk defeated the #2 ranked grappler from Nassau, Sal Lanzilotta of Great Neck South, 3-1, at 182 pounds), and returning state placewinner Nick Weber, who lived up to his #3 rankings in NYS by pinning his way to the 195-pound title on Saturday. Only Weber’s finals opponent, Lawrence’s Hamza Ramza, took the bout beyond the 1:00 mark when he got pinned with 34 seconds remaining in the second period.
Two other NYWN state ranked wrestlers would also get their hand raised in title bouts as the #6 106-pounder, Peter Pappas (Plainview JFK) blitzed the field with three straight falls, before putting an exclamation point on his body of work with a 14-0 major decision in the championship bout over Kings Park’s Taylor Picciano. Returning state runner up/#1 113-pounder in the state, Vito Arujau, would look every bit the part of his billing, notching three falls and a 10-1 major decision to clinch the hardware. In the title bout, Arujau would win an All-Syosset affair by pinning Alex Vargas 34 seconds into the second period.
Locust Valley Tournament
Locust Valley would defend the home turf this weekend, putting seven wrestlers into title matches (with four champions) to take the team crown over second place Wantagh. Getting the spoils for the host school would be two-time state runner up Nick Casella (120), returning NYS placewinner Sam Ward (138), as well as 2013 state qualifiers Michael Dusold (145) and Jordan Formicola (160). Casella would be named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler following his 16-1 technical fall win in the finals over Levittown-Division’s Nicholas Carreras. Ward would also be firing on all cylinders, scoring early and often to the tune of a 16-5 major decision over the #5 ranked NYC wrestler, William Hernandez of Brooklyn Tech. Dusold would have the upper hand in all 360 seconds of his title bout as he went on to cruise to a 14-1 major decision over Erick Vilchez (Sewanhaka East), while Formicola would have the easiest time of all, needing just under 1:00 to earn the fall over Putnam Valley’s Angelo Zegarelli.
Defending state champion Kyle Quinn (Wantagh) would also have a banner afternoon, earning the gold at 113 pounds with a 6-2 decision over Dusold’s brother, Hunter, in a clash of defending Nassau County Champs.
Fellow past and present state qualifiers, Nathanael Rose (195) and Miguel Perez (220) would give Gotham’s Eagle Academy a pair of titlists when they went back-to-back with winning efforts. Rose, who starts 2014 ranked 6th in NYS, would have his offense working overtime, as he recorded the 23-8 technical fall over Brian Drewes (Locust Valley). Perez, known to be a natural pinner, would let his abilities take over, getting the fall with 34 seconds left in the first period to defeat the #3 ranked wrestler in Nassau, Sewanhaka East’s James Kadnar.
Wantagh’s Nick Vines, the top-ranked 152-pounder in Section VIII would prove why he is regarded as the man to beat in Nassau this season when he upended defending PSAL champion Nigel Williams (Eagle Academy), 5-4.
Ted Petersen Tournament at Island Trees
Even though they would only earn only one individual title, the Chiefs of Massapequa High School would utilize their A-Z depth to take home the team crown at the Ted Petersen Tournament, hosted by Island Trees. Winning the lone championship would be Shane Gibbons (99), who proved that seniority does have its benefits in receiving a walkover victory against younger sibling, Garrett, in the finals of the lightest weight class.
Winning Inter-County bragging rights among ranked competitors would be Kyle Mock (106), John Arceri (113), Adrian Berry (132), Louis Hernandez (152), Julius Diaz (160) and Anthony Puca (220).
Mock (Huntington), the #1 ranked 99 pounder in Suffolk would jump up to 106 to topple the #6 ranked Section VIII wrestler, Jon Kalinoglu of Massapequa, 10-9. Arceri (also of Huntington), ranked #2 in Section XI and 4th in NYS, would defeat fellow 2013 state qualifier, Chris Donnelly (Island Trees; ranked #3 in Nassau), 4-1. A third Blue Devil, Puca, ranked 7th in NYS, defeated Farmingdale’s Bryan Tenny, 3-2 in a contest matching the #1 ranked DI wrestler from each Long Island county.
Uniondale’s Berry, the #4 ranked wrestler in Nassau, recorded one of the biggest victories of his career when he decisioned 2012 NYS qualifier Corey Jamison (Huntington), 3-1. Defending NYS champion Hernandez would take care of business, earning bonus points with a 14-5 major decision over yet another Huntington finalist, Brandon Mendez (ranked #6 in Suffolk). Diaz (Freeport), ranked #2 in Nassau @152, would come up a weight class to get the better of the #3 Suffolk ranked athlete, Joseph Puca (Huntington), 4-1.
Coming through in a BIG way was 285-pound champion, Vinny Manna (Island Trees) when he scored the 4-1 decision over Massapequa’s Tim Gungor. Manna entered the weekend ranked #3 in Nassau, with Gungor just in front of him in the #2 slot. This “w” will clearly result in a reversal of those positions.
Rocky Gilmore Tournament At East Islip
In a field that featured three of the top-10 tournament teams in Suffolk County, #1 in NYS Sachem East would demonstrate countless times that the spot atop the polls is warranted as the squad exited the East Islip gymnasium with six individual champions, three additional finalists, and 21 total placewinners in establishing a 48 point margin over second place Brentwood. The first to strike gold for the Flaming Arrows would be 126-pounder Anthony Messina (ranked #3 in Suffolk), who won a critical match for seeding purposes when he doubled up the county’s #4 ranked athlete, Sal Cipolla (East Islip), 6-3.
Two weight classes later, it would be Peter Longo’s turn when he took the 138-pound title with a 5-2 decision over Michael Cardona (Brentwood). #2 in Suffolk/#6 in NYS Jakob Restrepo would make it two in a row for his school with a 19-3 technical fall victory over Dylan McGovern (Bayport-Blue Point). The TF was the fourth bonus point outcome earned by Restrepo, who also notched a pair of falls in his first two matches and a 15-3 major decision in the semifinals. Tim Friedman (160) would be the fourth champ with a 3-1 decision over Brandon Croteau (Bayport-Blue Point).
The tournament's Outstanding Wrestler, Mark Tracy (#1 in Suffolk/#6 in NYS), would be the next car in this runaway train lineup as he pinned Mt. Sinai’s Joe Vella in 63 seconds to lock up the 182-pound title. Tracy did not have a match go beyond the first period, with his longest bout being a quarterfinal pin in 1:15. Tacking on one final gold for Sachem East would be Sean Dee, who like Tracy, would pin his way to a first place finish, going 2-0, including a fall at the 5:38 mark in the finals over Christian Ohlenschlaegar of Harborfields. Dee entered the tournament as the #6 wrestler in Suffolk, with his finals opponent being slotted just ahead of him. This decisive “w” should result in a shifting of spots.
Winning three of the four titles on behalf of the hosts were a trio of state recognized wrestlers: Jesse Dellavecchia (120), Dennis Ferro (152), and Erik Adon (170). Dellavecchia, who finished 4th in NYS last season at 99 pounds, took to the mats this weekend as the #4 ranked wrestler in Suffolk/HM in the NYWN rankings. He will most definitely be moving up on at least one of these lists as he upended the person directly in front of him, Tim Johnson (Harborfields), 8-3. Ferro, who just missed placement in the NYS tournament last season and is currently ranked 6th in NYS, would win his first round match by forfeit and then proceed to pin his next three opponents, including a first period mat slap in the championship bout over Jamie Rivas (Brentwood). Emerging with the biggest win of the three would be Adon, who won a 6-3 decision over Sachem East’s Michael Pistone in a showdown of Honorable Mention ranked middleweights. Winning the fourth title for the Redmen would be 195-pounder, Justin Rigo, who went 3-0 with two pins and a 7-0 decision en route to the top prize.
33rd Annual Niagara Frontier Wrestling Officials Invitational (NFWOA)
How deep was this year’s field at the NFWOA? It was so stacked that in multiple cases, it took being at least being a former/returning NYS qualifier or a NHSCA All-American to just entertain the notion of winning gold. With nine of the 15 champions meeting one of these criteria, spots on top of the podium did not come easily this weekend.
Standing out, as they often do when they step on the mat, were a murderer’s row consisting of champions Anthony Argentieri (113, Kenmore West), Bradley Bihler (120, Maple Grove), Anthony Orefice (126, Lockport), Cody McGregor (132, Tonawanda), Rocco Russo (138, Frontier), Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (145, Cheektowaga), and Ryan Kromer (152, Lewiston-Porter). A pair of upperweights, James Empfield (195, Lancaster) and Marshall Taylor (220, Lockport) would also shine on Saturday evening.
Argentieri, who took 6th at Freshmen Nationals last offseason, would post one of the most significant wins of his career when he earned a 6-1 decision over returning NYS bronze medalist Ryan Hetrick of Southwestern in the 113-pound title match.
Holding serve and keeping a lock and key on the top spot in the Section VI rankings would be Bihler. The returning NYS 3rd place finisher would face a tough test in returning state qualifier/#2 in Section VI, Drew Marra (Olean), but Bihler would ultimately rise to the occasion and come up clutch, winning a hard fought 3-2 decision. Marra was a 4th place finisher in Albany in 2012.
Orefice, who has a bit of a chip on his shoulder this season after placing in the state capital as an 8th grader and freshman, but missing the medal stand in 2013, would be a man on a mission, pinning anyone who stepped on the mat with him (5-0; 5 falls), including getting the stick with short time on the clock (5:50) against the #3 ranked Section V wrestler, Thomas Lancie (Webster-Schroeder) in the finals.
Another wrestler who competed this weekend with something to prove was McGregor. Identical to Orefice, McGregor finished top-6 in NYS in both 2011 and 2012. Unlike his peer from Lockport, McGregor would not even make the trip to the Times Union Center last year, making 2014 his season to show he is as dangerous as ever. He would achieve his goal on Saturday, winning an All-Section VI contest against DJ Marshall of Lewiston-Porter, 7-1.
Russo, a three-time DI state qualifier would also keep a tight grip on his top sectional ranking, defeating the #2 wrestler in Section 6, Danny Graham (West Seneca East), 3-2.
Nationally ranked Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, the defending small school state champion who sits at the head of the 145-pound table in the Empire State, would take no prisoners over the weekend, logging a fall, two technical falls, and a 16-7 major decision to claim the 145-pound title.
Kromer, a returning 4th place finisher in NYS/#5 ranked NYWN 152-pounder, would also not be in a dealing mood on day #1 of the tournament, outscoring his first two opponents by a combined total of 31-3. On the second day, the matches would get closer, but the result would stay the same as the Lewiston-Porter senior would take the title with a 6-4 decision over Maple Grove’s Brian Westerdahl.
Empfield, who went 1-2 in Albany, would have everything working for him, earning bonus points in his first three matches of the event before winning a comfortable 9-4 decision in the finals over Jake Penhollow (Falconer). With the title-winning effort, Empfield further reaffirmed his stance at the top of the S6 polls.
Taylor would put on a fireworks display, wasting no time at all in taking care of opponent after opponent, with three sub-1:00 falls (including a 42 second pin in the finals over #3 ranked wrestler from Section VI, Mitch Luttuca of Lancaster), and an early third period fall in the semifinals.
Also winning titles at the NFWOA were: Mitchell Seaver (99, Lockport), Jemone Carter (106, Niagara Falls), Howie Nolan (160, Maple Grove), Richie Jones (St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute---#1 in the CHSAA), Chris Wills (182, Starpoint), and Marcelus Hinton (285, Lockport).
Lockport, with four champs, one runner up, and 10 total placewinners would snatch the team crown ahead of second place Webster-Schroeder. Lewiston-Porter would find themselves in the bronze medal position.
Rodriguez-Spencer would be named as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler; Orefice’s five falls would earn him the Aggregate Pin trophy.
That was some of the action this weekend. Looking forward to more, especially with the Eastern States Classic approaching ....