With high school practice underway and the start of weight certifications, it's time to continue our previews from around New York State, with a glance at Section 8.
This article is written by New York Wrestling News, with contributions from coaches and observers.
Photo by BV
Returning Placers: Kyle Mosher (South Side), Jacori Teemer (Long Beach), Peter Pappas (Plainview)
Returning Qualifiers: Justin Vines (Wantagh), Alex Vargas (Syosset)
Nassau was very well represented in the lightweights in Albany, with Jacori Teemer of Long Beach winning his second consecutive state title.
"People will be gunning for Jacori," said Long Beach coach Ray Adams. "He's got his work cut out for him this year. There are adjustments that need to be made when you move up in weight. I believe that if he works hard and trains at a high level, he'll be right there again this year."
Teemer wasn't the only finalist in the lightweights, as Peter Pappas of Plainview went all the way to the championship match in Albany for the second year in a row. That was after Pappas, who placed in a stacked class at the Super 32 Challenge in early November, was defeated in the Section final by Syosset’s Alex Vargas, who came on strong toward the end of the season.
"Vargas looks very good," said VHW's Vougar Oroudjov. "He won the county last year and he's very tough on top."
Kyle Mosher of South Side showed he was ready as an eighth grader, nabbing fifth at 99 pounds at the Times Union Center.
"He's a great kid and a very hard worker," Adams said. "He's moving up in weight, but I expect him to be in the mix again."
Those wrestlers navigated some solid brackets at the Section 8 tournament with a number of wrestlers who could make an impact this time around. Justin Vines of Wantagh earned a spot at the state championships, but was unable to compete. Look for him to come back and make his debut this winter. Meanwhile, he has some teammates who could make an impact as well, including Jonathan Loew, Charles Maier, Michael Killard and James Langan.
"Vines will be a force to reckon with. He had some good battles with Mosher," Adams said. "Those guys are all tough."
Long Beach and Massapequa also had stacked lightweight groups, with Matt Maquet and Josh Bourne piling up wins for the Marines and Angelo Petrakis, Shane Gibbons, Garrett Gibbons, John Kalinoglu, Andrew Ashmawi and Travis Paradiso among those succeeding for the Chiefs.
"Matt Maquet was third in the county last year, fourth the year before," Adams said. "Both years he lost tough matches in the semis and just as easily could've been in the finals. Bourne beat Tommy Cox last spring. He's really improved; he has some good wins. The Massapequa guys put in the work; they're tough."
Among the others to keep an eye on are Farmingdale’s Kevin DePalma, Bellmore-JFK's Eric Brach, Garden City's Dylan Hughes and Oceanside’s Quinn O’Rourke.
Photo by BV
Returning Placers: Vito Arujau (Syosset), Ricky Stamm (Division)
Returning Qualifiers: Owen Bachelder (Hewlett)
Vito Arujau won multiple national championships since his sophomore season in New York ended and the Cornell-bound wrestler will look to dominate again in Nassau and the Empire State.
He was joined in Albany a year ago by placer (and NHSCA All-American) Ricky Stamm, who entered the Times Union Center unbeaten, as well as a grappler looking to break through to the podium after several trips to the “Big Show”, Owen Bachelder of Hewlett.
"Ricky moved up a few weights, but I don't think it will matter," Adams said. "His style will be fine and he'll be successful. Owen has worked hard and he's good kid. I think this is his year to punch through and place."
Tyrese Byron of Long Beach topped multiple All-State foes in 2014-15.
"Tyrese had some really good wins last year," Adams said. "I think he can go upstate and do really well. He's been working really hard."
Could Byron’s teammates Charlie Spada and Marc Paez make the trip to the state capital this season as well? Certainly. What about returning Nassau third placer Lucas Pincus of Hewlett or Lynbrook's Matt Swanson?
"Pincus has really stepped up," Oroudjov said. "He's wrestling tough every day, working hard with Vito. I think he can place in the state this year. Swanson is another guy who has really stepped it up."
Some others who are contenders in Nassau are Division’s Chris Ponce, Bellmore-JFK’s Matthew Schwartz, MacArthur’s Travis Cooksey, Port Washington’s Teddy Tanenbaum, Bethpage’s Sam Einbinder, Massapequa’s Jesse Bran-Umana and Garden City’s Timmy Schmelzinger.
Mepham teammates Greg Laupheimer and Matt Lambert both placed in the county at 145 last year, while Plainedge's Benjamin Re did the same at 138.
Another wrestler to monitor is South Side's Paolo Carre, who, according to Ascend Wrestling Club's Craig Vitagliano "could sneak up on people this year. He's a phenomenal athlete."
Returning Qualifiers: Jeremy Hughes (MacArthur), Tyreek Bromley (Long Beach)
Jeremy Hughes of MacArthur and Tyreek Bromley of Long Beach both took second in Nassau and earned bids to Albany. With that experience in hand, look for both to make deep runs in the postseason.
"Jeremy Hughes made it to the state tournament last year and he should go very far this year," Oroudjov said.
"Hughes is really tough," Adams added. "Bromley is looking good. He won a match upstate and he's making progress. He had a pretty good spring. If he's made the progress from last year to this year that he did from his freshman year to his sophomore year, he'll have a lot of success."
Additional Section silver medalists Arjuna Bello of Division and Mike Curiel of Hewlett didn’t get bids a year ago, but should be threats this year, along with the highest returning placer from last year’s 170 and 195 pound brackets, Paul Brachfeld of Massapequa and Liam Miller of Bethpage, respectively.
"Curiel is a really talented kid," Adams said. "He just missed on a wildcard last year. I think he has a really good shot this year; it could be his turn."
Wantagh’s Gavin Casey had a solid year as a freshman at 195, while Long Beach’s Mark Rivera nabbed fourth place at 220. [Great Ezihie was fourth as well but was not listed in Lawrence's trackwrestling roster at the time of this article's publication].
Farmingdale's Javier Hernandez and Alexander Pavlock, MacArthur's Sal DeLuca, Plainedge's Ryan Coder and Division's Ricky Almonte also placed in the top six in Nassau. Keep an eye out for Lynbrook's Zach Kornberg, who competed at Fargo, and MacArthur's Ryan O'Shea, among others.
Wantagh won the Section 8 tournament last year, while Long Beach captured the dual meet championship. Those two squads will be in the thick of things again with significant returning talent.
The Marines were eight points behind Wantagh and didn’t graduate a single place winner from the Nassau championships. In fact, gold medalist (and two-time state titlewinner) Jacori Teemer is back, along with Section second placers Tyrese Byron and Tyreek Bromley, a NYS qualifier in 2015. Add in Nassau bronze medalists Matt Maquet and Marc Paez, as well as additional placers Josh Bourne, Charlie Spada and Mark Rivera, as well as potential other contributors like Elijah Rodriguez, Joseph Giorlando, Brandon DeVivio and Pablo Martinez and this is a team that is capable of standing at the top.
"We're gonna be tough," Adams said. "If we can spread out our guys across the weights - that's crucial for us. We've very excited. If the kids work hard and get better every day, we can achieve some things at the end of the season."
But Wantagh hasn't won five straight titles by accident. The Warriors graduated state champion Kyle Quinn and a pair of county third placers, Blaise Kavanagh and Nick Rogers, but feature Nassau runner up Justin Vines, third placer Michael Killard and a host of other medalists such as James Langan, Charles Maier, Jonathan Loew and Gavin Casey, as well as other potential point scorers such as Andrew Eget and Larry Baker.
What other teams will be in the mix?
Massapequa has a slew of placers returning, like Angelo Petrakis, Shane Gibbons, John Kalinoglu, Travis Paradiso, Jesse Bran-Umana and Paul Brachfeld as well as additional tough competitors like Garrett Gibbons and Andrew Ashmawi.
Division offers some high end power with state placer and Hofstra recruit Ricky Stamm, Nassau runner up Arjuna Bello, third placer Chris Ponce and Ricky Almonte. Also bringing back four top six All-County grapplers is MacArthur with state qualifier Jeremy Hughes, Travis Cooksey, Sal DeLuca and Christian Dougherty.
Farmingdale, the second place dual team in the Section, will feature wrestlers like Kevin DePalma, Alexander Pavlock, Javier Hernandez and Ryan Charleston, while Hewlett boasts a trio of top three finishers from a year ago - multi-time qualifier Owen Bachelder, Mike Curiel and Lucas Pincus.
Syosset has a pair of returning champions - one of the nation’s best Vito Arujau and Alex Vargas.
At the end of the day, like last year, we expect an exciting showdown in February.
"Coach [Paul] Gillespie does a great job and Wantagh is always tough and deep," Adams said. "Massapequa works hard all offseason and is always really good. There are a bunch of good teams, but hopefully, we can finish on top."
Gomez, Photo by BV
Returning Placers: Jon Gomez (Locust Valley), Hunter Dusold (Locust Valley)
Returning 2015 State Qualifiers: Brandon Marohn (Clarke)
Jon Gomez is already a two-time state finalist who won it all at 106 as a sophomore. Hunter Dusold has been All-State each of the past two seasons, including NYS gold in 2014. They are expected to dominate again.
"Both guys have continued to work hard all year round," said Locust Valley coach Joe Enea. "We expect big things from them again this year."
Gomez and Dusold are the anchors of a strong and deep lightweight group for the Falcons, which also includes wrestlers like John Romano, Jack DeNatale, Andrew Cantatore and Jack Ward.
"We think Andrew Cantatore is ready to break through and get upstate," Enea said. "Last year he finished second in every tournament he wrestled in. He's right there, so hopefully he'll get his opportunity. Jack Ward has had three years on the varsity already and he's another guy who wrestles all year round. We're hoping he gets that big payoff and gets to Albany. Another guy we think could surprise is Matt Murcott."
Taking the 99 pound championship a year ago was Brandon Marohn of Clarke, who edged Keith Cassar of Oyster Bay by a point in the Nassau finals.
"Marohn is really tough and as a senior, that maturity and strength puts him in a different level. He's the guy to beat but there will be young guys there to push him," Enea said. "Cassar is also really good. Oyster Bay will have a really nice young team this year."
Indeed, Cassar will be joined at Oyster Bay by contenders Andre Perez and Jack Weibolt.
Some others to keep an eye on include previous state qualifier John DeRidder of Carle Place/Wheatley and Sean Morris of Island Trees, a runner up in the section last year.
"Sean Morris has put a lot of time in," Enea said. "He really dedicated himself to becoming more of a full time wrestler."
Returning Qualifier: Shawn Mosca (Carle Place/Wheatley)
All the Nassau champions from 126 to 152 pounds completed their high school eligibility, leaving space for some new faces to make their marks.
"With so many top guys graduating, it's wide open. There are lots of opportunities for guys to step up and win," Enea said.
Bailey O’Brien of Locust Valley is one possibility after winning close to 20 times last year.
"When you're a young wrestler in the middle weights, sometimes it's hard to compete," Enea said. "But Bailey did a good job and wrestled great at the county tournament. He's one of the guys who could make a name for himself."
The same could be said for Chris Williams of Island Trees, who lost by injury default in last year’s county title bout and Cold Spring Harbor's Christian Tartaglia who won his third place bout by bonus points.
"Williams and Tartaglia are two tough guys," Enea said. "I wouldn't be shocked to see them win the county and go upstate."
One wrestler who has already made his mark in Nassau is Carle Place/Wheatley’s Shawn Mosca, who wore the green Section 8 singlet at the state championships last year and will be a medal stand threat this time.
"Mosca absolutely has a shot to place this year," Enea said.
Tommy Ryan of Island Trees and Danny Cardenas of Clarke are the highest returning placers from last season’s 132 and 138 pound brackets, respectively, while Cold Spring Harbor's Jack Dimaio took third a year ago. Also look out for Locust Valley's Pat Briody and Jack Lasher of Seaford, among others.
Returning Qualifiers: James Rodriguez (Mineola), Alex Kaley (Cold Spring Harbor), Bryce Dusold (Locust Valley), Spencer Matthaei (Locust Valley)
"It's gonna be pretty competitive up top this year," Enea said. "With a small number of schools in the county, to have as many quality kids as we'll have this year in [the heavier weights] is really good."
The Locust Valley upperweight pair of Bryce Dusold and Spencer Matthaei offers strong experience. Matthaei upset top seeded Garrett Duvall in the first round in Albany last year, recording the fall.
Meanwhile Mineola’s James Rodriguez had a pin of his own at the Times Union Center, while Cold Spring Harbor’s Alex Kaley took the mat for Nassau there as well. Enea also mentioned that Kaley's teammate Eric Hansen is also a threat.
Another wrestler who will certainly be a factor is Seaford's Frank Lauretti, who lost by a point to eventual state placer Andrew Rakitzis in the Division 1 Nassau championships last year before injury defaulting to sixth. Lauretti's teammate Kevin Digney also had 25 wins in the upperweights a year ago. [Seaford has moved to Division 2, according to Enea].
"There are a lot of other guys to watch, like Kevin McDonough of Island Trees, who's tough and Anthony Buffolino and Dan Garcia of Clarke, who have been around for a while and should be right in the mix for a county title."
Also keep tabs on Locust Valley's Robert Hargrave and Carle Place/Wheatley's Matt Teemsma.
Locust Valley dominated on the way to the title at the Section 8 tournament by over 150 points. The squad graduated five Nassau champions from 2015 . . . but incredibly still returns four gold medalists. That includes state champions Jon Gomez, who is nationally ranked, and Hunter Dusold. Both have placed multiple times in Albany. Bryce Dusold and Spencer Mattheai will look to make the podium this year.
That’s not all for the Falcons. John Romano, Andrew Cantatore and Bailey O’Brien all nabbed second in the Section a year ago, while a host of others took top four spots - Gage DeNatale, Jack DeNatale, Jack Ward, Pat Briody, Alex Cassisi and Robert Hargrave. The squad lost some significant talent, but still looks like the strong favorite.
"We've been so fortunate to have the continuous ability to reload," Enea said. "Our youth program does a great job. We have a good crop of guys that wrestle the entire year and that helps us stay competitive. So even when we lose guys like we did, we should still have a good team."
Cold Spring Harbor and Island Trees were in a dead heat for second place at last year's Nassau championships, with the former finishing as the runner up by 0.5 points.
Cold Spring Harbor brings back a number of Nassau placers, including champion Alex Kaley and runner up Eric Hansen. They could be joined by Raymond Costa, Matthew Beroza, Colby Acker, Christian Tartaglia and Jack Demaio to once again rack up points in the postseason.
Island Trees saw several Nassau finalists leave, but could have silver medalists Sean Morris and Chris Williams back in the fold along with All-County grapplers Tyler Butrico, Tommy Ryan, Kyle Herguth and Kevin McDonough.
Both Clarke, with Brandon Marohn and runner up Dan Garcia leading the way, and Oyster Bay, with second placers Keith Cassar and Andre Perez, will be solid as well.
"Oyster Bay should surprise some people," Enea said. "They should have some numbers - 30 or so guys this year. Adding a tough Island Trees team last year was great and adding Seaford to the mix is great this year. Cold Spring Harbor has one of their better groups and they'll be tough. I know we have a lot of returning guys that placed but you gotta do it each year. You can't rest on what you did last year. We're not taking anyone lightly. I think the Section 8 team that goes upstate will be a tough one. So many good, quality guys graduated, but that means every weight class will be highly contested and I'm looking forward to those unknowns and that type of competition."
Thank you to all the contributors to this article. Special thanks to Ray Adams, Vougar Oroudjov, Craig Vitagliano, Joe Enea and Irwin Loew.