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Super Seniors: Top 12th Graders to Watch Out for This Season

By BV, 09/08/16, 5:45PM EDT


With school underway, it's time to look at the top seniors in the state. New York features two of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the nation, Cadet World Team members Yianni Diakomihalis and Vito Arujau. However, the talent in the Class of 2017 doesn't stop there. Read on to see which 12th graders we're keeping an eye on this season. 


Photo by BV

Diakomihalis won a Cadet World championship in Freestyle last year and will go for another next week while representing Team USA again in Georgia at the Cadet Worlds. A four-time state champion at Hilton, Diakomihalis is ranked as the #2 pound-for-pound wrestler in the nation and the #1 138-pounder in the country by FloWrestling. Intermat also ranks Diakomihalis as the #2 recruit in the United States. Among his many other achievements were titles at FloNationals and the Super 32 Challenge (three times in high school).

College Commitment: Cornell


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Arujau will compete for the United States at the Cadet Freestyle World championships this month after dominating his way to the UWW Cadet Nationals title. The three-time state champion and one time runner up is listed as the #5 pound for pound wrestler in the nation by FloWrestling and #1 at his weight class. Intermat’s #3 recruit in the country, Arujau has a plethora of achievements, including MOW honors last year after championships both at Fargo (Cadet Freestyle) and NHSCA Nationals and a third place finish at the Super 32 (beating Daton Fix for the bronze).

College Commitment: Cornell


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DePrez, a four-time state qualifier for Hilton, took third as a freshman before winning NYS championships as both a sophomore and junior. Ranked a top 25 recruit by both FloWrestling and Intermat in the Class of 2017, DePrez sits at #4 at 170 pounds, according to Flo. DePrez has made the podium at the FloNationals multiple times and was the Super 32 Challenge runner up in 2015. 

College Commitment: Binghamton


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Heberlein has earned a spot in the state finals each of the past three seasons, including crowns in both 2014 at 99 pounds and 2016 at 120. That 120 bracket included several standouts, including a pair of additional NYS titlewinners (Theo Powers and Jon Gomez) as well as multiple returning placers. Heberlein has taken third place at the Super 32 and second at the NHSCA Nationals. Intermat ranks him as a top 100 recruit in the Class of 2017. Heberlein told NYWN in August that he is considering Appalachian State, Buffalo, Army West Point and Binghamton.


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Richard has made the medal stand at several major national events - NHSCAs, FloNationals and Fargo (Greco). He was a bronze medalist as a freshman at the New York state tournament before grabbing first place in his 10th and 11th grade years at the Times Union Center for Holland Patent. Richard is ranked 8th in the country at 152 pounds and as the #80 recruit in the Class of 2017 by FloWrestling.

College Commitment: Cornell


Pappas is currently ranked as a top 80 recruit in the Class of 2017 by Intermat (#76), while FloWrestling had him in the weight class rankings earlier this summer. Pappas made the state finals in both 2014 and 2015, losing to Yianni Diakomihalis both times. The Nassau standout was an All-American both in a loaded bracket at the Super 32 in 2015 at 126 pounds and at the NHSCA Nationals (third in 2014). 


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Gomez was a state finalist as a freshman and returned to the championship match as a sophomore, where he took gold. The Locust Valley wrestler added a third place showing as a junior. FloWrestling calls Gomez the #81 recruit in the country in the Class of 2017 and he has a resume including an NHSCA National championship and two All-American finishes in Fargo Cadet Freestyle.

College Commitment: Princeton


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Robinson made his mark as a junior, going unbeaten against NYSPHSAA wrestlers in 2015-16 on the way to the 220 pound state championship in Division 1. The Suffolk County wrestler followed up with a fourth place performance at the NHSCA Junior Nationals in 2016. Ranked #18 in the nation by FloWrestling at 220, he’ll be a favorite in the upperweights in New York again this year.


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Ferro is a three-sport standout at Warwick Valley, which makes his success on the mat even more impressive. As a freshman 152 pounder, he came within one win of placing in Albany and as a sophomore, he notched third in a strong 145-pound bracket. This year, he went to the top, with all four wins by pin or technical fall at the Times Union Center for the Division 1 state title after notching second at the Eastern States.


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Peru emerged as a force during his junior campaign, winning his first state championship while losing only once - to the (at the time) national #1 Dakota Geer of Pennsylvania. Peru racked up more than 30 pins during the season and his efforts didn’t go unrecognized nationally, as FloWrestling lists him as the #12 grappler in the country at 182 pounds. 


Tanner, Photo by BV

Two more state champions from 2016 were discussed, Wayne’s Matt Caccamise and Adirondack’s Andrew Tanner.  Tanner is currently ranked nationally at heavyweight by FloWrestling after his Division 2 NYS crown, while Caccamise was a NYS Freestyle champion. 

In addition, three-time placer and two-time finalist Hunter Dusold of Locust Valley (a 2016 NYS Greco champ and 2014 NYSPHSAA titlewinner) was under strong consideration, as was Jason Hoffman of Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George. Hoffman has been a factor on the statewide scene for years, with a fourth place finish as a freshman at 145, a runner up showing at the state tournament in 2015 and a third place medal last year.

Anthony Cirillo of Rocky Point took third at 113 pounds at the state tournament this year after nabbing fourth at that weight the year before.  Cirillo has also been an All-American at Virginia Beach multiple times, while Conor Melbourne of John Jay Cross River was a finalist at the NHSCAs twice, won a NYS Freestyle crown in 2016 and is in the national polls according to Flowrestling at 145 pounds right now (#15). A few spots behind him is Monroe Woodbury’s Evan Barczak, a two-time state placer who won a Southeast Regionals title in Freestyle and has been an NHSCA All-American on more than one occasion. The Section 9 wrestler has been in the thick of things in New York for quite some time as a four-time qualifier.

Taking silver status in 2016 in Albany were wrestlers like John Devine of Columbia, Ryan Ellefsen of Goshen, Shawn Mosca of Carle Place/Wheatley, Tanner Cook of Central Valley Academy and Ian Chedzoy of Watkins Glen. Ellefsen, Mosca and Cook were all NHSCA All-Americans in 2016 as well. Devine won a NYS Freestyle title.

Keep an eye out for Brandon Nunez of John Bowne, a 2016 state placer who was a double All-American at Fargo this summer, after earning two titles at the NYS Freestyle and Greco state tournament this year. 


The following wrestlers have earned All-State accolades twice:

Emerson Block (Palmyra Macedon), Trey LaFlamme (South Jefferson), Mitch Seaver (Lockport) and Phil Spadafora (Half Hollow Hills East).

Earning spots on the podium in 2016 were:

Laith Alsous (Lewiston Porter), Billy Bolia (Fairport), Connor Breit (Nanuet), Tyreek Bromley (Long Beach), Jeffrey Browne (Connetquot), Noah Curreri (Eldred-Liberty), Connor Day (Iroquois), Dylan Dubuque (Columbia), Randy Earl (John Jay East Fishkill), Kendall Elfstrum (Monroe Woodbury), Mike Fekishazy (Wallkill), Evan Frank (John Jay Cross River), Christian Gramuglia (Burnt Hills), Noah Grover (Warsaw), James Hoeg (Mattituck), Anthony Malfitano (Pearl River), Mike Mattison (Brockport), Matt Maquet (Long Beach), Anthony Moffo (Morrisville-Eaton), Hammond Raes (Midlakes), Shvunte Searcy (Marathon), Jacob Smeader (Hamburg), Ben Tepperman (Hauppauge), Adam Wagner (South Seneca), Jordan Wallace (New Rochelle), Cliffton Wang (Edgemont) and Tanner Zagarino (Mattituck).

Previous All-State wrestlers include Carson Dobozy (Peru), Austin Hertel (Hilton), Mason Hoose (Canisius), Garyn Huntley (Oxford), Nick Jones (Dunkirk), Tanner Lapiene (Ogdensburg) and AJ Putt (Maple Grove).

NHSCA All-Americans not yet mentioned include:

Zach Ancewicz (John Glenn), Connor Hamilton (Adirondack), Brendan Marsocci (Byron Bergen), Ryan Mock (Huntington), Travis Race (Fulton), Mike Spallina (Hilton), Matt Swanson (Lynbrook), Mike Venosa (Victor) and CJ Walz (CVA).

Both Vito Smolyak of Poly Prep and Trevor Snow of General Brown were Fargo All-Americans in 2015.