This article is from 02/13/14
Sectionals weekend is almost upon us. Many spots for the New York State tournament will be filled and the wildcard speculation will begin. We thought we’d share some of the classes we think could be very interesting as the action unfolds. There are both Division I and Division 2 stories below.
Clarence’s Dylan Arena was cruising along, with just one loss at 99 (back in late December). He defeated Lockport’s Mitchell Seaver twice along the way. However, last weekend in Section 6, it was Seaver getting his hand raised after a 2-0 win over Arena. Will there be another clash over the next few days with a lot more at stake? Maybe. But Sweet Home’s Trent Nadeau is another formidable wrestler in the field.
Meanwhile, far away from the Buffalo area, Suffolk County promises to have an intriguing 99-pound bracket. In fact, last year Section 11 had the top seed and the eventual third and fourth place finishers in NYS (large school) at this weight. In 2014, there are once again a plethora of outstanding wrestlers who could place high in Albany – if they get there. Kyle Mock of Huntington, Adam Busiello of Eastport South Manor and Jake Silverstein of Hauppauge were all in the top 8 in our latest NYS rankings. However, that’s not all. Deer Park’s Thomas Cox has wins over both Busiello and Silverstein (twice in overtime, including last weekend). In addition, there are several others who could make a run, including Anthony Sparacio of North Babylon (whose only loss according to the Scorebook was 1-0 to Mock) and James Trezza of Smithtown East.
Also on the Island, fans could see a rematch of a very entertaining early season bout between Long Beach’s Jacori Teemer and Wantagh’s Jonathan Loew, a 13-10 victory for Teemer. Both have at least 35 wins and have had strong seasons. Who will wear the green Nassau singlet in Albany?
Section 5 has the #1 106 pounder in the country – Hilton’s Yianni Diakomihalis. He has a good chance of facing Penfield’s Parker Kropman, the Eastern States champion, for the third time of the season after a decision and a pin in their previous meetings.
While Kropman was certainly one of the stars of the Eastern States, Hauppauge’s Ben Tepperman also had a breakout performance. After beating returning champion and #1 seed Chris Cuccolo of St. Benedict’s (NJ) in the opening round, he nabbed third, including a victory over All-Stater Vinny Vespa of Monroe Woodbury.
Rocky Point’s Anthony Cirillo topped Tepperman in the early part of the season. Cirillo also has wins over Section 11 studs Carlos Aucancela of Brentwood and Zach Ancewicz of John Glenn – and losses to Connetquot’s Sean Miller and Islip’s Michael Alesi. All of those mentioned have at least 25 wins this year. That’s also true for Matt Stallone of Sachem North, who suffered two of his three setbacks up at 113. So, what should we expect out of this Suffolk County weight? It’s hard to say, but the winner will be a clear podium threat in Albany.
Speaking of podium threats, Guilderland’s Josh LoGiudice has compiled more than 30 wins and no losses in his senior campaign. In fact, he’s only had three matches with a margin of victory of less than four points. Two of those have come against Columbia’s John Devine. The first time they wrestled, LoGiudice won 4-3 in overtime. The second was a 3-0 decision. Will they have another close battle in Section 2 this weekend?
We’ve been treated to two contests featuring nationally-ranked Vito Arujau and returning state champ Kyle Quinn of Wantagh during the regular season, with the Syosset freshman getting his hand raised both times. It won’t be surprising to too many people if they match up for the Section 8 crown . . . and again in Albany.
Who else is familiar with the podium in the state capital? Pine Bush’s Johnny Stramiello. The senior earned sixth at the Times Union Center each of the last two years. Last season, he was upended at the Section 9 championships by Dylan Booth of Port Jervis. This year, he’ll be challenged again at the Sectionals, likely by Minisink Valley’s Gerard Daly, a state qualifier in 2012 who missed last season with an injury. Daly has recorded some quality wins in 2013-14, such as over Locust Valley’s Hunter Dusold, John Jay East Fishkill’s Jay Albis and Arlington’s Brady Robin.
While we’re on the subject of Albis and Robin, they will be in a tough bracket at the Section 1 championships. Albis has defeated Robin in their two meetings and also has a win over All-Stater Austin Ingraham of Highland and two victories over Colonie’s 2013 state placer Golan Cohen (and one loss to him; Robin split with Cohen). Neither Albis nor Robin wrestled in Albany in 2013 – but Pearl River’s James Kelly did. Kelly, last year’s 99-pound Section 1 large school representative, has nearly 30 wins this year and will be looking to return to the state capital.
Southwestern’s Ryan Hetrick took third last February at the state tournament and will be looking to match or exceed that showing. His competition at the Sectionals will be tough. He is very familiar with Tito Colom, having gone 2-1 against the Dunkirk grappler this year. All three bouts have been one-point affairs. Neither Hetrick nor Colom have met 30-1 Ryan Thierman of Portville this season. Thierman has split matches up at 120 with returning NYS bronze medalist Brad Bihler of Maple Grove. (Speaking of Bihler, he could clash with former NYS placer Drew Marra of Olean at 120).
Another 2013 state medalist, Jon Haas of Penfield, returned to the mats in New York State in the second half of the season. He bested the tough Xiaodi Chen of Schroeder last weekend and could also see Victor’s Mike Venosa, a young wrestler who has posted over 35 wins this year (including over 2012 state champ Tony Recco).
And Huntington's John Arceri looks to make his way back to Albany after entering as the top seed at 99 a year ago. The field is packed, with another wrestler familiar with Albany, Walt Whitman's Joe Calderone as well as quality competitors such as Danny Murray of Brentwood, Kyle Scully of Newfield, Ed Matyka of Riverhead and Anthony Sobotker of North Babylon, among others.
Luis Weierbach knows the podium in the state capital well, after taking fifth place in 2012 and winning the NYS championship last season. He’ll have a fight on his hands to capture another Sectional title this weekend, considering the year Albany Academy’s Matthew Morris has put together. Morris, a state qualifier in 2013, is unbeaten and owns a 1-0 victory over Weierbach. We look forward to seeing how a potential rematch plays out.
Weierbach took the gold a year ago, as did Ward Melville’s Nick Piccininni, who is a substantial favorite to take home another Suffolk (and New York State) crown. But a few other wrestlers in his Sectional bracket also have what it takes to make their presence felt in the state capital. East Islip’s Jesse Dellavecchia took fourth last year at the NYS tournament at 99 and has been good all year. He dropped a match to Shoreham Wading River’s James Szymanski, the third Section 11 wrestler in our most recent NYS rankings at this weight.
Dylan Booth of Port Jervis spent much of the season in those rankings as well after making the medal stand in 2013. He was joined on Section 9’s team in Albany last year by then-eighth grader Evan Barczak of Monroe Woodbury, who got his hand raised in his Times Union Center debut. Booth edged Barczak 1-0 in mid January. Will they meet again with a title on the line?
Speaking of rematches, there may be fireworks in Section 10 at 120 pounds in Division 2. Brody Sheppard of Ogdensburg Free Academy qualified for the state tournament last year as a seventh grader and will look to make it two journeys to Albany in a row. To do so, he may have to go through Daniel Mullin of Gouverneur. The two have competed three times this year. Sheppard won the first two (12-10 and 11-4) before Mullin took the last one, 11-8. How many points will be put on the board if they wrestle again? And who will get the ticket to the state capital?
Chris Fantauzzo of Greece has compiled over 35 victories this year and won a challenging Class championship over the weekend. He lost early in the season to Schroeder’s Tommy Lancie but has beaten him twice since (both in overtime). Those two could meet again, but the field is loaded with many more strong grapplers. Fairport’s Zack Barker topped Lancie last weekend. And Barton Peters of Brockport has a ton of postseason experience, having competed at the state tournament multiple times. He has losses to both Lancie and Fantauzzo this year, but could be tough in the home stretch of his high school career.
Travis Passaro, the #1 wrestler in our NYS rankings all season, is also nearing the end of his senior year. He won the Eastern States by topping a state champ and two nationally-ranked wrestlers and is unbeaten thus far. Last year, he faced Commack’s Mike D’Angelo in the Suffolk finals at 120. Will they see each other again? Perhaps, but this weight is full of talent, with Huntington’s Corey Jamison, a former #2 seed at the state tournament, and other solid wrestlers like Hauppauge’s Austin Munro in the mix.
Like Passaro, Walton’s Dylan Wood, a returning state qualifier, has an unblemished record this season. In the championship round of the Windsor Christmas tournament, Wood pinned Kobe Garrehy of Maine-Endwell, a wrestler who has had some impressive wins this year, including over the previously mentioned Jamison. Wood and Garrehy are the #1 and #4 seeds, respectively, for the weekend’s qualifier. On the other side, Nate Hayes of Windsor has significant postseason experience, having won a match at the Times Union Center last year, and Groton’s Darren Ostrander has just two losses in 2013-14 – to two-time state champ William Koll and last weekend to Wood.
Neither Austin Acquard of Pioneer nor Cody McGregor of Tonawanda competed in Albany last year, but both have experience there. Acquard represented Iroquois in the large school tournament previously, while McGregor is a past NYS placer. They battled once this season, with Acquard coming out on top 2-0. Will one (or both) of them get back to the biggest event of the year?
January 3 - Rocco Russo dec. Danny Graham, 3-2
January 10 - Danny Graham dec. Rocco Russo, 3-1
January 17 - Rocco Russo dec. Danny Graham 3-1
Russo and Graham, future teammates at the University at Buffalo who have wrestled at the Times Union Center before, are both capable of making noise in Albany this year. But who will be the Section 6 champ? Will the alternating victories continue this weekend with Graham getting his hand raised, or will Russo make it three out of four? Or will someone else prevent the rematch?
One of Graham's victories on his way to the podium at Eastern States was over Section 1's Liam Erickson. Erickson of Brewster has put together a 38-3 campaign and seeks a spot in Albany for the second consecutive time. The road won't be easy, however, as he'll likely face another 2013 Sectional champion - Matt Caputo of North Rockland. Caputo has spent significant time at the Times Union Center, having earned All-State status twice in his career.
Both Erickson and Caputo faced Shenendehowa's Kevin Parker at SUNY Sullivan. Parker, a former Section 2 titlewinner, could meet up with four-time Sectional champ Brandon Lapi of Amsterdam, currently ranked #1 in New York State at 138.
A lot of attention has been focused on wrestlers who have already been on the NYS podium for Midlakes – Sean Peacock and Rafael Mateo. But Derian Woodard has also had a stellar 40-2 season, with both losses coming up at 145. He has already beaten two major challengers this season – Colin Royce of Warsaw and Kaydon Newton of East Rochester – and will look to do so again at the SuperSectionals to join the contingent of Screaming Eagles in the state capital.
Jason Hoffman of Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George has been impressive in his freshman campaign. After placing at the Section 2 tournament as an eighth grader, he exploded this season with a 33-0 record, with every victory by bonus points. The Sectional tournament will offer some outstanding opposition, however. Andy Mollevik of Duanesburg, also ranked in the state, demonstrated his skills at the Eastern States, nabbing sixth place. Last weekend, Mollevik beat Galway’s Steven Culbert, however Culbert is formidable as well.
While Mollevik placed at Eastern States, Jake Restrepo of Sachem East and Tommy Dutton of Rocky Point battled in the championship bout, with Restrepo coming away with a one-point win. He remains undefeated and seems likely to meet Dutton again for Section 11 honors, although Connetquot’s Gino Titone, who has put together a 34-1 campaign (with his one loss to Dutton), will be among those trying to interrupt the rematch.
Nigel Williams of Eagle Academy has competed at the state tournament in the past. He’ll look for another opportunity in a few weeks, but to do so will likely run into Zafar Iskandarov of Brooklyn International. They were expected to meet in the Mayor’s Cup final, but the matchup didn’t materialize because Williams had to default after the semis. It could happen this weekend.
Dom Celli of Somers made a statement with his performance at the Eastern States Classic, taking fourth with victories over Newark Valley’s Derek Holcomb, NYS placer Konstantin Parfiryev and Fargo All-American Jordan Bushey of Peru. However, last weekend, Horace Greeley’s Mitch Klein defeated Celli 3-1 at the Sectional qualifier. Those two could battle it out again, but neither should overlook North Rockland’s Nick Didio, who has also had a strong season with over 35 wins. We’ll be interested to see who emerges to wear the light blue singlet in Albany from this group.
As previously mentioned, Derek Holcomb faced Celli at the Eastern States (twice, with the two wrestlers splitting the matches). Holcomb also had a victory over returning state placer Zach Colgan of Johnson City at SUNY Sullivan. They will be the top two seeds in Section 4 this weekend, with #3 being Ithaca’s Ian VanValen, who has put together a good year (although he did lose to Colgan). This class could certainly produce one or more NYS medalists this year.
Franky Nassivera of Queensbury earned All-State status in 2013 at this weight. Jake Ashcraft of Burnt Hills won a bout in Albany last year. Ashcraft took the Section 2 Class B title match by default over Nassivera last weekend and both are threats to do major damage in the state capital this time around. Guilderland’s Andy Cummings lost to both this season but wrestled with confidence to win the Class A crown last weekend.
A familiar face to both Ashcraft and Nassivera, Sonny McPherson of Indian River, appeared at the state tournament as a freshman 170-pounder in 2013. His experience seemed to serve him well, as he has marched through this season with a 36-2 mark. Who can challenge McPherson as he goes for his second straight Section 3 title? Tim Byrnes of Fayetteville-Manlius is on the list after a 33-2 campaign. Meanwhile on the small school side in Section 3, Triston Engle of Dolgeville has put together a 35-1 mark and looks like a contender. He handled Jacob Woolson of Mexico the two times they competed, but Woolson has picked up some quality victories over grapplers like Byrnes.
Moving downstate, Northport’s Ken Gallagher has compiled a perfect record in 2013-14, including a win over East Islip’s Erik Adon, a returning Suffolk finalist. That was one of only two setbacks for Adon, who beat another grappler who has marched through much of the campaign, Sachem East’s Mike Pistone. (Pistone made the medal stand at Eastern States). They are all very capable of big things, as is Rocky Point’s Joe Russo, who is 37-2.
Daniel Smith of South Jefferson, a returning state qualifier headed to the University at Buffalo, is currently ranked second in the state. He has beaten every opponent who has stepped on the mat with him this year with the exception of Greene’s nationally-ranked Christian Dietrich (who has topped him twice, including in the finals of the Eastern States). Smith has some standouts to contend with at the Section 3 tournament, however. He knocked off William Hilliard last weekend, but the Phoenix sophomore is tough. And Chris Pinckney of Port Byron, the only other wrestler to defeat Hilliard this year, is unbeaten and looking for his shot. Dolgeville’s Kasey Foster is having a solid season as well.
Like Smith, Mark Tracy of Sachem East placed at Eastern States. Tracy has been impressive all year, with over 30 wins and losses only to NYS #1 Christian Dietrich and returning state placer Brett Perry of John Jay East Fishkill (with whom he split a pair of matches). Tracy has beaten many of his Suffolk County counterparts, including Jake Horton of Patchogue Medford, Steven Lee of Kings Park, David Hamil of Deer Park, Christian Araneo of Ward Melville, Ronnie King of Islip and Dom Pirraglia of Shoreham Wading River. Those wrestlers have all had strong campaigns as well. Section 11 should be well represented at the state tournament.
In Section 9, the top seed in Division I is Erik Jessel of Cornwall, who moved to the Empire State from Indiana after placing at the NHSCA Nationals last year. He split bouts with #2 seed Rob Cuomo of Saugerties - a three-point decision by Jessell and a pin by Cuomo. Will they get a chance to break the tie?
Both Lane Frost of VVS and Logan LaFlamme of South Jefferson represented Section 3 at the state tournament a year ago (and won a match), at 195 and 182, respectively. They'll be aiming for a return trip to the Times Union Center - and may have to wrestle each other to reach that goal. NHSCA All-American Riccardo Dawkins of General Brown and Dan Appley of Herkimer could also get in the way.
James Bethel of Saugerties had a tremendous offseason, including an All-American performance at Fargo. He kept it going throughout the year, racking up a 37-0 mark with 24 pins. Monroe Woodbury’s Rob Kelly has put together a strong season of his own, including a fifth place finish at Eastern States. They will be expected to meet with a trip to the Times Union Center on the line. Who will come out on top?
Ending one spot ahead of Kelly at the Eastern States was returning state placer Sam Eagan of Churchville Chili. He is seeded second at the SuperSectionals this weekend behind Tyler Schaefer of Pittsford, who beat Eagan last year and again during this campaign. Will there be another meeting between them?
Huntington’s Anthony Puca went to the state tournament last year at heavyweight. He suffered his only loss of the 2013-14 regular season against NYS finalist Ryan Wolcott of Waverly. However, at the League 5 event, Islip’s Craig Hinrichs defeated Puca, avenging a loss to the Huntington wrestler in late January. Hinrichs has also split matches with Sachem North’s Anthony DiMatteo this year. In turn, DiMatteo has gone 1-1 against Walt Whitman’s Vin Feola, a grappler who made a name for himself on the national stage with podium finishes at the NHSCAs and the Super 32 Challenge. Throw in some others, including Matt Giannelli of Lindenhurst (who split with DiMatteo) and 38-1 Devin Doran of William Floyd (whose loss was to Hinrichs) and what do you get? A very unclear picture of who will come out on top in Section 11.
In the CHSAA, Mazen Hassan of Monsignor Farrell has had a solid season, including placing at the Eastern States Classic. To earn a spot in Albany, he may face off with St. Anthony’s Peter Corbett, a wrestler who spent most of the campaign at 220 but competed at heavyweight last weekend. Corbett certainly had success there - recording falls in all three of his matches.
Section 2’s Nick Scott of Cohoes and Marcus Ramundo of Schalmont have gone back and forth this year, with Scott taking two of their three contests. Ramundo had a solid showing at the Eastern States, nabbing seventh with wins over Colonie’s Austin DiCerbo, the previously mentioned Hassan of Monsignor Farrell and Canastota’s Jake Morris.
Speaking of Canastota’s Morris, he is part of a deep group in small school Section 3. Tyler Havener of Oneida has posted an unblemished record thus far and has beaten contenders such as Ian Radell of Camden (three times) and Brad Lucas of Cazenovia. Lucas beat Morris to win his Class title last weekend. When you add Sandy Creek’s Zach Akey into the fray, you have several solid wrestlers looking for a trip to the state capital.
Peter Strassfield of Southampton went to the state tournament last year. Kyle Fiske of Port Jefferson took fifth at the Eastern States this season. They met, with Fiske coming out with an overtime win. What will happen if they square off again at the Sectional tournament?
One More Thing:
Without question, there will be great team races all around the state. In Section 7, Saranac beat Peru for the first time in 15 years in their first meeting of the season. The second time around, the teams finished the dual deadlocked at 33, with Peru taking the tiebreaker with eight matches won. Saranac captured its first Champlain Valley Athletic Conference title in 19 years. Will Peru keep its Sectional title winning streak going?
Those were some of the things we're excited about. There are, of course, more. The countdown to the state tournament has begun . . . close to two weeks to go!
Thank you to Matt Diano and Mike Carey for all their help.