Huge day for Section 1. The hugest, in fact.
Never in the 67-year history of the state wrestling tournament has Section 1 been poised to do as well as it is right now. Eleven wrestlers have guaranteed themselves a place finish, even if they don’t win another match. That’s already matched a record. The previous high was 11 place finishers (which is top-6) last year. It could be as many as 19 based on how other guys do in the consolations.
As a team, Section 1 is in second place in Division I (i.e. large schools). It has 100 points to Section 11’s 103.5. A lot depends on how guys do tomorrow, but the section is in great position to win the team title. The last time that happened? Try never.
Section 1 hasn’t finished higher than 7th place (out of 11 sections) since 1994, when it came in third. Guys like Andy Matteotti of Suffern, who I assume is the great-great-grandfather of current Suffern coach Chris Matteotti, were the big winners that year. Few people noticed Section 1’s success because the invention of the cotton gin was drawing a lot of attention.
It was a long time ago, if you catch my drift. And that was only third place.
Barring a meltdown tomorrow, you will see a lot of happy coaches. None more so than Fox Lane’s Joe Amuso. Three of his kids—Sam Speno, Steve Rodrigues, and Joey Grippi—are in the semifinals. A fourth, Luke Speno, got behind early to Anthony Volpe and lost a major decision, but came back to make the consi semis. Speno beat Volpe at Eastern States when he was able to get a lead and hold it.
Rodrigues and Grippi both came very close to losing. Rodrigues got back points at the buzzer to come back from 3-1 down and win 6-3. Grippi nearly got taken down at the horn up 3-2. Unbelievably, the easiest winner was Speno, a freshman wild card and the least accomplished of all Fox Lane’s big guns.
Other DI semifinals are Brian Realbuto, who won by tech and major decision, Justis Flamio, who regained his form with a pin and 11-1 win after a shaky sectional final, Steve Ramos, whose third-period escape was enough in a 1-0 win, James Brundage, who pinned with five seconds left, and Clay Neivert, who won 5-3.
The title of “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” goes to Udit Thakur. I don’t mean that he doesn’t deserve to be in the semifinals. It’s just that fate is clearly smiling on him. Thakur was a wild-card entry to the tournament after losing the sectional final to Kevin Davidson. But while Davidson lost his first match, Thakur won with a second left in overtime. Then he loses his second match 5-4—but wait! Nick Lashway points at him and curses, earning him an unsportsmanlike point and sending this one into OT. Lashway was clearly spent. Thakur took him down with two seconds on the clock.
He better keep that guardian angel. Next up is Fordham Prep’s Andrew Lenzi, the state champion.
Luke Speno and Joey Hauser were the only two DI guys to wrestle back into Day 2 after losing. All other DI guys lost again and are out.
As for Division II, the less said the better. It hasn’t caught up to the large school success. Section 1 is eighth in the small-school standings.
Edgemont’s Genta Murayama is the flag-bearer. He won his two matches easily. No one else made it through the quarterfinals.
At least several bounced back to keep wrestling tomorrow in consolations. Penn Gottfried, Ryan Osleeb, Dan Manley, Derrick Longo, Chris Orlando, and Will Carter will suit up tomorrow.