In light of last weekend’s Eastern States Classic and the work that I’ve been doing to update my weight class rankings, this week’s notebook focused on the implications of certain wrestler’s performances at Eastern States on individual section title races. We have a pretty clear picture of who the favorites are in most weight classes, but there are still a few with some intrigue. I’ll let you know when the new rankings will be released—I’m just trying to make sure that I leave no stone unturned.
Also included in the notebook is information on all of this weekend’s local tournaments. Here is an extended version of the notebook that I wrote:
>>> If there is an environment that can duplicate the bright lights and pressure situations that a wrestler will encounter at the state tournament in Albany next month, it’s the Eastern States Classic in Loch Sheldrake.
The prestigious tournament was held at Sullivan Community College last weekend, providing many locals with an opportunity to compete on a big stage.
“When you’re in the finals, everyone is watching, and kids need to develop the savvy to deal with that,” New Rochelle coach Jim Guccione said. “Having been there come states, it’s going to add to your ability to perform.”
While no local wrestlers came away with individual titles, there were plenty who placed. With 20 teams from the Lower Hudson Valley present at the 10th annual Eastern States, those wrestlers who performed well went a long way to establishing the pecking order in each weight class for the sectional tournament.
“You can go through the weight classes, and you probably have a pretty good idea of the favorite in about 10 (out of 15),” Guccione said. “If you do well there, you should do really well in the section.”
Perhaps the wrestler who sent the clearest message to the rest of Section 1 was Guccione’s 99-pounder, Nick Barbaria.
Barbaria was seeded seventh in his weight class, but pulled off some upsets on his way to a second-place finish. Without question, he is the favorite to win a section title at 99 pounds.
“He’s minimized mistakes that he made last year, and he’s improved his mat awareness,” said Guccione of Barbaria, who placed third in the section at 96 pounds last season. “Certainly as of this moment, he’s the No. 1 kid in that weight class.”
The Realbuto brothers from Somers were two other local wrestlers who took second in their weight class at the Eastern States — Dylan at 113 pounds, and Brian at 152. Both won titles last season, and are clearly established as the favorites in their respective weight classes. For a four-time section champion like Brian, who hadn’t lost a match since 2010, the second-place finish could be both a humbling and motivating experience.
“I wouldn’t want to put a chip on Brian’s shoulder,” Somers coach William Von Tobel said. “He’s very focused, and I wouldn’t want to wrestle him after a loss.”
At 106 pounds, Brewster’s Mike Parise put a target on his back with a third-place finish, ahead of North Rockland’s Blaise Benderoth, who placed eighth. The same goes for Scarsdale’s Jacob Berkowitz (placed fourth at 182 pounds) and Mahopac’s Mike Spinelli (placed fifth at 195).
Fox Lane had three wrestlers who placed, and each seems to be locked in as the favorite to win his respective weight class — Sam Speno at 126 pounds, Danny Ventura at 132, and Matt Pasqualini at 160. But the section title picture in other weight classes isn’t quite as clear.
At 120 pounds, no locals from a group including New Rochelle’s A.J. Barbaria, Brewster’s Liam Erickson and North Rockland’s Jake DiMarsico made it past the second round, although Barbaria bowed out due to a groin strain.
Mahopac’s Jake Srednicki placed sixth at 138 pounds, but he lost earlier in the season to Fox Lane’s Tom Grippi (6-5), who did not place. North Rockland’s Mike Caputo had a strong showing with a fourth-place finish at 145 pounds, but he finished behind another Section 1 wrestler in John Jay-EF’s Dale White, who placed second.
New Rochelle’s Aaron Butler entered the season as the favorite at 170 pounds after winning a section title at 160 last year, but an ongoing right shoulder issue forced him to injury default in the second round. If the shoulder problem continues, that will open up the door for the likes of Brewster’s Harry Erickson and Yorktown’s Steven Sabella.
“We’re just going to go day by day,” Guccione said of Butler, who will wait until the end of the season for surgery. “If he’s feeling good, we’ll let him wrestle, and if not, we’ll pull him out. We’re doing work to try and strengthen it, but certain positions on the mat can cause the (shoulder) to pop out.”
The most telling matchup of local wrestlers at Eastern States came at 220 pounds. Somers’ Dom DeVita and New Rochelle’s Tyler Lilly have been considered the top two guys in their weight class all season, and DeVita established himself as the favorite with a 4-3 triple overtime win.
“Dom has the ability to win pretty much every match that he’s in with his style of wrestling,” Von Tobel said of DeVita, who placed third. “I know that was a big match for him confidence-wise, having a chance to wrestle (Lilly) already and get a feel for him.”
Weekend tourneys: The Kohl Invitational at Suffern will feature Somers, Nyack, East Ramapo, Yorktown, Hen Hud, Dobbs Ferry, Suffern, Monroe-Woodbury, Port Jervis, Huntington and Bethpage. Wrestling will begin on Saturday at 9:30 a.m., with the finals scheduled for around 5 p.m.
The 35th annual Croton-Harmon Dual Meet tournament will feature Clarkstown North, John Jay, Port Chester, Carmel, Byram Hills, Irvington, Ardsley, Sleepy Hollow, Pleasantville and Croton-Harmon. Wrestling will begin on Saturday at 9 a.m., with the finals scheduled for around 6 p.m.
The 30th annual Edgemont tournament will feature Collegiate, Eastchester, Edgemont, Horace Mann, Mamaroneck, Monticello, Mount Vernon, New Fairfield, Pawling, Pearl River, Rye, Rye Country Day, Salesian, Scarsdale, Tuxedo, Westlake, Woodlands and Yonkers. Wrestling will begin at 9 a..m. on Saturday, with the final scheduled for around 6 p.m.
And the second annual Conklin Memorial tournament at Nanuet will feature Lakeland/Panas, Nanuet, Babylon, Pine Bush, Lehman and Poly Prep. The round robin tourney will run from 10 a.m. until about 6 p.m. <<<