Now that the annual Rockland County Championships and Super 16 tournaments have come and gone, all of Section 1’s focus has shifted to divisionals this upcoming weekend. As the week goes on, I’ll have information on the four different locations and what to look for at each. In case you missed it, here is my story from the RCCs. And here is my colleague Rob Cristino’s story from the Super 16.
As sort of a preliminary look towards divisionals (and sectionals, for that matter), I figured I’d go from weight class to weight class and talk about the implications of yesterday’s action. One notable team that wasn’t at the Super 16 or RCCs was New Rochelle, who went up to the Big 10 Albany tournament and took first place in a field that featured the likes of Huntington, Queensbury, Burnt Hills, and Pine Bush. It was the first time in six years of attending the tourney that the Huguenots took first.
“I keep my fingers crossed being so far away with guys potentially getting hurt, but it’s been a good springboard tournament for us,” New Ro coach Jim Guccione said. “And it was again yesterday.”
Guccione sent 11 wrestlers, and each one of them placed. Ten finished in the top five, which tells me that the Huguenots seem to be peaking at the right time. I’ll get into how specific wrestlers did as I go through each weight class:
99 – None of the wrestlers in the top five of my Division 1 weight class rankings were present at either of the two local tourneys, so it’s hard to make too much of how things played out. Fox Lane’s Brendon Fay was just on the outside looking in of the top five, and as I predicted, he took care of business at the Super 16. He’ll certainly be in the mix to place at sectionals.
Nanuet’s Joe Dillon (pictured to the left) won a RCC championship, and now I’m sure he has his sights set on a potential rematch with Edgemont’s Tyler Aslanian in the D2 tourney after losing to him earlier in the season. He beat Clarkstown North’s Brian Hong in the final, who could make some noise in D1.
Top-ranked Nick Barbaria of New Rochelle took first place at Albany HS, beating Pine Bush’s Christopher Cuccolo in the final, 7-5. He’s still your favorite in D1.
106 – North Rockland’s Blaise Benderoth took his second consecutive title at the RCCs with a major decision over Suffern’s Alex Oliveto in the final. At this point, he looks pretty much locked in for a matchup with Brewster’s Mike Parise in a potential D1 section final. I have Parise ranked No. 1, but he’s never wrestled Benderoth before, so we still aren’t sure how they’ll match up.
Oliveto avenged a loss from earlier in the season to Nanuet’s Vinny Skokos to get to the final. Skokos took third, and still remains the favorite in D2.
Mahopac’s Mike DiNardo placed second to Center Moriches’ Michael Menzer at the Super 16. I have him ranked fifth in D1.
113 – Ossining’s Alex Delacruz took first at the Super 16, beating Hen Hud’s Mark Grant and Fox Lane’s Frank Surace along the way. He’s ranked No. 2 in D1, behind Somers’ Dylan Realbuto, so he was definitely expected to win here. Realbuto beat him at Eastern States.
The guy who could shake things up is Pearl River’s John Muldoon, who beat North Rockland’s Troy Feniger in the RCC finals. Those two are ranked third and fourth, respectively, and Muldoon hasn’t seen either of the top two. He looks like a lock for a top three finish.
120 – Nyack’s Adit Thakur barely survived an overtime scare against North Rockland’s Jake DiMarsico in the RCC finals, one week after pinning him at the Kohl tourney. His 3-1 win maintained his slight advantage over DiMarsico, who is ranked one spot behind Thakur at fourth in D1. That match looked like it could have went either way, though.
New Rochelle’s A.J. Barbaria is ranked No. 1, and he came away from the Albany tourney with a second place finish yesterday (he lost to an out-of-section kid from Queensbury). Remember, Barbaria beat Thakur in the Shoreline finals. The wild card will be second-ranked Liam Erickson from Brewster.
At the Super 16, Yorktown’s Jimmy Kaishian proved me right, going from the third seed to tourney champ. He beat Fox Lane’s Ben Ettlinger and Croton-Harmon’s D.J. Frederich (ranked No. 2 in D2) along the way, and should be a contender at sectionals. I have him ranked fifth, behind Barbaria, Erickson, Thakur and DiMarsico.
Frederich’s biggest competition in D2 is Nanuet’s Anthony Calvano, who I have ranked No. 1 in D2. Calvano has been out with a virus for quite some time and missed the RCCs, but Nanuet coach Carmine Serra told me that he fully expects him to be ready to go for sectionals. It will be interesting to see how he performs having not wrestled for most of the season.
126 – In one of the more intriguing matches of the day, Fox Lane’s Sam Speno beat Ardsley’s Drew Longo by decision (10-3) in the Super 16 final (pictured to the right). Both have previously placed at the state level, and I have them each ranked No. 1 (Speno in D1, Longo in D2). That match has no bearing on sectionals, but it’s kind of a neat in terms of Section 1 bragging rights. Speno probably won’t be challenged like that against any other wrestlers in the section.
At the RCCs, North Rockland’s Matt Caputo (ranked No. 2 in D1) took a title by pretty much breezing through the field. His pins in the semis and finals both came in under 45 seconds. He looks like he’s peaking at the right time, and probably has a good shot at qualifying for states even if he loses to Speno.
132 – Fox Lane’s Danny Ventura further cemented his status as the favorite here (he’s ranked No. 1 in D1) with a title at the Super 16. He majored Sleepy Hollow’s Edwin Jiminez (who I probably should have at least mentioned in my rankings) in the final, but Jiminez is definitely a name to watch. He beat Croton-Harmon’s David Occhipinti in the semis (4-3), who is a defending section champ in D2.
As I predicted when I released my rankings, Occhipinti seems like he’s going to go 132 for sectionals, rather than stay in an absolutely loaded weight class at 126. I’d call him the slight favorite over Nanuet’s Matt Dillon, who lost to Clarkstown North’s Colby Kash in the RCC finals. Kash, who I have ranked No. 3 in D1, has really come on strong of late. He’s as much of a threat to Ventura as anyone is.
138 – Perhaps the biggest story of the day was Mahopac’s Jake Srednicki getting a measure of revenge against Fox Lane’s Tom Grippi in the Super 16 finals. Grippi had beaten Srednicki (6-5) earlier in the season, which earned him the top ranking in D1. But Srednicki came up with an impressive showing on Saturday, displaying the ability to score on Grippi with much more efficiency than he had in their previous meeting. I’d have to call Srednicki the favorite at this point, not only because he won the more recent meeting, but because he also has a significant lead if you combine the two scores (19-13). Srednicki is built a bit thicker, and probably has more natural strength, which he can use to his advantage.
Suffern’s James Desimone shook things up at the RCCs, knocking off top-seeded Charlie Garcia of Tappan Zee in the final (Garcia is ranked third in D1, behind Grippi and Srednicki). Garcia had pinned him earlier in the season, but Desimone really seems to be progressing nicely. He also avenged a loss to Pearl River’s Steve Moreno earlier in the tourney.
145 – I said going into the Super 16 that I thought Yorktown’s Joe Mastro (pictured to the left) would emerge in a very deep field, and he did just that. Mastro knocked off Carmel’s Chris Pecora and Fox Lane’s Giancarlo Morreale (who is ranked fourth in D1) by a combined score of 21-3 to earn a title. He’s another guy who seems to be peaking at the right time.
The top three guys in D1 could probably match up with any top three in the state. North Rockland’s Mike Caputo (ranked No. 2) won an RCC title with relative ease, earning MOW honors. He’s looked like a man on a mission all season. At the Albany tourney, John Jay-EF’s Dale White (ranked No. 1) kept his strong season going with a first place finish. This should be a really fun weight class to watch at sectionals.
152 – None of the top three guys from my D1 rankings were active this weekend, and the fourth-ranked wrestler, Tappan Zee’s Desmond Djekovic, took care of business to win an RCC title.
At the Super 16, Carmel’s Vince Pecora came on strong to capture a title. He defeated Westlake’s Edgar Solis (ranked No. 2 in D2) for the title, and could be a guy who emerges to place high at sectionals. As we all know, the field is pretty wide open after Somers’ Brian Realbuto.
160 – With Hen Hud’s Phil Siegel dropping out of the Super 16 at the last second, we didn’t get to see the second meeting of the season between him and Fox Lane’s Matt Pasqualini. I’ll have to find out what’s going on with Siegel. Those are the top two guys in my D1 rankings, and Pasqualini beat Siegel at the Shoreline tourney earlier this season. That was probably a section final preview. Pasqualini took care of business, nearly coming up with a technical fall against Center Moriches’ Travis Baskerville for the title. He also beat fourth-ranked Devante Harrell from Ossining in the semis (who went onto lose to fifth-ranked Aaron Gallagher of Mahopac in the third place match).
Suffern’s Nick Giella, who is ranked third in D1, won a title at the RCCs.
170 – Yorktown’s Steven Sabella, who is ranked No. 1 in D1, lost an overtime heartbreaker to Center Moriches’ Mario Mayen in the Super 16 final, but still hasn’t lost to anyone ranked behind him in Section 1.
Perhaps more newsworthy was New Rochelle’s Aaron Butler’s return to the mat at the Albany tourney. He placed second, losing 11-7 to a wrestler from Queensbury in the final, but Guccione was thrilled that he made it through the tournament without any issues with his balky right shoulder. Guccione said that Butler was a bit rusty, but for the first time all season he didn’t have to use any injury time throughout an entire tournament. As a defending section champ, he could jump to the top of the rankings if he’s healthy.
At the RCCs, Tappan Zee’s Valdon Djekovic made a bit of a statement with a title. There were no ranked wrestlers present in his weight class, but this field should be pretty wide open at sectionals.
182 –Top-ranked Jacob Berkowitz of Scarsdale was inactive this weekend, but Yorktown’s Thomas Murray (ranked No. 2 in D1) made it to the Super 16 finals. He lost in OT to Center Moriches’ Bilal Hasan, but he still looks like Berko’s top challenger. Carmel’s A.J. Alvarez, who recently earned his 100th career win by beating fourth-ranked Michael Amato of Beacon, placed third.
At the RCCs, North Rockland’s Ryan Boyle upset top-seeded Tome Marku of Clarkstown South in the final.
195 – Mahopac’s Mike Spinelli survived a tough test against Center Moriches’ Ryan Lewis in the Super 16 finals, coming away with a 5-1 decision. He’s ranked No. 1 in D1, and has been pretty consistent throughout the season. There were no other ranked wrestlers at the Super 16 in this weight class.
At the RCCs, Dan Breit (ranked No. 1 in D2) showed once again that he’s probably the second-best wrestler in this weight class in the entire section with a major decision over Clarkstown South’s Paul Okeke (ranked fifth in D1) in the finals.
220 – The biggest statement from any Section 1 wrestler came from New Rochelle’s Tyler Lilly (ranked No. 2 in D1) at the Albany tourney. Lilly defeated Huntington’s Nick Lupi, who is the top-ranked wrestler at 220 in Section 11, by decision (4-2) to earn a title. That’s a signature win for Lilly, who is aiming for top-ranked Dom DeVita of Somers. DeVita beat him in OT at Eastern States, which makes that section final a potential must-watch.
Tappan Zee’s Chris McGann came up with a huge upset win over Suffern’s Bryan Burger (ranked No. 3 in D1) in the RCC finals. Burger had pinned McGann earlier this season, and according to McGann, he was 0-3 with three pins against Burger for his career. A big win in a crucial moment for McGann, who you could certainly make a solid case for to be ranked.
At the Super 16, Fox Lane’s Dan Clune (No. 5 in D1) took a title with a decision (8-2) over Irvington’s Chris DiNardo in the final. DiNardo, who won a D2 section title last season at 285, looks like he’ll be going 220 at sectionals this season. He missed a ton of time due to injury, but he should challenge Edgemont’s Danny Kornberg (No. 1 in D2).
285 – In one of the more highly anticipated matches of the day, the top two ranked wrestlers in D1 faced off for the third time this season in the Super 16 finals. Hen Hud’s Sean Barry (ranked No. 1) rebounded from an OT loss to Yorktown’s David Varian (ranked No. 2) at the Kohl tourney last week, this time coming away with a 7-5 decision. He’s definitely the favorite at this point, but Varian has shown he can compete over the course of the past week. After giving up a first period pin to Barry earlier in the season, Varian has kept it close in their last two meetings.
Those are the clear top two guys in D1, but beyond that the picture gets a bit cloudy. There’s about five or six guys you could make a case for to be ranked third. Tappan Zee’s Michael Manni (ranked No. 4) captured a title at the RCCs, so he’s definitely in the mix. But after Varian pinned Fox Lane’s Andriy Lypchuk (ranked No. 3) in the third period of the semifinals, Lypchuk was pinned in the first period by Sleepy Hollow’s Frank Curnaj. Curnaj was another name I mentioned in my rankings, which tells you how interesting this weight class should be.