The top two teams at the Carlucci Dual Meet tournament on Saturday at Purchase College finished pretty much how most would have predicted. Section 9 power Monroe-Woodbury toppled defending Section 1 champ Fox Lane in the first-place match in a rematch of last year’s final. But after the top two, it quickly became clear that things have changed in Section 1.
“A lot of seniors graduated last year from some top programs,” said Mamaroneck sophomore Youssif Hemida, who went 6-0 with three pins on the weekend. “I think other programs definitely have a chance (this season).”
Traditional powers at the Carlucci duals such as Somers and New Rochelle were repeatedly beaten by up-and-coming programs such as Port Chester, Harrison and Mamaroneck. The final standings ended up looking like something I pulled out of a hat, and it could be a sign for the rest of the season. Granted, neither New Ro nor Somers had its full lineup in place (the Huguenots in particular are waiting for some state champion football players to get enough practices under their belts), but parody could be a major theme this year.
“This is my fourth year here, and we’ve never placed at a tournament like this,” said Harrison senior David Polakoff, who went 6-0 with three pins. “It’s great. We’re a tough team this year, and it’s good that we can fill all of the weights… Taking fourth is a good step forward.”
• Of course, while many teams sent early season statements, it was Fox Lane that finished higher than any other Section 1 team. The Foxes barely survived a scare from Edgemont on Friday in which they won on a tiebreaker, but their only loss came against Monroe-Woodbury in the final. The Crusaders were simply too much for this young Fox Lane group, which still has a lot of developing to do among the heavier weights. “We thought we could win some matches down low, but once we got to 160 (pounds), we knew they were tough,” coach Anthony Rodrigues said. “We were hoping to stay off our backs, but we didn’t do a good job of that.”
• The one guy who you expected to dominate for the Foxes was senior Tom Grippi, and that’s exactly what he did. Wrestling at 152 pounds, Grippi went 6-0 on the weekend and was named Most Outstanding Senior. Click here to watch his 14-4 major decision over Monroe-Woodbury’s Drake Barczack. And click here for the final period of that match. (The first video got cut off at the end of the second.)
• Aside from Grippi, Scott Rodrigues (126 pounds), Ben Ettlinger (132, pictured to the right) and Frank Surace (138) also went undefeated for the Foxes. Rodrigues was named the Most Outstanding Freshman, and as most of you know, is the younger brother of 2011 state champ Steven Rodrigues. As a freshman, Scott is nearly wrestling at the weight that Steven was as a senior, so he has an uphill climb, but he certainly has the talent to be a force. He leads a young group that represents the future of the program. There were four wrestlers in the Fox Lane lineup who are either freshmen or younger. “We have 17 freshmen on our team,” Scott said. “It says that we’re going to be good in a couple of years, because we’re all working hard and trying our best.”
• The team that appeared to be the deepest from Section 1 after the Foxes was Port Chester. The Rams took fifth in this tournament last season, improving this time around to go 5-1 and take third place. Kevin Rodriguez and Diego Giron each went unbeaten for the Rams, but they displayed depth and the ability to pull out close matches throughout the tourney. I thought the biggest one for PC in its third place dual against Harrison came from Rodriguez against Josh Guerrero. Guerrero took a surprising 3-2 lead into the third period against the 2012 section finalist, but K-Rod caught him for a late pin to pretty much clinch a team victory for the Rams. “In my head, I noticed that he didn’t have that cradle locked in,” Rodriguez said. “I knew if I work my way out and turn in quick, I could put him on his back. I had confidence in myself.” Click here to view that critical match in its entirety.
• Harrison found itself in the third place match thanks to a thrilling one point win over Edgemont. The Panthers looked like they were in line for that third place dual, but the Huskies rallied to a 34-33 win. Joe Maida sealed it with a huge pin in the final match of the dual meet. I got another crucial swing match that went in Harrison’s favor on video during that dual, with Gavin Menchel coming up with a major decision over Edgemont’s Sky Korek at 132 pounds. Click here to watch the first period from that match. And click here to watch the final two periods. (My batteries ran out. I’m still working out my early season kinks.)
• Mamaroneck also looks like a force after taking fifth in the tourney with a win over Edgemont. The Tigers brought back their top wrestlers from last season in Ben Miller and Dion Duran, and have some up-and-comers such as Hemida. I saw Miller come up with an impressive win over Somers’ Mark Lasar (the field at 160 in this tourney was deep), but he lost to Scarsdale’s Joe Koshakow in a wild finish in the match that I got on video. Koshakow really opened some eyes this weekend with a strong performance, edging out Miller with a 2-1 OT win. It looked as though Miller notched a last second takedown in OT for the win, but it was ruled that it came after time had expired. Click here to watch the video of that match and decide for yourself.
• While New Ro was forfeiting in five weight classes and struggled throughout the tourney, junior Nick Barbaria was named the Most Outstanding Junior. After placing at states last season, Barbaria enters this season with high hopes and a target on his back. He handled it well this weekend, going 6-0, including a major decision over Fox Lane’s Brandon Fay. Click here to watch that match in its entirety.
OTHER SECTION 1 TEAMS IN ACTION ON SATURDAY
• North Rockland took first at the Kingston Tiger Dual Meet tourney. Coach Jeff Swick emailed me saying that the Red Raiders went 5-0, beating Kingston, Manhasset, Peru, Pearl River and Valley Central. Swick said that he’ll get me specifics on matches as soon as he can, but North Rockland is certainly off to a strong start.
• Mahopac took second at the Herricks tourney, finishing just behind a strong Chaminade team. Chris Cornell (132 pounds), Tim Bunyea (182) and Ryan Delahanty (220) each took first place for the Indians.
• John Jay was dominant at the Rye Dual Meet tourney. The Indians trampled the competition, finishing 5-0 with six wrestlers who went undefeated. This proud program was the last to win a section title in Division 1 before Fox Lane went on its run, so it wouldn’t be wise to sleep on them. John Jay may make some more noise in the upcoming dual meet championships.
Photos by Frank Becerra, Jr./The Journal News