It was no surprise the way that everything went down at Nanuet on Wednesday, but that didn’t necessarily make it any less impressive. The Golden Knights were utterly dominant on their way to the Division 2 Section 1 Dual Meet finals, outscoring Pleasantville and Irvington by a combined 111 points.
It was a complete team effort from a lineup that has no glaring weak spots.
“They just have a lot of depth. It’s tough; you can’t really maneuver,” Irvington coach Steve Aufiero said. “As an emerging program with less kids in the school, we’re just trying to compete with them.”
After dispatching Pleasantville with relative ease in the quarterfinals, Nanuet took six of the first seven matches from Irvington in the semis to put the dual out of reach early. We know about the five returning state qualifiers for the Golden Knights, but what really stood out was the obvious improvements throughout the entire lineup.
“We like the way that they’re worked themselves out to be at certain weights,” coach Carmine Serra said. “Some of the kids don’t get the recognition – like Billy (Thompson) , like Jazz (Saraguro), like Jon Spiegel. They just work hard every day because they know that they have roles. They may not be the guys that we count on to win a championship, but they’re going to come through for us. Today, you saw that.”
• Nanuet had 11 wrestlers go 2-0 today with strong performances coming from all over. Even a few guys who weren’t regulars in the lineup last season such Dylan Mateo (106 pounds), Alex Johns (160) and Jason Levine (285) looked sharp. “It’s great knowing that you’re on a very powerful team. You take pride in that,” said Thompson (pictured above), who went 2-0 at 132 pounds. “You don’t want to be the combo-breaker.”
• Levine (pictured to the right) pulled off the biggest upset of the day, and maybe even the season. With Nanuet’s dual against Irvington winding down and firmly in hand, Levine stepped on the mat against Anthony DiNardo, who many considered to be the top super heavyweight in D2 entering the season. Levine, a junior, was on the team as an eighth grader, but sat out the last two seasons. He didn’t seem very rusty, as he nailed DiNardo with a shocking pin in the second period in one full swoop. The win will put Levine’s name right in the mix at 285 in D2 when I put out new weight class rankings. “I found out maybe two minutes before I was going to wrestle him that he was a section finalist. Most people get scared, but I honestly wasn’t. I was excited,” Levine said. “I really don’t know how I did it. I felt like I was a little bit stronger than him, so I just tried to overpower him from the beginning.”
• It was DiNardo who came up with a big win against Ardsley to propel Irvington into the semis. The Bulldogs had taken a 36-28 lead over the Panthers after Zach Silverhardt’s pin at 182 pounds, but Evan Shalom and Guy Backland picked up pins in the next two matches for Ardsley to grab a 40-36 lead. That meant that Irvington would need either a technical fall or pin from DiNardo in the final match to advance, and the junior delivered with a pin to give the Bulldogs a narrow 42-40 win. “We knew right away it was going to be close because of the matchups,” Aufiero said. “Ardsley is very tough down low, and our strength is from 152 up. I knew we had to avoid (three-time state qualifier) Drew Longo and do the best that we could not to give up points down low. We were able to win 152, 160, 170, 182, and that’s 24 points right there. Then, Anthony came through for us in the clutch (at 285).”
• The one match from the Ardsley-Irvington dual that I got on video came at 120 pounds, where Ardsley’s Stephen Samolsky pinned Irvington’s Justin Jiminez in the second period.
• One of the closer matches in Nanuet’s 66-10 win over Pleasantville came at 182 pounds, where Nanuet’s Mike Buhlmann defeated Pville’s Peter Salzarulo by decision, 7-4. Buhlmann was a section finalist last season and is one of about eight wrestlers for the Golden Knights with title hopes.
• Nanuet’s most accomplished wrestler is four-time state qualifier Anthony Calvano. The senior is coming off of a season plagued with illness, and looks like he’s on a mission this year. I got his pin of Irvington’s Tristan Hickey at 126 pounds on video.
• The final match that I got on video today was of Irvington’s top guy, Brett Pastore (pictured to the left). The senior is coming off a section title and has big aspirations this season. He went up against Saraguro – a very tough wrestler in his own right – and came up with a pin early in the second period. “I caught him in a throw,” Pastore said. “It’s a thing I don’t usually do, but I felt good in the position and hit it. I knew he was a section-placer, so it was going to be a tough match.”
• Edgemont advanced from the Croton-Harmon quad meet, setting up a rematch of last year’s final. The Panthers also won by some convincing margins, which makes tomorrow’s final at Nanuet a clash of the titans as far as D2 programs go. Edgemont is the only team that can really challenge the two-time defending section champs, and there should be some awesome matches on tap. I’ll have a preview of that final posted tomorrow (as well as previews for the D1 quarterfinals). “I think both of us are pretty aware of what the other has,” Serra said. “We want to see how our guys do against that caliber of competition. That’s what we want at the beginning of the year.”
Photos by John Meore/The Journal News