The field at the Kohl Invitational on Saturday was dominated by out-of-section teams, showing just how tough it is to win a title at one of the longest running tourneys in Rockland county. Only two Section 1 wrestlers took first place – Sleepy Hollow senior Edwin Jimenez (138 pounds; pictured above) and Suffern senior James DeSimone (145) – as many locals were reminded that there is still plenty of work to be done.
“That’s one of the reasons that we went to the Kohl tournament,” Hen Hud coach Paul LaVallee said. “We wanted to get a look at some tough and different opponents.”
With reigning state champ Dylan Realbuto of Somers being forced to drop out due to illness after the quarterfinals and North Rockland deciding not to send anyone, some of the guys who we thought might be able to do damage were unable to compete. The result was Section 1 representation in only five of the 15 finals.
“I actually came here to wrestle (North Rockland’s Matt) Caputo,” Jimenez said. “When I found out that he dropped out, it changed up the whole thing. They tried to move me back to the Beacon tournament to wrestle (Clarkstown North’s Colby) Kash, but it couldn’t happen. I’m disappointed, but we’re going to see each other eventually, right?”
• Jimenez was trying to seek out one of the top two ranked wrestlers in his weight class to get a feel for them before sectionals, but it was never meant to be. While he didn’t get either of the matches that he was hoping for, he did find plenty of competition. After squeaking by Manhasset’s Anthony Cerrone in the semis, he found himself in a battle with Somers’ Larry Courtien in the finals. With the match tied at 2-2 in the third period, Jimenez pulled a late reversal to avoid the scare and hold on for a 4-3 win. More so than anything, Courtien’s strong day showed that he also belongs in the conversation at 138. “He likes to scramble,” Jimenez said. “I took two low singles, and he actually scrambled for a little bit. He’s a really tough wrestler, and I can’t wait to wrestle him again.”
• DeSimone (pictured to the right) looked to be in command early in his 145-pound final against Huntington’s Brendan Mendez, taking him to his back more than once, but he admitted to taking his foot off the gas a bit as the match wore on. “It went to my head a little bit,” he said, but he was still able to hold on for a 14-12 decision. Unfortunately, because they were holding the finals on two mats, I couldn’t get DeSimone’s match on video with the Jimenez-Courtien bout going on at the same time. He looks like the guy to beat in his weight class at the upcoming Rockland County Championships, but he was quick to remind me that the favorite label doesn’t mean much. “I feel good,” DeSimone said. “There’s a lot of good competition. Who knows what will happen. Just like last year; I wasn’t seeded, but I won. There’s always that kid that can be like me last year.”
• DeSimone’s teammate Alex Oliveto also reached the finals, but missed out on a match that many would have liked to see. He was lined up to face Realbuto in the 126-pound semis, automatically advancing to the finals due to D-Real’s medical default. Oliveto was up against Huntington’s Corey Jamison, and while he was able to keep it close, he was unable to secure a takedown on his way to a 3-1 loss. It looks like Oliveto is planning on competing at 126 for sectionals to get out of that loaded 120-pound weight class. “Jamison is a highly ranked kid in New York state,” Suffern coach Chris Matteotti said. “He’s a tough kid, and Alex hung in there, but he needs a little bit more offense. He needs to get his offense going.”
• Hen Hud’s Mark Grant reached the finals at 113 pounds and continues to look like a contender for a section title. He looked tough against Port Jervis’ Dylan Booth, but had trouble escaping with Booth on top, eventually losing on an 8-4 decision. “He’s looking stronger on his feet and he had some good scrambles,” LaVallee said. “I think he was one of the better kids that he’s wrestled all year – especially on top. I thought Mark was able to get out when he needed to, but unfortunately, in some of the tight scrambles, Mark is still not recovering well enough.”
• Nyack’s Charles Francois (pictured to the left) made it to the finals at 285, and from what I was hearing about his opponent Anthony Puca of Huntington, Francois put forth a very respectable effort in his 4-1 loss. He’s on the radar in his weight class, because as we know, these super heavyweight matches tend to be very tight. Francois looks like he can hang with the big boys in Section 1.
• While Huntington took first at the tourney, Suffern finished higher than any other local team in fourth place. Along with having two finalists in DeSimone and Oliveto, the Mounties also had two guys take third – Peter Oliveto (106) and Peter Pjetri (170). Pjetri has been coming on strong of late and knocked off my No. 2 ranked wrestler at 170 in the third place final. In one of the more bizarre matches that I’ve seen, Pjetri was leading Sleepy Hollow’s Adam Hofling when Hofling appeared to tap out. Pjetri had him in an awkward position, and our photographer John Meore said that it looked to him like Hofling might have been getting choked out. He stormed off of the mat and the ref called it a disqualification. Hofling has had some big wins this season, but as only sophomore, is still experiencing some growing pains. Pjetri is also a sophomore, so there’s a good chance that they’ll see each other again sometime during their careers. “It did end a little odd. I’ve never seen anything like that before in my life,” Matteotti said. “Pjetri was pretty much dominating. I think he was up 7-3 at the time. He’s building a little bit of confidence; that’s his issue right now. Once he does get the confidence, he’s going to be OK.”
OTHER LOCAL TEAMS IN ACTION THIS WEEKEND
• Dan DeFrancesco covered the Beacon tourney, where there was much more of a Section 1 presence. Two champs – Tappan Zee’s Desmond Djekovic (152) and Greeley’s Scott Wymbs (195) – achieved major milestones, with Djekovic recording his 100th win and Wymbs breaking Greeley’s all-time wins record with his 117th career victory. One final that really stood out to me came at 220 pounds. TZ’s John Hartnett was my top-ranked guy in that weight class, but Ossining’s Trent Lofaro (pictured to the right, on top) made his case for the No. 1 spot. After losing to Hartnett early in the season, Lofaro was able to come through with a 7-4 win on Saturday. Check out Dan’s story for more on the Beacon tourney.
• Edgemont took the team title at its own tournament, just edging out a tough Pearl River squad. Trey Aslanian was the only Panther to claim a title, getting back on track at 120 pounds after a rough weekend at Eastern States. One match that really stood out in terms of section title implications came in the 160-pound final. It looks like Mamaroneck’s Ben Miller has made up his mind to go at 160 for the postseason, and he came up with a measure of revenge on Saturday. Scarsdale’s Joe Koshakow defeated Miller in an overtime bout at the Carlucci duals, but Miller came out on the winning end in another overtime battle this time around with a 4-3 decision. One thing we know for sure is that these two seem to match up very evenly. They should both be right there for a section title, but of course, John Jay-EF’s Dale White is still looming.
• Yorktown and Brewster had strong showings at the Shenendehowa tourney, with the Huskers taking third and the Bears finishing fifth. Joe Mastro (152) and Thomas Murray (182) each won titles for Yorktown, while Grant Cuomo (99) and Liam Erickson (132) each took first for Brewster. Reigning section champ David Varian of Yorktown was knocked out in the semis by Newburgh Free Academy’s Terrence Cheeks. Yorktown’s other section champ Steven Sabella was out nursing the knee injury that he suffered at Eastern States.
• North Rockland took first at the Wallkill duals with wins over Irvington (66-19), Pine Bush (65-16), Cornwall (44-27) and Wallkill (55-16). Marlon Borge (106), Blaise Benderoth (120), Khalil Harrison (126), Jake DiMarsico (132), Caputo (138) and Nick Didio (160) each went undefeated on the day for the Red Raiders.
• Hackley took second at the Brunswick Invitational, with Sam Welch winning a title at 126 pounds. Rodrigo Mejias (182) and Xavier Carmona (195) each took second.
Kohl photos from John Meore/Beacon photos from Frank Becerra, Jr.