With the fields set in each weight class for next weekend’s Division 1 sectional tournament (well, for the most part), the real question is how much did Saturday’s divisional action shake things up? Many highly ranked wrestlers had the chance to see some of their top competitors during yesterday’s sectional qualifiers, and I couldn’t help but wonder if guys view that as a good or bad thing.
“He’s the guy,” said Yorktown senior Steven Sabella (pictured above to the left) after his 3-1 OT win over Greeley senior Scott Wymbs in the 195-final at Sleepy Hollow. “He’s the one whose name is out there. I’ve never stepped on a mat with him before, so I didn’t really know what to expect, but I did play it safer than I wanted to. A positive out of it is that I got the win and I’ll see him next week, so I have a feel for him.”
Sabella seemed to feel that there was a lot he could take away from his tight match with Wymbs. They are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, and had never wrestled before. Now, he said, he knows what to expect and what he needs to work if they met again next week.
Others, such as Somers senior Dylan Realbuto, sounded as if they might have preferred to save their toughest opponents for sectionals when it really counts.
“I’ve had thousands of looks (at him),” Realbuto said after his 7-1 decision over Yorktown senior Jimmy Kaishian in the 126-final at Sleepy Hollow, noting that they train together in the offseason. “Before the match I was nervous. I hate wrestling people that I know and I’m friends with. It kind of psyches me out and I get nervous; especially after losing to (Ossining’s Alex) Delacruz last year.”
• I was at Sleepy (Division 2) yesterday, where there were many matches with section title implications in the upper weights. Of course, the most highly anticipated match came in the 195-final, which was a very slow-developing contest between Sabella and Wymbs. I’ve noted before that Sabella is very quick for a big guy which enables him to be active and create good angles, but he struggled a bit getting in on any quality shots against Wymbs. Early in the match, Wymbs caught him in a headlock and slammed him to nearly take the lead, but they were just out of bounds. Wymbs tried it again in OT, but Sabella slipped out and got to Wymbs’ back for the 3-1 decision. “He’s a big kid. I was feeling him out a lot, and he was wrestling tough. At the same time, he’s a different body style than I’ve wrestled before. I learned a lot from it,” Sabella said. “That’s a big positive that I took out of it. I’m going to see the same kid – most likely – next week. I know what to expect, and I have a lot to work on… I have to open up my offense a little bit.”
• The Huskers finished with more individual champs than any other team at Sleepy with five – Kyle Montesano (106), Joe Mastro (152), Thomas Murray (182), David Varian (285) and Sabella. Varian (pictured to the right) remains the guy to beat at 285 as a defending champ, but the pecking order behind him may have shifted a bit on Saturday. Nyack’s Charles Francois seems to improve every time that I see him, and he beat third-ranked Brent Lobien of Greeley in the semis with an impressive 10-5 decision. He’s become pretty lethal with that headlock move, and he put Lobien on his back twice with it during the match. Varian held him off with a 2-1 decision in the finals, but Francois is definitely one of his biggest threats. “I knew he was tough,” Varian said. “I wasn’t nearly as offensive as I want to be. I’ve been so much more offensive this year than I was last year, and I don’t think it really showed in that match. I came out with a tough win, but he’s tough. I respect him a lot… I know there’s depth in my weight class, and the target is on my back. I’m just trying to stay hungry.”
• Murray took first at 182 pretty handily with a pin of Greeley’s Brock Cvijanovich in the final, but Cvijanovich picked up a nice win over a ranked wrestler in the semis. He beat East Ramapo’s Tyler Goings with a 4-0 decision, and was one of 10 wrestlers to qualify for sectionals for this resurgent Quakers squad. “Greeley is definitely on the rise,” MOW Mitch Klein said. “We’re definitely gaining confidence, and we’re going to be someone to look out for on the sectional stage, team-wise.”
• Klein came through with a very impressive day in one of the deeper fields in the tournament. He pinned Clarkstown South’s Austin Fox in the 145-semis, and then did the same to Sleepy Hollow’s Steven Bencosme in the finals to earn MOW honors. I had Klein listed just outside of the top five at 145, but Saturday’s performance caused me to reconsider that. He’s aggressive and athletic with the ability to finish. “It’s a great feeling,'” Klein said. “It’s really more motivation for me to do well next week. I know that I’m up there with the competition and I can stick it to them.”
• The other match that I was really excited to see came between my top two ranked wrestlers at 126, Realbuto and Kaishian (pictured to the left). Kaishian came out pretty strong and didn’t seem phased by stepping onto the mat with a state champ, and by the end of the first period, it was still scoreless. But D-Real started the second period on top and was able to turn Kaishian for some crucial back points, before pulling away in third for the 7-1 decision. “When I was younger, if it was 0-0 after the first period I would freak out, but I just stayed calm,” Realbuto said. “I was kind of nervous in the first period, but I started getting more comfortable. I started getting to my stuff, and it made it easier and easier.”
• It was a good day for Somers on coach William Von Tobel’s birthday. The Tuskers took some heat during the season because of some holes in their lineup, but it’s clear that this team is much better suited for a tournament setting. Along with D-Real, Larry Courtien (138) and Mark Lasar (160) also took first place. Courtien did so by avenging a loss at the Kohl to third-ranked Edwin Jimenez of Sleepy Hollow. He lost by a point that day, but made some critical adjustments on his way to a convincing 6-0 decision at divisionals. Courtien proved that he’s going to be a threat next weekend. “I knew he likes to work around the edges, and I wasn’t able to finish the moves that I could have (at the Kohl) because we kept going out of bounds. I kept it in the center this time, and that helped me score a bunch more,” he said. “I knew this guy was ranked third, so beating him will hopefully get me a seed. It will help me out for sectionals a lot.”
• Lasar won one of the more exciting matches of the day with a 10-6 decision in overtime against Nyack’s Jacob Lieberman. It was a back-and-forth match, but Lasar seemed to have more gas in the tank towards the end. “I think this was Mark’s first tournament win this year,” Realbuto said. “I was really happy for Mark. He’s gotten unlucky at every tournament we’ve gone to.”
• Clarkstown South tied Greeley for the most sectional qualifiers to come out of Sleepy with 10. The Vikings had four champs, with Michael Alvarado (99), Brian McLiverty (113), Hassan Auwarter (170) and Paul Okeke (220) taking first. Auwarter (pictured to the right) probably had the biggest statement win, defeating second-ranked Adam Hofling of Sleepy Hollow with a 13-10 decision in the finals. He built a pretty big lead and then survived a late rally from Hofling, which could put him in good position to get the second seed at sectionals behind John Jay-EF’s Bretty Perry. “When I’m on my game and my head is on right, I think I can be named with Perry,” Auwarter said. “He’s a very good kid, but I think I’m in that class. If I keep wrestling hard and keep my head on straight, I think I’ll be good for sectionals.”
• As I tweeted early in the day, the field at 220 at Sleepy only had six wrestlers, but all six had winning records and seemed to be worthy of qualifying for sectionals. While none of my top three in that class were there, Okeke emerged from the pack with a steady performance throughout the day. He beat East Ramapo’s Jason Dorsainville in the finals with an 8-4 decision, which should probably lock up a top four seed at sectionals.
DAN DEFRANCESCO’S THOUGHTS FROM CARMEL (DIVISION 1)
• The story of the day was North Rockland. The Red Raiders qualified 11 wrestlers for next weekend’s sectionals. North Rockland had nine wrestlers make it to the finals, with seven coming away with the titles. Anthony Sulla (99) and Nick Didio (160) both came in as two seeds and upset the top seed in the final. Sulla beat Suffern’s Brice Artrip, 6-5, while Didio topped Scarsdale’s Joe Koshakow, 11-5.
• Despite all of their success, it still wasn’t quite a enough for North Rockland coach Jeff Swick. Swick, who brought 16 wrestlers, was hoping to qualify at least two or three more and had thought about the possibility of being able to bring all 16 next weekend. “I’m happy for the guys who won, cream rises to the top,” Swick said. “But, I would have like to have had another two or three guys through.”
• It’s clear the Red Raiders are eyeing a sectional team title. Jake DiMarsico (132) and Matt Caputo (138; pictured to the left) both talked about how much it would mean to them to be the first team in school history to bring home a sectional title. DiMarsico and Caputo, who both won their weight class, said practices in the wrestling room have amped up even more, with the majority of time being spent wrestling live.
• For the Red Raiders to be successful next weekend they’ll need to have a strong showing top to bottom. The fact that they don’t have as many locks for individual sectional title means every match matters. “You can win a tournament with guys wrestling back for third, fourth, fifth, sixth, picking up pins and getting bonus points,” Swick said. “That’s what we are going to need our guys to do.”
• That being said, something that definitely hurt the Red Raiders chances was 126-pounder Troy Feniger not qualifying in his first action since returning from a tough hip injury. The two-seed fell to Harrison’s Joe Maida in the semifinals 5-0 and then suffered a 7-6 setback to Suffern’s Stephen Lauro in the quarterfinals of wrestle-backs.
• Tappan Zee had four individual winners — Desmond Djekovic (152), Kurt Romano (182), John Hartnett (220) and Mike Manni (285). Djekovic’s final against Hen Hud’s Josh Perlmutter was probably the best final of the day. Djekovic was unhappy with his performance, though, saying he wrestled too conservative. “I was wrestling not to lose, to be honest,” Djekovic said. “I could have dominated my opponent but I’m happy I see it now and can capitalize on it in the sectional tournament.”
• Speaking of the Dutchmen, Hartnett and Manni had an interesting way of ending the tournament. With the third place matches ending early, the finals were opened up to two mats. Coincidentally, Hartnett and Manni both pinned their opponent within a half-second of one another. The two got up, smiled and pointed at each other before walking to the center of the mat. That might not seem cool to you guys, but when you’ve been typing wrestling results all day, it’s the little things in life.
• Here is video of Suffern senior Alex Oliveto’s win by medical default over Maida in the 126-final. Oliveto was winning 9-1 at the time that the match was called.
OTHER RANDOM THOUGHTS FROM DIVISIONALS
• There were six teams from around the section that had 10 wrestlers or more qualify for sectionals. North Rockland, Clarkstown South and Arlington will each send 11 to sectionals, while Clarkstown North, Greeley and John Jay-EF each qualified 10. A lot of teams had nine, with section title hopeful Yorktown being one of them. It’s worth noting that the Huskers may end up with 10. There are two wild card spots at 220 and 285 because there weren’t four wrestlers from each class at every divisional site, and Yorktown senior Avik Mohan looks like a prime candidate to grab a spot at 220. The Huskers will need all of the points that they can get if they want to surpass preseason favorite North Rockland.
• In terms of individual section title races, there was a lot to be noted at John Jay-EF. Brewster junior Liam Erickson made his case at 132, taking out the No. 1 (Fox Lane’s Ben Ettlinger) and No. 4 (John Jay-EF’s Luke Minasi) ranked wrestlers in his class. After a close 1-0 decision against Minasi in the semis, Erickson sent a bit of a statement with a decisive 8-2 decision over Ettlinger in the final. The only top guy he hasn’t seen from this class is defending champ DiMarsico, but Erickson looks like he’s peaking at the right time.
• I know a lot of people had their eye on John Jay-EF senior Dale White, who would be the heavy favorite at 160 if not for the fact that he missed nearly the entire regular season with a back injury. White gave no indication of any rust on Saturday, defeating second-ranked Ben Miller of Mamaroneck in the finals, 8-2. I think it’s safe to say he’s the guy to beat heading into next weekend.
• In another matchup wrestlers ranked No. 1 and No. 2, Ossining senior Trent Lofaro avenged an early season loss to top-ranked David Watkins of Mount Vernon in the 220-final with a 4-3 decision. After losing to both Watkins and Hartnett in his first meetings with them this season, Lofaro has beaten each the second time around. That’s a good sign for him heading into sectionals.
• The most interesting weight class at Mahopac was 99. For the second time, Arlington freshman Brady Robin beat teammate Alfredo Olmedo, this time with a 2-0 decision in the finals. Olmedo beat Pearl River’s James Kelly in the semis, 1-0, but Robin emerged as the guy to beat. Of course, Fox Lane junior Brandon Fay should have something to say about that. He majored fifth-ranked Grant Cuomo of Brewster in the finals at John Jay-EF.
Sleepy Hollow (Division 2) photos from Carucha L. Meuse/Carmel photos (Division 1) from Frank Becerra, Jr.