Today’s Division 2 championships had a little bit of everything: Upsets, statements and some great story lines. I’ve got plenty of videos to get to, so let’s jump right into it.
• For the third consecutive year, it was Nanuet who came away as the overall team champion in D2. I honestly thought that the Golden Knights could have won by an even wider margin (they finished ahead of Putnam Valley by 53.5 points), but they had a few of their top guys get tripped up in the semis. Nanuet only had four finalists—Anthony Calvano (120), Matt Dillon (145), Peter Smith (170) and Dan Breit (220)—while Put Valley and Edgemont had six each. Dillon and Breit were the only Golden Knights to win titles, but they were able to cruise to a team title thanks to their incredible depth. “It’s awesome,” Dillon said. “We’re all seniors, we all love wrestling and we all love doing this together. It’s a good way to go out. We didn’t have as many finalists as we would have liked, but we worked hard in the wrestle backs to get that team title.”
• We knew about Nanuet’s stellar senior class heading into the weekend, but I was really impressed with the depth displayed by Putnam Valley. The Tigers surprised everyone by passing Edgemont for second place, sending a message that they should be a team to watch out for in the section title picture next season. Noah Kelvas (106), Chris Bruno (132; pictured to the right) and John Messinger (170) each won titles. “This is like the 10th or 12th year of the program, and every year it’s gotten progressively better,” said Messinger after winning his second consecutive title. “I have to give incredible props to (coach Will) Carano for the time he puts in and the practices he puts us through. He’s behind it all; he’s the master mind.”
• The finals got off to a rousing start with Pleasantville’s James Bathon coming up with a slight upset against Edgemont’s Kyle Aslanian in the 99-pound final. Bathon wasn’t able to do too much against Aslanian, but he scored early and then used his strength to ride the smaller Aslanian out for a good portion of the match. Here is video of his 3-0 decision.
• With Kyle and his brother Tyler Aslanian both losing to start the finals, eldest brother Trey Aslanian (pictured above) made sure that the family didn’t walk away empty-handed. Trey was matched up against Calvano in the 120-pound final, and Trey admitted to being unsure of whether Calvano would compete in that weight class until this week. “I try not to concern myself, but I respect him for it,” Trey said. “It shows how tough of a kid he is, but was I surprised? Yeah, a little surprised.” The final pitted arguably the two most decorated wrestlers in D2 up against each other, and it lived up to its billing. Tied at 1-1 entering the third, Trey was able to secure a late takedown near the edge for the 3-1 decision. I certainly like Calvano’s chances of getting a wild card to states. “I looked at the clock and there were 20 seconds left, and in my mind, it was no problem,” Aslanian said. “Go out there and get your shot. That’s what I did. I feel comfortable in those close matches because I’ve been in so many of them.”
• While Calvano would have had a better shot for a title had he went 126, Pleasantville’s Stephen Paternostro (pictured to the left) won a title there after one helluva day. The tournament’s MOW upset favorite Joe Dillon of Nanuet with a 6-5 decision in the semis, and he finished the day with a big-time exclamation point. He pinned top-seeded AJ Mirabal of Put Valley in the finals in just 15 seconds, getting in on Mirabal’s leg and sticking him virtually in full swoop. Definitely the nastiest finish I saw all day. “I had to be confident,” Paternostro said. “I knew I had to wrestle Joe Dillon as best as I could. Once I beat him, I had the confidence to come out here and beat Mirabal.”
• For the past two seasons, I’ve seen Matt Dillon come up just short at sectionals. He had been a runner-up two years in a row, but as he told me today, “I wasn’t going to make it a third time.” Dillon beat Westlake’s Nick O’Hallaran with a 3-1 decision in the 145-pound final to finally capture that elusive title. He had a little scare in the first period when O’Hallaran caught him in a headlock and slammed him, but Dillon wiggled free before O’Hallaran could secure his position for two points. “That was the same exact move that happened to me two years ago,” Dillon recalled. “I got tossed, and I was like, ‘This isn’t going to happen to me again.’ I just got off my back as quick as I could. I thought they gave him the two, but luckily they didn’t.”
• Along with Trey, Messinger, Breit and Pawling’s Matt Acevedo (285), Irvington’s Brett Pastore was the fifth wrestler to repeat as a section champ. He pinned Edgemont’s Jack McCormack in the first period of the 152-pound final, and is one of the guys who could make some noise at states.
• While those five were all repeat champs, Westlake senior Edgar Solis (pictured to the right) became a two-time champ with his 8-2 decision over Put Valley’s Angelo Zegarelli in the 160-pound final. Solis won a section title as a sophomore, but was upset in the semifinals last season. “It was very upsetting,” Solis said of losing last year. “I had nightmares every night reliving that. Going into my senior year, I knew I had to win it this year. I put more effort into practice, drilled harder and just kept focus.”
• One of the biggest eye-opening performances that I saw came from Edgemont’s Chris Kim. He decided to go 182, and he made it look like a very wise decision with his 14-5 major decision over Pleasantville’s Peter Salzarulo in the finals. Admittedly, I was a bit surprise to see Kim let Salzarulo up after taking him down right away, but it turned out to be a good strategic move. He was able to rack up points almost at will, displaying tremendous athleticism and crisp shots throughout the match. Kim moves well for a bigger guy.
• Unfortunately, because they decided to have the finals running simultaneously on two mats, I was only able to get half of them on video. The final match that I was able to shoot wasn’t a very long one, as Breit pinned Croton-Harmon’s Alek Pavloff in 30 seconds in the 220-pound final. I’ve said before that I believe Breit is the best chance for a state champ from D2.
• Other guys to win titles were Lourdes’ Jacob Wiegard (195), and Ardsley’s Stephen Samolsky (113) and Drew Longo (138). Dan DeFrancesco took a few videos from the D1 quarters at Pace, which I’ll post sometime tomorrow morning.
Photos by Seth Harrison/The Journal News