Poll: Who should be the Westchester/Putnam wrestler of the year?


It’s hard to believe that wrestling season is over, and it’s going to be even harder for me to make some of these postseason award decisions. I can’t recall a season in which there were so many deserving candidates that you could make an argument for, and there certainly isn’t a clear-cut choice for wrestler of the year on either side of the river.

We’ll start with the award that may very well come down to the two state champs from Section 1 — The Journal News Westchester/Putnam wrestler of the year. For the past two seasons, this award has gone to Somers grad Brian Realbuto (he split it with Fox Lane grad Steven Rodrigues in 2011), but now we have a new group vying for the honor. Since the state titles for both Edgemont’s Trey Aslanian and Ossining’s Alex Delacruz are still fresh in our minds, I have a feeling they’ll receive the most votes, but there are others who I can make legitimate cases for, as well. The best way to determine it might be to get Delacruz and Aslanian on a mat together, since they never wrestled this season. What do you say, guys?

Here are my top five candidates for the award:

Trey Aslanian, Edgemont (40-2, 20 pins): The Princeton-bound senior capped off an incredible career with his first ever state title on Saturday in Division 2 at 120 pounds. For awhile, it seemed as if he had fallen out of the running for this award; not placing at Eastern States and looking like he might be hindered by injury. But after suffering his only two losses of the season at the ESC, Aslanian did not lose another match. He beat Nanuet’s Anthony Calvano (who went onto take fifth in the state) in an incredibly tough section finals match, and then won a state title when a lot of people were counting him out by defeating the same guy (Midlakes’ Sean Peacock) who beat him in last year’s state final. They say it’s not how you start, but how you finish…

Nick Barbaria, New Rochelle (43-2, 9 pins): While the junior may not have finished the season the way he had hoped, he was the only Westchester/Putnam wrestler to win a title at Eastern States, which some people will tell you is more difficult than winning a state title. Barbaria made it through a tough weight class to win his second consecutive section title, and entered the state tournament without a loss. He came up short in his quest for a state title, finishing fifth at 106 pounds in Division 1, but did go 2-1 against state champ Kyle Quinn of Wantagh this season. He’s shown that he’s capable of competing with anyone in the state.

Alex Delacruz, Ossining (38-3, 19 pins): The junior may very well be the most talented wrestler in Westchester/Putnam, which he showed by winning his first state title at 120 pounds in Division 1 on Saturday. The knock on Delacruz will be that he wasn’t even a section champ, but the guy who beat him in the finals, Pearl River’s John Muldoon, isn’t eligible for this award (that poll will come sometime next week). More importantly, Delacruz came back with a vengeance at states and beat Muldoon in the semis before finishing the job by winning a state title with an 11-7 decision over top-seeded Steven Michel of Lancaster. He made crucial adjustments throughout the season and became more of a complete wrestler, which enabled him to finish on top.

Sam Melikian, Fordham Prep (41-2, 28 pins): While the senior didn’t get to consistently compete against Section 1 competition, he was dominant when he did. The Mohegan Lake resident pinned the eventual section champ in his weight class, Brewster’s Liam Erickson, in the Shoreline finals, proving that he is the cream of the crop when it comes to 132 pounds in the area. He took second at Eastern States — placing higher than any other New York state wrestler — and then took third at states in Division 1 after a heartbreaker OT loss in the semis. Undoubtedly, Melikian was one of the best wrestlers from these parts this season.

Dylan Realbuto, Somers (41-2, 17 pins): It would be easy to look at the Cornell-bound senior’s third place finish at states as a disappointment, but that simply wouldn’t be fair. Expectations were sky-high after he won a state title last season, and D-Real still came through with a superb season. He could have packed it in after getting pinned in the Division 1 state quarterfinals at 126 pounds, but he displayed tremendous pride by wrestling back to take third. Realbuto gave eventual state champ TJ Fabian of Shoreham a tough match in a one-point loss in the Eastern States finals, which tells you that he’s right there with the best in the state. He’ll go down as one of the best wrestlers to come from Section 1 in the last decade, no doubt.

Now go get your vote on!


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  1. Denholm,

    I don’t see Alex making it out of the Bracket. I guess the glory days of Ossining wrestling have you wearing rose colored glasses.

    Let it go

  2. I didn’t say Alex would. Certainly I would want him to. Any pick would be a tough one. Why wouldn’t Alex though? he made it through the state bracket ? Beat D’Angelo, Muldoon, and Michel not a bad run. Would it be that much harder at sections ? even if he is the 4/5 seed ? wrestles Benderoth or Calvano ? wins, wrestles Muldoon or Trey in semis and other in finals. No choice would be a safe one, thats for sure. Muldoon, Delacruz, Aslanian take your pick…

  3. Lets go to the video on

    I watched the video of Muldoon and Delacruz and at the end of regulation Muldoon takes a step or two and falls to the mat like he was shot in the leg. The entire overtime he shows no signs of an injury. When the match ended he fell to the mat like he’d been shot, after some time gets up finger shakes Delacruz and falls to the mat.
    The reason why I bring this up is yht some have suggested that one of the reasons Muldoon lost was because of an injured ankle.
    Watch the video for yourself before you bury me!

  4. You won't get buried on

    This is the ossining/sleepy hollow blog as long as don’t question referee’s missed back points in the 3rd or his weak stalemate call in Ot your fine. Muldoon cramped up and strained his calf muscle, no one ever said he sprained his ankle. Muldoon even pushed the action on a bad wheel.

  5. you won't get buried on

    Just watched the video again. You can even see Muldoon limp back to the center after the weak stalemate call.

  6. Lets go to the video on

    pr alum mentioned on the previous post that Muldoon had a legit injury unlike delacuz injury!
    I guess asthma is no big deal! I quess that Doctors hand out abuterol medications to those that don’t need it.

  7. Ossining Troll on

    Lets go to the video , please, you mean ossining alumni, you want to talk handshakes go watch your boy’s firm handshake with Muldoon after he BIT him at easterns. You guys really need to get a life.

  8. Ossining Troll on

    Your boy is the State Champ why do you continue to try and put Muldoon down. He dominated Muldoon in the states when counted, right ?????

  9. Lets go to the video on

    “Your boy” ” You no asthma acts up when you are losing “Who’s putting who down?

  10. ChiefWildEagle on

    NEW YORK STATE CHAMPION ALEX DELACRUZ just brought out on court at Westchester County Center as special half time guest!!!!!

  11. Lets go to the video on

    I’m sitting here at the county center watching an Ossining team on there way to a state championship and they just made an announcement that state champ Alex Delacruz was in the crowd. All cheers, I quess no pearl river fans here today!

  12. Good for Alex. He deserves it.

    Why do you think everyone who posts on here is from PR? It’s a section 1 forum . Why wouldn’t you just give Alex his props and leave it at that?

  13. Ossining Troll on

    Shocking your are there, Congrats, He wrestled a great tournament but let me put to rest another bald face lie you ossining faithful like to tell on this blog. Delacruz wasn’t booed at States by Pearl River fans it was the the Suffolk fans screaming either “two or boo” at the end of his match against the Dangelo kid because they thought he had tied it up.
    Enjoy the game

  14. Best post yet “OK”. Really who does pay attention to D2. Just look at states, everyone except the parents pay full attention to the D1 mat.

  15. Coach Rogers on

    No Worries you have a good point. I believe a well rounded wrestler learns more mat sense when they try greco and freestyle. Fargo is definitely a place where the best of the best excel, but it is also a great experience for the pretty good wrestler also. Coach Denholm has made a point I love about switching styles, burnout. I worked witn Scott Green for many years and he would tell me how the Shamrock wrestlers would switch over to freestyle and greco asap after the major folkstyle was done. One that comes to mind was JP Oconnor. It is a matter of choice. More wrestling of any style can equal better wrestling next winter. I will be bringing wrestlers to all styles this spring. Good luck to all!

  16. Coach Parker on

    To the person that made this comment:

    “51 Section I champs is no big deal especially since section I wasn’t that good until recently(not my words, but the speech given by the section coach from John Jay Cross River a former state champ himself”

    This is really just as silly as it sounds. Coach Swertfager would not say the section 1 team was not good until recently. If you know anything about Section 1 history this statement just is not true. Coach Swertfager has been a driving force in uniting the section team in order to help local athletes perform well at states (this is extremely honorable, unlike many of the people on this blog bashing programs in their same section when they have no idea about how successful some of them have been)

    Please understand the history of the section before you say ignorant comments that offend your former wrestlers and current section one coaches (who dedicate their lives to today’s athletes).

    Don’t mistake recent success with our section being weak in the past. The truth is if you take the average of the section ones finish in the last 10 years with both divisions
    we average 6th place (This average is only from Div.1 because that is where we had the most success). If you take the 10 years before entering 2 division system (this does not include 1989-2nd, 1990 5th place, 1991 4th place 1992 5th place, 1993 8th place) the section averaged an 8.5.

    So when you factor in that we don’t compete against the best of section 4,5, and 6th who were historically placing ahead of us, one could say that the section has not changed very much. It is also important to note that since the change to 2 divisions we have had 6 years with out having a state champ as opposed to 5 years with out a state champ during the 10 years prior to the switch.

    There is no doubt that we have recently had some of our best performances in history (3,5,2,4,5 place finishes in that order since 2009) and only one year with out a state champ (2010), but we can easily swing back the other way if we forget how we got here.

    Athletes today work together, they attend clubs together, travel and wrestle in the toughest tournaments together and when they make it to states they become a team. This has been what has made long island such a powerhouse for so long… so lets keep the section 1 pride, not bash other programs (especially when we don’t know what we are talking about)

  17. Coach swertfager did say that, he also said at states people used to be happy when they saw they had a section 1 kid. But not anymore, they hate seeing th Columbia blue

  18. the split happened in 2004

    2003 no champ
    2002 no champ
    2001 no champ
    2000 mazzurco
    1999 no champ
    1998 no champ

    Team place
    2003 10th
    2002 12th
    2001 8th
    2000 tie 9th
    1999 9th
    1998 9th
    1997 9th
    1996 10th
    1995 7th (catholic and psal werent invited that year so only 11 sections instead of 13)

    As someone brought up earlier, it was tougher to get to states back then as your section was much tougher, but states was only 12 kids with 4byes, get a bye win your first match u place.

    There were no wild cards, 17 Wildcards placed this year. Look at 120 this year, we had 5 kids place. Old way only 1 kid could go. I think what we used to see was winning sections was tougher so that was the main goal, everything else was gravy. Now winning sectionals is nice but the real prize is the states.

  19. Last 5 years on

    D1 state finishes

    2013 5th, half point out of 4th
    2012 4th
    2011 2nd
    2010 5th
    2009 3rd

    Average finish is a little better than 4th. We weren’t good the first 5 years of the split either. But the 5years prior shows you that we have gotten better and it’s not the split that is the reason

    2008 8th
    2007 9th
    2006 7th
    2005 8th
    2004 9th

    That’s a 5 year average of a little worse than 8th, With the 2 division split. That’s proof right there that we have gotten better and it’s not just the split.

  20. you guys are looking at website stats to decide how strong wrestling was before you were born lol

    no one has brought up anything about the FACT that the stronger upstate kids 3,4,5,6 are not in D1 now and making it easier for D1 to place. Instead you guys around here call D2 ‘JV’ because down state D2 is weak. Truth is the “JV” D2 is the only reason Section 1 D1 is having so much success.

    You think you’re proving your point but you’re proving ours!!!!!! The only success we’ve had is since the split and the big boys upstate moving out. It’s not like Section 1 D2 was dragging down the state success until the split. After the split things were made easier. Pretty simple concept to figure out. It would be like taking the Redskins or some other decent football team and then putting them in a new NFL without 1/2 the teams.. leave the ravens, 49ers out, leave the pats, falcons out, leave the texans, packers out… and so on half the talent leaves and now the redskins are one of the best.

    the D1/D2 talent on a state level is MUCH closer than people down here think.

    1996 5 kids placed – 1 champ Griff Powell – went on to Illinois so we’ll just say 90’s S-Rod
    1997 two champs and a third – how many top 3 this year ?
    1998 5 guys place, but yes no champs, 215 had all-world Josh Etu, 285 had Hafler from Nisky and Vicchiarelli from Bethpage wrestle 8-4 in finals not 3-2 in OT. Who now could wrestle with these guys ?
    1999 – 5 guys placed, yes no champs
    2000- 7 guys place, one champ Mazzurco, no champs in 2001 as Mazzurco lost the rematch with Patrovich

    we were regularly placing a handful of guys. And we didn’t get a second chance to place a guy with a wildcard, and the guys taking 2nd often times were pretty good! you didn’t have guys teching and majoring guys in the finals. Except Griff Powell who was like a machine.

    2008 placed 7
    2009 placed 11, couple champs, finished 3rd, can’t argue how strong that team was
    2010 placed 11 again, wild cards placing helps though, only took 5th, only 1 finalist this year
    2011 7 finalists 4 champs, 2nd place! the high is over though
    2012 10 place 2W-2L in the finals, couple 4ths
    2013 11 place but most 5/6, one champ, only finalist, fell to 5th.
    2014? 3 of top 5 placers not returning
    2015? Rockland to section 9 ?

    tournament missing about 1/2 the top guys (3,4,5,6 D2 guys). So when guys used to get byes in those days 1st round matches were as tough as quarterfinals today, quarters were as tough as semi’s today, and so on

    going to take some work to stay in the top 5! cant afford to place out of top 5 if we want to move into the top 5 (power rank) for state seeding points.

    so placing 5-6 guys back in the 90’s compared to placing 10-11 today. not that far apart. I know in my day my weight had a bye first round at states. But after the bye the eventual state champ was waiting. And the wrestleback was the guy who took 5th. So its not like the bye’s made it that easy.

  21. definitely at a high right now. 1996-2000 pretty strong, 2009-2012 very strong, 2013 pretty strong, 2014 lot of seniors to be, but 4 champs is a lot to match but got to think more than 1 finalist next year.

  22. Last 5 years on

    Clueless, then why with all that u just said, why were we finishing an average of worse 8th with the split division from 2004-2008? The strong upstate schools were in d2 at the time, but we finished exactly the same as we did pre split prior to the last 5 years. Now we are finishing better than top 4 on average. No change in the system in the last 5 years compared to 6-10 years ago.

    I think the guys who wrestled in our down years have the ” I walked uphill both ways to school mentality”. Look at the isw post there’s 8 guys on the list wrestling d1, I think we currently have 10 d1 wrestlers from section 1. We didn’t have 10 d1 wrestlers in a 20 year span prior to this.

  23. http://www.thematslap.com/NYSIndividRankCurrentPg.html

    The final combined state rankings, 11 sec 1 kids ranked in the top 8

    Here’s the same rankings from 10 years ago.


    5 kids ranked. Both were combined split division state rankings
    2004 5 kids ranked
    2005 no final rankings
    2006 5 kids ranked
    2007 3 kids ranked
    2008 5 kids ranked
    2009 11 kids ranked
    2010 12 kids ranked
    2011 10 kids ranked
    2012 10 kids ranked
    2013 11 kids ranked

    Yep we haven’t gotten better guys lol

  24. yeah we did, just didnt have them all in one club so that everyone knew about it. well that and there wasn’t as many D1 programs in the NCAA’s then. But to put down the 90’s and even further back is foolish. To lump them in with the mid 2000’s group is foolish.. to say the ‘sucked’ just throws all credibility out the window.

    and again I love guys that don’t argue the argument. no one is putting down how good the guys are now. no one is saying that someone is better. all thats being said is that the past shouldn’t be knocked by people who don’t know what they are talking about.

  25. trouble starter on

    As we have seen and heard this originated from coach swertsfegers quote. Is he a person who doesn’t know what he is talking about?

  26. “No one wants to wrestle the guys in Columbia blue anymore,” said Swertfager, referring to the color of the Section 1 singlets. “Seven or eight years ago, they loved wrestling the guys in Columbia blue, but not anymore.”

  27. Coach Parker on

    My point was not to disprove the fact the coach Swertfager said the above statement (I have been in the room when he has said it). The fact is a young man came on here and said that Coach Swertfager said that the section was not good back then and that is not the truth.

    He is motivating young men, now, not back then and I understand that he might say something about today’s athlete to motivate them, it is the same thing I look to do as a coach (his focus is to say whatever he needs to get the section 1 team ready).

    However, people who did not compete then need to think twice before they say something about a time when things were very different. My point about state champions was over looked we had state champions in the ten years before the switch, but it was much harder to place as a team because section 3, 4, 5, 6’s best were all in our tournament.

    I am happy for the opportunity that more wrestlers are getting now and our recent success with wildcards exhibits that obviously the wild card system makes a lot of sense. But before you get ahead of your selves understand things were not the same. There was no seeding, there were random draws (some you of you have said oh just one bye and you win a match and your all-state, more like you draw the eventual state champ 1st rd and your out).

    All I am saying is have a little pride in your section. Coach Swertfager says that comment not to put those athletes who competed in that time down but to uplift athletes now. It is the athletes that came before you that motivate you and help you help others. Our perception of our section’s success then is what motivated us to get to where we are now. Be proud of your section and continue to be successful (we aren’t # 1 yet)