SCARSDALE—The names may change as the calendar flips from one year to the next, but the results remain the same.
There aren’t many familiar faces from last year’s powerhouse team, but Nanuet was able to capture its third consecutive Section 1 Division 2 Dual Meet Championship on Wednesday with a convincing 49-24 win over Edgemont.
“I’ve been on the team for my freshman, sophomore and junior years, and each year we won the section,” senior Frank Paratore said. “To come back my fourth year and (win a third straight Division 2 dual meet title), it feels really good. We knew we were seeded fifth and we didn’t really know (what to expect).”
The Golden Knights were heavy favorites in years past, but they embraced the underdog role this season. After knocking off top-seeded Putnam Valley in the semifinals on Thursday, they were matched up with Edgemont in the final for the third straight year.
“We definitely have a lot of respect for them,” Edgemont senior Tyler Aslanian said. “This year I thought they might be a little weaker because they lost 10 seniors, but they’re a great school and they keep pulling up quality guys.”
Joe Dillon (126 pounds), Eric Boyle (132) and Chris Lowery (138; pictured above) helped Nanuet jump out to a 13-0 lead that it would not relinquish.
Cliffton Wang (145) and Will Graybeal (152) cut the Panthers’ deficit to 13-9 with consecutive wins, but Paratore (160), Alex Slaybaugh (170) and Connor Breit (182) each won convincingly to extend the Golden Knights’ lead to 28-9.
“I came into it thinking that I was going to wrestle (defending section champ) Chris Kim, but I wrestled (Tom Jachemczyk),”said Breit (pictured to the left), who is a key member of a strong freshmen class. “I was a little disappointed, but I just went out there and wrestled.”
Kim picked up a pin at 195 pounds, but forfeits at 220 and 285 doomed Edgemont.
“That definitely hurts the most,” Aslanian said of the forfeits. “It changes the whole dynamic of the match sometimes. When the lighter weights know that we can’t win the match, I feel like it affects some of the younger kids.”
Aleif Ahmad (99) and Karl Burnich (106) each followed with wins for Nanuet, before the Aslanian brothers – Kyle (113) and Tyler (120) – finished off the dual meet with consecutive wins for the Panthers.
Along with Breit, Ahmad and Burnich, the Golden Knights’ starting lineup includes a total of six freshmen with Kevin Lynn (113), Dylan Mateo (120) and Jarrett Bravo (195).
“Last year, we had three (eighth graders) moved up, so that was a big help,” Breit said. “It was me, Kevin Lynn and Dylan Mateo, so us three have a lot of experience. And now I feel like this big class of freshmen is really going to help towards our senior year.”
Nanuet 49, Edgemont 24
126 – Joe Dillon (Nan) pin Jon Fleischmann, 1:24. 132 – Eric Boyle (Nan) dec. Max Worobow, 9-2. 138 – Chris Lowery (Nan) maj. dec. Brian Evans, 12-1. 145 – Cliffton Wang (Ed) dec. Chris Rooney, 8-1. 152 – Will Graybeal (Ed) pin Frank Tito, 3:33. 160 – Frank Paratore (Nan) pin Saumil Kothari, 2:27. 170 – Alex Slaybaugh (Nan) maj. dec. Marc Ficuciello, 8-0. 182 – Connor Breit (Nan) tech. fall Tom Jachemczyk, 17-1. 195 – Chris Kim (Ed) pin Jarrett Bravo, 3:47. 220 – Dennis Van Dunk (Nan) by forfeit. 285 – Max Rabinowitz (Nan) by forfeit. 99 – Aleif Ahmed (Nan) pin George Mellor, 0:08. 106 – Karl Burnich (Nan) dec. Chris Eppolito, 4-2. 113 – Kyle Aslanian (Ed) pin Kevin Lynn, 1:37. 120 – Tyler Aslanian (Ed) dec. Dylan Mateo, 6-0.
Here are some additional thoughts and reactions, with links to match videos:
• It’s difficult not to be impressed with what Nanuet is able to do year-in, and year-out. Coach Carmine Serra has developed a program that seems to be immune to down years. Despite all of the big names that were lost to graduation, the Golden Knights knew that they had guys who were ready to step right in and fill roles. “Last year, we had a really strong lineup,” Breit said. “But we were drilling with those people, so we’re just about as good.”
• I was a bit surprised not to see Tyler Aslanian (pictured to the right) bump up to wrestle his nemesis Dillon after losing to him on this same stage last year, but Nanuet also has a returning sectional-placer in Mateo at 120. If Tyler had bumped up, Edgemont would have been at risk of losing at both 120 and 126, so by keeping him at his natural weight, the Panthers made sure that they would get at least one win in those two matches. “I was going to let my coach make that decision,” Tyler said. “I wasn’t scared of Joe Dillon. I think I could beat him, too. My focus was, whoever I have, I’m going to win and do the best that I can.”
• Dillon ended up with a quick pin at 126, and then Boyle won a critical swing match with a 9-2 decision over Max Worobow at 132. He had an eight-point lead late and almost got the major, but a last second escape from Worobow kept it to a decision. “The swing matches were really important because they could have went either way, but our kids came out on top and did what they needed to do. The lead helped out a lot because it took a lot of pressure off,” Paratore said. “If we have the lead, we’re not letting anything up.”
• An up-and-comer for Edgemont who has been making a name for himself early in the season is Wang. He got the Panthers’ their first win of the dual with an 8-1 decision over Chris Rooney at 145 pounds. “The two guys who are stepping up are Brian Evans and Cliffton Wang,” Aslanian said when I asked about guys who are off the radar. “I think both of those kids could do damage at sectionals. Both are arguably two of the top wrestlers in the section (in their weight classes).”
• Out of everyone in that tremendous freshmen class for the Golden Knights, the guy who I think has the most upside is Breit. He obviously has the pedigree—his older brother Dan Breit won an Eastern States title last year and finished fourth in the state—and he’s extremely strong and agile for his age. He was hoping to get a crack at Kim, but settled for a 17-1 tech fall against Jachemczyk at 182 pounds. I asked him if it’s tough following in his brother’s footsteps. “A little bit, but it’s also helpful because he knows a lot of stuff,” he said. “He helps me out. My brother was moved up as an eighth grader and I’m moved up as a freshman, but hopefully I can still do just as much as he did.”
• With forfeits coming from Edgemont at 220 and 285, Breit’s win sealed another title for Nanuet. The matches in the lower portion of the dual were meaningless in terms of team scoring, but I had a chance to get my first look of the season at the Aslanian brothers. Kyle (pictured to the left) looked very sharp with his first-period pin of Lynn at 113. “I feel really good about where Kyle is at,” Tyler said. “I think he’s at a high level in the state. I think he could win states this year, (but) I’m a little biased.”
• Tyler had a bit of a tougher match at 120 against Mateo, but a takedown in the final seconds of the first-period put him in the driver’s seat on his way to a 6-0 decision. Still, Tyler was hard on himself when we spoke. “Honestly, I think I have to keep improving,” he said. “I didn’t think that I wrestled well in this match.”
• I’ll give the final word to Paratore, who spoke about the importance of winning the swing matches—and gave the blog a little shout out. “Our underdogs came out on top. I saw the (LoHud Wrestling Blog), and a good amount of us were projected to lose. A lot of those kids came out on top when they really needed to,” he said. “We had 10 seniors last year, but all of those (freshmen) are coming up and doing what they need to do.”
Photos by Mark Vergari/Videos by Vincent Z. Mercogliano