With the Eastern States Classic set to begin tomorrow, I’ve been spending some time breaking down the fields in each weight class. As a point of reference, I’ve used the state rankings from New York Wrestling News, which combines both Division 1 and Division 2 wrestlers.
In total, the top-ranked wrestlers in 12 of the 15 weight classes will be present at Sullivan Community College. There will be five of the top seven competing in a total of 10 weight classes (99, 113, 120, 132, 138, 152, 160, 182, 195 and 285), which tells you that most of the best wrestlers in the state will be there.
Here are the ranked wrestlers who will be in the tournament from each weight class (with locals in italics):
99 – 1. Kelan McKenna (New Hartford); 4. Dean Raymond (Deposit); 5. Jacori Teemer (Long Beach); 6. Thomas Cox (Deer Park); 7. Alfredo Olmedo (Arlington)
106 – 2. Matteo DeVincenzo (Port Jefferson); 3. Vinny Vespa (Monroe-Woodbury)
113 – 1. Vito Arujau (Syosset); 2. Kyle Quinn (Wantagh); 3. Joe Calderone (Walt Whitman); 5. Golan Cohen (Colonie); 6. John Stramiello (Pine Bush)
120 – 1. Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville); 2. Bryan Lantry (Wayne); 3. Luis Weierbach (Hoosick Falls); 4. Nick Casella (Locust Valley); 5. Dylan Booth (Port Jervis); 7. James Szymanski (Shoreham Wading River)
126 – 1. Travis Passaro (Eastport South Manor); 2. Alex Delacruz (Ossining); 5. Blake Retell (Shaker); 7. Da’mani Burns (Newburgh)
132 – 1. William Koll (Lansing); 3. John Muldoon (Pearl River); 4. Chris Mauriello, Hauppauge; 5. Saidyokub Kahramonov (New Utrecht); 7. Mike D’Angelo (Commack)
138 – 1. Tristan Rifanburg (Norwich); 2. Matt Caputo (North Rockland); 3. Brandon Lapi (Amsterdam); 4. Sam Ward (Locust Valley); 6. Mike Raccioppi (Minisink Valley); 7. Jimmy Leach (Eastport South Manor)
145 – 3. Joey Butler (Burnt Hills); 4. Tommy Dutton (Rocky Point); 6. Jakob Restrepo (Sachem East); 7. Blaise Benderoth (North Rockland; will wrestle at 152)
152 – 1. Louis Hernandez (Mepham); 3. Angelo Kress (Columbia); 4. Jesse Porter (Shenendehowa); 6. Dennis Ferro (East Islip); 7. Anthony DePrez (Hilton)
160 – 1. Corey Rasheed (Longwood); 2. Dan DeCarlo (Port Jervis); 3. Zach Colgan (Johnson City); 5. Konstantin Parfiryev (James Madison); 6. Connor Lawrence (Duanesburg); 7. Derek Holcomb (Newark Valley)
170 – 1. Burke Paddock (Warsaw); 2. Steve Schneider (MacArthur); 5. Jake Ashcraft (Burnt Hills); 6. Triston Engle (Dolgeville)
182 – 1. Christian Dietrich (Greene); 2. Brett Perry (John Jay-EF); 3. Nick Gallo (Schalmont); 4. Daniel Smith (South Jefferson); 6. Mark Tracy (Sachem East); 7. Trey DuVall (Addison)
195 – 1. Levi Ashley (Shenendehowa); 2. Reggie Williams (Johnson City); 4. Ben Honis (Jamesville-Dewitt); 6. Nathanael Rose (Eagle Academy); 7. Wayne Burt (Colonie)
220 – 1. Rich Sisti (Monsignor Farrell); 3. Sam Eagan (Churchville-Chili); 6. Rob Kelly (Monroe-Woodbury)
285 – 2. Connor Calkins (Alfred-Almond); 3. Mike Manni (Tappan Zee); 5. Austin DiCerbo (Colonie); 6. Jacob Morris (Canastota); 7. Trevor Gibbons (Carthage)
There will be six returning all-state wrestlers from Section 1 at this year’s Eastern States Classic (the seventh is New Rochelle’s Nick Barbaria, who won an Eastern States title last year, but will be out due to injury). Those are the ones who are most likely to place — or even win the whole thing — so I’ve listed each here with a few thoughts on their respective weight classes. Below that, I’ve listed a handful others to keep on the radar as guys who could place.
The cream of the crop: Section 1’s all-state wrestlers
Alex Delacruz, Ossining — The only defending state champ from Section 1 has never placed better than seventh at Eastern States, so he comes into this tournament with something to prove. But it certainly won’t be easy. You could argue that his field at 126 pounds is the deepest of any in the tourney. The top seed is Michael Knoblauch of Clovis West, who placed third in California last season. He’s kind of the great unknown, but they obviously consider the Cali state tourney to be of higher quality than the NY state tourney based on the seeding criteria. Seeded second is two-time Connecticut state champ Kevin Jack of Danbury, who beat Pearl River’s John Muldoon, 7-2, in last year’s 120-pound final. Delacruz, seeded third, is lined up to run into him in the semis. Incredibly, the top-ranked wrestler at 126 in NY, Eastport South Manor’s Travis Passaro, fell all the way to the sixth seed. That means he’d potentially be Delacruz’s opponent in the quarters. So, while Delacruz has the talent to take it all, his path to a title may be the most difficult of any local from the quarters on.
John Muldoon, Pearl River — No local wrestler is seeded as high as Muldoon, who comes in at No. 2 at 132 pounds. He was a finalist here last season, so he knows what it takes to succeed on this stage. Unlike 126, the top contenders in this weight class all appear to be from New York, which gives us a better idea of what to expect. The only wrestler ranked higher than Muldoon who will be at Eastern States is William Koll of Lansing, who is the top seed. Koll is a two-time state champ in D2 (he beat Edgemont’s Trey Aslanian in the final in 2011), so this could be a great chance to see the D1 favorite against the D2 favorite in the finals. That’s part of what makes this tournament so cool.
Matt Caputo, North Rockland — The senior may have been seeded higher than fourth had he not lost to Minisink’s Mike Raccioppi last weekend at the Union-Endicott Duals, but Eastern States could offer a chance at redemption. Caputo dropped down to 138 for the first time at the U-E Duals, but he’s now had a week to adjust. The top seed and his potential opponent in the semis is Norwich’s Tristan Rifanburg, who was a D2 state finalist last season. Rifanburg is currently the top-ranked wrestler at 138 in NY with Caputo right behind him, but that will change soon unless Caputo comes up big this weekend.
Blaise Benderoth, North Rockland — Two losses to Burnt Hills’ Joey Butler and Rocky Point’s Thomas Dutton at the U-E Duals served as a wakeup call for the Red Raiders’ 152-pounder, but he won’t have to deal with either of those guys this weekend. They’ll both be at Eastern States, but each will be competing at 145 pounds. The bad news is that the field at 152 may be even tougher. Five of the top seven ranked wrestlers in NY will be present, led by top-ranked and top-seeded Louis Hernandez of Mepham, a defending D1 state champ. At this point, Benderoth has to be considered a long shot to win it, but a run to the semis or a top five finish would have to be considered a major step in the right direction.
Brett Perry, John Jay-East Fishkill — The Patriots’ senior is currently ranked No. 2 in NY at 182 pounds, but he didn’t get the same kind of love from the Eastern States seeding committee. As expected, top-ranked Christian Dietrich of Greene, a D2 state finalist last year, is seeded No. 1. But Schalmont’s Nick Gallo and Addison’s Trey DuVall — ranked third and seventh, respectively — were surprisingly seeded higher than Perry. Dietrich, Gallo and DuVall are each D2 wrestlers, which tells you that Perry might be the favorite for a state title in D1, and he would certainly cement with a title here. The next highest seeded D1 wrestler after Perry is Sachem East’s Mark Tracy at No. 5, who would line up as Perry’s quarterfinals opponent. I’d say that Perry’s odds of capturing an Eastern States title look as strong as any other wrestler from Section 1.
Mike Manni, Tappan Zee — After pinning his way through the early portion of the season, the clear-cut top super heavyweight from Section 1 was humbled a bit in the Shoreline finals. Currently ranked No. 3 in NY, Manni lost in overtime to unranked Edwin Rubio of John Glenn. Now, we’ll find out how much of a wakeup call that loss was. For Eastern States, Manni is seeded third and Rubio sixth, which means that they could meet again in the quarters. If he gets past the quarters, Manni would be lined up with second-seeded Austin DiCerbo of Colonie in the semis, who actually failed to qualify for states last season. As someone who placed fifth at states last year, you could make the case for Manni as the favorite in that match. The only wrestler who is currently ranked higher than Manni who will be at Eastern States is top-seeded Connor Calkins of Alfred-Almond, who placed fifth in D2 last season. As we’ve seen, you never know when it comes to supers. Manni could be out as early as the quarters, but if he brings his ‘A’ game, it’s also within reason that he wins the whole thing.
The best of the rest: Others who could make noise
Alfredo Olmedo, Arlington (99); Kyle Aslanian, Edgemont (106); Jay Albis, John Jay-EF (113); Matt Grippi, Fox Lane (120); Jon Errico, Byram Hills (120); Daiton Powell, Suffern (126); Nick Tolli, Arlington (132); Liam Erickson, Brewster (138); Ben Ettlinger, Fox Lane (145); Nick Didio, North Rockland (160); Mitch Klein, Horace Greeley (160); Gino Gioielli, Brewster (170); Andrew Grella, Beacon (195); John Hartnett, Tappan Zee (220).
Photo by Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News