I’m not having much luck uploading videos with this hotel internet connection, so those will have to wait. For now, here is my story for the paper from Day One of the Eastern States Classic. CLICK HERE to see how all of the local wrestlers did on Friday. The quarterfinals are scheduled to begin at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday. Follow me on Twitter @vzmercogliano for updates.
LOCH SHELDRAKE — No wrestler ever wants to lose, but in the case of Blaise Benderoth and his North Rockland teammates, a humbling experience at last weekend’s Union-Endicott Dual Meet Tournament may have come just in the nick of time.
Benderoth had previously been undefeated, but two losses provided a much-needed wake-up call heading into the prestigious Eastern States Classic at Sullivan Community College on Friday.
“The whole week, I didn’t talk to anyone,” Benderoth said. “I didn’t talk to my parents; I just sat in my room and tried to get mentally prepared for this week. I have to thank Joey Butler (of Burnt Hills) and Tommy Dutton (of Rocky Point) because they really made me perform today by giving me those losses.”
Every Red Raider suffered at least one loss at the Union-Endicott Duals, but Benderoth (152 pounds), Matt Caputo (138) and Nick Didio (160) each went unbeaten on the first day of Eastern States to clinch their spots in Saturday’s quarterfinal round.
No other local team could match North Rockland’s total of three wrestlers who were still alive after day one, but several put at least one into the quarters.
Brewster’s Gino Gioielli (170) defeated fifth-seeded Kyle McGuire of Newburgh in comeback fashion to keep his title hopes alive.
“I came in as the 12-seed, and I had to work my way up,” Gioielli said. “I know it’s going to get harder. I’m just doing the best that I can to stay up there. Every match is a battle. To accomplish what I want to accomplish, I just have to stay focused and not think about it too much.”
Horace Greeley’s Brock Cvijanovich was expecting to run into Beacon’s Andrew Grella — currently the top-ranked wrestler in Section 1 at 195 pounds — but his rival was pinned in the prior round.
Instead, Cvijanovich defeated the wrestler who had upset Grella, Middletown’s Juan Velazquez, to reach the quarterfinals.
“I thought that it was going to be me and Grella, part three, but unfortunately I didn’t get to see him,” Cvijanovich said. “That’s what you expect when you come to tournaments like this. I just can’t care about who I’m wrestling. You have to go full bore all of the time.”
Fox Lane’s Ben Ettlinger ran into a familiar opponent at 145 pounds in Warwick’s A.J. Aeberli, whom he had beaten the week before in the Shoreline finals. Aeberli kept it closer this time around, but Ettlinger pulled out a 1-0 decision to reach the quarters.
“He knew my style better, but at the same time, I knew how he wrestled and I think that I was able to wrestle him better than the time before,” Ettlinger said. “It was a closer match, but I still think that I controlled him.”
Suffern’s Peter Oliveto (106), Ossining’s Alex Delacruz (126), Pearl River’s John Muldoon (132), Somers’ Dom Celli (160), Arlington’s Alfredo Olmedo (99) and Nick Tolli (132), John Jay-EF’s Jay Albis (113) and Brett Perry (182) and Tappan Zee seniors John Hartnett (220) and Mike Manni (285) also advanced to the quarterfinals.
Five local wrestlers reached the round of 16 at 120 pounds — Fox Lane’s Matt Grippi, Byram Hills’ Jon Errico, North Rockland’s Derek DiMarsico, Nanuet’s Joe Dillon and Croton-Harmon’s Andrew Barsuch — but none advanced to the quarters.
File photo from The Journal News