• If there was any doubt that this Yonkers team has been on the rise this season, the Bulldogs pretty much put an end to it on Saturday. They’ve been one of the better dual meet teams in the section this year, but yesterday’s first place showing at the Super 16 proved that they could be a top 10 team come sectionals. Coach Pete Vulpone has really worked to build this program up, and we’re starting to see everything come together. The kicker is, the team is comprised mostly of underclassmen, so Yonkers should only get better in the coming years.
• The most exciting match of the finals may have been the first one, and it got Yonkers off to a strong start. Mahopac’s Abby Bunyea was already a great story, as she became the first female to ever reach the finals at the Super 16, and she gave Yonkers’ Justin Lopez a serious run for his money. As you can see in the video, she put Lopez to his back in the first period to build up an early lead, but Lopez was able to narrowly avoid the pin. From there, he chipped away at her lead, mostly by taking her down and letting her back up again on his way to a 15-11 decision. It was clear that he felt more comfortable against Bunyea from the neutral position. “I was kind of nervous towards the end. I can’t explain it – she was just really tough,” Lopez said. “I was down by two points, but I knew I could take her down at will because she didn’t really have good takedown defense. But she was good on top and she was really good at cradles.”
• Yonkers had a total of five finalists, with Fredy Guevara (120) and Elieser Maldonado (152) also claiming titles. Guevara is only in eighth grade and may have more upside that any other Bulldog, as he showed with his pin of Carmel’s Tristan Welton in the finals. Maldonado’s finals match was much closer, as he edged out Hen Hud’s Jordan Artope with a 5-3 decision in OT.
• Mahopac took second and had two champs in Chris Cornell (132) and Ryan Delahanty (220). Delahanty was a pretty heavy favorite, but Cornell was one of three or four guys in his weight class who was considered to have a shot. After beating Harrison’s Max Lukaswitz with a 4-0 decision in the semis, he outlasted Lakeland/Panas’ John DiDomenico with an 8-6 decision in the finals. Pearl River’s John Muldoon is a clear favorite for a section title at 132, but with Arlington’s Nick Tolli fracturing his wrist this week, the rest of the class looks wide open. “I feel like I’m doing really well; I just need to keep it together,” Cornell said. “It really comes down to February – that’s when it really matters. I feel really bad for Tolli, but I’m really aiming to get the section finals with Muldoon and take a crack at him.”
• While DiDomenico and Blake Cohen (145) fell just short for Lakeland/Panas in the finals, Jonathan Pla got it done with a 4-1 decision over Hen Hud’s Jack Wagner in the 138-final. That stretch of middleweights in the Rebels’ lineup is about as tough as any in the section, and Pla told me that the difference this year has been coach Dan Belfi and his staff. “We needed the right guidance,” Pla said. “We needed a coach to tell us how to do things, because we didn’t know it ourselves. We grow as a team because we have good coaches that always want to push us to the next level.”
• One of the more highly anticipated finals came at 160 pounds, which was a rematch of last week’s Irvington tourney final. Greeley’s Mitch Klein had defeated Pleasantville’s Thomas Marrone with a 6-2 decision then, but he finished more decisively with a second period pin on Saturday. After going scoreless in the first period, Klein elected to start the second on bottom, and quickly reversed Marrone and caught him with the pin. “I felt that I could definitely get the escape, and then halfway through getting the escape, I just went for something big to try to get him on his back,” Klein said. “I knew could end it right there – save myself from scraping for another period and get my team more points all in one move.”
• Klein is certainly one of the top contenders for a section a title at 160, which is shaping up to be a pretty deep class in D1 with Somers’ Dom Celli, North Rockland’s Nick Didio and Ketcham’s Brad Marvin. One guy who they won’t have to deal with anymore is Sleepy Hollow’s Adam Hofling, who told me that he’s planning to go 170 for sectionals. Hofling was matched up with Ketcham’s Dave Emory in the 170-final on Saturday, and nearly got stuck in the first period. Emory took him down and turned him for five quick points, but Hofling fought vigorously to avoid the pin. Once he finally got out, he took control of the match, outscoring Emory 13-1 the rest of the way for a 13-6 decision. It was a wild match, but definitely something to build on for Hofling. “I wasn’t happy with how I was doing at 160, and I dropped down to 152,” Hofling said. “At 152, I was just real sucked up. My coaches decided that they didn’t want me cutting weight anymore, which put 160 back out of the question, as well.”
• The Super 16 was the only local tourney going on this weekend, but Suffern and Pearl River were at the inaugural Wildcat Duals at Warwick Valley HS. The field was also made up of LaSalle (Section 2), Plainedge (Section 8), and Pine Bush and Warwick Valley from Section 9. Suffern and Pearl River represented Section 1 well, as they finished first and third, respectively. In a highly competitive dual that came down to the last match, Suffern edged Pearl River 37-34. In the final match Suffern, upset Plainedge 42-28. The Mounties went undefeated for the day, with Peter Oliveto (106) and Daiton Powell (126) each going 5-0.
• Somers took third at the Ridgefield Challenge, with Monroe-Woodbury placing first overall. Larry Courtien (145), Liam Hiene (152) and Dom Celli (160) each won titles for the Tuskers, with Courtien picking up his 100th career win.
NOTE: I’m planning to release my new tournament Power Rankings on Monday night, so check back for those!
Videos by Vincent Z. Mercogliano/Photos by Tania Savayan