Sectionals: Putnam Valley secures first D2 title in program’s short history



BEACON — How long does it take to build a championship program from scratch?

In Putnam Valley’s case, 10 years was enough to get the job done.

The Tigers didn’t have a full varsity wrestling team until 2004, but on Saturday at Beacon High School, they claimed their first Division 2 sectional title.

“This is incredible,” junior Willie Messinger said. “Nobody thought we’d be coming out this quick for a section title. Willie Carano is an amazing coach. He’s a great guy, and I feel like no one else in the section could have built up our team the way that he did.”

Messinger was one of four champs from Putnam Valley, but he was probably the biggest underdog. He came in as the fourth seed at 170 pounds, but defeated top-seeded Peter Jones of Irvington and second-seeded Alex Slaybaugh of Nanuet on his way to a title.

“I worked out the entire season, and to finally get back at guys that I lost to, it’s great,” Messinger said. “I don’t think it was so much that I got better. I was struggling with some injuries – my neck and rib injuries – and I was just not adjusting to the weight change from 160 to 170. But it’s all about the end of the season.

Mikey Bruno (99 pounds), A.J. Mirabal (132) and Angelo Zegarelli (160) also won championships for the Tigers, with Bruno upsetting defending champ James Bathon of Pleasantville and Zegarelli pinning top-seeded Thomas Marrone of Pleasantville in the finals.

“It just motivated me all offseason to train so much harder,” Zegarelli said of his loss in last season’s 160-pound final. “I remembered everything, fixed everything — all of my mistakes — and I knew I would get it this year.”

aslanianNo team had as many individual champs as Edgemont, which placed second overall.

Kyle Aslanian (106), Tyler Aslanian (113), Cliffton Wang (138), Colin Hopkins (145) and Chris Kim (182) each won titles for the Panthers, with Tyler Aslanian and Kim claiming their second.

Both Aslanian brothers had lost in the sectional finals last season.

“Last year really hurt, but I think I took that as motivation,” Tyler said. “I’m more happy that Kyle won. Nothing makes me happier than seeing Kyle win.”

Three-time defending team champ Nanuet was finally dethroned, but seniors Joe Dillon (120) and Frank Paratore (152) each won titles to help the Golden Knights finish third.

Dillon was sharp throughout the weekend, pinning Ardsley’s Adam Samolsky in the semifinals and beating Croton-Harmon’s Andrew Barsuch with an 11-0 major decision in the final to navigate his way through what many considered the toughest weight class in the tournament.

“I won it my freshman year and haven’t won since, so this was my last chance,” said Dillon, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. “I really had to win it this year. I’ve been to states sophomore year as a wild card, but it’s not as good as winning sectionals. I’m excited for this year.”

paternostroThe wildest match of the day came in the 126-pound final, where defending sectional champ Stephen Paternostro of Pleasantville was on the verge of being upset for more than 2 1/2 periods.

Nanuet junior Eric Boyle shocked the crowd by building a 9-3 lead against Paternostro, but the Panthers’ senior tied the match late with a takedown and three back points to force overtime, eventually winning with an 11-9 decision.

“It was a huge wakeup call,” said Paternostro, who is undefeated this season. “I didn’t think my finals match was going to be that close. I thought I was going to kill him, but he’s a good, tough kid. Going into states, I have to work harder.”

Ardsley junior Evan Shlom (195), Croton-Harmon senior Alek Pavloff (220) and Irvington senior Anthony DiNardo (285) all won their first sectional titles.

Photos by Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News


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  1. Vincent Mercogliano on

    Section 1,
    I’m not anticipating many in D2. If I had to guess, I’d say Bathon has a shot at 99 as a past champ, and Barsuch at 120 for beating a past champ in Kelvas in the semis. But it all depends on what happened in other sections. I’ll look more into it during the week.

  2. Section 1,

    Wild cards have nothing to do with the finals match. It’s all about your accumulated points in the season and how that matches up statewide.

  3. Here with help on

    Here is the information on how they select the 4 Wildcards from around the state

    Here some things that aren’t true that I have seen posted on this forum

    1. Beating a section champ helps, wrong it’s the same as any win. Beating a state placer gets you points.

    2. Each section has an amount of wild cards to give out… False. One year a section could get 30 Wildcards the next year 0.

    The simple way this works is.

    1. Wins – losses. 35-5= 30 pts

    2. Strength of your section at states the last 5 years, sec 1 is middle of the road

    3. Where you placed in the past….the biggest criteria. If you were 2nd this year and haven’t placed top 3 before, you not have a great chance.

    Hope this clears things up. Because I know people will be asking in the next week.

  4. he also placed 3rd and 4th last year at 120 with Calvano and aslainian in that weight class and lost in the finals in OT this year

  5. Other sections have to have their championships before wild cards will be known. Then, a few days to collect all the data and make the wild card determination. Anticipate knowing them around the 20th.

  6. good for nothing on

    Doesnt help him for a wild card, not a nys wrestler, and vermont has half the teams as just sec 1.

    Seeds for sectionals
    1. Sunflower
    2. Pumpkin
    3. Apple
    4. Mustard
    5. Watermelon
    6. Cannabis
    7. Tomato
    8. Grape

  7. Boyle may get a wild card but it will probably be either Bathon as he won section last year, Marrone as he had a 31-3 record, took second this year, and third last year when he lost to Pastore(who placed in states), or possibly Barsuch for beating Kelvas,

  8. Congrats to Coach Carano and Putnam Valley. I know how hard Coach Carano has worked over the years. Good luck at states Section 1 D-2 wrestlers.

  9. Bathon did not look like the same wrestler from last year those nagging injuries looked more like a serious illness. If he was a legit 99 which he was last year I think he would have walked through sections this year

  10. Rockland on the Rise on

    Section One,

    I agree with you about Bathon. He didn’t look at all healthy. Last year I thought he was big for 99 so to go 99 again might have been a struggle. Hopefully it was just the weight cutting and nothing else.