Sectionals: Underdogs shaking up the brackets; North Rockland firmly ahead



LAGRANGEVILLE — For the vast majority of the regular season, Mamaroneck junior Yousiff Hemida was forced sit back and watch as others in his weight class geared up for the sectional tournament.

The 220-pounder suffered a fracture in his neck during the offseason and wasn’t able to return until a couple of weeks ago. He entered Saturday’s Division 1 championships at Arlington High School with only four matches under his belt, but it didn’t take very long for the 13th seed to make his presence felt.

“It was pretty tough, but I feel like sometimes it’s not about how hard you get hit; it’s about how you get back up,” Hemida said. “That’s what really matters.”

Hemida beat the fourth and fifth seeds to clinch a spot in the semifinals, where he’ll take on defending champ John Hartnett of Tappan Zee on Sunday at Clarkstown South. He was one of two 13-seeds to reach the semis, along with Suffern sophomore Stephen Lauro at 138 pounds.

“I’m definitely still a little rusty,” Hemida said. “It’s so hard to mimic that mat experience. You can’t do it in practice. All of these kids wrestled through the whole season, and I’m coming in late… hopefully, I get it done tomorrow.”

surace5All of the top seeds are still alive heading into Sunday, but two No. 2 seeds were defeated in the quarterfinals – both by New Rochelle wrestlers. Sophomore Jake Shore upset North Rockland’s Anthony Sulla with a 7-0 decision at 99 pounds, while junior Demetrius Rodriguez beat John Jay-East Fishkill’s Brandon White with a 3-0 decision to shake up the 170-pound bracket.

“We work really hard in the room,” Shore said. “We’ve been working every day – off days, on days – and we’re always going all out. I think we’re going to have a bunch of winners.”

Yonkers junior David Ortiz, seeded 11th at 113 pounds, took out a defending section champ in the quarterfinals with his 9-7 decision against Pearl River’s James Kelly.

“Last year, he (pinned) me in 20 seconds,” Ortiz said. “This year in divisionals, he beat me 12-2. But my coach (Pete Vulpone) said I could beat anybody, and I believed it.”

Another wrestler who finally got the better of a familiar opponent was Pearl River sophomore Jake Kurzhals, who upset third-seeded Derek DiMarsico of North Rockland with a 3-0 decision in the 120-pound quarterfinals. It was Kurzhals’ first career win over his rival.

“I’ve been training hard for this day, and I’ve been working on it and watching videos,” he said. “Today was about really my head positioning. I kept my head low so he couldn’t shoot on me.”

Nyack senior James Giraldez ran into Tappan Zee’s Noah Hovde for the fourth time this year and completed the season sweep with a 2-1 overtime win. The point that sealed it came on a stall call against Hovde in the first OT period.

“A win is a win, but it would have been better to have a more decisive win than that,” Giraldez said. “To lose on a technicality like that, especially here at sectionals, that’s rough.”


gioielli3Larry Courtien of Somers, who was originally seeded second at 145 pounds, was forced to drop out with a knee injury, which bumped Giraldez up from No. 4 to No. 3 and put him on a collision course with Hovde in the quarters.

“I didn’t think I would get him until maybe tomorrow, if at all,” Giraldez said. “Then coach (Frank Pregiato) tells me that I have him in the quarters, so I just got mentally prepared for that. He always brings a tough match.”

At the conclusion of the first day of the tournament, defending champ North Rockland sat at the top of the standings with a 21-point lead on second place Suffern.

Despite losing Sulla and DiMarsico earlier than expected, Alex D’Angelo (106 pounds), Matt Caputo (138), Blaise Benderoth (152), Nick Didio (160) and Conner Reigottie (285) each made it to the semis for the Red Raiders.

“I think so because in the wrestle backs we’ll get pins, and we’re deep,” Didio said when asked if he felt North Rockland was in good position to repeat. “We have a lot of guys in the wrestle backs.”

Caputo, Benderoth and Didio are all No. 1 seeds, but Didio’s path to a title seems to be the toughest with Horace Greeley’s Mitch Klein and Somers’ Dom Celli standing in his way.

“I’m really looking forward to wrestling one of them,” Didio said. “They’re both tough kids. I’m not doubting their skills, but I think I’ve trained harder and I’ve become the first seed for a reason.”

CLICK HERE to see full results from Saturday


· D1 106 qtrs: Jordan Wallace (New Rochelle) vs. Peter Oliveto (Suffern)

· D1 120 qtrs: Lamont Wallace (New Rochelle) vs. Luke Francois (East Ramapo)

· D1 145 qtrs: James Giraldez (Nyack) vs. Noah Hovde (TZ)

· D1 182 qtrs: Hassan Auwarter (Clarkstown South) vs. Jon Silveri (Arlington)

· D1 220 qtrs: Yousiff Hemida (Mamaroneck) vs. Billy Marino (Greeley)

· D1 285 qtrs: Matt St. Onge (Clarkstown South) vs. Stephen Kelley (Lakeland/Panas)

Videos by Vincent Z. Mercogliano/Photos by Frank Becerra Jr.


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  1. Dying, it's what old people do on

    Old coach, all you do is complain. Stop, if you don’t like the results listed then actually go the tournaments. When you around you wouldn’t have had results till your newspaper came tomm, so stop whining. Enjoy bingo night!!

  2. Dying, had OLD COACH gone to the tournament he would know even less than has he does now. This was without a doubt the worse sectional tournament from a spectator’s point of view of any I have ever been to….and that includes a few decades worth.
    Quarter finals going in both gyms simultaneously, 2 gyms not even remotely close to each other. One gym cold and damp, the other sweltering and smelly.
    Food stand runs out of food.
    Hope tomorrow is better. But I doubt it. Have the finals on one mat, alone.

  3. Quarrter-finals should have been held in one gym. Concession was an embarrassment. Refs did a good job in the colder upper weight gym. Didn’t see enough of warmer, lower weight gym to pass judgement. Nice to have six mats working. Made for a quick day.

  4. people are horrible on

    Cwe, u must be horribly obese. The distance between the 2 gyms was less than 100 yards. Maybe you have a better facility that can handle 6 mats and doesnt conflict with other sports sectionals. If it was held at clarkstown south, which only holds 4 mats, people would be complaining that they havent gotten home by 10:30. Name a facility that could hold 6 mats, and maybe your complaints would hold some merit.

  5. I would like to see the 2 wrestle back rounds as well if possible :)

    Grats to Tony !

    At least we didn’t get snowed out today :)


  6. Go look on any website for every section and ill list them all. No wrestleback info. No one does wrestleback info. Show up at clarkstown tomm and look at the brackets.

    I just gave the websites for sec 2,3,4,5,8,9,11 and no wrestleback info on any of those. So you guys are asking for too much. No wrestleback info for d2. This isnt a strickly wrestling site its a nitch of a of a newspapers blog.

  7. The two gyms worked out great from my point of view. 6 mats were awesome. Todays finals will be run as efficiently as possible. In Rockland County we ran the three mat finals for our county tourney and it provided excitment for all wrestlers and spectators. The intensity of the championship bout was as strong as it would have been on a single mat final. My hats off to the Arlington staff, wrestlers and boosters for pulling day #1 off, it is not easy running a tournament. Good luck to all and enjoy the finals at Clarkstown South.

  8. Dying, I was there, but as the others said it was hard to see all the wrestling in both gyms especially in the wrestle back rounds. By the way I’m not that “old” I should have listed myself as Former Coach. And if you got a problem respecting former wrestling coaches, then you have a problem respecting the sport of wrestling it self.

  9. Out the back door on

    Congratulations to all the wrestlers who made it to the second day and will place as a section champ. For those wrestlers who didn’t, remember that “one day does not make a wrestler.” Your hard work, dedication and awesome season got you there. Don’t short change yourself.