Apparently, North Rockland’s Blaise Benderoth is a pretty popular guy, because he ran away with the poll for Rockland wrestler of the year, finishing up with over 63 percent of the vote. Now, I want to know who you think should be the Westchester/Putnam wrestler of the year.
You guys know the drill by now. I’ve listed my top four candidates for the award with some details on each, and then the poll is below (and, on the right-hand side of your screen). This isn’t how the awards are decided, but it gives me some food for thought. Feel free to add your comments, but please try to keep it positive and topical.
· Alex Delacruz, Ossining (36-3, 13 pins) – The reigning Westchester/Putnam co-wrestler of the year fell just short in his bid for a second consecutive state title, but not by much. After losing twice at Eastern States to take fourth, the senior went on an unbeaten streak all the way to the 126-pound state final. And although he lost a dramatic 3-2 decision to Easport’s Travis Passaro on a late reversal, he showed significant improvement from his first loss to Passaro at Eastern States. Despite dealing with a knee injury throughout the season, Delacruz still found ways to gut out wins and achieve new milestones, such as becoming a two-time section champ and breaking Ossining’s all-time wins record.
· Jon Errico, Byram Hills (43-5, 20 pins) – The junior put Byram on the map this season by winning the first section title in program history, bouncing back from a loss to rival Matt Grippi of Fox Lane at the Shoreline by beating him convincingly twice in the final week of the season – including a head-to-head win in the section final. The 120-pounder also had an impressive showing at states, placing fourth and establishing himself as a state title contender for next season.
· Ben Ettlinger, Fox Lane (40-7, 22 pins) – The most consistent wrestler on the best team in Westchester was the senior 145-pounder, who finished his career on a high note. Ettlinger was often lost in the shuffle on loaded Fox Lane teams of the past, but in many ways, this became his team this year. After capturing his first section title, Ettlinger got a tough draw at states with eventual champ Vincent Deprez in the opening round. But despite an early loss, he battled through wrestle backs to make it to the podium and take sixth in his weight class.
· Gino Gioielli, Brewster (47-3, 20 pins) – Arguably no wrestler in Section 1 was as improved as the 170-pounder this season, who took a huge leap in his senior year. After only placing fifth in the section as a junior, Gioielli dominated this season on his way to his first section title and went onto to contend for a state title. Taking fourth at Eastern States proved that Gioielli was a force to be reckoned with, and his third place finish at states proved that he was indeed one of the best in New York.
Photo by Seth Harrison/The Journal News