Farrell Wins First CHSAA State Crown Since 1990; 5 Champions Repeat

As I rode upstate to Athol Springs, NY with Monsignor Farrell Assistant Coach, Jason Bross, I was told the story of how the Lions’ coaching staff assembled one day approximately four years ago and looked to the future. With a talented, but still raw group of freshmen staring them in the face, the MF brain trust knew that the day was near that the Staten Island based school would again claim the hardware

The Farrell winning streak would be broken one match later, as Holy Trinity’s Matt Deluca, fresh off of an upset in the semifinals over St. Anthony’s Collin Pryor (who beat him 6-1  a week earlier), would rely on his excellent mat skills to shorten the match and claim his title with a 4-3 victory over Christian Psomas.  Trailing 4-0 midway through the second period, the Farrell senior would rally to make it 4-2 with a reversal and ride out to end the second period.   Given his choice, Psomas elected to go down.  It was here, that the Titan senior would  truly earn the title, keeping the determined Lion down for approximately one minute and thirty seconds before eventually surrendering the escape.  With only this half minute on the clock, Psomas came out aggressive and pushed the action.  However, there just was not enough time remaining to get it done, as he fell one point short in his final scholastic match. 

Also claiming titles on this Monday evening were St. Anthony’s Jimmy Morris (103) and Nick Auriemma (285), St. Francis’s Jim Widger (119), Defending NYS Champion Andrew Lenzi (135),  and Chaminade’s Alex Erickson (189) and Brendan Fowler (215). 

Tied 3-3 with approx. one minute to go, Morris laid claim to the 103 title when he threw 2008 CHSAA State finalist, Justin Ranallo (Canisius) to his back for 2+3.   Morris would work tirelessly to keep his opponent there, eventually hearing the slap of the mat at the 5:26 mark. 

At 119, the crowd favorite/product of the host school would win a semi controversial 9-7 decision to earn his first CHSAA title.  With the match tied at two apiece, Widger effectively countered a Ryan Neugebauer (Chaminade) crab ride, reversing him to his back for 2+3.  A short while later, the Flyer senior appeared to turn the tables on Widger, taking him to his back.  However, much to the dismay of the fans in crimson and gold, the official only awarded the reversal to make the score 7-4 at the conclusion of the first period.  This call, or lack thereof, would prove costly, as Widger would successfully fight off several  Neugebauer bar attempts in the final period to preserve a 9-7 win and give the host school their only champion of the evening.

135 can be accurately described by just saying the name, LENZI.  For four matches, the defending NYS Champion pretty much toyed with his opponents, including a 17-2 technical fall over St. Anthony’s Brandon Ayala.  In every match he was in, Lenzi dictated where the action would take place, all the while scoring in bunches.  In fact, so dominant was the Fordham Prep junior, that no opponent was able to make it out of the second period against him.  He did not surrender an offensive point in two days of competition.  In recognition of his two day gem, Lenzi was awarded the Most Outstanding Wrestler Award for the second consecutive year. 

In a reversal of fortune, Chaminade senior, Alex Erickson, went from being 4th in his league a week ago, to being a Catholic State Champion today.  Countering an early Anthony White (Holy Trinity) shot early to the back, Erickson quickly built up a 5-0 lead.  From here, he utilized the significant leverage advantage that he enjoyed, repeatedly tilting White to pad the score to 14-0 but before ultimately securing the pin at 2:52. 

Junior Brendan Fowler would make it two in a row for Chaminade, as he used his superior quickness and strength to earn an 18-2 TF over RJ Harper of St. Joe’s Collegiate. After placing in the Catholic State tournament as a frosh, Fowler was forced to miss the entire 2008 senior while recovering from a knee injury.  He certainly made up for lost time, as he proved to be the better wrestler from almost every position on the mat.  If the two big men were standing, Fowler would penetrate with a low single.  When on top, the Flyers’ three sport star would demonstrate a tilting ability unique to guys his size.  Despite the loss, there should be no shame for Harper.  A finalist in 2008 as well, he may very well go down as one of the best CHSAA wrestlers never to win the trophy.  If just a step quicker, this could have been an entirely different match for Harper.

After watching fellow football player Fowler utilize quickness and athleticism, St. Anthony’s big man, Nick Auriemma demonstrated what superb strength can do for you, continually out muscling his St. Joe’s opponent, Jack Cambria, to a 19-4 technical fall with 19 seconds remaining in the bout.  For Auriemma, who made it all the way to the finals last season before getting chucked to his back and pinned in the first period, this win provides closure to what has been as steady a varsity career as can be hoped for by a coach.  Already owning a win over Suffolk County Champion, Scott Munro (Hauppauge), there is no telling how far Auriemma may go at the NYS tournament. 

However, as was so eloquently stated by winning coach, Lou DeStefano, “today is over.  Now, the focus shifts to getting all 15 wrestlers ready for the challenges that await them at the NYS tournament.”  These 15 will be counted on to bring home what is expected to be the best showing by a CHSAA team in my lifetime….GOOD LUCK TO ALL TEAM CHSAA WRESTLERS.  MAKE US PROUD GENTLEMEN !!!

CHSAA State Finals:
096- Chris Brienza (St. Anthony’s) pinned Paul DiStefano (Monsignor Farrell) 4:26
103- Jimmy Morris (St. Anthony’s) pinned Justin Ranallo (Canisius) 5:26
112- Grant Greene (St. Anthony’s) MD Vin Fischetti (Monsignor Farrell), 16-5
119- Jim Widger (St. Francis) dec Ryan Neugebauer (Chaminade), 9-7
125- Troy Sampson (Chaminade) dec Tim Monaghan (Monsignor Farrell), 7-4
130- Connor Hanafee (Monsignor Farrell) pinned Mark Emerson (St. Joe’s) 5:26
135- Andrew Lenzi (Fordham Prep) TF Brandon Ayala (St. Anthony’s), 17-2 2:29
140- Kevin Hartnett (Monsignor Farrell) MD Andrew Pappas (Kellenberg), 17-6
145- Tony Carlo (Monsignor Farrell) MD Brian Rogers (St. Francis), 12-3
152- Ben Villaret (Monsignor Farrell) dec Joe Fiore (Kellenberg), 7-5
160- Antonio Sparaco (Monsignor Farrell) pinned John Palladino (Fordham Prep) 5:59
171- Matt DeLuca (Holy Trinity) dec Christian Psomas (Monsignor Farrell), 4-3
189- Alex Erickson (Chaminade) pinned Anthony White (Holy Trinity) 2:52
215- Brendan Fowler (Chaminade) TF RJ Harper (St. Joe’s), 18-2 4:20
285- Nick Auriemma (St. Anthony’s) TF Jack Cambria (St. Joe’s), 19-4 5:41
Large School Team Champions: Monsignor Farrell
Small School Team Champions: St. Francis
Large School M.O.W.: Andrew Lenzi (135-Fordham Prep)
Small School M.O.W.: Jim Widger (119-St. Francis)
Most Pins/Least Time (Championship Bracket): Chris Brienza (96-St. Anthony’s)
Ironman Award Winner: Connor Hanafee (130-Monsignor Farrell)—6th in 2006 @96; 2nd in 2007 @103; 1st in 2008 @112; 1st in 2009  @130

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