Is there a team in Section VIII that can spoil Wantagh’s second consecutive sectional team championship? If any team can challenge Wantagh’s section VIII new found dominance, it’ll be among Massapequa, MacArthur, and Long Beach to offer the best challenge.
Massapequa has perhaps the best chance as they qualified 21 wrestlers, 6 more than Wantagh’s 15, yet Wantagh edges them with 8 qualifying champions to Massapequa’s 7. MacArthur also edges Wantagh with qualifying wrestlers having passed 18 through the threshold. While few would argue that Wantagh’s top wrestlers are the stronger, depth normally wins section tournament championships, and Massapequa’s depth may prove too much to handle.
For those interested in the team competition, the matches to watch will be those where a Wantagh wrestler is pitted against a Massapequa, MacArthur, and Long Beach wrestler. If each of those teams knocks off enough of Wantagh’s second tier talent, it could propel Massapequa into a dominating win. Whichever team wins, the tournament is sure to be a treat for fans and friends of Section VIII wrestling.
Lighthouse Wrestling offers our best wishes to all the competitors this weekend
96: Raghunandan over Sullivan
Mark Raghunandan (LB) has the best performance at the 96lbs weight class amongst his competitors. Conor Sullivan (Pedge) coming off a qualifying championship has distinguished himself with key wins over the other challengers. Many would have Robert Person (BJFK) as the strong favorite at the weight because of his many impressive wins at 103lbs. The question is will his strength at 103lbs carry over to the lower weight. Perhaps so…when the final whistle blows at the end of the 96lbs finals, it just may be Person with his hand raised.
103: Barbato over Fera
Joe Barbato (Wan), returning All-State wrestler, has compiled an impressive 32-3 record over the course of a highly competitive schedule. To knock this heavy favorite out of the circle, the challenger will require a stellar tournament. Returning all-section wrestler, Mike Fera (Mann) has the best shot to challenge for the number 1 spot. It will be a battle for spots 3-6 as there are easily 8 wrestlers with a shot for any of those place finishes.
112: Montgomery over Perez
This weight presents a likely match-up between two returning all section wrestlers: Will Montgomery (Sea), who moves up two weight classes from his gold medal finish of last season and Chris Perez (Mac), who moves up only one from his silver medal finish. Is Perez’s ankle injury going to be a factor? If his championship performance this past weekend is any indication, the answer is no. With two Generals fighting for the top spot this weekend, Montgomery will have his hands full to repeat. Other strong challengers at this weight who could easily find themselves in the finals are Dan McDevitt(Wan) and Joe Maher (BJFK).
119: Alber over Falco
This may very well be the year Luke Alber(Farm) captures the gold. He’s been in the mix for a number of years keeping former champions honest. To win he will have to fend off a very strong challenger in Nick Falco(EM) who has been knocking off opponents all season like a fly swatter flattens flies.
Do not count out Anthony Abidin(Cal) or Mike LoFrese for finals appearance. LoFreeze, the former 96lbs section VIII champion of 2008, is coming off a strong qualifying championship performance with a decisive victory over Rudy Lanzilotta (Mass) 14-2. Watch out for the wrestling finishing up with strong a performance and seemingly improving all season long: they are dangerous come championship time.
Abidin has been consistently strong all season. Should these 4 find themselves in the semi-finals, make sure you aren’t standing in line for a coffee break during these bouts.
125: Arujau over Alleva
Arujau is on the road to one of the most distinguished careers in Section VIII history. A three-times section champion, 2-times state champion, and 1-time state runner up, with a 4th section championship notched in his belt after this weekend, Arujau has the chance to distinguish himself as the first 4-times all-state finalist from section VIII.
The semi-finals, depending on seeds, is likely to include Matthew Alleva (Mass), Patrick Connolly (Wan), and Bobby Krug (BJFK).
130: Andriotti over Gewolb
This is a weight where any of the top contenders have as strong a shot as any for reaching the finals. Depending on seeds, the semi-finals should include Andriotti(Farm), Gewolb(Syo), Rella(Mac), and Frank(BJFK). With a General in contention at this weight, this will be one of the weights Coach Paletta will be counting on to unseat the returning team champions, Wantagh.
135: Schmelzinger (GC) over Chiaffettela
For this weight, I’m going to part with Lighthouse’s rankings and pick Matt Schmelzinger(GC) over Joe Chiaffettela (Cal). This GC Grappler is a product of Paul Gillespie’s and Jon Massa’s intensive youth training program. He’s been tearing up the competition all through his youth wrestling days. Sunday evening at Hofstra University will be the night he announces himself to the varsity wrestling community as a top New York State contender.
140: Palacio over Dituro
As the returning 119lbs Section Champion, Dylan Palacio moves up four weight classes and still dominates. He’s competed as high as 160lbs when he defeated Tim Dooley (GC) by pin in a December event. This Long Beach product proves once again that wrestlers ought to worrying about how to get better than how to suck more weight because when you’re this good, it doesn’t matter much at what weight you compete.
His likely challenger is John Dituro of Locust Valley. Locust Valley competes this year for the first time in the large school division, and like our neighbors, across the county line, John Glenn, they’d like to prove that you don’t have to be big to be a force. John Dituro may just be the one to set the tone for what is to come from Locust Valley. Ditoru has proven that he can hang with some of the best as he suffered a measly 4-2 loss to John Glenn stud, Matt Gannon. Expect Dituro to give Palacio all he can handle in this finals bout.
Also challenging at this weight are Daniel Cataldi (GNS) and Paul Friscia (Wan). This is a weight where Wantagh looks to make a finals appearance to hold onto the team title.
145: Maldarelli over Sarro
Mac Maldarelli(Cal) is the heavy favorite at this weight as he is the returning 145lbs Silver medalist, having lost a hard fought battle to Senior Nationals All-American Brian Herold last year. His likely challenger will be Chris Sarro a junior from Massapequa who has compiled an impressive 38-4 season record with a combination of 20 Pins and Tech Falls.
Also challenging for a finals birth is Dan Spurgeon (Pedge), who has traded losses with Sarro this season. Adam D’Auguste(LB) and John Guerriero(LV) will present strong challenges to the favorites.
152: Ondris over Dunne
This weight class is likely a 3-way battle between James Ondris (Mass), Tyler Dunne(Mac), and Nick Fitzmaurice (Wan). Fitz, having fallen from the top of his game when he attempted to pull down to 145lbs, looks to be back to top form. Ondris, with a 34-3 record, lost to Fitz back in December in an 8-4 decision, and in the same evening, Fitz defeated Dunne in a narrow 1-0 decision. If it wasn’t for Fitz’s less than stellar performance in his attempt at 145lbs, he’d be the favorite.
This weight is another weight to watch for the team title battle with the three contenders vying for the gold medal. If Ondris finishes victorious in his gold medal bid, he may have likely locked up the team title for the Chiefs.
160: Giametta over Jones
For those fans looking for weight rich in talent and with many competitors having a strong shot at the title, this is your weight class. Joe Giametta(Mac) is the heavy favorite coming off an impressive 35-2 record in a very competitive schedule. He’s proven he can hold his own among the top wrestlers in the state with a narrow 3-1 loss to last year’s bronze medal state place winner Anthony Volpe(Rocky Point).
No one knows how he does it, but coach Schaeffer has a knack for turning football players, who have stepped on the mat for the first time as freshman, into championship wrestlers. Andrew Jones (Pledge) is Schaeffer’s current example. Jones, a sophomore, has had some impressive wins this season having defeated Jermaine John, last year’s returning all-section wrestler, with a narrow 4-3 victory.
Jermaine John (Bpage) is last year’s returning bronze medalist at 152lbs. He’s had a strong season, but can he avenge his earlier loss to Jones? No doubt, he’ll give it his best shot. Should these 2 wrestlers meet up in the semis, focus your attention on this mat. You’re certain to be entertained with great wrestling.
Joe Chamish (Jer) is a returning bronze medalist at 160lbs, and he’s compiled an unblemished 38-0 record. Many would favor this grappler. His schedule hasn’t tested him this season, leaving some doubt, but this young man is a solid wrestler, and has as good a chance as any of the competitors at this weight bring home all the hardware.
Should all these wrestlers be separated, this weight will be one to watch in the semi-finals.
171: Kavanagh over Macchia
Does anyone one have a shot of knocking Joe “the beast” Kavanagh out of the circle on Sunday night? This Wantagh product has compiled and impressive 30-1 record with 26 of them ending with his opponents staring at the lights. His only loss was suffered to Billy Coggins(RP), a returning all-state wrestler at 160lbs, by a narrow 9-7 margin. This national caliber wrestler will be tough to beat.
Guy Macchia (Syo) may just be the opponent to offer Kavanagh a challenge for the title. Wrestling runs deep within Macchia’s blood. He’s father was a New York State champion and his uncle was a 3-times New York state champion. Word has it that his uncle, Mike, has been training him hard with a little “Old School” technique. Macchia has compiled an impressive 34-3 record suffering narrow losses to Section XI’s best.
For the remaining competitors at this weight it’s a battle to upset the 2nd seed. Depending on seed Rocco Calderaro(EM) and Miguel Ponce (SW) are the likely challengers.
189: Loew over Alfano
Matt Loew (Wan), returning NYS silver medalist at 189lbs, was last year’s state tournament Cinderella story. On his way to the finals, he knocked off highly favored opponents Christian Boley in the quarterfinals and Zach Buonaiuto in the semi-finals by pin. In 2010 Loew has compiled a 35-1 record while racking up 26 pins.
While Loew is the heavy favorite, Robert Alfano (LV) has had an impressive season. He’s compiled a 34-1 record while showing 22 of those opponents the lights.
This final will end with a decisive victory by Loew over Alfano. A pin is not out of the question in this match-up. Loew is that good.
Other strong contenders to watch at this weight are Ajith Anthony Sylvester (Uniondale), Conor Wetzel (Massapequa), Adrian Montegue (Uniondale), and Brian McAllister (Plainedge). Take Loew out this weight and the title would be up for grabs. This weight is that deep with talent.
215: Horl over Ng
Conor Horl(GC) is the returning section VIII champion at 215lbs and is the heavy favorite to win. This weight is packed with some deep talent, and it isn’t out of the question for one or more competitors to be formidable challengers.
David Ng(PEdge) decisively defeated the returning runner-up at this weight, Tom Hall(Wan), by pin in the third period. This Plainedge Junior has compiled a 29-0 record on the season with over half of them by pin.
Don’t count out Steven Graziano of Syosset from the mix, either. He recently suffered a narrow loss to Ng by Tie breaker in the qualifying tournament finals.
You may at this point be thinking that Tom Hall hasn’t a chance, but you’d be wrong. Last season he made his way to the finals as an unseeded wrestler and defeated third seeded David Ng for a semi-final birth.
This is a semi-final weight you do not want to miss.
285: Agu over Mudassar
David Agu(Free) is the returning champion at this weight and is favored to win. He will be challenged by the Yasseen Mudasser (LD), the returning bronze medalist at this weight.
Mudassar has competed in a more challenging schedule while compiling a 33-1 record on the season. He was narrowly defeated, 7-3, by Zeal Magrew(Burnt Hills), returning all-state bronze medalist at 285. No doubt this will be one of those epic battles between two bruising heavyweights. Don’t leave before this bout is over. When 2 talented heavyweights do battle, it’s some of the most entertaining wrestling to witness.
Other opponents at this weight are all in the mix for a third place finish. They include Oliver Astone (Long Beach), Evan Kappatos (Syosset), Jasson Delgrosso (Lawrence), and Ivan Dunat (Bethpage).
Top Ten Team Standings projection
- Long Beach
- Garden City
- East Meadow