As the 2010 season emerged from the holiday recess the first wave of the Section XI tsunami rolled into Union-Endicott and as anticipated left destruction in its wake. John Glenn lived up to all the hype – and then some – and young Brentwood and Sayville teams gave a peak of what is to come. Then, there came the pronouncements.
Like a broken record, LI Marty would beat the drum, pounding away about the depth and the extent of the accomplishments to expect from the Section XI team this last weekend in February as the top wrestlers from around the state assembled in the Pepsi Arena to battle for individual titles. If you happened to be a wrestler, parent, coach, or fan from another section, it probably got a little difficult to hear.
Then on February 26, 2010, with much anticipation the second and final wave of the tsunami rolled into the Pepsi Arena after emerging from the Section XI championships hardened and eager to do battle. When the last hand was raised, Section XI crowned 8 champions and outdistanced its western neighbor by the score of 280.5 to 192.
Competing for the team title were Rocky Point (XI), Huntington (XI), Wantagh (VIII), Wayne (V), and Chenango Forks (IV). Going into the championship round the three Long Island teams entered three finalists each, but only one emerged to crown three champions as Steven Dutton, Anthony Volpe, and Billy Coggins defeated their final opponents. Congratulations to Darren Goldstein and the Rocky Point family of wrestlers, parents, and fans for their outstanding achievement in earning the tournament’s team championship title.
This weekend fans witnessed the continuous development of the Catholic League as they broke through with three finalists while crowing one champion. When all the results were tallied, they finished a very respectable sixth place, and St. Anthony’s busted through the top ten team standings finishing 8th. Congratulations to the Catholic League for an outstanding season. These guys are banging on the door, determined to challenge Section XI for their dominance one day.
And let’s not forget our northern friends as Section Six finished third while crowning two champions as compared to the 2nd place finisher’s one. Angelo Malvestuto (Niagra Wheatfield) took the 189lbs championship as he defeated the number one seed, Matt Loew of Section VIII. And Kyle Colling took the 215lbs championship when he defeated his formidable unseeded opponent, Connor Horl, also of Section VIII. Congratulations to Section VI on a fine performance.
Then there was Chenango Forks, coached by Rick Gumbel, whose team delighted the fans at the UE Duals in early January as they lost a hard fought battle with New York State Dual meet champions John Glenn. They earned a very respectable number five finish in the team standings. Congratulations to Rick Gumbel and his team at Chenango Forks.
Lighthouse Wrestling would like to congratulate all the coaches and wrestlers on another outstanding season of wrestling. Now that the season is over call me when you are in town so we can have some Ice Cream together. Once the season ended, I could not wait to visit a Friendly’s restaurant and order a Jim Dandy.
And here’s our review of the 2010 New York State Division One Championships.
The question for 96 was could anyone touch Hauppauge’s Mark West? Almost, but no cigar as the saying goes. Eric Lewandowski of 6-Lancaster tested West like no other has this season as he narrowly lost by a 2-1 decision. Write both of their names in your memos as we are sure to be seeing more from these two freshmen in the years to come.
Long Beach-8 product Mark Raghunandan took third place honors as he defeated Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks-4.
Where did he come from? His coaches weren’t surprised, but we all were when 8th seeded Joe Barbato ripped through the top half of the bracket like a tornado as he knocked off the heavily favored first seed Mike Soria of Kings Park-11. It didn’t take long for him to convince the crowd that he meant business Saturday morning when he pinned Chris Brienza at 3:48 in the semifinals. The finals match-up with Al Dierna of Wayne-5 was a repeat of the Spencerport Tournament semifinals when Dierna narrowly defeated Barbato by 4-3 decision. Dierna was not going to allow fear of an earlier narrow victory ruin his state championship. He went to work on Barbato with a convincing 9-2 victory for the title.
After being shutdown to Max Soria in the quarterfinals, 5-0, Asher Kramer clawed his way back for a repeat of his semifinal matchup with Soria. After losing his semifinal bout to the eventual champion, Soria was not about to have any of that and shutdown Kramer one more time with a 6-0 decsion.
One word. NIGEL MCNEIL! One of three Huntington-11 finalists, McNeil was determined to make a statement. If you didn’t know his name before the tournament, you do now, or you better because he is back next year and expect him to be faster and stronger. He disassembled opponents like a 3-year old rips apart legos. McNeil’s most formidable opponent of the tournament was his semifinal opponent Brian Realbuto of Somers-I, a returning state champion who defeated McNeil’s teammate, Damon McQueen. Realbuto, losing big going into the third period, began to push the action and put the scare into McNeil, but McNeil was able to hold him off and remain victorious by the score 13-10.
At the top of the bracket, Malik Rasheed of Longwood-XI defeated 4th seed Brandon Ling of Penfield-5, and then went on to defeat Tim Schaefer of Lancaster-VI to put himself in the finals to face his Section XI finals opponent where he lost by a major decision.
Both Realbuto and Rasheed are only sophomores. Expect them both to make lots of noise next year.
With his last opportunity to take home a state title, Damon McQueen of Huntington-XI showed the poise of a seasoned champion as he did battle with returning state champion Grant Greene of St. Anthony’s. Behind the entire match, McQueen methodically closed the gap to bring the match into overtime. Then off a Greene shot, McQueen re-shoots and scores the quick take-down for the win.
Billy Watterson of John Jay Cross River-I defeated 3rd seed Nick Kelly of Shenendehowa-II to enter the semifinals. After losing a close battle with Greene by the score of 7-5. Watterson defeated two Long Island opponents: first Alex Gomez by a 4-3 decision to wrestler for third. Then he defeated Luke Alber by decision 13-6 for the Bronze Medal.
Nick Arujau of Syosset-VIII would cement his name in the history books with his 3rd state championship and his record breaking 4th New York State finals appearance for a Section VIII wrestler. If you thought that would intimidate his Mahopac-I opponent, think again. Though the odds were not in his favor, he stepped on the mat determined to defeat his formidable opponent. Justis Flamio pushed Arujau harder than anyone has all season, but he could not dethrone the Russian Bear as he lost 7-5.
Steven Rodriguez of Fox Lane-1 did not let his semifinal disappointment ruin his tournament. He went on to defeat Section-XI’s Ryan Gerondel of Sachem North by the score of 8-3 for third place.
Nick Meinsen was determined to let no one stand in his way of his 4th attempt at the gold in Albany, but first, he had to pass through the one seed Bob Dierna of Wayne-V. It wasn’t easy but he ended the semifinal overtime bout in the first period with a quick take-down for the win. Once in the finals, he shut down the second seed from Newburgh-9, Taylor Laraia by decision 6-0.
Casey Lanave of Chenango Forks-IV squeaked by with an 8-7 victory over first seed Bob Dierna for the bronze medal.
They say the only thing harder than wining a state title is repeating. Andrew Lenzi of Fordham Prep-C understands that all too well as he was defeated last season by Stephen Dutton to delay his chances of a repeat. The only thing standing in his way this weekend was Cody Ruggirello of Valley Central-9 also a former state champion and nationally ranked opponent. They met earlier in the season at Eastern States where Lenzi squeaked out a hard fought victory by the score of 6-5. You heard it here first: the only thing harder than repeating for a state title is defeating a former state champion twice in the same year. That was Lenzi’s task, and he did not disappoint as he squeaked out a second victory over the his highly respected opponent by decision 2-1.
John Belanger of Shenendehowa-2 defeated Joe Banaldi of Olympia-5 for bronze medal honors.
For those fortunate enough to witness the semifinal bout between Dutton of Rocky Point-XI and Dylan Palacio of Long Beach-VIII, you saw one of those rare Muhammad Ali moments where the champion draws from a strength deep inside to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Dutton was winning until the third period. Like an octopus Palacio wrapped around his opponent and turned him to go ahead 5-4. Visibly ill and enervated Dutton looked as though he would be unable to escape to tie the match, but with seconds remaining, reaching down from within, he managed to escape. Once in overtime, he left nothing to chance, went right after his opponent and scored the easy take-down for the win.
Dutton faced off against the 2nd seed from Iroquois-6 in the finals. Determined not to permit a repeat of his semifinal match, Dutton pursued his opponent relentlessly and scored a tech fall, 16-1 to win the Gold for the second consecutive time. It was the first championship for Rocky Point that evening.
Palacio, having earned his bid for the title with a wildcard draw, outdistanced his section VIII opponent and placed 4th as he lost to Lewis Cucchiarra of Gates-Chili-5 by decision 6-3.
Andy Rodriguez of Central Islip-XI is the most unassuming champion that I’ve had the privilege to know. I spoke to him after his semifinal victory. As we were walking down the hall, I asked him some questions to prepare for his interview. I asked, “Andy who did you just defeat?” “I don’t know.” “How about the finals, who do you meet there?” “I don’t know.” “You’re kidding, right?” “I really don’t know,” said Andy. “I never look at the brackets.” At that point I said, “Andy wait here. I have to go back to the media table to look at your bracket.” It explains things, doesn’t it? No matter how close the match is, no matter how important the final outcome is, Andy never looks like the pressure is getting to him. Andy is in the moment. It’s the mark of a champion.
Andy faced off with Tony Carlo of Monsignor Farrell-C in the final match up. It was typical Andy. Focused, determined, and always tough as nails, he defeated Tony Carlo in sudden death OT as he held him for the 30 second ride out, something he had trouble with early in the bout. Tony Carlo had an outstanding tournament as he defeated the second seed from Warwick Valley-9, Mitchell Wightman. Wightman had defeated Carlo earlier in the year at Eastern States in OT.
Vinnie Digravio of Wayne-V, the fourth seed, wrestled back to third after being defeated in the quarterfinals.
This was the weight class with all the drama. In a repeat of the Section XI finals, Kyle Wade bested his section teammate, Nick Terdick of John Glenn, in shocking fashion with a pin at 3:46. Expectations were high in section XI to take this one, but Giuseppi Lanzi of Amsterdam-II was not about to let his dream of state championship become overshadowed by the wrestler with the story. Lanzi defeated Wade 13-6 and earned MOW honors.
Terdick, demonstrating the character of a champion, picked himself up and wrestled back to third place as he defeated his section neighbor, James Ondris of Massapequa by decision 3-2.
After losing a close battle with Bosco of John Glenn in a dual meet earlier in the season, some had doubted Anthony Volpe’s of Rocky Point chances at Gold at the Pepsi Arena. It was the last close match Volpe would have all season as he breezed through the tournament outscoring his opponents 46-10. Louis Puca of Huntington-XI would attempt to avenge his loss to Volpe in the Section XI finals, but Volpe proved too much to handle.
Taking the bronze was Lamont Fleming of Corcoran-III. He defeated section VIII’s wildcard entrant Joe Chamish of Jericho.
In a match that lived up to all the expectations for a thriller. Billy Coggins of Rocky Point-XI defeated his section neighbor Joe kavanagh of Wantagh-VIII in a repeat of an earlier bout when Kavanagh nearly came from behind to win. Coggins proved every bit the opponent as he fended off Kavanagh in a tightly contest 3-2 decision.
Taking third was Dustin Moss of East Syracuse Minoa-III, the third seed, after losing in the quarterfinals.
In a finals match between to nationally renowned opponents, Angelo Malvestuto of Niagra Wheatfield-6 defeated Matt Loew of Wantagh. Loew, a more defensive wrestler from neutral who normal frustrates his opponents, was unable to frustrate this 3-times all state wrestler. Malvestuto won this weight with two pins, a major decision, and a convincing finals decision, 9-3.
Brandon Conteraras of Penfield-5 wrestled back to third after losing his semifinal bout to Malvestuto by Major Decision.
If you witnessed Connor Horl struggle through the section VIII tournament, you probably would have given him very little chance of making it to the finals. Instead of letting him down, his section struggles hardened and renewed his determination to win. Sometimes losing is more powerful than winning. To make it to the finals, Connor Horl defeated each of his three opponents by identical 3-2 decisions, all with a take-down in the last seconds of the third period.
Kyle Colling of Pionner-6 proved too much for Horl as he was unable to execute seconds magic to defeat the more accomplished opponent. Colling wins his second state championship over Horl by decision, 1-0.
Taking third was Dave Ng of Plainedge-VIII. If you’ve seen this young man, he is a specimen. I understand that he trained with the Iron Will, a writer for this site. With only three years wrestling experience, Ng defeated Provenzeno of Islip-XI, an opponent he lost in the opening round of the tournament.
One of the few weight classes where the first seed faced off with the second seed, Lance Moore of Johnson City-IV defeated Zeal McGrew of Burnt Hills-II in convincing fashion by decision, 7-1.
David Agu of Freeport-VIII wrestled back to take the bronze after losing to Moore in the semifinals.