Five-Finger Clan: NY Quintet Win NHSCA National Titles…

On Friday evening, five New York State wrestlers extended over three grade levels (freshman, Sophomore, Junior) won National titles at the annual NHSCA National Tournament In Virginia Beach, VA…Claiming the hardware on behalf of the Empire State were 103-pound Junior, Abdulgawi Mohamed (Section IV/Lackawanna), 112-pound junior Zach McCormick (Section IV; Johnson City), 130-pound junior Bobby Dierna (Section V; Wayne), 145-pound sophomore Chris Nevinger (Section V; Letchworth), and 160-pound freshman, Zach Zupan (Section III; Canastota)…Finishing as national runners-up were the trio of 112-pound junior Nigel McNeil (Section XI; Huntington), 130-pound sophomore Quinton Murphy (Section V; Holley), and 152-pound sophomore, Tristan Hamner (Section VI; Medina)…A plethora of other wrestlers from New York State succeeded in becoming All-Americans, finishing in the 3rd-8th spots respectively.

Kicking the night off in high fashion for the Empire State was Mohamed, who was the DII State Champion this past season…Qualifying for the national finals behind a pair of pins (including a fall in :17 over Connecticut’s Andrew Chase in the semifinals) and an 8-2 quarterfinal decision, the Lackawanna High School junior trailed 2-1 at the end of the opening period to his opponent, Ian Nickell of California. However, Mohamed would turn the match around early in the middle frame, securing a reversal to gain the 3-2 advantage. This would be all of the points that he would need as he proceeded to dominate from the top position, riding out the final three minutes plus of the bout to emerge with the decision victory.

McCormick would make it two in a row in the junior division for Team NY, breaking a 2-2 tie in the final seconds of the bout with a takedown against the 2010 NYS DI Champion McNeil…Seeded as the #1 and #2 wrestlers in the NYS tournament, many fans were anticipating this match-up in Albany. However, an upset of McCormick in the early rounds would put an end to this possibility…Therefore, what better way to put an end to the debate than by meeting for a national title…Scoreless after the first two periods (no takedowns in the 1st, followed by a McCormick rideout in the 2nd), the goose egg finally came off of the board when McCormick escaped quickly in the third period to seize the narrow 1-0 lead. A McNeil TD at the midway point of the final period would give the Suffolk County wrestler a temporary lead. But alas, within short order, we would be deadlocked again as McCormick was able to earn the equalizing escape. With under :30 remaining in the bout, it appeared that it would be McNeil who would hoist the trophy, as he got in deep on the shot attempt. However, much to the eventual champion’s credit, rather than concede the two, McCormick was able to recover and counter for a TD of his own with approx. 10 seconds remaining on the clock. It would be this, his only takedown of the match that would clinch the title for McCormick…In winning the title, McCormick improved upon his fourth place finish at this venue as a freshman in 2008.

The third individual title of the night would come three weight classes later as Dierna, much like the two gentlemen before him, relied on solid work from the top position to solidify his first national title after settling for the bronze medal at 119-pounds in 2009…Getting to the final behind a series of wins, the Wayne High School product did not waste the opportunity when it came his way. In deep on the legs several times in the opening two minutes against opponent Jordan Rinken (IA), Dierna had to settle for a scoreless tie at the end of the first periods thanks in large part to the amazing scrambling ability of his Midwestern foe. Starting on bottom to begin the 2nd period, Dierna scored his only points of the night on a reversal. Fully aware of the fact that Rinken would have the choice in the third period, Dierna was determined to not surrender the escape point in the middle stanza, repeatedly breaking down and riding his opposition hard. The effort paid off as the 2010 NYS DI bronze medalist was successful in keeping the shutout in tact after two full periods. As expected, Rinken did elect to begin the final period on bottom. But, true to form, Dierna again put on a nasty ride, killing a large percentage of the clock before eventually giving up the escape to cut the lead to a single point…While he was game in making the effort, Rinken was never able to penetrate the excellent defense of Dierna as the bout ended 2-1….Dierna was the last finalist for Team NY in the junior division.

Having watched all of his junior brethren win titles for New York, 2010 NYS DII Champion Nevinger knew that it was his turn to step to the plate and deliver for his home state. He did not disappoint, rallying from an early 2-0 deficit to score 3-NF on a tilt midway through the 2nd period to take his first lead of the match against the Garden State’s Salvatore Mastriani. A rideout of the remainder of the period would keep the lead unchanged heading into the all deciding final two minutes…Rather than attempt to turn Nevinger, Mastriani elected to go optional start to begin the third period, thus increasing the lead to 4-2…From that point on, what followed was some of the best reactive and intuitive counter wrestling I have ever witnessed…Countless times during the course of the final 90 seconds, the young man from NJ was in deep (including a scramble where he almost caught Nevinger on his back for 2+2). But, determined to repeat as an NHSCA National champion (won the freshman title at the same weight last season), Nevinger was able to work his way out of danger, surviving the constant attack to hang on to a narrow decision and deep alive the opportunity to accomplish the rare feat of going 4-for-4 ( a national title at all four NHSCA grade levels).

The final title of the night for Team NY would come two weight classes and a full grade level later, as Zupan (who had an impressive NYS DII tournament, finishing 4th behind a trio of upperclassmen @160) put the finishing touches on what had been a completely one-sided affair for him this week, racking up a 16-6 major decision over Dorian Spradlin of Maryland. The bonus point victory was the fourth of the tournament for Zupan, who succeeded in majoring or teching every opponent that stepped on the mat with him (closest match was a 19-10 MD in the semifinal round over Ohio’s Wyatt Running).

The week long festivities in Virginia Beach are set to resume¬† on Saturday¬†morning for day #2 of the main event, the senior national tournament. While team scores were not available, a strong opening day showing surely has the Empire State close to atop the mountain…While the list is too numerous to recite them all, some of the studs from Team NY who have advanced to the round of 16 include: Mike and Max Soria (103), DII runner-up Colton Dalberth (112), DI State Champion Damon McQueen (119), multi-time DII State Champion Nick Wilcox (125), 2x NYS DI Champion Andy Rodriguez (145), 2009 NYS runner-up/2010 3rd place Nick Terdick (152), 2010 DI State Champion Anthony Volpe (160), 2x DII State Champion/3x NHSCA National Champion Tyler Beckwith (171), both 189-pound DI finalists Matt Loew (2x NYS runner-up) and Angelo Malvesto (2010 NYS Champion; 2009 NHSCA Junior National runner-up), 2x NYS Champion/returning NHSCA National Champion Kyle Colling (215), and 2010 NYS DI Champion Lance Moore (285)

For full results of all four grade level tournaments (as well as the middle school and elementary school tournaments), please click HERE.

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