NYSPHSAA WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
By Jim & Tony Nordland
Now in its 16th year of a two-division format, a total of 480 wrestlers will participate in the 57th annual NYSPHSAA Wrestling Championships at the Times Union Center in Albany on February 22nd and 23rd. Among this years participants are 13 defending champions, including blue-chipper Adam Busiello (45-0, 276-8 career) of ESM at 138 pounds. Busiello, an Arizona State recruit, will attempt to become only the third wrestler in the Empire State to capture five state crowns (others were Troy Nickerson (Chenango Forks) and Jacori Teemer (Long Beach). Busiello has state placings of 2-1-1-1-1 and is nationally ranked by Amateur Wrestling News.
Other reigning Division I champions are Stevo Poulin (40-0, 81-1) of Shenendehowa-2 at 106, Terry Adams (39-4, 170-15) of Monsignor Farrell-C, three-time titlist Greg Diakomihalis (51-0, 193-2) of Hilton-5, both at 113, ESM's Zach Redding (46-4, 178-22) at 126, Willie McDougald (40-1, 196-14) of Niagara Falls at 138 and Lehigh-bound Jake Logan (35-0, 169-29) of New Rochelle-1 at 182 pounds.
Six defending champions head the field in the Division II Tournament. They are Dante Geislinger (36-3, 109-14) of Norwich-4 at 106, Anthony Noto (35-1, 128-5) of HFL-5, Marek Bush (47-7,159-27) of CVA-3 at 126, Trent Svingala (42-0, 162-3) of Maple Hill-2 at 132, 2017 champion Hunter Schaut (49-4, 241-51) of CVA-3 at 145, Dempsey Carroll (22-6, 156-46) of Copenhagen-3 at 170 and Ross McFarland (40-1, 213-50) of Phoenix-3 in the 182-pound class.
The CHSAA points to the aforementioned Adams and seven state meet qualifiers from St. Anthony's. The Friars have lightweights; Jordan Wellington (99) and Sean Flick (106), along with veteran and state-ranked Preston Maucere (37-4) at 132. Other podium possibles are Jimmy Rogers (47-2) of Monsignor Farrell at 120, AJ Kovacs (46-1) of Iona Prep at 145, along with the St. Francis tandem of Nolan Thomas (51-1) at 220 and Dominik Thomas (46-2) at 285 pounds.
Section VIII will be paced by Massapequa sophomore and state finalist Chase Liardi (42-1, 112-10) at 106 and four-time state placer Kyle Mosher (5-4-4-5) of South Side at 160 pounds. The Columbia-bound Mosher (41-1, 240-35) is top-ranked with his only loss at the prestigious Ironman Tournament (Ohio) in which he captured the bronze medal. Many LI wrestling experts feel Mosher is ready to reach the top of the podium in Albany. Other green-cladded returning state medalists include: Josiah Encarnacion (46-2) of Wantagh at 113, Lee Mauras (37-2) of Freeport at 145, Farmingdale's Joe Simons (19-4) at 152 and a pair of 170-pounders, county champion Matt Rogers (46-2) of Wantagh and JD Moore (35-4) of Levittown Division. Massapequa has a trio of potential finalists; Anthony Conetta (44-1) at 99, MOW Garrett Gibbons (42-10) at 152 and versatile Angelo Petrakis (44-2) at 182. Other standouts for the Nassau squad are talented freshman George Oroudjov (39-2) of Syosset at 120, Mepham's Kyle Althenn (24-0) at 138, along with Uniondale teammates Xavier Pommels (40-1) at 132 and Obrien Dorceus (38-1) at 285.
Nassau County returns two Division II state place-winners: Joe Contrastano (19-3) of Wheatley at 120 and CSH's Ray Costa (35-3) at 145 pounds. Others to watch in D-2 are Jackson Polo (36-4) of CSH at 99, Jake Murphy (31-1) of Seaford at 113 and Oyster Bay's Karl Ozzie Bouyer (35-1) at 285.
Section XI is once again loaded and have talent in every weight class. The navy blue-clad contingent has the aforementioned Redding and Busiello, along with a parade of returning state place-winners including finalist and Penn-bound Joey Slackman (42-0, 129-3) of Commack at 285. State medalists that will vie for gold medals are: Luke Smith (34-3) of Hauppauge, Thomas DiResta (32-6) of Kings Park, both at 113, Sean Carter (37-2) of North Babylon at 120, Rocky Point teammates Logan Sciotto (48-4) at 132 and Corey Connolly (44-5) at 170, along with unbeaten Liam McIntrye (35-0) of Westhampton Beach at 195 pounds. Suffolk stalwarts include freshman Jared Weinhaus (45-4) of Sachem East at 99, CI's rangy Kwesi Amoa (32-2) at 106, top-seeded Jonathan Spadafora (38-1) of Hills East at 145, along with Hauppauge junior Dan Mauriello (39-2) at 152 and MOW Paul Illicete (37-3) of Copiague in the loaded 170-pound bracket.
Suffolk's Division II has a strong squad and are led by finalist Jordan Titus (36-1, 115-6) of Center Moriches at 120, along with teammate and returning state placer Lajess Sawyer (25-0) at 160. Look for the BBP tandem of lightweight standouts, Max Gallagher (32-3) at 99 and Joe Sparacio (31-5) to be in the hunt, as well as John Glenn teammates: Thomas Giramita (33-3) at 145 and unbeaten Pat Ancewicz (30-0) at 285. Two-time state dual meet champion Mt. Sinai has the O'Brien brothers; Mike (38-5) at 132, Joe (43-4) at 138, along with Matt Campo (41-4) at 152, and potential finalist Mike Sabella (25-1) in the 195-pound class.
Suffolk County has won 26 sectional team titles and is the favorite at the 2019 state meet. Long Island wrestling received 26 wild card berths - which will increase the LI medal count and orchestrate many early LI tournament match-ups. Two at large berth LI entrants to watch are Elijah Rivera (38-1) of Bay Shore at 106 and Lindenhurst's Ryan Meisner (40-1) at 138. Highly-regarded Marco Vespa (39-1) of Monroe-Woodbury-9 is another wild card that will challenge for a state title. The Penn State recruit landed as the third-seed in the 120-pound class.
Other sectional challengers will be Section Eight and a talent-laden Section Five (Rochester area) team. The purple-clad group points to six state meet qualifiers from Hilton, including nationally ranked, Binghamton-bound Sam DePrez (48-0, over 200 career wins), at 195. Other title hopefuls are Jayden Scott (36-0) of Rush-Henrietta at 120, Alex Samson (41-5) of Victor at 132, Mason Wersinger (41-0) of Spencerport at 138 and Cooper Kropman (30-2) of Penfield at 160.
Suffolk County won an unprecendented tenth consecutive team title at the 2018 state championships and could be on pace to capture their 11th straight title. Section Eleven has a state leading 192 NYS champions, followed by Section Four (Binghamton area) with 156 and Nassau County has 130 individual winners. Look for state dual meet champion Massapequa (with 7 state meet qualifiers) to battle Hilton for individual team honors.
A look back at the first New York State Championships held at Barton Hall at Cornell University in Ithaca on March 9th, 1963. There were only 12 weight classes and eight sections, Section Eight won the first title with 121 points over runner-up Section Three (Syracuse area) with 75, Suffolk (74) finished in third place. The quarterfinals (on four mats) was at 1PM - the semi-finals (two mats) was at 3PM and the consolations (one mat) was at 7PM - with the championship finals to follow on one mat at 8PM- very interesting format. In simple terms - a wrestler needed to get three wins in less than 8 hours to become a state champion. New York's first state winner was Pete Henning (27-1) of Wantagh in the 95-pound class which was witnessed by 7,500 spectators. Back then there were only 259 high schools in New York State (the most in the country at the time) with wrestling programs- now there are over 500 programs in the Empire State. In the nation today - there are only three states with individual classifications - California, Indiana and New Jersey. Interesting to note at the CA state meet there are 40 qualifiers in a single bracket and the winner needs to win six matches over a three-day tournament.
TO ALL THE COMPETITORS, BEST OF LUCK AND ENJOY THE STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS, WIN OR LOSE...
Zach Redding of Eastport-South Manor will go for his second state title.
2019 NYS TOURNAMENT PREVIEW
Adam Busiello Eastport-South Manor will try to pin down his fifth New York State title.
Greg Diakomihalis from Hilton will vie for his fourth NYS title.