By Jim and Tony Nordland



      Now in its 17th year of the two-division format, a total of 480 wrestlers, including 11 defending champions and a 2018 winner, will participate in the 58th annual NYSPHSAA Wrestling Championships at the Times Union Center in Albany on February 28th and 29th.

     Returning Division I champions include four-time champion and Cornell-bound Greg Diakomihalis (21-0, 213-2 career) at 120 pounds and teammate Ryan Burgos (47-1) at 138 of Section Five power Hilton, along with Zach Redding (46-0, 242-16) at 132, who will take his mat skills to Iowa State in the fall and nationally ranked junior Stevo Poulin (43-0, 128-1, the lone loss was a close decision to Wyoming Seminary's (PA) Timothy Levine in 2017) of Section Two power Shenendehowa at 113 pounds.  Other reigning titlists are Aj Kovacs (36-3) at 152 of Iona Prep-C, ranked fifth nationally and a top recruit for NC State next season, along with gridiron star Dan Mauriello (13-0, 181-17) of Section Eleven power Hauppauge now at 170 pounds, he will attend Stony Brook University in the fall.

     Five defending champions head the field in the Division II Tournament led by Beast of the East champion, junior Jordan Titus (39-0,158-6) of Center Moriches-11 at 126, along with a pair of two-time titlists: Dante Geislinger (32-2, 145-16) of Norwich-4 and Anthony Noto (33-1, 265-6) at 120 of Honeye Falls-Lima-5. Other state winners were: Jace Schafer (50-2) at 106 of Palmyra-Macedon-5, Brady Worthing (42-0, 167-33) of Section Four power Tioga at 138 and 2018 champion Marek Bush (50-5, 212-33) of Central Valley Academy-3 at 132 pounds.

     State finalists from 2019 that return in Division I include: Killian Foy (43-5) at 113 of MacArthur-8,  Massapequa-8 junior Chase Liardi (46-3, 161-15), 8th-grader Zack Ryder (43-3) of state dual meet champion Minisink Valley, both at 120 pounds,  Josiah Encarnacion (43-2, 202 career wins) at 126 of Wantagh-8, Willie McDougald (40-1) at 145 of Niagara Falls-6, junior Cooper Kropman (38-0) at 160 of Penfield-5, along with junior Lucas Scott (33-0, 23 pins, 105-14 career) of Chenango Forks-4 and Myles Norris (27-2) of Freeport-8 both at  285 pounds. 

     Division Two runners-up are Andy Lucinski (45-2) of Newfane-6 at 106, Caleb Svingala (42-0, 35 pins, 184-10) of Maple Grove-2 at 126, Micah Roes (40-4) of Lowville-3, both at 126 pounds, Jacob Null ( 43-0, 153-18) of Dolgeville-3 at 160  and Mikey Squires (35-2, 170-27) of Norwich-4 in the 170 pound class. 

     Section Eight has a well-balanced contingent and should challenge for the sectional team title. The green-clad perennial power look to the aforementioned finalists; Foy, MOW Liardi, Encarnacion and Morris, along with a pair of unbeatens;  George Oroudjov (47-0) a Syosset junior at 126 and Hempstead's Lee Mauras (27-0) at 145, who finished 4th at the 2019 state meet, both are potential champions. Other podium possibles are Joseph Manfredi (43-2) of Herricks at 99, LB's Jeremiah Echeverria (33-4) at 113, junior Jake Schneider (38-3) of team champion MacArthur at 132 and the Rogers brothers from Wantagh, Ben (35-5) at 138 and returning state placer Matthew (35-2) at 182. JD Moore (41-4, 104 career wins) a returning state medalist from Levittown Division should make some noise at 170, along with Mepham's Matt Hegi (35-3) at 195 and Eastern States Classic champion Sam Khodaparest (41-2) of Massapequa in the 285-pound class.

     In Division II the Nassau group returns bronze medalists; Joe Constrastano (22-3) of Wheatley at 120 and Karl Bouyer (39-1) of Clarke at 220, along with other state placers Gage DeNatale (28-3) from Locust Valley at 132 and CSH's Kolton Gagnon (29-4) at 195. Others to watch are  a pair of CSH grapplers; Jackson Polo (26-4) at 113 and Christian Hansen (36-2) at 152, along with Clarke teammates; unbeaten Jordan Soriano (19-0) at 126 and Lucas Abbatiello (40-2) at 160 pounds.

     Section Eleven once again will field a strong squad and has five state meet qualifiers from Suffolk team champion Hauppauge, the aforementioned Mauriello, and a pair of state placers: Luke Smith (31-4) at 126 and Michael Tyrrell (34-5) at 182, along with Mikey Manta (32-5) at 99 and champion Anthony DiBartolo (34-3) at 126. Other Suffolk stalwarts include the aforementioned Redding,  Elijah Rivera (33-3, 137 career wins) of Bay Shore at 106, Jake Eckerle (35-5) of Commack at 120, Rocky Point's Logan Sciotto (46-2) at 138, Copiague teammates; Marvin Lobo (45-2) at 145 and Malik Leftenant (36-5) at 220. Also in the medal mix should be the Brentwood tandem of unbeaten Wenchard Pierre Louis (38-0) at 152 and London Castillo (35-2) at 285, along with junior James Araneo (39-3) of Ward Melville at 170 and MOW Joe LoPrestri (37-2) of Sayville in the loaded 182-pound class.

     In Divison II the standouts are the aforementioned Titus, along with Bayport-Blue Point teammates and lifelong friends; Max Gallagher (37-1,101-9) at 113 and Joe Sparacio (34-4, 108-11) at 120, both are returning state medalists and are title contenders. John Glenn has podium possibles with Thomas Giramita  (34-2) at 152 and Justin Vega (31-4) at 195. Team champion Mt. Sinai points to Brayden Fahrbach (43-1) at 99, state placer Matt Campo (40-2) at 170 and unbeaten Joe Goodrich (44-0) at 182 pounds.

     The CHSAA section looks to the Chaminade trio of Shane Meenaghan (31-6) at 106, MOW Michael Sanfilippo (34-6) at 126 and Rocco Demartino (29-7) at 132.  Other top prospects are  the Adams brothers from Monsignor Farrell; Michael (43-5) at 99 and Daniel (42-3) at 113, along with St. Anthony's Sean Flick (23-5) at 120 and the aforementioned Kovacs, who has also won a state crown in Connecticut.


      Defending sectional team champion Section Five (Rochester area) returns with a strong squad, as Hilton has a quartet of quality matmen, the aforementioned Diakomihalis and Burgos, along with state bronze medalists, Rocco Camillaci (50-3) at 126 and Collin Burns (5-0) at 285. The purple-clad group also has sophomore Jayden Scott (45-1) of Rush-Henrietta at 132, MOW Anthony Surace (39-6) of Webster-Schroeder at 113 and Nick Sanko of Pittsford at 145. They will be challenged by Section Eleven (Suffolk County) which has won a state leading 26 sectional team titles along with Section Eight (Nassau County), Section Nine and Section One.

     The Rodgers brothers from Wantagh HS could face tough quarterfinal battles, Ben, a sophomore, could meet top-seeded Ryan Burgos and older brother Matt, who will attend the United States Naval Academy, could be pitted against Suffolk MOW Joe LoPresti. Wantagh is coached by NYS and National Wrestling Hall of Fame coach Paul Gillespie and the Warriors have four state meet qualifiers. Wantagh's well-known brothers, the Ryans: Tom (119) and Frank (145) won county crowns in 1985. Tom is currently the head coach with the third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

     The first set of brothers ever to win county titles were: Sam and Jim Leftenant: Sam (125) and Jim (145) hailed from Amityville HS and won back in 1941. Another set of brothers from Amityville to win county championships were the legendary Doherty brothers, Richard (134) and George (155) in 1949. Both are members of the NYS and National Wrestling Hall of Fame, and pioneered the wrestling program at Berner HS (Massapequa) in 1963. Long Island wrestlers received 31 at-large entrants and that will certainly add to the LI medal count.

      Greg Diakomihalis (Hilton-5) looks to become the fourth wrestler to garner five New York State titles, the others were: Adam Busiello (Eastport-South Manor-11), Jacori Teemer (Long Beach-8) and Troy Nickerson (Chenango Forks-4). Yianni Diakomihalis (243-3 career) captured four state crowns and was injured in his senior campaign and unable to compete at the state championships. The Cornell junior has already claimed two NCAA titles and is currently on an Olympic red-shirt season.

      In the 99-pound class, there is an outstanding 7th-grader, unbeaten Peter Duke (41-0) of Carmel-1. The 152-pound class has three undefeated wrestlers; Sean Malenfant (39-0) of Averill Park-2, Tommy Ashkey (37-0) of Pine Bush-9 and the aforementioned Pierre Louis, along with Hunter Hughes (36-1) of Newfield-11 and reigning state king AJ Kovacs. The rugged 182-pound bracket has quality matmen such as: Ryan Stencel (44-1) of Lancaster-6, Shenendehowa-2 standout Brock Delsignore (41-4), Chris Pannell (37-3) of Webster-Schroeder-5, Tyriq Block (33-4) of Jamesville Dewitt-3, along with the previously mentioned contenders: Rogers, Tyrrell and LoPresti. At 285 pounds, four state place-winners return, including junior Adam Fenner (43-1) of Minisink Valley-9. 

     The top three sections for individual state champions are Section Eleven with 196 NYS champions followed by Section Four (Binghamton area) with 161 and Section Eight with 131 individual winners.

     Only three states have individual classifications; California, Indiana and New Jersey. At the CA state meet there are 40 qualifiers in a single bracket and the champion needs to win six matches over the three-day tournament. Interesting to note, at the first New York state meet back in March of 1963 at Barton Hall (Cornell University) there were only twelve weight classes and eight sections. A wrestler needed to win three matches in less than 8 hours to become a New York State champion. The first champion was Wantagh's Pete Henning and he finished with a season mark of 27-1 in the 95-pound weight class.

Best to all the competitors - enjoy your state championships - win or lose.

Hilton's Greg Diakomihalis from Section Five is 21-0 on the season and 213-2 career. Diakomihalis, a four-time state champion, is the top ranked 120 pounder in the nation.



Friday Feb. 28th and Saturday Feb. 29th

@ Times Union Center, Albany, NY