From The LoHud Wrestling Blog.
The more thought I put into the Westchester/Putnam wrestler of the year debate, the more I felt that the only fair choice was to name Edgemont’s Trey Aslanian and Ossining’s Alex Delacruz as co-winners. They both won state championships, they wrestled in the same weight class, and they never had an opportunity to wrestle each other (that would have made my decision easy). Aslanian and Delacruz had similar low points—tough losses at Eastern States—and they each had to overcome opponents who had gotten the better of them in the past to claim their state titles. For the second time in three years (Somers’ Brian Realbuto and Fox Lane’s Steven Rodrigues split the award in 2011), we have co-wrestlers of the year in Westchester/Putnam. You can see the full all-star package in today’s edition of The Journal News.
Two state champions from Section 1 were crowned this past February in Albany, but neither was a popular pick to win heading into that weekend.
There were certainly low points for Edgemont senior Trey Aslanian and Ossining junior Alex Delacruz during the season, which ensured that both upset-minded wrestlers came into the state tournament with something to prove.
“One thing that Alex and I have in common is that we both have that supreme confidence,” Aslanian said. “We were both, I would say, underdogs going into the weekend, and to be a state champ, you have to know you’re going to win.”
Each wrestler won his state title at 120 pounds, with Delacruz doing so in Division 1 (large schools) and Aslanian claiming his in Division 2 (small schools). With each overcoming the odds to win and the two having never wrestled each other, the only logical choice was to name them as The Journal News Westchester/Putnam co-wrestlers of the year.
Any potential match between the two will have to be left to the imagination.
“I actually used to practice with Trey,” Delacruz said. “It’s hard to say that I’d lose, and he doesn’t want to say that he’d lose, so it’s hard to say. I’d like to say that I would wrestle him the same way that I would wrestle anyone else.”
While they wrestle in the same weight class, their styles are drastically different.
Aslanian is regarded as one of the most polished wrestlers in the state — a well-conditioned technician who rarely makes mistakes. As a three-time state finalist and Edgemont’s all-time wins leader, he’s developed the reputation as an extremely focused and devoted athlete.
“There are a lot of things that go into maturity — physical maturity, emotional maturity — but at a very young age, he set a series of goals for himself, and he went right to work to accomplish those goals,” Edgemont coach Pete Jacobson said. “He really was fixated on becoming the best wrestler that he could be.”
Delacruz is known more of as a physical freak with explosiveness and athleticism that often goes unmatched. High-scoring matches generally favor him, and his ability to notch a takedown in the blink of an eye is well-documented.
“Right off the whistle, he can score in any second,” Ossining coach Larry McRae said. “He can explode into a pin in any minute, so he’s never out of a match.”
Their approaches may be different, but the paths to becoming state champions for both Aslanian and Delacruz were eerily similar. Both faltered at the prestigious Eastern States Classic in January after coming into the tournament undefeated, and both had to avenge losses against familiar foes if they wanted to capture a state title.
For Aslanian, that meant beating defending state champ Sean Peacock of Midlakes, who had defeated him in last year’s state final. Driven to avoid that losing feeling for the third consecutive year, the Princeton-bound senior was able to pull off the upset with a 4-2 decision.
“I saw my little sister Zaza. … She started crying after I lost in the state finals last year, and that got me deep down,” Aslanian recalled. “I was like, ‘I can’t do that to them again. They invest so much time in me, how could I do that to her and my family?’ ”
Delacruz had to get past an even more recognizable opponent to reach his goal of becoming a state champion. After beating Pearl River’s John Muldoon to win his first section title in 2012, Delacruz was disqualified from his semifinals match against Muldoon at Eastern States for an alleged bite. The two met again in the section final, with Muldoon prevailing on a 10-7 decision.
Most figured that Muldoon would be Section 1’s best shot for a state champ at 120 pounds, but Delacruz showed his resiliency with 6-4 overtime decision to knock off his rival in the state semis on his way to a title.
“I spoke to my coaches right after sectionals, and I told them I wouldn’t lose — I can’t lose. I’ve been working too hard for this,” Delacruz said. “It was difficult going in there knowing that everybody thought that Muldoon would win that match, but it pushed me more to want to win because of that.“
Here are the rest of the first-team all-stars
99 — Brandon Fay, Fox Lane: The junior took second in the section in Division 1 to help the Foxes place third overall and finished 33-13.
106 — Nick Barbaria, New Rochelle: The junior had one of the best seasons of any local wrestler, winning an Eastern States title, his second Division 1 section title and taking fifth in the state. He finished 43-2.
113 — Mark Grant, Hen Hud: The senior came on strong in his final season to capture a section title in Division 1. The Sailors’ first section champ in over 20 years finished 37-7.
126 — Dylan Realbuto, Somers: One of the most accomplished wrestlers to come out of Section 1 in the last decade, the Cornell-bound senior won his third Division 1 section title and placed third in the state. Realbuto finished the season 41-2.
132 — Sam Melikian, Fordham Prep: The Mohegan Lake resident put together a tremendous senior season, finishing second at Eastern States and third at the state tournament. He went 40-2 with 27 pins.
138 — Drew Longo, Ardsley: The Lehigh-bound senior won his fourth Division 2 section title and placed fourth in the state, finishing 39-4 with 22 pins.
145 — Tom Grippi, Fox Lane: The senior led a young Foxes team to yet another top three finish in Division 1 by winning his second section title and placing fifth in the state. He finished 51-4.
152 — Joe Mastro, Yorktown: The North Carolina State-bound senior won his first section title in Division 1 and went 45-4 with 27 pins. After losing in the first round, Mastro battled back to take third in the state, placing higher than any Yorktown wrestler ever has.
160 — Ben Miller, Mamaroneck: The senior took second in the section in Division 1 and finished 38-3 with 23 pins, including a 4-2 decision over Division 2 section champ Edgar Solis of Westlake.
170 — John Messinger, Putnam Valley: The senior is a two-time Division 2 section champ who bounced back from a first-round loss to take third in the state. He finished 36-5 with 18 pins.
182 — Thomas Murray, Yorktown: The Lehigh-bound senior captured his first Division 1 section title and placed fourth in the state. He finished 46-5 with 31 pins.
195 — Steven Sabella, Yorktown: The senior won his second Division 1 section championship despite dealing with mounting injuries late in the season. He finished 37-5 with 20 pins.
220 — Trent Lofaro, Ossining: The senior took second in the section in Division 1, but did have a win over champ John Hartnett of Tappan Zee at the Beacon tournament. He finished 36-6 with 19 pins.
285 — David Varian, Yorktown: The senior took second in the section in Division 1, losing an overtime heartbreaker to Mike Manni of Tappan Zee. He earned a wild-card berth to states and went 41-6 with 21 pins for the season.
Coach of the year — John Tornambe, Yorktown: The fifth-year coach has transformed the program into one of the best in Section 1, as they finished higher than any previous Huskers team in the section (second) and in the state (15th). Tornambe developed a stellar senior class that sent four wrestlers to the state tournament — more than any other local team.
99 — James Bathon, Fr., Pleasantville; 106 — Jon Errico, Soph., Byram Hills; 113 — Stephen Samolsky, Ardsley; 120 — Kirby Atlas, Sr., Horace Greeley; 126 — Jimmy Kaishian, Sr., Yorktown; 132 — Liam Erickson, Jr., Brewster; 138 — Larry Courtien, Jr., Somers; 145 — Mitch Klein, Jr., Horace Greeley; 152 — Josh Perlmutter, Sr., Hen Hud; 160 — Edgar Solis, Sr., Westlake; 170 — Adam Hofling, Soph., Sleepy Hollow; 182 — Chris Kim, Jr., Edgemont; 195 — Scott Wymbs, Sr., Horace Greeley; 220 — David Watkins, Sr., Mount Vernon; 285 — Justin Douglas, Sr., New Rochelle.
Andrew Barsuch, Jr., Croton-Harmon; Chris Bruno, Sr., Putnam Valley; Caesar Cantori, Sr., White Plains; Xavier Carmona, Jr., Hackley; Ben Ettlinger, Jr., Fox Lane; Aaron Gallagher, Sr., Mahopac; Gino Gioielli, Jr., Brewster; Matt Grippi, 7th, Fox Lane; Noah Kelvas, Soph., Putnam Valley; Brent Lobien, Sr., Horace Greeley; Brett Pastore, Sr., Irvington; Stephen Paternostro, Jr., Pleasantville.