From New York Wrestling News.
Section 1 Preview: State Placers Lopez, Sulla, Dinardo, Crowley, Kurzhals, Aslanian Lead the Charge
The Section 1 Dual Meet tournament began today. Let’s take a look at the wrestlers and teams to watch in Section 1 in 2015-16.
This article is written by New York Wrestling News, with contributions from coaches and observers.
Returning Placers (2014): Kyle Aslanian (Edgemont)
Returning Qualifiers: Sean McGarvey (Pearl River), Mikey Bruno (Putnam Valley), Kyle Sams (Putnam Valley), Satoshi Abe (Putnam Valley)
The competition for the 99 pound title was fierce last year, with a pair of previous state qualifiers (Mikey Bruno of Putnam Valley and James Bathon of Pleasantville) as well as Sean McGarvey of Pearl River. It was McGarvey who came out on top at the Section 1 tournament, majoring the other two in the process and securing a spot in Albany. (Bathon is not listed in trackwrestling for this season at the time of publication of this article).
“Those guys could be in the mix again,” said Edgemont coach Pete Jacobson. “McGarvey and Bruno have put in a lot of work.”
That same is true for Edgemont’s Kyle Aslanian, who made the podium at the NYS championships in 2014. However, after taking second behind the now-graduated James Kelly at the state qualifier at 120 last year, he didn’t get back to the state capital. We expect that he will return in February and will be a threat to earn All-State honors again.
“Kyle will be at 126 or 132,” Jacobson said. “He underperformed at the Sectional tournament last year. He definitely has a lot more of a sense of urgency. He knows it’s his last year of wrestling in high school and I see that driving him to get better. Kyle’s plan is being on the podium in Albany. He’s capable of doing it. He’s a great natural athlete and very competitive. It’s just a question of utilizing his talents and skills in a style and gameplan that favors him.”
A trio of Putnam Valley wrestlers competed in the lightweights a year ago in Albany – the previously mentioned Bruno, Kyle Sams and Satoshi Abe. Sams opened against eventual NYS champ Jon Gomez of Locust Valley but bounced back with a pair of wins to just miss the podium. Abe did the same at 113, picking up a pair of overtime wins.
“Bruno is looking really good and so is Sams,” said Iowa Style Wrestling’s John Degl. “Abe looks almost invincible to me in Section 1. I think with the way he’s been wrestling, he could win a state title. He’s gotten really good on top.”
Who are some others who could be in the mix this time around?
Pearl River’s Dylan Urban was the 106-pound runner up as an eighth grader, while Thomas Barsuch of Croton Harmon nabbed third in that bracket.
A pair of Putnam Valley wrestlers who placed high in the Section in 2014, but missed the latter part of last season, Noah Kelvas and Jared Eliopolous, will certainly be in contention.
“They’re both back and wrestling well,” Degl said. “Eliopoulous has some really good wins this offseason. He’s been the starter for [Iowa Style Wrestling] on dual teams for two major events and had to beat out tough guys to get there.”
Karl Burnich of Nanuet, George Mellor of Edgemont and Alec McDonald of Putnam Valley are a few more to watch.
Returning Placers: Jake Kurzhals (Pearl River)
Returning Qualifiers: Jack Chesman (Pearl River)
Jake Kurzhals of Pearl River had an outstanding run through the state tournament in his first appearance there, defeating previous state placers in three consecutive matches to make it to the finals (where he was defeated by two-time NYS champ Kellen Devlin of Amherst). Now on everyone’s radar, Kurzhals will look for another strong performance in Albany to complete his career.
“His state tournament was awesome,” Jacobson said. “He and his coaching staff knew better than anyone else what he was capable of and he put together a tremendous weekend.”
His teammate Jack Chesman also made an impression at the Times Union Center.
“To go up to the state tournament as an eighth grader and win a match at 132, you have to figure he has a pretty high ceiling,” Jacobson said. “You don’t see a lot of junior high kids even at the state tournament, let alone winning a match at that weight class.”
Some silver medalists at the state qualifier are worth keeping an eye on this year, such as Nanuet’s Dylan Mateo, Pearl River’s Anthony Malfitano and Pleasantville’s Lou Quintanilla.
“Quintanilla impressed me last year. He was strong and scrappy at his weight,” Jacobson said. “He pretty much took everyone apart in the Section except Santana in the finals. I would look for him to do well this year. Max Worobow [of Edgemont] took fourth at that weight will be in the mix as well.”
Among the others to track include Ryan Duffy of Westlake, Robert Dinota of Westlake and Matt Kuhlmann of Pawling, as well as Antonio Espada and Sumner Kataka of Woodlands.
Returning Qualifiers: Cliffton Wang (Edgemont), Connor Breit (Nanuet)
Edgemont’s Cliffton Wang has already represented Section 1 twice going into his junior year. He got to the Round of 8 last year and is looking for that breakthrough to the medal stand.
“Cliffton was a 100% good enough to place last year,” Jacobson said. “He put a lot of pressure on himself to wrestle well at the state tournament and let that pressure hold back how he performed. He’ll be the first one to tell you he didn’t open up. He wasn’t as aggressive as he typically is. That’s when he’s at his best. It’s just a question of staying loose and being ready to let it fly. He’s a complete wrestler and a very hard worker. He’s humble and a coach’s dream to coach.”
Connor Breit of Nanuet is a returning Section 1 champion looking for another shot at New York’s best in Albany. Breit lost to a finalist in the first round but won twice in the consis, including by technical fall, to finish one win shy of the medal stand.
“Breit is very good,” Jacobson said. “I think he should place in the state this year.”
Who else are we watching?
Henry Cunniffee of Pleasantville returns after a second place finish, whileJesse Fleming of North Salem, Rob Drake of Pawling, Oran Hamilton of Pearl River, Silvio Trabucco of Woodlands and Lou Russo of Edgemont took top five at last year’s state qualifier.
Andrew Borerro of Westlake came into the state qualifier as the #2 seed.
Jordan Artope and Sebastian Burbano of Hendrick Hudson, who wrestled at the Section 1 championships in Division 1 last year, will look to make an impact at the small school tournament this time around.
Putnam Valley took a second straight team title a year ago and while the losses of All-State grappler Willie Messinger and several other placers will be felt, the team is in solid position to earn the top spot again. That begins with a trio of state qualifiers leading the way – Kyle Sams, Satoshi Abe and Mikey Bruno. In addition, Alec McDonald, Mike Nolan and Rudy Gonzales placed at the Section 1 tournament a year ago while past medalists like Noah Kelvas and Jared Eliopolous will provide a boost.
Pearl River, which finished less than 10 points behind Putnam Valley a year ago, will be a force again. State second placer Jake Kurzhals will be back, as will qualifiers Sean McGarvey and Jack Chesman, as well as Section finalistsDylan Urban and Anthony Malfitano. Add more 2015 medalists like Oran Hamilton, Brian Roberts and Emmett McCann to the picture and it’s clear that this is a squad with the ability to rack up points at the end of the season.
“I think Putnam Valley and Pearl River are the teams to beat,” Jacobson said. “They’re far and away the frontrunners. For Putnam Valley, they have a lot of firepower and two guys that didn’t even wrestle for them at Sectionals last year will add to their point total. It’s hard to know what will happen after those two teams until we get some competition under our belts. I think Pleasantville will be up this year and we [Edgemont] have a smaller team, but most of our successful guys back in the mix. It will be fun to see how Hendrick Hudson adjusts and what Nanuet and Ardsley look like with new coaches.”
Edgemont earned the bronze spot last year and welcomes several placers back into the fold. That includes 2014 All-State wrestler Kyle Aslanian, plus two-time NYS qualifier Cliffton Wang as well as George Mellor, Max Worobow, Andrew Williams and Lou Russo.
Both Nanuet and Pleasantville return a number of wrestlers who earned podium spots in the Section as well and could make runs. The addition of Hendrick Hudson to the small school field will also bring some change.