Albany coach Nick Lettieri pulls no punches when he describes today’s Big 10 Invitational.
“It’s a meat grinder,” said Lettieri, whose team hosts the 16-team event that begins at 9 a.m. “I was thinking of getting T-shirts made with that slogan on them.”
The 15 champions who emerge tonight might echo that sentiment after what promises to be a grueling day.
“I honestly think this is the toughest one-day tournament in Section II,” said Lettieri. “Amsterdam is having an incredible year, Valley Central is among the best teams in the state, Burnt Hills has a very good team. It just goes on.
“And even the teams that aren’t in the mix for the championship have individuals who should be.”
Included in the latter group is the host team, which traveled to Nassau County last weekend for the Clarke Duals.
“We didn’t do well teamwise, but Ben Coco, Chad McCray and Andrew Purcell all went 6-0,” said Lettieri. “The important thing for our kids was to get matches. Coco and McCray are both 26-6. We have a lot of kids with over 30 matches, and I think we’ve wrestled a better schedule this season.”
That will continue today.
“I think I counted 22 kids in this tournament last year that wrestled in a sectional final,” Lettieri said.
Huntington edged Valley Central and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in the team race last year.
Returning champions include Huntington’s Jose Vasquez and Francisco Perreira; state champ Cody Ruggirello, Mike D’Amato and Keith Corley of Valley Central; Amsterdam’s Brian Benton, Paul Martin of Burnt Hills and Kyle Piaquadio of Newburgh Free Academy.
Benton, Piaquadio, Ravena’s Jordan Lane, Robert Romeo of Guilderland and Brendan McKeown of Burnt Hills could all be at 130; Coco, Giuseppi Lanzi of Amsterdam and Kyle Vuillaume will be in the mix at 135; sectional champ Robert Merchant of Cobleskill-Richmondville and D’Amato could meet in the 140 final; and Eastern States champ Cinque Mandella of NFA, sectional champ Cody Legg of Ravena and Ethan Wilson of Burnt Hills should be at 152.
Former state place finisher Ryan Black of Warrensburg, who missed the 2006-07 season with a neck injury, tops the group at 171 that includes Amsterdam’s Dan McNamara, Guilderland’s Josh Sawyer, Mike Matrazzo of Burnt Hills, Ricky Perry of Valley Central and Marcus Spearman of NFA.
Unbeaten John Paris of Amsterdam, who also sat out last season with an injury, takes an unbeaten record into the 160-pound brackets.
His chief competition should come from Valley Central’s Corley.
dual seeds to be drawn
The pairings for next Saturday’s Section II Dual Meet Championships will be drawn up Sunday night.
Among the entries for the 16-team field are defending champ Queensbury, Shenendehowa, Amsterdam, Ballston Spa, Duanesburg and Guilderland.
The tournament, which will be held at Colonie High, features a championship bracket only, with semifinal losers meeting for third place.
All teams are guaranteed two matches.
Quite a few athletes have joined the Section II Century Club this season with their 100th varsity win.
Amsterdam’s Orlando Pacheco, Johnstown’s Mark Gillen and Matt Davis of Schoharie/Middleburgh reached the milestone last weekend.
Also getting to 100 this year: Shenendehowa’s Luke Popolizio; Nick Lashway and Jimmy Neal of Glens Falls; Amy Whitbeck, Randy White and Matt White of Duanesburg; Dan Riggi of Scotia-Glenville; Guilderland’s Matt Cubillos and Josh Sawyer; Niskayuna’s Jake Newcomb; Aaron Barber of Hudson Falls; and Tim Elbert of Queensbury.
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