Don’t read anything into Hunter Meys’ two first-period pins during Saturday’s first day of competition in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Wrestling Championships at Blue Cross Arena.
The Boston University-bound senior from Shenendehowa, who pinned his way to the 171-pound championship last year, made it seven straight pins in state tournament action in gaining this morning’s 10 a.m. semifinal round, where he will see Section IV champ Christian Boley at 189 pounds.
“That’s the way I like to wrestle,” said Meys, who picked up career wins Nos. 251 and 252 by dispatching Conan Ingham of Section III’s Fulton and Section VIII champ Anthony Daly in a total of 102 seconds in the Division I (large-school) tournament. “There’s no message or anything.”
Some across the state took heart when Meys — who has racked up over 200 pins in his six-year varsity career — was extended to six minutes in the Section II final by Queensbury’s Jared Myhrberg in an 8-6 win. Internet speculation grew that maybe Meys could be had.
“I don’t read that stuff or pay attention to it.” said Meys, who pinned in his fifth-place bout to end his freshman year effort at the states. “Jared Myhrberg is a very good wrestler. [Today] I was just trying to get to the semifinals. That’s all there was to it.”
Meys will be joined by his younger brother, Austin, who got to the 171 semis, and Plainsmen teammate Luke Popolizio (103), who is one win away from his second straight state final.
Ten Section II wrestlers will be in the DI semis, including returning placers Brian Benton of Amsterdam, Alex Steciuk of Ballston Spa and LaSalle 140-pounder Zach Clemente.
Columbia’s Zach Crain, Brendan McKeown of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Amsterdam’s Rob Morey and LaSalle’s Ken Altarac are also still in the running for an individual title.
In Division II, Duanesburg senior Brian Borst seems to have found the answers at this level, breezing to his first semi in four trips to the states.
Hudson Falls has three of the nine area DII semifinalists, as returning placers Aaron Barber and Kirk Harrington will be joined eighth-grader Noah Valastro (96).
Tourney returners Robert Merchant of Cobleskill-Richmondville and Logan Rock of Warrensburg also advanced. as did Warrensburg 160 Ryan Black, a two-time placer who missed last season with an injury.
First-timers Mark Gillen of Johnstown and Jeremy Burns of Hoosick Falls complete the group of Section II DII semifinalists.
Luke Popolizio won his two bouts by a combined 9-2, shutting down Section III champ Anthony Finocchiaro, 4-0, in the quarters.
“When I got up, 4-0, I wasn’t going to do anything to get him back into the match,” said the
11th-grader. “I wasn’t going to take any chances.”
“He just knows how to win,” praised Shen coach Rob Weeks. “He was smart. He wasn’t overly aggressive on his feet. He knew what he had to do to get to the next round.”
Popolizio’s older brother, T.J., also a 2007 finalist, fell behind,
5-0, in his quarter against Stephen Bonnano of Section VIII and could never get back into the match. He did pick up two wins in the wrestlebacks, as did teammate Nick Kelley (96).
Benton, third last year and fifth in 2005, opened at 130 with a pin, then edged Max Cohen of Section VI, 6-3.
“He’s a wrestler who likes to catch you, and I was being a little more cautious than usual,” Benton said.
Benton ’s father, Ken, the Amsterdam coach, knows his son will have to open up more in the semis.
“He’s got to get off to a good start [in the semis],” said coach Benton, who is also hoping to get Morey through. “Rob has a strong, basic foundation, and he’s able to make adjustments. He’s moving his feet very well.”
McKeown will be on the other half of the 130 brackets away from Benton after a pin and 5-4 win in the quarters over Section III’s Ryan Blauvelt, who upset ’07 119 runner-up Stephen Dutton in the first round.
“Brendan took advantage of an opportunity, but he still had to go out and wrestle a good match,” said Spartans coach Steve Jones, who also has Paul Martin (145) and soph Zeal McGrew (215) alive in the consis. “The last few weeks, he’s wrestled well, and now he’s assured of placing [in the top six].”
Crain, in his third and final try for a state title, also won a tight quarter, edging Josh Veltre of Section V, 3-2.
“I felt good before my first bout, and the pin helped,” said Crain, who took 214 wins into the tourney. “There’s still some nerves, even in the second match, but you’ve got to get past it. I’m where I want to be, and hopefully, I’ll get to wrestle tomorrow night [tonight].”
One wrestler not lacking for confidence is Steciuk.
After a scoreless first period, his quarterfinal opponent, Mike Kiripolsky of Cheektowaga, chose the down position to start the second period. Steciuk, as he’s done all year in similar situations, opted to give away an escape point before the period started, trading a point for the chance to get to his strong suit, wrestling on his feet.
“I’ve done it all year since they changed the rule and let us start the period like that,” said the senior with 192 wins. “I know I’m better on my feet than trying to control a guy from the top.”
Even the realization that that point could come back to haunt him in a close bout wasn’t going to sway him.
“Absolutely not,” Steciuk said. “I had to be on my feet.”
Steciuk hit a takedown to lead, 2-1, after two, and scored a decisive takedown in the final 30 seconds of the bout.
Niskayuna senior Jake Newcomb, fourth at 171 last year, lost to two-time Section IV champ Josh Peters of Vestal, 10-3. After getting to the semis a year ago, Newcomb kept his season alive by scoring four points in the final four seconds of his first consi match, then winning it in OT, but was eliminated in the next round.
Borst, who had not gotten onto the podium in his three previous trips, scored 31 points in his two wins, setting up a 119 semi with Sean Hanson.
“He’s really opening up,” said Duanesburg coach Joe Bena. “The difference this season, I think, is he believes in himself.
“When he finished second at the Eastern States Classic, I think he knew he belonged with the best kids in the state.”
Harrington is in the semi in the other bracket.
Borst is the one of Duanesburg’s four wrestlers still in the championship round, though Wes Coppolo is still in the 152 consi brackets. David Larson and Randy White were both eliminted.
Gillen has always been one of the most talented wrestlers in the section, but he missed out on the last two postseasons. He’s enjoying himself so far in his first state tourney.
“I’m doing as well as I hoped I would,” said the Sir Bills’ junior, who gets 2007 fourth-place finisher Brian Kampnich in the 130 semis. “I was as nervous in my second match as I was in my first.
“I’ll really have to maintain my focus against Kampnich.”
Merchant used last year’s non-placing experience here to set himself up for a top-six finish.
“Having been here last year, I know that I don’t have to rush things,” said the senior. “Last year, I was nervous. Now, I know how referees will call certain situations, and how I need to work throughout the match. It really is a big advantage to be here a second time.”
Aaron Barber has placed for the second straight year, posting 8-3 and 7-4 wins at 152.
Galway 135 Jonn Gochenour is still alive, recovering from a tough quarterfinal loss to win his wrestleback.
Schuylerville’s Sarah Anderson, the only female in the tourney, was eliminated in the second round of wrestlebacks. Her teammate,
285-pounder Dan Ladd, is also still alive, as are Whitehall’s Ty White (96), Curt Thompson (112) and Zach Diekel (135).
96–Matt Ross (Rocky Point-VIII) vs. Sean McCormick (Johnson City-IV); Bob Dierna (Wayne-V) vs. Damon McQueen (Huntington-XI).
103–Ken Collado (Hauppauge-VIII) vs. Jose Vasquez (Huntington-XI); Nick Meinsen (John Glenn-XI) vs. Luke Popolizio (Shenendehowa-II).
112–Nick Arajua (Syosset-VIII) vs. Peter Morales (Grand Street Campus-P); Steve Keith (Shoreham Wading River-XI) vs. Justis Flamio (Mahopac-I).
119–Winky Shepard (Central Square-III) vs. Stephan Bonnano (Wantagh-VIII); Ricardo Gomez (Brentwood-XI) vs. Cody Ruggirello (Valley Central-IX).
125–Shawn Brown (Canton-X) vs. Joe Grippi (Fox Lane-I); Jamie Franco (Monroe-Woodbury-IX) vs. Jared Messina (Cheektowaga-VI).
130–Brendan McKeown (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake-II) vs. Andrew Lenzi (Fordham Prep-C); Brian Benton (Amsterdam-II) vs. Mike Doria (Massapequa-VIII).
135–Zach Crain (Columbia-II) vs. Marc Lewandowski (Lancaster-VI); Shane Strumwasser (Massapewua-VIII) vs. Luke Bohn (Watertown-III).
140-Rob Troy (Walt Whitman-XI) vs. Zach Clemente (LaSalle-II); Sean Floor (Port Jervis-IX) vs. Rocky Cervini (Plainedge-VIII).
145–John Greishimer (Wantagh-VIII) vs. John Coffey (Pearl River-I); T.J. Neidhart (Shoreham Wading River-XI) vs. Donnie Vinson (Whitney Point-IV).
152-Thomas Barriero (Masena-X) vs.. Peter Capone (Johnson City-IV); Kerron Williams (Baldwin-VIII) vs. Rob Morey (Amsterdam-II).
160–Bryan Bourne (Spencerport-V) vs. Jordan Spirou (Clarke-VIII); Alex Steciuk (Ballston Spa-II) vs. Matt Bogardus (Fulton-III).
171–John Kakastchian (Plainedge-VIII) vs. Austin Meys (Shenendehowa-II); Josue Mendez (Brentwood-XI) vs. Colin Toney (Mexico-III).
189–Zach Buonaiuto (Miller Place-XI) vsl Josh Peters (Vestal-IV); Christian Boley (Brockport-V) vs. Hunter Meys (Shenendehowa-II).
215–Robert Eskander (Webster Thomas-V) vsl Colin Berry (Johnson City-IV); Paul Glover (Spencerport-V) vs. Spencer DeSena (Garden City-VIII).
285–Corey James (Kingston-IX) vs. Dashaun Thomas (Huntington-XI); Ken Altarac (LaSalle-II) vs. Randy Colling (Pioneer-VI).
96–Colton Dalberth (Marion-V) vs. Arik Robinson (Peru-VII); Noah Valastro (Hudson Falls-II) vs. Dylan Kavanaugh (Vernon-Verona-Sherrill-III).
103–D.J. Pfluger (Sandy Creek-III) vs., Kyle Crisafulli (Phoenix-III); Kyle McGregor (Tonawanda-VI) vs. Quinton Murphy (Holley-V).
112–Rob Broda (Eden-V) vs. Danny Gormley (BGA-IV); Ryan Osleeb (North Salem-I) vs. Joe Smaldone (Geneva-V).
119–Christopher Conti (Fredonia-VI) vs. Kirk Harrington (Hudson Falls-II); Sean Hanson (South Jefferson-III) vs. Brian Borst (Duanesburg-II).
125–Brian Kampnich (Immaculate Heart-III) vs. Mark Gillen (Johnstown-II); Eric Valez (Medina-VI) vs. Garrett Morabito (Susquehanna Valley-IV).
130–Matt Meltzer (Salamanca-VI) vs,. Ian Paddoc (Warsaw-V); Ken Kampnich (Immaculate Heart-III) vsl Kyle Dake (Lansing-IV).
135–Duane Roberts (Gouverneur-X) vs. Brian Sewalt (Waverly-IV); Alex Ekstrom (Palmyra-Macedon-V) vs. Craig Scott (Lyons-V).
140–Josh Micek (Maple Grove-VI) vs. Robert Merchant (Cobleskill-Richmondville-II); Victor Coronado (Harpursville-IV) vs. Mike Nevinger (Letchworth-V).
145–Josh Mayville (Marion-V) vs. Antonio Doldo (Immaculate Heart-III); James Charland (Northern Adirondack-VII) vs. Kenny Betts (Fredonia-VI).
152–David Kohlbach (Windsor-IV) vs. Derek Brenon (Immaculate Heart-III); Aaron Barber (Hudson Falls-II) vs; Nicholas Czapla (Warsaw-V).
160–Ryan Black (Warrensburg-II) vs. Mike Gresh (Ripley-VI); Ryan Leblanc (Morrisville-Eaton-III) vs. Will Carter (Westlake-I).
171–Max O’Meara (Red Hook-IX) vs. Cody Hutcheson (Bath-V); Tyler Beckwith (Greene-IV) vs. Matt King (Wilson-VI).
189–Nate Schiedel (Caledonia-Mumford-V) vs. Chris Nocchi (Waverly-IV); Dan Fruscella (Holland Patent-III) vs. Jeremy Burns (Hoosick Falls-II).
215–Logan Rock (Warrensburg-II) vs. Hank Penree (Frankfort Schuyler-III); Brad Eichelberger (Fredonia-VI) vs. Jake Dale (Kashequa-V).
285–Dustin Frederick (AuSableValley-VII) vs. Chris Pike (Sherburne-Earlville-IV); Art Garvey (East Aurora-VI) vs. Austin Lee (Cato Meridian-III).
More from The Daily Gazette: