Section II wrestlers set sights on national crowns

An early spring trip to Virginia Beach might be just the thing to cure the winter blues.

An early spring trip to Virginia Beach might be just the thing to cure the winter blues.

But for a contingent of Capital Region high school wrestlers, it’s another opportunity to test themselves against the best in the nation.

The Section II athletes, led by a quartet of former champions, will be competing in four national championship tournaments sponsored by the National High School Coaches Association.

“It’s another chance to compete against the best in the country,” said LaSalle Institute senior Ken Altarac, who will be competing in the senior nationals after winning the junior and sophomore tourneys the last two years. “It’s similar to Fargo [the summer Cadet and Junior national freestyle and Greco-Roman championships], only it’s folkstyle.

“But there should be a lot of the best kids in the country there.”

Altarac, a two-time state champ at 285 pounds who participated in Saturday’s Cliff Keen All-Star Classic in Oklahoma, could see a number of familiar faces at the senior nationals, which run Friday through Sunday.

Altarac won four one-point decisions in the junior nationals, along with a 3-1 decision as he went 5-0 last year.

His semifinal and championship op­ponents — Roger McCovey of Del Norte, Calif., and Eloheim Palma of Cary, N.C. — are also registered for the senior event, as is Danbury (Conn.) High’s Humphrey Swift, who beat Altarac at the Eastern States Classic in Jan­uary.

Amsterdam’s Giuseppi Lanzi is looking to cap a tremendous junior season in which the 2006 freshman national champ placed third at the state tournament.

“This has been on the radar all year,” said Lanzi, who participated in the sophomore nationals last season. “There’s 20 mats. There’s nothing else I can compare it to.”

Lanzi is entered at 140 pounds. He will be joined by two Amsterdam teammates — younger brother, Gaetano, a freshman registered at 103, and and senior John Paris (160), who placed sixth as a sophomore two years ago.

“This is an important tournament for me, because I want to show college coaches what I can do,” said Lanzi, who went over 200 career wins at the state tourney.

Scotia-Glenville senior Dan Riggi, fourth at the states, will be competing in his fourth national tourney here. He’s set to compete at 125 pounds.

“There’s not as much pressure, because I’ve already made my college decision,” said Riggi, who will join Paris in wrestling for Niskayuna’s Pat Popolizio at Binghamton University. “But this one still means a lot to me, because I had to qualify for it.

“It’s also another chance to see some great competition.”

Two-time state champ Zach Clemente of LaSalle, who was a freshman champion, is also entered in the senior competition, as are two-time state placer Dan Ladd of Schuylerville and former Albany Academy wrestler Ben Krakower (215), who wrestled his junior and senior years at prep national champion Blair (N.J.) Academy.

Sophomore national champ Zeal McGrew (215) of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake joins Lanzi, Schalmont’s Vinnie Gallo (171) and Shenendehowa’s John Belanger (119) as state tourney placers who are entered in the junior tournament, a group that also includes a trio of Mechanicville athletes — Tim Fensterer (189), David Kohls (160) and Josh Harrison (152).

Among the Section II sophomore entries are freshman All-Americans Mike Almaviva (215) of Shenendehowa and Duanesburg’s Nick Gwiazdowski (189). Almaviva was second last year; Gwiazdowski placed fifth.

State place finishers Zach Diekel of Whitehall and Noah Valastro of Hudson Falls are among the Section II freshmen entered.

Wrestlers with varsity experience entered for the middle school tourney include Anthony Paturso of Mohonasen, Blake Retell of Shaker, Amsterdam’s Brandon Lapi, Angelo Kress of Columbia and Whitehall’s John Diekel.

The three underclassmen events will run Thursday through Saturday. The middle school tournament runs Thursday and Friday.

Section II entries


Ken Altarac, LaSalle, 285; Zach Clemente, LaSalle, 245; Dan Riggi, Scotia-Glenville, 125; John Paris, Amsterdam, 160; Dan Ladd, Schuylerville, 285.


Chad Obzud, Lansingburgh, 171; Vinnie Gallo, Schalmont, 171; Giuseppi Lanzi, Amsterdam, 140; Evan Borst, Duanesburg, 119; Will Richards, Lansingburgh, 112; Tim Fensterer, Mechanicville, 189; Zach Thompson, Whitehall, 119; Dave Kohls, Mechanicville, 160; Josh Harrison, Mechanicville, 152; Zeal McGrew, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 215; John Belanger, Shenendehowa, 119; Paul Billings, Cohoes, 135.


Mike Almaviva, Shenendehowa, 215; Mike Sor­icillo, Shenendehowa, 103; Andy Lyman, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, 125; A.J. Rue, Saratoga Springs, 125; Toby Barnes, Ballston Spa, 135; Max Miller, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 119; Nick Gwiazdowski, Duanesburg, 189; Bill Cook, Ballston Spa, 171; Joe Shell, Colonie, 171.


Brendan Morgan, Columbia, 103; Aaron Dudley, Hudson Falls, 135; Tony Fusco, Queensbury, 152; Noah Valastro, Hudson Falls, 103; Matt Lashway, Queensbury, 140; Evan Wallace, Columbia, 119; Gaetano Lanzi, Amsterdam, 103; Zach Diekel, Whitehall, 171; Cody Mosley, Averill Park, 103.

Categories: High School Sports

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