They arrive at this morning’s semifinals in different ways, but to a man, happy to be continuing their seasons at the Section II Wresting Championships.
Brothers Nick and Kyle DiCaprio joined teammate Josh Vics to give Schenectady a trio of semifinalists in the Division I (large-school) tournament.
John Belanger, who moved nine exits down the Adirondack Northway in the offseason, is one of nine Shenendehowa wrestlers still in line for a sectional title.
Colonie’s A.J. Monin and Schalmont’s Vinny Gallo have turned long sessions in the weight room into postseason success.
Columbia’s Brian Latham has absorbed all he could as he and his teammates competed both out of section and out of state.
They are among the 60 athletes who will be fighting for spots in tonight’s finals if they first survive the semifinal round this morning in both the DI and DII (small school) divisions at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Kyle DiCaprio beat Bethlehem’s Neil Robertson in the DI 125-pound quarterfinals, after dividing his time between warming up for his bout and trying to keep tabs on his brother’s 103-pound match against Amsterdam’s Gaetano Lanzi.
“I try to watch Nick’s matches, but he’s usually wrestling while I’m getting ready for my match,” said Kyle DiCaprio, whose weight class is three removed from his brother’s. “Sometimes, it’s tough, especially if I’ve got a tough match coming up.
“But when he wins, it gets me fired up.”
“Being brothers, they’re naturally competitive,” said Patriots coach Brian Faulisi. “But I think they also feed off each other. Kyle sees Nicky win, and he wants to win, too.”
For his part, Kyle DiCaprio was taking nothing for granted after beating Robertson last weekend in the consolation finals of the Class A tournament.
“This is so much more intense,” said the sophomore. “It’s a bigger arena, every kid you wrestle is tough.”
It doesn’t get any easier for DiCaprio this morning, despite the fact he’s guaranteed a top-six finish, as he draws top-seeded Dan Riggi of Scotia, who advanced to his fourth straight final here.
Nick DiCaprio also has a tough semi, meeting once-beaten Shenendehowa eighth-grader Nick Kelley, the top seed.
Belanger, third here the last two years while competing for Glens Falls, is in familiar territory, the new green singlet notwithstanding.
“It’s been a little different, with a new team and everything,” said the 11th-grader, the top seed at 119. “But I’ve had great workout partners, and we’ve seen some of the best competition from around the state.”
Belanger’s circle in the Shenendehowa practice room includes two-time state finalist Luke Popolizio.
“With Luke and Seth [125-pounder Seth Hazelton] and the others in the room, it makes you better every day.”
Two-time state champ Austin Meys (189), working on his second staight unbeaten season, also reached the semis for Shenendehowa, as did Mike Almaviva (215), Adam Geleta (285), Hazelton, Lee Smith (145) and Sean Kusaywa (171). Meys is working on his sixth sectional final in as many years on the varsity, as the Plainsmen look to defend their team title.
Monin is the third seed in a very competitive 215 division in DI. He gets Guilderland’s Devan Auken in this morning’s semi, with the winner likely getting top-seed Zeal McGrew of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in the finals. McGrew was one win shy of placing at 285 in last year’s state tournament.
“I’m the lightest of the group,” Monin said of the quartet of 215s still standing. “And these are some tough, tough wrestlers, and an athletic group. You’ve got to be ready to go from the whistle.”
Monin edged Almaviva in the semis at the Class A event, then dropped a 9-6 decision to VanAuken in the final. The senior knew coming into the year that his weight class would be loaded.
“I looked at it as an opportunity to challenge myself,” he said. “This is my senior year, and I want to go out as strong as I can. I did a lot of extra work to prepare.”
Gallo is looking for his first Section II title, despite annually being one of the better wrestlers in his weight class. A second-place finish at 145 in last year’s DII tourney left the junior with a drive to get over the final hurdle this season.
“That wasn’t a good feeling,” said Gallo, also a standout running back on the Sabres’ football team. “I did more work, but after football season, you have to get into wrestling shape. It’s entirely different.
“You get hit a lot in football, but wrestling is six minutes of contact. I had to train for that, especially my cardio.”
Gallo’s teammate, and fellow 100-match winner Billy Chandler, also advanced, and will get Jake Kubricky of Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George in the 145 DII semis.
Latham, who transferred to the East Greenbush school from Averill Park after his sophomore season, ran his season record to 38-0 with a quarterfinal tech fall at 135.
“I try to put it out of my mind,” the senior said of his unblemished record. “It’s great, and it’s something I’ve worked hard for, but I don’t think about it when I’m out there on the mat.”
The Blue Devils hosted their own tournament this year, travelled to events in New York City and Virginia, looking to expose their top wrestlers to different styles of wrestling.
“It was so different down in Virginia.” Latham said of the Virginia Duals. “Every match was tough, and every match was a different style.”
Amsterdam, which rallied to win the Class B team title last weekend, advanced seven to the semis. Among that group are 2008 runners-up Giuseppi Lanzi (140) and John Paris. Colonie and Guilderland both have five in the DI semis.
Colonie’s group, in addition to Monin, includes multiple-time placers Eliah Golding (152) and Jason Chudzinski (125), Zach Zovistoski at 160 and unseeded Brandon Guthrie at 130.
Returning champ and three-time finalist Matt Cubillos (130) is joined by Guilderland teammates Van Auken, Travis Wolanski (119), Matt Hart (135) and Eugene Sellie (160).
Burnt Hills lost three wrestlers to injury during the week. Second seed Brendon McKeown, sixth in the state last year, withdrew from the 145-pound bracket, and No. 3 seed Max Miller, a 2007 champion who missed the last half of the 2007-08 season with a broken leg, also was pulled from the tourney.
But McGrew made the semis, along with Mike Matrazzo (189) and Ethan Wilson. Also advancing in DI were returning champs Jeff King of Averill Park (103) state champs Zach Clemente (145) and Ken Altarac (285) of LaSalle.
Duanesburg has five in the DI semis, second only to the six put through by Whitehall and Johnstown.
Curt Rowley (96), Evan Borst (125), Gus Clark (125), returning champ Randy White (130) and soph Nick Gwiazdowski (189) are in the semis for the Eagles.
“We’re doing OK,” said Duanesburg coach Joe Bena. “We had a good week of practice, and I think that’s carrying through.”
State placer Mark Gillen (130) and four-time placer Joey Morrison (145) lead Johnstown’s semifinal contingent.
Wrestling resumes at 10 this morning, with the day’s first session concluding with the consolation finals in mid-afternoon. The finals are set for 6 p.m.
96 — Cody Mosley (Averill Park) vs. Brandon Lapi (Amsterdam); Josh St. John vs. Shawn Berman (Albany). 103 – Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa) vs. Nick DiCaprio (Schenectady). Jeff King (Averill Park) vs. Zach Hamell (Queensbury). 112 — Luke Popolizio (Shenendehowa) vs. Mark Hitchcock (Mohonasen); Connor Sutton (LaSalle) vs. Alex Siudy (Amsterdam). 119 – John Belanger (Shenendehowa) vs. Travis Wolanski (Guilderland); Evan Wallace (Columbia) vs. Jon Clemente (LaSalle). 125 — Dan Riggi (Scotia-Glenville) vs. Kyle DiCaprio (Schenectady); Seth Hazelton (Shenendehowa) vs. Jason Chudzinski (Colonie). 130 – Matt Cubillos (Guilderland) vs. Brandon Guthrie (Colonie); Adam Hulett (Columbia) vs. A.J. Rue (Saratoga Springs). 135 – Brian Latham (Columbia) vs. Josh Vics (Schenectady); Matt Hart (Guilderland) vs. Nick Lashway (Glens Falls). 140 — Giuseppi Lanzi (Amsterdam) vs. Ben Clemente (LaSalle); Matt Lashway (Queensbury) vs. Kyle Warmt (Ballston Spa). 145 — Zach Clemente (LaSalle) vs. Jesse Bolduc (Queensbury); Lee Smith (Shenendehowa) vs. Pat Lyons (South Glens Falls). 152 — Eliah Golding (Colonie) vs. Tony Fusco (Queensbury); Kevin Sellie (Niskayuna) vs. Jestin Seays (Amsterda). 160 – John Paris (Amsterdam) vs. Eugene Sellie (Guilderland); Zach Zovistoski (Colonie) vs. Ethan Wilson (Burnt Hills). 171 – Dan McNamara (Amsterdam) vs. Mike Bonacci (Bethlehem); Sean Kusaywa (Shenendehowa) vs. Chad Obzud (Lansingburgh). 189 – Austin Meys (Shenendehowa) vs. Orlando Pacheco (Amsterdam); Mike Matrazzo (Burnt Hills) vs. Chris Ohnsman (Ballston Spa). 215 — Zeal McGrew (Burnt Hills) vs. Mike Almaviva (Shenendehowa); A.J. Monin (Colonie) vs. Devan VanAuken (Guilderland). 285 – Ken Altarac (LaSalle) vs. Van Huyben (Ballston Spa); Adam Geleta (Shenendehowa) vs. Nate Brown (Averill Park).
96 – Brendan Goldup (Schuylerville) vs. Zak Shaw (Fonda-Fultoville); Curt Rowley (Duanesburg) vs. John Delaney (Watervliet); 103 – Ty White (Whitehall) vs. Mike McNally (Watervliet); Kody Shaw (Fonda-Fultonville) vs. Noah Valastro (Hudson Falls). 112 – Joey Persico (Ravena) vs. Abby Roth (Warresburg); Zack Winney (Hudson Falls) vs. John Pavlin (Catskill). 119 – Curt Thompson (Whitehall) vs. Kyle Myers (Watervliet); Taylor Treadgold (Voorheesville) vs. Evan Borst (Duanesburg). 125 – Andy Lyman (Ravena) vs. Cecil Hayes (Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George); Gus Clark (Duanesburg) vs. Logan Winter (Warrensburg). 130 – Mark Gillen (Johnstown) vs. Chris Holt (Schuylerville); Randy White (Whitehall) vs. Eric Ripley (Whitehall). 135 – Karl Palmer (Granville) vs. Kyle Evans (Maple Hill); Brian Walsh (Watervliet) vs. Tyler Nicholson (Corinth). 140 – Jake Oswald (Tamarac) vs. Nick Valastro (Hudson Falls); Austin Deebell (Johnstown) vs. Josh Glick (Berne-Knox-Westerlo). 145 – Joey Morrison (Johnstown) vs. David Northshield (Salem); Jake Kubricky (Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George) vs. Billy Chandler (Schalmont). 152 –David Adams (Salem) vs. Jake Arrunategui (Johnstown); Jerry Clark Voorheesville) vs. Josh Harrison (Mechanicville). 160 – Taylor Robichaud (Hoosick Falls) vs. Jim Sheedy (Voorheesville); Dustin Hallock (Cohoes) vs. Travis Beayon (Whitehall). 171 – Vinny Gallo (Schalmont) vs. Adam Biron (Johnstown); Josh Stone (Schuylerville) vs. Zachary Diekel (Whitehall). 189 – Nick Gwiazdowski (Duanesburg) vs. Kevin Bardin (Salem); Craig Cook (Johnstown) vs. Jeremy Burns (Hoosick Falls). 215 – Logan Rock (Warrensburg) vs. Luke Albrecht (Hudson Falls); Grant Gebo (Whitehall) vs. Greg Mollnow (Cohoes). 285 – Dan Ladd (Schuylerville) vs.Colllin Campbell (Warrensburg); Sam Chase (Mechanicville) vs. Keith Domermuth (Berne-Knox-Westerlo).