The Eastern States Classic is considered a measuring stick for wrestlers with an eye on a state title.
But Duanesburg coach Joe Bena knows that success at the two-day monster involving wrestlers from over 100 schools that opens this morning at Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake translates into a season-ending championship.
Bena ticked off a list of his recent state finalists who came up short at the Eastern States.
“Brian Borst, state champ, didn’t win there. Jimmy Almy, state champ, didn’t win there. Carl Brietenstein, state runner-up, didn’t win there. Nick Gwiazdowski, two-time state champ, didn’t win there his junior year,” Bena said. “It just shows the level of competition, and how tough a tournament it is.”
Bena is bringing nine wrestlers to this weekend’s event, led by 145-pounder Andy Mollevik and 25-0 Connor Lawrence at 152.
“I think they both should have good tournaments,” said Bena.
Shenendehowa has been the team runner-up the last two years, was first in 2009, and has not finished lower that fourth the past four years.
The Plainsmen will again be a factor, though they are not as deep as the past two years without graduated state champ Tony Fusco and third-place state finisher Cole Lampman. The team’s depth suffered another hit this week when 132-pounder Jesse Porter underwent surgery for a hand injury.
“We still have some guys that should be among the best in their weight classes,” said Shenendehowa coach Rob Weeks, whose team dropped a pair of close decisions in the semifinal and third-place matches at last weekend’s Union-Endicott Duals.
Senior Nick Kelley is a two-time champ, and Weeks expects Corey Ali (113), Kevin Parker (120), David Almaviva (No. 2 seed at 145), Zach Joseph (152), Ali Hashimee (160) and Levi Ashley (No. 3 seed at 182) also to do well this weekend.
Kelley is the top seed at 138, a division that includes Nick Tighe of Phoenix, a two-time state DII champ who is slated to join Kelley and Almaviva next season at Binghamton University, state DII champ Connor Lopresi of Lancaster and Tom Dutton of Rocky Point, along with fellow Section II standouts Joey Butler of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Freddy Pechette of Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk and No. 6 seed John Diekel of Whitehall.
Burnt Hills is bringing 11 wrestlers, and, with good showings from varsity veterans like Butler, Jake Achcraft (152), Jack Hatton (170), Anthony Papa (182) and Race Viedt (195), could challenge in the team race.
Columbia is bringing unbeaten state 285 finalist El Shaddai VanHoesen, unbeaten sectional champ Angelo Kress (152), Kyle Greene (132) and John McHugh (138).
“We were hoping to get more, but it’s an invitational,” said Blue Devils coach Anthony Servidone. “I would have liked to have gone with last year’s full team, with Matt Greene and [state place-finisher] Evan Wallace.”
Amsterdam coach Ken Benton is bringing seven, led by two-time state top-four finisher Brandon Lapi, the No. 3 seed at 132.
“It’s the start of the push,” said Benton, who will also enter James Marquez, Ian Alejandro, Rob Santiago, Kenny Garcia and Chris Velasquez.
Schalmont, off a solid fourth at last weekend’s Canastota Tourn-ament, is looking for big weekends from a group that includes two-time state qualifier Nick Gallo (No. 5 seed at 160) and Anthony Paturso (145/152).
Colonie’s entries are topped by heavweights Wayne Burt, No. 4 220 seed Jason Johnson and Austin DiCerbo, unbeaten 106-pounder Golan Cohen and 120-pounder Tom Walsh.
DiCerbo, the team’s 285-pounder, shows just two losses, both to returning state finalists (VanHoesen and Ravena’s Alex Soutiere, the top two seeds). He’s the fifth seed.
The annual Schenectady Patriot Invitational is set for Saturday, with the host team welcoming a field that includes Mohonasen, Scotia-Glenville, Ballston Spa, Mechanicville and Fonda-Fultonville.
Schenectady is led by seniors Jerrell White (160, 21-3) and Emanuel Zamora (285), and 10th-graders Ditaye Douglas (160) and Alexander Martinez (152).
Guilderland’s outstanding lightweight duo of unbeaten Josh Logiudice and once-beaten Mike Lainhart lead the Dutchmen into Saturday’s Mount Anthony Tournament.
Section II top 16 seeded wrestlers for Eastern States Classic
99 — None.
106 — 6-Golan Cohen (Colonie), 7-Nick Robbins (Queensbury), 15-Chris Velasquez (Amsterdam).
113 — 9-Corey Ali (Shenendehowa).
120 — 10-Kevin Parker (Shenendehowa).
126 — 16-John McHugh (Columbia)
132 — 3-Brandon Lapi (Amsterdam), 11-Kyle Greene (Columbia).
138 — 1-Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa), 6-John Diekel (Whitehall), 8-Joey Butler (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake), 14-Freddy Pechette (Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk).
145 — 2—David Almaviva (Shenendehowa).
152 — 4-Angelo Kress (Columbia), 5-Brendan Goldup (LaSalle), 8-Zach Joseph (Shenendehowa), 12-Jake Ashcraft (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake), 14-Connor Lawrence (Duanesburg).
160 — 5-Nick Gallo (Schalmont), 13-James Marquez (Amsterdam).
170 — 7-Jack Hatton (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake), 13-Geno Brancati (Hudson Falls), 14-Franky Nassivera (Queensbury).
182 — 3-Levi Ashley (Shenendehowa).
195 — 6-Andre Maxam (Glens Falls), 8-Race Viedt (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake), 13-Wayne Burt (Colonie).
220 — 4-Jason Johnson (Colonie), 12-Nico Fragale (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake).
285 — 1-El Shaddai VanHoesen (Columbia), 2-Alex Soutiere (Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk), 5-Austin DiCerbo (Colonie)