On a day when the mightiest oaks in the Section II forest were chopped down, Nick Kelley stood tall.
The Shenendehowa senior cruised to his third consecutive semifinal Friday, one of 11 Capital Region athletes whose goal of winning a state title remained alive after the first day of the state wrestling championships at the Times Union Center.
Kelley, a two-time top-four finisher and the top seed at 138 pounds, had little trouble getting to his third straight semifinal, where he was joined by workout partner and teammate David Almaviva, as well as Levi Ashley as the Plainsmen remained in the hunt for their third straight team title.
Amsterdam junior Brandon Lapi also secured his third straight spot on the podium by getting to the 132 semis. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake junior Joey Butler and Colonie 11th-grader Golan Cohen are the other semifinalists from the Division I tourney ranks.
Schalmont sophomore Nick Gallo and Cobleskill-Richmondville senior Mike Green head those still in the championship bracket from the DII tourney.
The section’s other two top seeds — Columbia’s El Shaddai Gilmore VanHoesen and Alex Soutiere — will not get a chance to improve on their runner-up finishes from 2012. Both of the Section II 285-pound champs lost, Gilmore VanHoesen on a stalling call in overtime in the DI quarterfinals and Soutiere by fall in the opening round, and can get third at best.
Another Columbia wrestler, No. 2 seed Angelo Kress was eliminated after three bouts at 152 in the double-elimination format.
Kelley had no such trouble, closing in on 250 varsity wins with a third-period pin and a 6-2 win.
“I just want to run my offense like I have all season,” said the 43-1 Kelley, competing in his sixth state tournment. “Hopefully, I can keep winning like I’ve been doing all season.”
He took control of his quarterfinal in the middle period.
“The kid’s getting tired, that’s when you really have to go hard and break your opponent,” he said.
Almaviva, who dropped his first match last year before winning five straight to place third, followed a 1-0 opener at 145 pounds with a pin. He meets Lancaster’s Eric Lewandowski, a wrestler he beat at the Eastern State Classic, in the semis.
“You’ve got to stay focused,” Almaviva said of being behind in his quarterfinal with Connetquot’s Brendan Dent. “You can’t let something like that bother you.
“I knew I needed to pin him. I think that was his first loss of the season.”
Ashley wasn’t thrilled with his two wins, but his weight class is there for the taking, as all four top seeds at 195 lost.
Lapi guaranteed himself a third straight top-six finish by winning twice at 132 by 2-0 scores.
He can do worse than sixth after his OT win over No. 3 seed Ben Honis.
“You start thinking about not losing rather than how to wrestle,” said the 11th-grader. “Sometimes, I kind of get cloudy, but you’ve got to think about what’s going to work.”
Shenendehowa lost Corey Ali (113) and Ali Hashimee (182), but Zach Joseph rebounded from a loss in the 152 quarters to beat Jake Ashcraft of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in the wrestlebacks. The Plainsmen, who have won the last two individual team titles in DI, trail first-place Wantagh, 40-32. The Section II DI team is in third place. Burnt Hills is tied for seventh.
Lapi’s body language also betrayed his status in the tournament.
“He’s OK. It was first-day jitters,” said Amsterdam coach Ken Benton of the second-seeded junior with over 200 wins. “You come in and maybe the first day, you’re a little tight.
“There’s a lot of pressure on these seeded kids. Now, it’s a matter of getting ready for the semifinals.”
Lapi’s teammate, senior 160-pounder James Marquez, dropped his first match in overtime, but stayed alive with a pair of wrestleback wins.
Butler joined Kelley in the 138 finals, the possibility of their third meeting this season still alive after his pin of third-seeded Tommy Dutton of Rocky Point.
“I usually have a bad first match, but I came out ready to go,” Butler said. “I always have nerves before a tournament, no matter what. I’m placing now, which is what I wanted to do.”
Gallo got a big takedown late in the first period of his 4-2 win over returning place finisher Tyler Silverthorn in the DI 160 quarters. Gallo joins his father, John, and older brother, Vinnie, as state tourney place finishers.
“It’s one of the best feelings of my life,” said Gallo, the youngest competitor in his weight class. “There’s no pressure on me. I’m only a sophomore. Everyone else in my weight class is a junior or senior, they’ve got all the pressure on them. I’m just thinking about what I’m going to have for dinner.”
Cohen got to the DI 106 semis and picked up his 50th win of the season.
“There are a lot of kids here that I saw at the Eastern States,” said Cohen. “I was just confident going out there.”
Green is making the most of a second trip to the states. The senior showed his maturity with a 5-1 overtime win in the quarters.
He and Homer’s Mark Dove were tied at 1-1 after six minutes, and when a seventh minute failed to produce a point, the match went to a pair of 30-second overtimes. Green rode out Dove in the first 30, then escaped from the bottom position in the second 30.
“I’m not usually good at riding,” said Green of his ability to deny Dove points. “Last year, I was nervous. This year, I’m a lot calmer. I’m used to the atmosphere here.”
While Butler reached the semis, his two teammates took first-round losses. Section II champ Jack Hatton fell in the first 20 seconds of the one-minute ulimate tiebreaker in his opener at 170.
Achcraft dropped a two-point decision in his first state tourney bout. Hatton is alive in the consoltions, though Ashcraft was eliminated by Shenendehowa’s Joseph.
Guilderland’s lightweight duo of Josh LoGuidice (99) and Mike Lainhart (106) both dropped their first-round bouts, then were eliminated in the wrestlebacks.
Duanesburg’s Connor Lawrence (152) and fourth-seeded Jeff Senecal (195) are alive, as Johnstown senior 220 Joe Nellis, who bounced back from a first-period pin against the top seed in his opener.
Salem’s Carter Merecki, the sixth seed, made the DII 120 semifinals with a pair of wins, including a 2-0 win in the quarters over the third seed.
Returning placers Luis Weierbach (106) and Brad Burns (182) advanced, with Weierbach in the semis.
Sean Romanski of Albany Academy (138) also got to the semis Corinth senior Kyle Mulcachy is alive in the 145 wrestlebacks.
Both of Whitehall’s seniors — 120-pounder Al Aubin and 138-pounder John Diekel — were relegated to the wrestlebacks with tough first-round losses. Both were fifth seeds, and appearing in their fourth state tournament. Diekel was eliminated in the consolation round.
Section II results
99 — Mike LoGiuduce (Guilderland) lost to Vito Arajau (Syosset-VII), 8-0; dec. James Kelley (Pearl River-1), 8-4; lost to 3-Chris Cuccolo (Pine Bush-IX), 3-1 (ot).
Anthony Sgorrano (South Glens Falls) pinned by 2-Chris Cuccolo (Pine Bush-IX), 4:48; dec. Tyler Brazanski (Johnson City-IV), 14-4; lost by technical fall to 1-John Arceri (Huntington-XI), 16-1.
106 — 4-Golan Cohen (Colonie) dec. Steven Lee (West Babylon-XI), 3-2; pinned 5-Bryan Ruggeri (Fairport-V), 1:07; semifinals vs. 1-Alex Tanzman (Westhampton Beach-XI).
Mike Lainhart (Guilderland) pinned by 6-Kyle Quinn (Wantagh-VIII), 4:38; lost to Adam Gomez (Cardozo-P), 7-4.
113 – Corey Ali (Shenendehowa) lost to 2-Nick Piccinnini (Ward Melville-XI), 10-0; dec. Matthew Moy (Stuyvesant-P), 14-2; lost to 8-Benjamin Lamantia (St. Anthony’s-C), 2-1 (ot).
Brandon Winchip (Queensbury) lost to 3-Bryan Lantry (Wayne-V), 7-3; lost to Thomas Hill (Fulton-III), 5-3.
120 — 7-Blake Retell (Shaker) pinned P.J. Smoot (Monroe-Woodbury-IX), 2:10; lost to 2-John Muldoon (Pearl River-1), 7-0; pinned Cole Ford (Newark Valley-IV), :58.
126 — John McHugh (Columbia) lost to 1-T.J. Fabian (Shoreham Wading River-XI), 10-0; lost to Frankie Gissendanner (Penfield-V), 8-3.
132 — 2-Brandon Lapi (Amsterdam) dec. Richie Burke (Ithaca-IV), 2-0; dec. Chris Truglio (Minisink Valley-IX), 2-0; semifinals vs. 3-Sam Melikian (Fordman Prep-C).
138 — 1-Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa) pinned Julian Alsbrooks (New Utrecht-P), 5:22; dec. 8-Curtis Grant (Elmira-IV), 6-2; semifinals vs 4-Matt Caputo (North Rockland-I).
6-Joey Butler (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) pinned Isaiah Butler (Massena-X), 4:36; pinned 3-Tommy Dutton (Rocky Point-VIII), 5:25; semifinals vs. 2-Vincent Deprez (Hilton-V).
145 — 2-David Almaviva (Shenendehowa) dec. Trevor Hoffmmier (Newark Valley-IV), 1-0; pinned Brendan Dent (Connetquot-XI), 2:44; semifinals vs. Eric Lewandowski (Lancaster-VI).
152 — 2-Angelo Kress (Columbia) pinned Hunter Perrine (Massena-X), 3:49; lost to Chris Koo (Great Neck South-VIII), 7-2; lost to 8-Joe Mastro (Yorktown-I), 13-4.
3-Zach Joseph (Shenendehowa) dec. Terrance Acker (Grand Island-VI), 12-3; pinned by 6-Zach Colgan (Johnson City-IV), 5:45; dec. Jake Ashcraft (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake-II), 6-2 Jake Ashcraft (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) lost to 4-Daniel Decarlo (Port Jervis-IX), 6-4; pinned Steve Azzano (Wayne-V), 3:47; lost to 3-Zach Joseph (Shenendehowa-II), 6-2.
160 — James Marquez (Amsterdam) lost to 2-Steve Schneider (MacArthur-VIII), 3-1 (ot) dec. Jun Yoo (Jericho-VIII), 4-2; dec. 8-Jake Weber (Clarence-VI), 8-6.
170 — 6-Jack Hatton (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) lost to Isaiah Zimmer (Chenango Forks-IV), 2-1 (utb); dec. Jared Mesiti (Brockport-V), 6-5; pinned Cedrick Stephens (Wingate-P), 4:00. 7-Franky Nassivera (Queensbury) dec. Andrew Paulsen Iroquois-VI), 10-2; vs. pinned by 2-Carlos Toribio Brentwood-XI), 3:27; dec. Kyle McGuire (Newburgh Free Academy-IX), 16-2.
182 — Ali Hashimee (Shenendehowa) pinned by 4-Gio Santiago (Sachem North-XI), 1:36; lost to Jager Rebozo (Half Hollow Hills West-XI), 11-4.
195 — Levi Ashley (Shenendehowa) dec. 3-Ben Honis (Jamesville-DeWitt/CBA-III), 8-0; dec. 6-Scott Wymbs (Horace Greeley-I), 2-1 (2ot); semifinals vs. Nick Weber (Kings Park-XI).
220 — 3-Jason Johnson (Colonie) lost to Jenard Rosemound (Calhoun-VIII), 6-3; pinned Joe Juarez (Malone-X), 1:14; lost to Marshall Taylor (Lockport-V), 5-1.
285 — 1-El Shaddai VanHoesen (Columbia) pinned Nolan Terrance (Massena-X), 3:23; vs. lost to 8-James O’Hagan (Seaford-VIII), 2-1 (ot); dec. Shaquille Williams (Brooklyn Tech-P), 5-0.
99 — Garon LeClair (Corinth) pinned by 2-Andrew Flanagan (Holley-V), 1:16; dec. Dolan McClogan (Petrides-P), 10-0; lost to 1-Hunter O’Lena (East Rochester-V), 4-0.
106 — 1-Luis Weierbach (Hoosick Falls) pinned Brody Sheppard (Ogensburg Free Academy-X), 3:09; dec. Hunter Dusold (Locust Valley-VIII), 2-0; semifinals vs. Brad Bihler (Maple Grove-VI).
Nico Riccio (Galway) lost to 4-Austin Trombley (Northern Adirondack-VII), 7-5; lost to Noah Kelvas (Putnam Valley-I), 6-3.
113 — Matt Morris (Albany Academy) lost to 1-Cheick Ndiaye (Brooklyn International-P),15-1; lost to Ralph Mateo (Midlakes-V), 4-2.
120 – 5-Al Aubin (Whitehall) lost to Peter Schneider (Smithtown Christian-XI), 7-6; dec. Dylan Deuel (Addison-V), 3-2; dec. 3-Nate Hayes (Windsor-IV), 3-2. 6-Carter Merecki (Salem) dec. Tom Stobe (Clarke-VIII), 11-3; vs. dec. 3-Nate Hayes (Windsor-IV), 2-0; semifinals vs. John Aslanian (Edgemont-I).
126 — Daniel Van Dyk (Salem) dec. 8-Stephen Paternoso (Pleasantville-1), 14-7; lost to 1-William Koll (Lansing-IV), 13-4; lost to Matt Rauch (Red Hook-IX), 4-2.
132 – Ryan Matuszak (Corinth) lost by technical fall to 2-Tristan Rifenburg (Norwich-IV), 15-0; dec. Chris Bruno (Putnam Valley-1), 7-1; lost to 8-Clyde Carey (Addison-V), 9-0.
138 — 4-Sean Romanski (Albany Academy) pinned Daniel Dornbaum (Baruch-P), 1:19; dec. Taylor Jones (Palmyra-Macedon-V), 9-2; semifinals vs. 1-Nick Tighe (Phoenix-III).
5-John Diekel (Whitehall) lost to Taylor Jones (Palmyra-Macedon-V), 7-4; pinned Daniel Dornbaum (Baruch-P), 1:49; lost to 6-Drew Longo (Ardsley-I), 6-4.
145 — 8-Kyle Mulcahy (Corinth) dec. Paul Schoenberg (Baruch-P), 6-4 (ot); lost to 1-Drew Hull (Royalton-Hartland-V), 11-2; dec. Sal Mazzella (Highland-IX), 12-4.
152 — Connor Lawrence (Duanesburg) lost to 7-Trey Duvall (Addison-V), 9-2; dec. Kevin Palko (Tri-Valley-IX), 14-3; dec. Max Lloyd (Palmyra-Macedon-V), 5-2.
160 — 6-Nick Gallo (Schalmont) dec. Gunnar Van Curen (Portville-VI), 4-1; dec. 3-Tyler Silverthorn (General Brown-III), 4-2; semifinals vs. 5-Matt Fisher (Oneida-III).
170 — 3-Geno Brancati (Hudson Falls) dec. Aidan Mathews (Marlboro-IX), 11-2; lost by technical fall to 6-Adis Radoncic (Riverdale-P), 15-0; lost to Jon Levchuk (Byron-Bergen-V), 7-1.
4-Mike Green (Cobleskill-Richmondville) dec. Andrew Cole (Ogdensburg Free Academy-X), 8-2; dec. Mark Dove (Homer-III), 5-1 (ot); semifinals vs. 1-Christian Dietrich (Greene-IV).
182 — 6-Brad Burns (Hoosick Falls) dec. Derrick Din (Canisteo-Greenwood-V), 11-7; lost to 3-Ryan Marszal (Unatego-IV), 3-2 (ot); pinned Tyler Veno (Portville-VI), 3:23.
195 — 4-Jeff Senecal (Duanesburg) pinned by Mark Viviano (BGA-4), 4:59; pinned Jacob Wiegard (Lourdes-I), :39; dec. 6-Wyatt Albanese (Canastota-III), 1-0. Andre Maxam (Glens Falls) lost by technical fall to 1-Bryce Mazurowski (Avon-V), 16-0; technical fall over Christian Gioia (Petrides-P), 15-0; lost to 7-Matt Booth (Cattaraugas-VI), 10-1.
220 — Joe Nellis (Johnstown) pinned by 1-Zack Bacon (Hornell-V), :46; pinned Mike Mandigo (Gouverneur-X), :10; dec. 7-Dillon Hurlbert (Marthon-IV), 6-4
285 — 1-Alex Soutiere (Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk) pinned by Connor Calkins (Alfred-Almond-V), 5:55; pinned Elvin Gervacio (Brooklyn International-P), 3:42; pinned 7-Nathan Sarkin (Ogdensburg Free Academy-X), 1:25. 8-William Baker (Taconic Hills) beat Christian Shepard (Geneva-VI), 8-0; vs. lost to 4-Matt Abbott (Windsor-IV), 14-2.