The expected players are all in place for this morning’s semifinals of the Section II Division I and Division II wrestling championships.
But for every Brandon Lapi, there was an Eoghan Sweeney. For every Levi Ashley, there was a Gerrick Golish. For every Nick Gallo, there was a Zak Shaw.
Sweeney, an eighth-grader from Niskayuna, is crashing the party at 126 in the large-school event where the other three semifinalists — including top-seeded three-time champ Blake Retell of Shaker — are all seniors.
“He’s always competed against older kids. He never was a first-year varsity kid who got to wrestle other seventh- and eighth-graders,” said Niskayuna coach Sean Neely. “He’s also a very good lacrosse player, so he’s not in awe of a big setting.”
Sweeney gets Retell in this morning’s semis, while seniors Jordan Maynard of Shenendehowa and Tristan Canova meet for the other spot in the finals.
Golish is in a similar position, the Ballston Spa 10th-grader advancing to his first state qualifier semifinal.
“He’s been very consistent,” said Scotties coach Harvey Staulters. “He’s a 10th-grader wrestling mostly juniors and seniors. He’s raw, but he’s talented.”
Golish runs into Shenendehowa senior Levi Ashley, a 2013 DI state runner-up returning at 195.
“Nothing different, just be consistent and wrestle smart,” said the Buffalo-bound and unbeaten Ashley. “But, as a senior, you know its the last time you wrestle in this tournament.”
Shaw returned to the Fonda-Fultonville program this year after a three-year absence. He placed here as an eighth-grader, then broke bones in his next the following preseason.
Shaw healed well enough to pitch for the Braves baseball team, but the physicality of wrestling was another matter.
“I was thinking about it the last couple years. This was my senior year, and I said `Hey, why not?,” Shaw said. “The doctor said to be careful.”
Shaw, who suffered his first loss of the season in last weekend’s class finals, is now one win from a spot in the DII semifinals, a bracket topped by two-time champ and 2013 state finalist Nick Gallo.
Gallo is one of five Sabres in the DII semis, joined by fellow top seed Tim Flower (195), second seeds Alex Lambert (106) and Marcus Ramundo (285) and senior Kevin Paskevich, who turned a five-point deficit into a stunning pin fall win in the 170 semis.
“We expected the other four to get through, but Kevin’s match was a big one,” said Schamont coach Brian Faulisi. “He’s losing by five points and puts the kid on his back and pins him. That got everyone up.”
That effort has the Sabres in the running for the DII team title, and was part of a good day for Schenectady County teams.
Brothers Shiva and Mahesh Bhoge of Mohonasen join Sweeney in the DI semis, with Schenectady also getting a pair into this morning’s round, as 120-pounder Josh Reed and 170-pounder Ditaye Douglas also reached the semis.
Duanesburg has three alive in the DII championship round in Andy Mollevik (145) and the Lawrence brothers, top-seeded returning champ Connor at 160, and seventh-grader Zack, as retiring coach Joe Bena tries to get another state champ.
Mohonasen coach Sean Daley felt the Bhoges would be in this spot when the season began.
“I’m not surprised,” Daley said. “They’ve both put in the work.”
Shiva, the younger of the two, gets returning champ Josh LoGiudice in the 106 DI semis. Mahesh moved up to a three seed when Saratoga’s Richard Schrade withdrew, and had to get past Shen’s Dietrich Hartman in the quarters.
“We had to go back and regroup after Schrade was out,” Daley said. “We weren’t expecting to wrestle the Shen kid. But, it worked out.”
Schenectady coach Chad Languish was happy for his two semifinalists
“Josh Reed is a sophomore and a second-year wrestler. He just committed to the sport in the offseason,” said Languish, whose team will receive a sportsmanship award prior to tonight’s finals. “We’re a very young team, and Ditaye has been one of our leaders. He also made a commitment to the sport in the offseason, and he’s a kid that we can always count on.”
The top seeds held in all 30 weight classes, as tournament vets like four-time champ Lapi, three-time runner-up and five-time place finisher Joey Butler of Burnt Hills and two-time champ Angelo Kress of Columbia eased into the DI semis.
The same was true in DII, as state finalist Gallo, state champ Luis Weierbach of Hoosick Falls, and Salem’s Carter Merecki, a one-time champ and three-time state tourney vet, are all looking to add another title to their impressive resumes.
Burnt Hills has a DI-high nine semifinalists, including Butler, state tourney vet Jake Ashcraft, and returning finalists Anthony Papa and Nico Fragale.
Ashcraft, like his workout partner Butler, is chasing his first Section II title. He’s looking for a final with state placer Franky Nassivera of Queensbury, jumped over Ashcraft and into the top seed at 170 after defaulting in their Class B title match.
“It drives me, but I knew no matter what I was going to have to wrestle well for two days if I wanted to get back to the state tournament,” said the 11th-grader, who was denied the chance to earn bonus points for seeding purposes, awarded for wins over state place finishers.
Among the top semifinals in DII at the 138 scrap between Shenendehowa soph Kevin Parker, a 2012 champ, and 2013 winner John McHugh of Columbia. Parker dominated in the teams’ late season match.
Parker’s teammate Jesse Porter, a two-time placer who missed last year’s tourney with an injury, also got to the semis, as the defending team champion Plainsmen have six semifinalists, the same number as Queensbury. Columbia has eight, Colonie five (including 2013 champ Golan Cohen) and Guilderland five, topped by LoGiudice.
Austin DiCerbo of Colonie is the top seed at 285. Second a year ago, DiCerbo had an 18-second pin in his only match of the day.
“I just tried to relax and stay focused mentally,” he said. “I felt after placing second last year, that this would be my year.”
Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George and Albany Academy both have six semifinalists, tops in the DII field.
Galway has three in the morning round, including Steve Culbert, who sees Mollevik in the semis, a rematch from their Class D final.
“I’ve been in this tourney before, and I want to win it,” said Culbert. “I’ve got the same kid, and it’s a tough weight class.”
Other DII 2013 champs looking to repeat are Garon LeClair of Corinth, Dan VanDyk of Salem and two-time winner Geno Brancati of Hudson Falls.
The finals are set for 6 p.m., with the winners advancing to the state tourney, two weekends from now at the Times Union Center. Other wrestlers will be added to the state brackets this week through the wild card system.
99 — Chrisitian Gramuglia (Burnt Hills) vs. Trent Svingala (Columbia), David Wolanski (Guilderland) vs. Anthony Sgorrano (South Glens Falls). 106 — Josh LoGiudice (Guilderland) vs. Shiva Bhoge (Mohonasen), John Devine (Columbia) vs. Chris Velazquez (Amsterdam). 113 — Golan Cohen (Colonie) vs. Rowan Braga (Bethlehem), Mahesh Bhoge (Mohonasen) vs. Max Tempel (LaSalle). 120 — Mike Lainhart (Queensbury) vs. Josh Reed (Schenectadya), Dominic Inzana (Saratoga) vs. Nick Robbins (Queensbury). 126 — Blake Retell (Shaker) vs. Eoghan Sweeney (Niskayuna), Jordan Maynard (Shenendehowa) vs. Tristan Canova (Bethlehem). 132 —Kyle Greene (Columbia) vs. Ryan Moore (LaSalle), Eric St. John (Queensbury) vs. Mason Rabideau (Burnt Hills). 138 — Brandon Lapi (Amsterdam) vs. Tyler Barnes (Ballston Spa), John McHugh (Columbia) vs. Kevin Parker (Shenendehowa). 145 — Joey Butler (Burnt Hills) vs. Kody Bruno (Queensbury), Joseph Clemente (LaSalle) vs. Jim Devine (Columbia). 152 — Jesse Porter (Shenendehowa) vs. Matt McHugh (Columbia), Dillon Deckert (Queensbury) forfeit over John Rivera (Amsterdam). 160 — Angelo Kress (Columbia) vs. Paul Citone (Colonie), Ryan Betts (Shenendehowa) vs. Nathan Sisler (Burnt Hills). 170 — Franky Nassivera (Queensbury) vs. Ditaye Douglas (Schenectady), Andy Cummings (Guilderland) vs. Jake Ashcraft (Burnt Hills). 182 — Marcus Torres (Amsterdam) vs. Dylan Dubuque (Columbia), Isaiah Cooks (Colonie) vs. Anthony Papa (Burnt Hills). 195 — Levi Ashley (Shenendehowa) vs. Gerrick Golish (Ballston Spa), Taylor Russell (Burnt Hills) vs. Chris Goudy (Queensbury). 220 — Wayne Burt (Colonie) vs. Kevin Leonard (Shenendehowa), Chris Tangora (Bethlehem) vs. Nico Fragale (Burnt Hills). 285 — Austin DiCerbo (Colonie) vs. Jake Groesbeck (Bethlehem), Roz Warren (Burnt Hills) vs. Matt Holton (Saratoga).
99 — Zack Lawrence (Duanesburg) vs. Connor Paige (Hudson Falls), Dillan Palaszewski (Galway) vs. Orion Anderson (Schuylerville). 106 —Arsilan Zahid (Lansingburgh) vs. Anthony Cardinutto (Schuylerville), Jon Payack (Canajoharie/Fort Plain) vs. Alex Lambert (Schalmont). 113 — Nolan Foster (Hoosick Falls) vs. Gideon Jardine (Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George), Win Myint (Rensselaer) vs. Luke Pondillo (Lansingburgh). 120 — Matt Morris (Albany Academy) vs. Dalton Weils (Hudson Falls), Jordan Sartin (Galway) vs. Luis Weierbach (Hoosick Falls). 126 — Dan VanDyk (Salem) vs. Kyle Jasenski (Albany Academy), Brandon Merchant (Cobleskill-Richmondville) vs. Garon LeClair (Corinth). 132 — Carter Merecki (Salem) vs. Zach Zebrowski (Albany Academy), Denver Berry (Warrensburg) vs. Tyler McCarthy (Corinth). 138 — Sam Delarge (Albany Academy) vs. Luke Fronhofer (Salem), Ridge Sulkey (Cairo-Durham) vs. Mike Matatt (Hoosick Falls). 145 — Jason Hoffman (Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George) vs. Zeke Thomas (Albany Academy), Steven Culbert (Galway) vs. Andy Mollevik (Duanesburg). 152 —Nathaniel Palmer (Granville) vs. Cam Milliken (Albany Academy), Cody Davendonis (Hoosick Falls) vs. Logan Brunick (Tamarac). 160 —Connor Lawrence (Duanesburg) vs. Jake Gregory (Whitehall/Fort Ann), Joshua McIlhenny (Greenville) vs. Connor Tuttle (Tamarac). 170 — Geno Brancati (Hudson Falls) vs. Kevin Paskevich (Schamont), George Pooters (Cairo-Durham) vs. Brad Perry (Granville). 182 —Nick Gallo (Schalmont) vs. Brandon Steves (Whitehall/Fort Ann), Zak Shaw (Fonda) vs. Forrest Kubricky (Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George). 195 —Tim Flower (Schalmont) vs. Dan Ackley (Warrensburg), Tom Clark (Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George) vs. Nate Millington (Hudson Falls). 220 —Logan Kunkle (Ravena) vs. Nathan Winchester (Cambridge), Brandon Farrell (Mechanicville) vs. Patrick Barber (Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George). 285 —Nick Scott (Cohoes) vs. Tyler VanderBogaard (Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George), Jordan Keys (Salem) vs. Marcus Ramundo (Schalmont).