WNY Athletics

NYSPHSAA Wrestling Championships Preview – Section VI large schools

Two area wrestlers earned #1 seeds for this weekend’s NYS Wrestling Championships at Times Union Center in downtown Albany. Six more area wrestlers earned seeds in the top four of their weight classes. Eleven area wrestlers will make their first appearances at the state tournament which starts on Friday.

Niagara Wheatfield brothers Justin and Warren McDougald are the top seeds at 132 and 152-pounds, respectively. Justin is a two-time NYS finalist and Warren a two-time placer, however both will be favored to win titles this weekend. A state title from either Justin or Warren would be the first for Wheatfield since Angelo Malvestuto in 2010.

The large school brackets in Albany feature a champion from each NYSPHSAA section in New York, with the exception of Section VII who does not have any large schools. Section X only has one large school (Massena) but doesn’t have a full roster. Thus, at some weights, there are five wildcard slots rather than four. The large school brackets also feature champions from the Public School Athletic League (PSAL-NYC) and the Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA).

Over the course of the Friday and Saturday tournament, Section VI Div. I large school representatives will have another shot at crowning multiple champions for only the second time in the split division era (2010; Malvestuto and Pioneer’s Kyle Colling). The area is capable of placing at least half a dozen wrestlers in the top six of their weights and perhaps even improve on last season’s 5th place finish in Albany.


Williamsville North 7th grader Cam Catrabone makes his first of what will probably be many appearances at the state tournament. Catrabone (34-1 season record) has drawn 4-seed Killian Foy (36-7), a freshman from MacArhtur (Section VIII) in the first round. Foy was a wildcard recipient to Albany. Massapequa’s (VIII) Anthony Conetta is the top seed in the weight class.


After falling just short of a sectional title in each of the last two seasons (in Div. II) the Depew/Cleveland Hill freshman Carson Alberti makes his first trip to Albany as a Section VI champion. Alberti (35-2) will see Section IX champion 3-seed Zack Ryder out of Minisink Valley in the first round. Ryder is a 7th grader with a 40-3 record. The weight’s top seed is Shenendehowa’s (II) defending NYS champion and nationally ranked wrestler Stevo Poulin (40-0).


North Tonawanda senior Tyler Bartolomei (44-2) will make his second straight appearance in Albany after defending his Section VI title. Bartolomei missed placing in Albany last year and will look to make it onto the podium in a very top heavy weight class. Tyler will meet the 2-seed in Section XI champion and defending NYS 3rd place finisher Luke Smith (34-3) from Hauppauge HS in the first round. The bracket’s top seed is three-time defending NYS champion Greg Diakomihalis from Hilton (V). The 3-seed is Section VIII Wantagh’s returning place winner Josiah Encarnacion, and the 4-seed is returning NYS champion Terry Adams from Msgr. Farrell HS (CHSAA).


Two wrestlers will represent WNY in Albany. Two-time Section VI champion Collin Coughenour (28-8) makes his return to Albany after winning the 99-pound sectional title last season. The Wheatfield 8th grader will meet Section I champion and returning state placer Ivan Garcia (44-6) from Port Chester in the opening round. Niagara Falls senior Michael Snowden (33-8) earned a wildcard for his first trip to states and will wrestle Section IX champion Nick Picariello from Minisink Valley on Friday morning. Picariello upset returning NYS 3rd place finisher Marco Vespa in the Section IX qualifier. Vespa (39-1) is the 3-seed. The bracket’s top seed is defending NYS finalist Jayden Scott (36-0) from Section V’s Rush-Henrietta.


Section VI sends two wrestlers at this weight and both are seeded in the top eight. Williamsville North sophomore Mike Catanzaro (29-7) makes his first appearance in Albany after winning his first Section VI title. Catanzaro earned the 8th seed in the weight class and will wrestle unseeded Section II champion Vincent Santilli (30-5) from South Glens Falls. On the bottom side of the bracket, Clarence junior Aiden Rabideau (40-3) earned a wildcard to Albany after a runner-up finish at the state qualifier. Rabideau, a two-time Section VI champion, earned the 7th seed and will wrestle Spencerport’s (V) sectional finalist Mike LoPresti. Rabideau and LoPresti have met twice this season already with Rabideau victorious in both meetings. Aiden was a 1-0 decision winner on December 28th then a winner by decision in overtime, 4-2, on January 12th. Defending NYS champion Zach Redding (46-4) from Section XI Eastport-South Manor is the weight’s top seed.


Niagara Wheatfield junior Justin McDougald (42-0) has been to the final in each of the last two seasons and will be looking to make it to the top of the podium this time around. McDougald is the bracket’s top seed and comes into the weekend with an Eastern States championship on his resume from back in January. Justin will wrestle Section IX champion Thomas Maddox from Washingtonville HS in the first round. A semifinal against either 5-seed Alex Samson (Sec. V champion – Victor) or 4-seed Logan Sciotto (Sec. XI champion – Rocky Point) has the potential to be a must-see match of the weekend. Sciotto is a defending NYS 3rd place finisher while Samson was 6th in NYS last season. McDougald was a 2-1 overtime winner against Samson at Eastern States. Hamburg junior Ryan Forrest (38-7) earned an at-large berth to the state tournament. Forrest will wrestle the 2-seed in Section IV champion Drew Witham (27-1) from Corning High School. Witham upset defending NYS 4th place finisher Devin Woodworth (40-2, Horseheads HS) in the Section IV divisional tournament. Woodworth is the bracket’s 3rd seeded wrestler.


Defending NYS champion Willie McDougald (40-1) is on a collision course for the state title and a rematch with the only wrestler to beat him this season. The Niagara Falls junior is the 2-seed behind top seeded Adam Busiello from Section XI Eastport-South Manor. Busiello (45-0) is a senior and four-time NYS champion. McDougald and Busiello met in the Eastern States final where Willie gave Busiello all he could handle in a 3-2 loss. The anticipation for a rematch has been mounting across NYS for over a month. McDougald’s opening round match will be against Section II champion Willie Thacker from Niskayuna. A quarterfinal meeting with Section V champion & 7-seed Mason Wersinger (41-0) is likely. Wersinger was a state tournament representative last season. In the semifinal, McDouglad could see 3rd seeded Tyler Albis, the Section I runner-up and returning state representative from John Jay-East Fishkill.


Wheatfield senior Jake DeWolf (28-6) returns to Times Union Center but this time as the Section VI champion. DeWolf was a wildcard to states last season and for the second year in a row will wrestle the 8-seed in the opening round. Jake will meet Section III wildcard Cuinn Burlingham (27-6) from Fulton on Friday morning. Should DeWolf win his first match in all likelihood he’d meet top seeded Jonathan Spadafora (38-1) who is the Section XI champion from Half Hollow Hills East.


Section VI owns both of the top two seeds at 152-pounds. Two-time state place winner Warren McDougald (37-3) will make his final senior run at a state title representing Niagara Wheatfield. McDougald is the top seed in the weight class and will meet Section III champion Dan Tauroney (32-5) from New Hartford in the first round. Lancaster junior Ryan Stencel (39-6) was the second wildcard into the tournament after having gone each of the last two years as the Section VI champion. Stencel earned the 2-seed and will wrestle Section V runner-up Michael Vinci (36-4) from Spencerport in the opening round. Stencel was a 15-3 major decision winner over Vinci on December 28th. Assuming he makes it to the semifinal, Stencel will likely meet Section VIII champion in 3-seed Garrett Gibbons from Massapequa or Section XI champion in 6-seed Dan Mauriello from Hauppaugue. On the top side of the bracket, a potential semifinal for Warren could be against either 4-seed Ty Raines (44-2), a defending NYS 6th place finisher from Churchville-Chili (V) or Farmingdale’s (VIII) 5-seed Joe Simons, also a returning place winner who beat Raines for 5th in NYS.


Grand Island junior Adam Daghestani (45-0) goes back to Albany as the Section VI champion after having went as an at-large in 2018. Daghestani was one round from placing last February. Adam earned the 3-seed in the bracket and could be a darkhorse to win it all. In Friday’s opening round Daghestani will meet Section IV champion Quashaun Robinson (18-7) from Corning. Adam could meet 2-seed and returning NYS 5th place finisher Kyle Mosher (41-1) from South Side/East Rockaway (VIII) in the semifinal. Olean senior Icar Simon (30-6) earned an at-large to Albany after his runner-up finish at the state qualifier. Simon will wrestle Section III champion Devin Earl (30-4) from West Genesee in the opening round. Returning NYS 3rd place winner Cooper Kropman (30-2) from Section V Penfield is the bracket’s top seed.


Two-time Section VI champion Josh Thibeault is the 3-seed in the weight class and will be hungry to be the spoiler after missing the podium in 2018. The 39-4 Niagara Wheatfield senior will wrestle Section IX champion Matt Bucci (39-4) from Saugerties HS in the opening round. Assuming this matchup happens, Thibeault could meet returning NYS 4th place finisher Corey Connolly from Section XI Rocky Point in the quarterfinal. Olean senior and sectional finalist Devan Moore (30-5) earned a wildcard and the 7-seed at states. Moore will wrestle Section XI’s Joe Gannone (38-3) from Eastport-South Manor in the first round. The weight’s top seeded wrestler is returning NYS 5th place winner Aaron Wolk (41-1) from Section I Horace Greeley HS.


Three WNY wrestlers are featured in this weight. Grand Island senior and two-time Section VI champion Connor Kenney missed the podium in 2018 but will look to make it this time around. Kenney (38-7) earned the 5th seed and opens the weekend against Section IV champion Zach Davis (19-9) from Corning HS. Three-time CHSAA champion Dominik Thomas (46-2) from St. Francis is the weight’s 4-seed and will see Eduard Dzhioev (27-2) from Franklin D. Roosevelt HS out of the Public School league in the first round. Should both Kenney and Thomas win their first round matches they would meet in the quarterfinal. Thomas was a 9-6 winner over Kenney at the NFWOA tournament on January 5th. Returning NYS Div. II 6th place winner Pat Walsh (34-6) from Olean earned a wildcard back to Albany and the bracket’s 3rd seed. Walsh’s first round match is against Section V champion Joe Cocozza (38-4) from Penfield. Walsh is one of only two returning place winners from last February in this weight and could find himself in Saturday’s final should he be on his game. The top seed is the defending NYS champion from New Rochelle (Section I) Jake Logan.


Orchard Park junior Mike Pataky (40-2) recently became the first Quaker in fourteen years to win a Section VI wrestling title. Pataky was drawn into the bracket in Albany and will wrestle the 4-seed in Michael Babbcort (34-3) from PSAL’s Wingate Educational Campus. It’s a winnable match for Pataky, and should he advance to the quarterfinal he will probably take on 5th seeded Todd DeGroat (37-2), the Section IV champion from Vestal HS. The bracket’s top seed is Hilton (V) senior Sam DePrez, a returning NYS 3rd place finisher.


Grand Island junior Blake Bielec (41-2) punched his ticket to states after winning his first Section VI title. Bielec didn’t earn a top eight seed, but has a favorable first round match. Blake will wrestle 6th seeded Nik Koch (28-0) who is the Section II champion from Averill Park HS. Should he advance past the first round, Bielec could have a shot in the quarters at the 3-seed in returning NYS 6th place winner Maxx DeCapua (44-5) from Section IX’s Newburgh Free Academy. Also at 220 from WNY is CHSAA champion Nolan Thomas (51-1) from St. Francis. This is also Nolan’s first appearance in Albany. He’ll take on top seeded Will Leonard (38-0) from Section IX Cornwall in Friday’s opening round. Leonard placed 6th in NYS last February.


Olean senior Tanner Hulse (33-9) came from the 4th seed in the state qualifier to win the sectional title and his first trip to the state tournament. Hulse’s first round match is against 6th seeded Collin Burns (43-6) from Section V Hilton. Amherst junior Ryan Bitka placed 3rd in Section VI and earned an at-large berth to Albany. Bitka (37-2), has drawn the 8-seed in Uniondale’s Section VIII champion Dorceus O’Brien (38-1) in the opening round. If Bitka advances past his first match, he could have a shot at top seeded defending NYS finalist Joey Slackman (42-0) from Section XI Commack.

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