Valley Sports Report
MANHEIM, Pa. — Freshmen Gianni Silvestri and Caden Bellis each went 3-0 Friday to reach the semifinals of the Journeymen New York State High School Championships here at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex.
“I think Gianni and Caden look great,” said Tioga coach Kris Harrington. “They look prepared, and they look the part of someone who is trying to win a state title right now. I’m extremely happy with where they’re at.”
Junior Donovan Smith is the only other Tiger still alive in the brackets. He was 3-1 on the day and has assured himself of a medal.
“Donovan wrestled great,” said Harrington. “He beat Alberti, who was a state-place last year; that’s a good win. And, he had another good win against a state-placer in the blood round.”
Junior Mason Welch was 3-2 on the day, falling one win shy of a medal, and freshman Zac Kotsubka was 0-2.
“I thought Mason wrestled well,” said Harrington. “Unfortunately, he wasn’t seeded, and that obviously hurt him on the back side.”
With the 2020-21 NYSPHSAA wrestling Championships canceled due to concerns over Covid-19, Frank Popolizio — brother of former Binghamton University and current North Carolina State wrestling coach Pat Popolizio — stepped up to coordinate a replacement tournament.
Unlike the NYSPHSAA tournament, the Journeymen Championships features just one division. Every returning Section place-winner in New York State was eligible to wrestle, and a qualifier for selected new varsity wrestlers was held Thursday.
The result was a stacked field, which included many nationally-ranked wrestlers, and returning or former state champions.
Harrington said the competition is tremendous.
“This isn’t D-1 or D-2, this is all divisions,” said Harrington. “Even for Mason to make the round-of-12, that means he’s one of the top 12 wrestlers in New York this year.
“This is just the start of our postseason,” noted Harrington. “We have about a month before the freestyle and Greco states, which are in Williamsport in May.
“The next step after that is to get ready for Fargo (Nationals) in July,” added Harrington. “We’re just building toward that right now.”
At 113 pounds, Silvestri, the returning Division 2 99-pound champion, opened his day with a 6-2 win over Lockport sophomore Gavin Ciarfella. Silvestri scored a five-point move midway through the first period.
After a scoreless second period, Silvestri scored an escape early in the third period for a 6-0 lead, but gave up a takedown with 23 seconds remaining.
In the round-of-16, Silvestri registered a second-period fall over Red Hook sophomore Rian Kirker.
Silvestri scored a takedown just five seconds into the bout. He added a pair of three-point near-fall moves and led 8-0 heading into the second period.
Silvestri scored a reversal about 30 seconds in the second period, and turned it into a fall at 3:07.
In the quarterfinals, Silvestri won a hard-fought, 5-0 decision over sophomore Ray Adams of Calhoun.
After a scoreless first period, Silvestri escaped 35 seconds into the second period, then registered a takedown with 53 seconds remaining to take a 3-0 lead into the final two minutes.
Adams chose neutral to begin the third period, but Silvestri added to his lead with a takedown, and rode out the final 71 seconds for the 5-0 win.
Silvestri, the second seed, will face third-seeded junior Xavier DeJesus-Remchuck of Canisteo-Greenwood in the semifinals. Silvestri beat DeJesus-Remchuck, 5-4, in the 99-pound finals of last year’s New York State Division 2 wrestling championships.
In the other 113-pound semi-final match, nationally-ranked and top-seeded Tyler Ferrara of Chenango Forks squares off with fourth-seeded junior Michael Adams of Monsignor Farrell.
Bellis, the third seed at 126 pounds, opened his day with a 9-0 major decision of Tamarac junior Torin Bishop.
Bellis scored his first takedown midway through the first period and rode out the final 53 seconds to take a 2-0 lead into the second period.
Bellis upped his lead to 4-0 with a reversal midway through the second period, and rode out the final 56 seconds. He put the match away with a five-point move midway through the third period, and had Bishop on his back at the final buzzer.
In the round-of-16, Bellis forged a hard-fought, 4-0, win over Kings Park junior Vincent Ziccardi.
Bellis scored a takedown in the first period, and rode out the final 76 seconds to take a 2-0 lead into the second period. He scored a reversal midway through the second period, and rode out the final 57 seconds. The duo spent the third period on their feet.
In the quarterfinals, Bellis continued his mastery on top in a 5-0 win over Byram Hills junior Justin Fortugno.
After a scoreless first period, Bellis rode Fortugno for the entire second period. In the third period, Bellis scored a reversal with 1 minute remaining, and added three near-fall points 23 seconds later for a 5-0 lead. He rode out the final 37 seconds.
Bellis will face second-seeded Washingtonville junior Andrew Marchese in the semifinals. Marchese is a two-time Section IX champion. He won a 99-pound Division I state title as a freshman and was fifth at 113 pounds last year.
In the other 126-pound semifinal, nationally-ranked Shenendehowa senior Stevo Poulin, a three-time state champion, takes on fourth-seeded Williamsville freshman Cameron Catrabone.
At 145 pounds, Smith opened with a second-period fall of Miller Place junior John Caccavale.
Smith scored a quick takedown in the first period, and added a three-point near-fall to lead 5-0 heading into the second period. Smith registered a reversal early in the second period, and finished off the fall at 2:43.
In the round-of-16, Smith scored a late takedown to knock off eighth-seeded Carson Alberti of Depew, 4-3.
After a scoreless first period, Smith scored an escape midway through the second period, but Alberti answered with a takedown for a 2-1 lead. Smith recorded another escape with just 6 seconds remaining to tie the bout at 2-2 entering the final two minutes.
Alberti escaped with 27 seconds remaining in the third period, but a quick shot by Smith resulted in a takedown, and he was able to ride out the final 22 seconds to preserve the win.
In the quarterfinals, Hilton junior Rocco Camillaci, who finished third at 126 pounds in last year’s New York State Division 1 championships, knocked Smith into the consolation bracket with a 13-3 major decision.
Camillaci scored three takedowns in the first period, and led 6-2, then scored another takedown in the second period. He rode Smith the final 72 seconds to take an 8-2 lead into the third period.
Smith escaped 30 seconds into the third period, but Camillaci registered a five-point move to take a 13-3 lead with 20 seconds remaining.
In the “blood round,” Smith edged Miller Place junior Justin Klein, 5-3, to guarantee himself of a medal.
Smith scored a takedown midway through the first period, and added two near-fall points with 27 seconds remaining to take a 4-0 lead. Klein quickly escaped and trailed 4-1 after the first two minutes.
Smith escaped with 58 seconds left in the second period for a 5-1 lead, and the duo spent the remainder of the stanza on their feet.
Klein registered a takedown with 43 seconds remaining in the third period, but was unable to turn Smith.
Smith will face fourth-seeded West Genesee junior Nate Wade, who placed sixth at 132 pounds last year in the New York State Division 1 championships, in the first consolation round-of-four Saturday morning.
At 126 pounds, Welch opened with a 3-2 decision over Corinth senior Jonathan Freebern.
After a scoreless first period, Welch scored an escape and a takedown midway through the second period to take a 3-0 lead, but Freebern registered a reversal with 15 seconds remaining to trim the deficit to 3-2.
Freebern chose bottom to start the third period, but Welch was able to ride out the entire two minutes, despite a stall warning with 11 seconds left, to preserve the win.
In the round-of-16, seventh seeded junior Alex Booth of Indian River knocked Welch into the consolation bracket with a 6-0 decision. Booth led 4-0 after the first period, then added a reversal into the third period.
Welch bounced back in wrestlebacks with a 7-5 win over Addison senior Noah Green.
Welch led 4-0 after the first period, and scored an early reversal in the second period to take a 6-0. Booth trimmed the deficit to 6-4 with reversals late in the second and third period, and was within a point, at 6-5, after Welch was penalized for stalling with 18 seconds remaining.
Welch scored an escape with 10 seconds left for the final margin.
Welch earned a trip to the “blood round” with an 8-5 win over Newfane junior Adam Huntingdon, in the first consolation round-of-8.
Welch used a pair of first-period takedowns to take a 4-1 lead into the second period. Welch stretched his lead to 6-1 with a reversal 41 seconds into the second period, but Huntingdon countered with a reversal just 26 seconds later to cut the deficit to 6-3.
Huntingdon’s reversal with 50 seconds left in the third period trimmed the deficit to 6-5, but Welch scored a reversal 17 seconds later for an 8-5 lead, and rode out the final 33 seconds to preserve the win.
In the blood round, Walton senior Cody Merwin eliminated Welch with a 6-2 decision.
Merwin used a pair of first-period takedowns for a 4-1 lead, then scored another takedown midway through the second period for a 6-1 lead.
Welch managed an escape with 25 seconds left in the third period, but Merwin fended off his takedown attempts in the final moments.
At 99 pounds, Kotsubka dropped a 3-0 decision to Coxsackie 8th-grader Gabe English in the opening round.
In the opening round of the consolation bracket, Kotsubka lost via fall to Penfield’s Kiernan Magee in 3:51.
• Freshman Levi Bellis dropped a 3-0 decision to Sachem’s Richie Patanjo to finish second in the 120-pound bracket.
• Freshman Trent Browne went 1-2 to finish fourth in the 170-pound bracket.
• Freshman Tyler Roe was 0-2 at 126 pounds.
IN PHOTO: Tioga's Gianni Silvestri (left) and Caden Bellis. ... VSR STOCK PHOTOS.