December 23, 2003
                              By Jim and Tony Nordland

     Valley Central-9 still remains the number-one ranked team in the Empire State and is currently ranked 30th in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News. At the Section Nine Duals, VC  narrowly defeated rival Minisink Valley, 31-25. They had a strong showing at the 11th annual Beast of the East Tournament in Newark, DE and emerged with three place-winners; Lou Ruggirello (8th at 103), Ricky Scott (7th at 171) and Ed Bordas (7th at 215). Winning titles at the prestigious 80-team Beast of the East were junior Troy Nickerson (138-6 career mark) of Chenango Forks-4 and Trevor Chinn (196-23) of Canandaigua-5. Nickerson, now a two-time Beast champion breezed to the 119-pound title as he handled Jeff Schell (Bloomsburg, PA), 8-1, in the finals and Chinn defeated Randy Moore (Camden Catholic, NJ), 8-4, to claim the 145-pound championship. State runner-up junior Alton Lucas (West Babylon-11) finished fifth at 160 pounds... Two Suffolk County, LI coaches recently recorded noteworthy milestones, Huntington's Lou Giani, now in his 34th season, garnered his state record 100th tournament victory as his Blue Devils won their own Huntington Tournament. One week later he notched his 101st tournament championship as his squad crowned an unprecendented 11 champions en route to the Port Jervis Holiday Tournament title. Connetquot's Bill Santoro, now in his 26th campaign, recorded his 200th dual meet victory, as Connetquot defeated Comsewogue in a recent match. Santoro who has had an illustrious coaching career has crowned one state champion, as Joe Hermann won the state title in 1986... Former Long Islander, Al Sosa, now coach at SUNY-Oneonta now enters his 38th season, which is third for most seasons amongst active coaches, Congratulations on your successful career and longevity. Incidentally, Sosa and his Oneonta squad will paricipate at the NYS Collegiate Championships on January 23-24, 2004, at Nassau CC...Former CalhounHS standout John Hamilton has revitalized the Mepham HS-8 wrestling team. The Pirates recently won the Cyclone Tournament at SouthSide HS and crowned an impressive five champions. Winning titles were; Frank Vultaggio (96), Steve Gunther (112), Steve Gurien (119), Santo Getz (152) and highly-touted Miles Davison at 160 pounds. Former legendary Mepham coaches, the late Frank "Sprig" Gardner (Father of NYS Wrestling), the late Ken Hunte, along with John Walter would be proud of the restored respectability to the storied program...Former SWR-11 great Jesse Jantzen (four state titles) is currently ranked number-one in the nation at 149 pounds while competing for Harvard University. He is a strong favorite to claim an NCAA title, the last prepped New Yorker to win an NCAA crown was Mitch Clark (Canton HS-10) who won the 177-pound title at Ohio State in 1998...
Trevor Chinn (left) in last year's state action.
Troy Nickerson on top in last year's state meet.