By Jim & Tony Nordland
     Now in the sixth year of the two-division format, a total of 18 defending state champions and eight former champions are eligible for the 47th annual NYS Wrestling Championships. The 2009 state meet is at the Times Union Center in Albany and a total of 480 grapplers will congregate for the two-day competition on  February 27th and 28th.
     Defending Division I champions include two-time titlist and OSW winner
Austin Meys (41-0, 259-8 career mark) of Shenendehowa-2 at 189 pounds. The Empire State blue chipper won his first state crown at 103 in 2005 and is a four-time state placer (1-4-5-1), he has signed with Lehigh. Other reigning champions are sophomore Bob Dierna (38-3, 112-7) of Wayne-5 at 112, junior Ken Collado (32-3, 105-20) of Hauppauge-11 at 112, junior Nick Arujau (35-0, 136-7) of Syosset-8 at 125, Hofstra signee, senior Jamie Franco (42-1, 212-29) of Monroe-Woodbury-9 at 125, junior Andrew Lenzi (39-3) of Fordham Prep-C, at 135, senior Zach Clemente (44-2) of LaSalle-2 at 145, who will be at Virginia next year. Also defending their titles are Wantagh-8 senior John Greisheimer (38-0, 178-14) and Edinboro bound, he will be at 152, Paul Glover (37-1) at 215 of Section Five power Spencerport and Ken Altarac (31-2) of LaSalle-2 at 285 pounds. Former state kings seeking redemption are senior Steven Keith (42-0, 178-15) of Shoreham-Wading River-11 at 119, junior Cody Ruggirello (49-0) of Valley Central-9 at 130, and two-time champion Paul Liguori (37-2, 211-15) of Wantagh-8 at 135 pounds. Both Keith and Liguori will attend Harvard University in the fall.
     Thirteen Division II winners head the talented field of small school grapplers including a pair of three-time champions. Seniors
Ian Paddock (50-0, 264-6) of Warsaw-5, who won the OSW Award last year, and is headed to Ohio State in the fall, and Oklahoma U. bound Alex Ekstrom (46-2, 232-19) of Palmyra-Macedon-5. Both could meet in the most anticipated bout of the tournament, in the 135-pound championship final. Other returning titlists are sophomore Arik Robinson (33-0) of Peru-7 at 103, freshman Quinton Murphy (43-1) of Holley-5 at 119, senior Mike Nevinger (44-0, 252-20) of Letchworth-5 at 145, senior Antonio Doldo (30-1, 110-13) of Immaculate Heart-3 at 152, senior Ryan LeBlanc (39-0, 126-4) of Morrisville-Eaton-3 at 160, and Cody Hutcheson (42-2) of Bath-5 at 171 pounds. Winning state crowns in 2007 were junior Kyle Crisafulli (37-2, 102-9) of Phoenix-3 at 112, senior Tyler Marlow (43-3) of Palmyra-Macedon-5 at 119, Kyle Dake (37-0, 206-14), a senior from Lansing-4, at 140 pounds, senior Kenny Betts (53-3, 226-33, 148 pins) of Fredonia-6 at 152, and 2006 winner Nick Wilcox (38-2) a junior from Greene-4 at 125 pounds. Both Dake and Nevinger will attend Cornell University next year.
State finalists that return in Division I are Sean McCormick (35-1) of Johnson City-4 and Luke Popolizio (35-3) of Shenendehowa-2, both at 112, along with Mahopac's Justis Flamio (29-1) at 119. Sophomore Casey Lanave (34-0) of Chenango Forks-4, a 2006 finalist and senior Shawn Brown (36-3) of Canton-10, will also be in the loaded 125-pound class. Division II runners-up include Dylan Kavanaugh (36-2, 74-14) of VVS-3 at 96, Joe Smaldone (20-0) of Geneva-5 at 112, Brian Sewalt (39-3) of Waverly-4 and Josh Micek (37-1) of Maple Grove-6, both at 145, along with Fargo placer, junior Tyler Beckwith (40-0) of Greene-4 at 171, and Dan Fruscella (43-2, 28 pins, 115-20) of Holland Patent-3 at 189 pounds.
Best of Luck to all the competitors this weekend and enjoy your state finals.

Mat Notes...
    Devon Brow
n (Marathon-4) won his state crown in 2007 and has transferred to Wyoming Seminary (PA). A record 26 state champions will grace the mats in the Empire State this season. At the 2008 State Championships Section Two (Albany) won the Division I team title and Section III (Syracuse) claimed the Division II crown. There have been only two wrestlers that have won four state titles; Jesse Jantzen (1997-2000) and J.P. O'Connor (2003-2006), Paddock and Ekstrom hope to add their names to that list,and one of them will become the first four-time state champion in Section V history. Paddock defeated Ekstrom, 5-0, in the Section Five finals last weekend. Tommy Ryan (former Wantagh HS three-time NYS placer and NCAA finalist), now at Ohio State said, "Ian Paddock is one of the top high wrestlers in the nation, he's a great kid and we can't wait to get him with us at school." Oklahoma head coach Jack Spates (1970 NYS champion from Smithtown) recently stated, "We have a great recruiting class coming in and Alex Ekstrom will be a big part of our future." Look for Paddock and Ekstrom to meet in future NCAA meets. Troy Nickerson (2001-2005) is the Empire State's only five-time champion and garnered the OSW Award a state record three times. He is currently undefeated (16-0) and ranked second in the nation for Cornell at 125 pounds. Two sets of brothers have earned the outstanding wrestler award, the Jantzens, Jesse and Corey, along with the Meys', Hunter and Austin. Speaking of brothers, twin brothers have competed at the states, the Banachs (Ed & Lou) of Port Jervis-9 and the Gronckis (Chad & Doug) of Burnt Hills-2, but for the first time in state history, twin brothers will be at the same weight, Max and Mike Soria of Kings Park-11, are entered in the 96- pound class. Congratulations the the Empire State's # 1 mat squad, Spencerport HS (18-0) and head coach Bill Jacoutot, now in his 28th year at the helm.The state leader in sectional team titles is Section XI (Suffolk County) with 16, and they also have the most individual state champions with 129, followed by Section Four with 119 titles and Section Eight with 101 winners. Look for the those three sections to add more names to their lists at the 2009 state meet. Only three states have single classifications for their state championships: California, Indiana and New Jersey. The NYS Intersectional Championships will be held at the Times Union Center in Albany through 2012...
Wantagh's John Greisheimer, one of five Wantagh county champs and defending state champ, will lead the Nassau contingent upstate this weekend.