By Jim & Tony Nordland

      Now in the fifth year with the two-division NYS Intersectional Tournament format a total of thirteen defending state champions and three former champions are eligible for the 46th annual New York State Intersectional Championships. The new site for the 2008 state meet is the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester and a total of 480 grapplers will congregate for the two day competition on March 8th and 9th.
      Section Five (Rochester) won both Division I and II Tournaments at the 2007 state meet and will have strong contingents in both divisions this season. In Division I, the purple-clad squad looks to the Bob Dierna (96) of Wayne, Zach Ellis (119) of Brighton, state bronze medalist John-Martin Cannon (152) of Brockport,  Spencerport's state finalist senior and UPenn-bound Bryan Bourne (34-0, 177-19) at 160, and Paul Glover (33-1) at 215, along with Christian Boley (Brockport) at 189, and state runner-up Rob Eskander (Webster Thomas), also at 215 pounds. The Division II team has four returning state champions including nationally ranked
Ian Paddock (35-0) of Warsaw at 130, he is a junior and was a double placer at Fargo. Other state kings are junior Tyler Marlow (112) of Palmyra-Macedon, teammate Alex Ekstrom (135) and tough Mike Nevinger of Letchworth at 140 pounds. Others that will challenge for titles are a quartet of state place-winners; Joe Smalldone (112) of Geneva, Josh Mayville (145) of Marion, Nick Czapla (152) of Warsaw, and potential champion Nate Schiedel of Caledonia-Mumford at 189 pounds.
       If Section Five falters, look to Section Eleven (Suffolk County), Section Three (Syracuse), Section Eight (Nassau County), Section Two (Albany) , Section Four (Binghamton) and Section Six (Buffalo) to challenge for the sectional team title.
      Suffolk County will be led by defending state champion junior
Steven Keith (39-1, 122-14) of Shoreham-Wading River at 112, Damon McQueen (28-1) of Huntington at 96, Ken Collado (34-4) of Hauppauge at 103, Brentwood's Ricardo Gomez (39-0) at 119, and state finalist sophomore Stephen Dutton (33-0) of Hauppauge at 130, along with Andy Rodriguez (38-1) of Central Islip at 135 pounds. They also received ten " at large " berths that will bolster their chances as a team.
      Section Three has outstanding talent in both divisions and will be paced Winky Shepard (48-2) of Central Square at 119, unbeaten Mick Letcher (32-0) at 145, Ron Majerus (32-1) of Mexico at 152 and potential finalist Matt Bogardus (31-0, 18 pins) of Fulton at 160 pounds. Division II features a strong middleweight corps; Ken Kampnich (41-0) of IHC at 130, along with teammates, Antonio Doldo (38-1) at 145 and Derek Brenon (38-1, 28 pins) at 152, along with state bronze medalist Ryan LeBlanc (39-2) of Morrisville-Eaton at 160 pounds.
      Nassau County has two-time state king junior
Paul Liguori (36-0, 166-12) of Wantagh at 125 and is the favorite in a very competitive weight class. His teammates are also solid contenders, such as state placer Steven Bonanno (39-0, 131 wins)at 119 and junior John Greisheimer (45-1, 137-14) at 145 pounds. The green-clad contingent also looks to state finalist sophomore Nick Arujau (40-0, 99-13 ) of Syosset in the loaded 112-pound class, along with Massapequa teammates, Mike Doria (25-3, 107-35) at 130 and state placer Shane Strumwasser (41-1, 161-32) at 135 pounds. Others to watch are state  medalist Rocky Cervini (40-1, 165-30) of Plainedge at 140, and highly-touted Spencer DeSena (37-0, 112-32) of Garden City at 215 pounds.
      Other defending Division I champions include OSW winner,
Hunter Meys (34-0, 236-10 career mark) of Shenendehowa-2 at 189 pounds. Meys, who will attend Boston University next year, now boasts the national pin record with 208 falls and hopes to claim his second state crown. He defeated Jared Myhrberg (Niskayuna), 8-6, in the Section Two finals and might have to contend with him one more time. At 125 pounds is Devon Brown (29-3, 148-14)  of Marathon-4. Brown dropped two close decisions this season to Kyle Dake and was edged by freshman Derak Heyman of Tioga, 3-1, in the Section Four finals. The other returning state winner is sophomore Cody Ruggirello (45-1, 170-16) of Valley Central-9 at 119 pounds.
     Reigning Division II champions are sophomore
Kyle Crisafulli (30-4)) of Phoenix-3 at 103, he dropped a 7-5 overtime decison to eighth-grader DJ Pfluger (36-1, 27  pins) of Sandy Creek in the Section Three finals, unbeaten junior Kyle Dake (39-0, 170-13) of Lansing-4 at 130, Kenny Betts (145) of Fredonia-6 and Section Seven's Ausable Valley's Dustin Frederick at 285 pounds.
     Former state kings include 2006 winners,
Nick Wilcox (Greene-4) and Chris Conti (Fredonia-6), both at 119 pounds. However, Wilcox will not be entered in the tournament. The other champion is 2005 winner, junior Austin Meys of Shenendehowa-2 at 171 pounds.
     Best of Luck to all the competitors this weekend and enjoy your state finals.

    Last year at the 2007 state meet in Albany, Section Five became the first section to win both Division I and II team titles in the same year, they now have won six sectional team crowns and have 69 state champions. The state leader in team titles is Section Eleven with 16, they also have garnered a record 128 NYS champions, followed by Section Four with 117 individual winners and Section Eight with 97 titles. Congratulations to the Empire State's number-one ranked mat squad, Spencerport HS (18-0) and head coach Bill Jacoutot, now in his 27th year at the helm. The Rangers are rated 15th in the national rankings and have five state meet qualifiers.Two possible state champions final bouts, in Division I, Paul Liguori could meet Devon Brown at 125 pounds, and in Division II, perhaps the most anticipated bout of the tournament, Ian Paddock could square off with Kyle Dake at 130 pounds. All four of those outstanding grapplers are juniors and nationally ranked.
Now only three states have single classification for their state championships, California (over 800 high school programs and a 32-man bracket), Indiana and New Jersey. The 2009 state meet will be on March 6th & 7th in Albany.
    A quick look at the Division I weight classes:

96 pounds- The favorite here is state placer, freshman Bob Dierna of Wayne-5, he faces eighth-grader Cody Sullivan (36-3) of Camden-3. His possible semifinal opponent is sophomore Damon McQueen of Huntington-11. Lodged in the upper bracket are Tim Schaefer (Lancaster-6) and Sean McCormick of Johnson City-4, along with freshman Matt Ross (36-3) of Rocky Point.

103 pounds- State bronze medalist Jose Vasquez of Huntington has opening bout with Joey Malvestuto (Niagara-Wheatfield-6) in the top bracket. Also to watch in that bracket is Ken Collado (Hauppauge-11) and David Hall of Fulton-3. In the talented lower tier are state finalist Luke Popolizio (Shenendehowa-2), Mike Vespa of Monroe Woodbury-9, Nick Meinsen of John Glenn-11, and CJ Howard of Pittsford-5.

112 pounds- Reigning state champion junior Steven Keith (SWRiver-11) is here and has to contend with a talented weight class. Look for the winner of the Justin Melia (Spencerport-5) and Justis Flamio of Mahopac-1 quarterfinal bout to face Keith. Located in the bottom tier are unbeaten Nick Arujau of Syosset, who opens with tough Conor Hanafee (Msgr. Farrell), along with Brandon Escobar (Rocky Point), who could meet Islip's Jake Benedetto (37-3) in a quarterfinal battle. A possible all Long Island final, Keith vs Arujau. 

119 pounds- Defending state champion sophomore Cody Ruggirello (Valley Central-9) is lodged in the lower bracket, he could face Zach Ellis (Brighton-5) in the quarterfinals and Ricardo Gomez (Brentwood-11) in the semifinals. Situated in the top bracket are a host of contenders, including finalist TJ Popolizio (Shenendehowa-2), who has a preliminary bout with Alex Marianetti (Greece Athena-5) and unbeaten state medalist Steven Bonanno of Wantagh-8. Former state runner-up freshman Casey LaNave (CForks-4) has opening match with Central Square's-3 Winky Shepard.

125 pounds- Two-time champion junior Paul Liguori (Wantagh-8) has a 118-match win streak and is lodged in the top bracket. He will face the winner of the Dan Riggi (Scotia-2) vs Corey Borshoff (Pittsford-5) bout in the quarterfinlas. Other top tier challengers are Drew Bloss (Cornwall-9) and tough Derak Heyman of Tioga-4. Returning state winner Devon Brown (Marathon-4) is in the bottom bracket, along with contenders Jesse Sgaglione (Plainedge-8) and state placer junior Jamie Franco of Monroe-Woodbury-9. Frenetic final could be Liguori vs Brown.

130 pounds- State finalist sophomore Stephen Dutton (Hauppauge-11) is here and will most likely face the winner of state medalist Dom Oddo (Mahopac-1) vs Nick Terenzi (Spencerport-5) opening bout in the semifinals. Bottom bracket competitors are Kyle Piaquadio (Newburgh-9) and bronze medalist Brian Benton (Amsterdam-2). They meet in a tough first round bout, with the winner to meet Massapequa's-8 Mike Doria in the other semi match-up.

135 pounds-Tough opening draw has state placer Shane Strumwasser (161 wins) of Massapequa-8 to square off with four-time Div. II Champion Mike Castellano (36-2, 136-22) of John Glenn-11.That lower bracket survivor should face the winner of Nic Stella (Sweet Home-6) vs Kellenberg's-C Andrew Pappas opening bout. Stella handed Strumwasser his lone setback of the season, a 5-1 verdict, at the Eastern States. In the top tier is top-ranked Mark Lewandowski (Lancaster-6) who has prelim with Zach McCormick (Johnson City-4). Also in that bracket is three-time Section Five finalist Josh Veltre (Greece Olympia), who meets Andy Rodriguez (Central Islip-11) in another interesting first round match. Others to watch here are Zach Crain (Columbia-2), Luke Bohn (Watertown-3) and Giuseppi Lanzi of Amsterdam-2. A weight class with a stable of contenders.

140 pounds- Returning state finalist junior Zach Clemente (LaSalle-2) is top-ranked and has an opening bout with three-time state meet qualifier Joe Calderone (St.Anthony's-C). Also to watch in that top bracket are Suffolk's Christian LaPersonerie (36-3) of Copiague and Rob Troy (37-3) of Walt Whitman. State place-winner Mike D'Amato (Valley Central-9) is a potential finalist along with other bottom bracket contenders, Rocky Cervini (Plainedge-8), Chris Collura (Spencerport-5) and Sean Floor of Port Jervis-9, Collura and Floor will meet in a tough opening round bout.

145 pounds- Senior Donnie Vinson (Whitney Point-4) was state runner-up in 2007 and is the favorite to capture the gold medal. His first round opponent is Ray Powers (35-4) of Mt. Sinai-11. Others to watch in that bracket are TJ Neidhardt (40-2) of SWR-11 and Clay Reeb (Cheektowaga-6). Possible finalists from the top bracket are Jeff Goff (Penfield-5) and the winner of state-ranked grapplers, junior John Greisheimer (Wantagh-8) and state placer Mick Lechter of ESMinoa-3.

152 pounds- Three top prospects here including bronze medalist John-Martin Cannon (Brockport-5) in the lower bracket. He should be able to get passed Kerron Williams (35-1) of Baldwin-8 and Paul Dilandro (32-3) of Westhampton Beach-11 to reach the finals. Rugged opening round bout has two of the state's best squaring off, as state finalist Ron Majerus (32-1) of Mexico-3 meets Peter Capone (Johnson City-4). That winner could face Amityville's-11 Angel Mazara (36-2), and emerge from the top bracket to the championship bout.

160 pounds- Top-ranked Bryan Bourne (Spencerport-5) should coast through the upper bracket. Possible semifinal opponent could be Michael Hernandez (25-4) of Brentwood-11, Jordan Spirou (43-3) of Clarke-8 or junior Jesse Villella of Chenango Forks-4. Bottom bracket favorite is state placer Matt Bogardus of Fulton-3. He will most likely face Keith Corley (Valley Central-9) in the quarterfinals and TJ Brownell of Unadilla Valley-4 in the semi-finals. Both Bourne and Majerus are unbeaten, and on a collision course for the finals. Look for a great match here Sunday night and possibly the OSW Award.

171 pounds- Former NYS champion junior Austin Meys finished fifth at 140 pounds at the 2007 state meet. He is now the favorite and perched in the upper tier and could face state medalist sophomore Angelo Malvestuto (Niagara-Wheatfield-6) in an interesting quarterfinal. Also in the top tier is John Makastchian (38-3) of Plainedge-8. Potential finalists from the bottom bracket are Marc Giordano (New Hartford-3), Jose Mendez (35-2) of Brentwood-11 and Tom Voorhis of Chenango Forks-4.

189 pounds- Defending state champion and solid favorite Hunter Meys (Shenendehowa-2) should breeze to the finals from the bottom bracket and gain a few falls along the way. His challengers are Conor Ingham (Fulton-3), Mike Skeels (Pioneer-6) and either Christian Boley (Brockport-5) or Steven Butler (Port Jervis-9). Upper bracket opposition will be either Zach Buonaiuto (38-2) of Miller Place-11, Josh Peters (Vestal-4), state medalist Jake Newcomb (Niskayuna-2) or local nemesis Jared Myhrberg of Queensbury-2. Possible  rematch of the Section Two finals here for the state gold medal.

215 pounds- State finalist and sectional champion Robert Eskander (35-1) should prevail to the finals from the top bracket. To reach the championship match, he must advance past James Chaplin (Fowler-3) and the winner of Tony Clarke (Dryden-4) or CJ Floor of  Port Jervis-9. Section Five foe Paul Glover (34-1) of Spencerport has a victory over Eskander this season and recently lost an overtime decision to him in the sectional finals. Pushing him in the bottom bracket will be the opening bout winner between Tim Elbert (Queesbury-2) and Jahsua Marsh (35-2) of Brentwood-11. Also to watch in that bracket is highly-regarded, unbeaten Spencer DeSena of Garden City-8. Look for an Eskander-Glover rematch for the coveted state title.

285 pounds- Randy Colling (Pioneer-6) is top-rated and should improve on his 2007 state runner-up finish. He has a tough opening bout with Tyler Peter (35-2) of Mexico-3  in the bottom bracket. Other challengers in that bracket are Ken Altarac (LaSalle-2), Joe Zitone (Port Jervis-9) and Bobby Tobia (38-1) of Calhoun-8. Lodged in the top tier is state medalist Corey James (Kingston-9), he faces Jeff St. Simon (20-1) of Valley Stream Central-8 in a preliminary bout. That winner should face either Matt Mahon (Brighton-5) or Dashaun Thomas (37-3) of Huntington-11 in a semi-final clash.

     In the
Division II Tournament at 96 pounds the favorite is freshman and state placer Arik Robinson (Peru-7). His challengers will be Dom Giacolone (39-2) of Cato-Meridian-3, along with sophomore Colton Dalberth (Marion-5), Ben Haas (Salamanca-6) and Cotlon Perry of Windsor-4. At 103 pounds, defending champion Kyle Crisafulli (30-4) of Phoenix could meet nemesis DJ Pfluger (36-1) of Sandy Creek in a great semi-final battle. They both met in the Section Three finals, with Pfluger taking an overtime decision. State medalist Quinton Murphy (Holley-5), should emerge from the lower bracket, his possible semi-final opponent could be Kyle McGregor (Tonawanda-6). Also in that bracket is the lone female competitor in the tournament, sophomore Sarah Anderson of Schuylerville-2. The 112-pound class has reignning champion Tyler Marlow (Palmyra-Macedon-5). Also in that bracket is  Joe Smalldone (Geneva-5)  who meets state medalist Pete Avellaneda (Beekmantown-7) in an opening round bout. Smalldone edged Marlow, 4-3, in the Section Five finals. In the top bracket is bronze medalist Cody Dill (Unatego-4), along with three state place-winners; senior Rob Broda (Eden-6)  Danny Gormley (BGA-4) and Matt Peters (EAurora-6). Look for a Marlow vs Smalldone semi-final tussle, with that winner to most likely to face Dill. At 119 pounds is 2006 state champion senior Chris Conti (Fredonia-6), who is perched in the top tier. His possible finals opponent is highly-touted senior Brian Borst (Duanesberg-2). Others to watch in this weight class are Abram Rowe (Ripley-6), freshman Patrick Hogan (Peru-7) and  Sean Hanson of South Jefferson-3.The 125-pound class is loaded with talent, in the top tier are David Sleeman (Gouverneur-10), medalist  Brian Kampnich (IHC-3) and state-ranked Mark Gillen of Johnstown-2. Lodged in the botton bracket are bronze medalist Eric Velez (Medina-6) and tough Garrett Morabito (Susquehanna Valley-4). They most likely will meet in the semi-finals. Other possible medalists are Mark Creedon (Locust Valley-8) and Brett Sewalt of Waverly-4. Two of New York State's best are at 130 pounds; two-time champion Ian Paddock (Warsaw-5) and returning titlist Kyle Dake (Lansing-4). Both are juniors, undefeated and nationally ranked. Paddock should face two-time state medalist, senior Matt Metzler (Salamanca-6) in the semi-finals and Dake might meet the winner of state placer Ken Kampnich (41-0) of IHC-3 vs Andrew Leone (CMoriches-11) bout. Watch for a hard-fought bout with Dake and Kampnich. Paddock and Dake are headed for the marquee match of the Division II Championships. All eyes will be on that intriguing final, as the winner will take home the gold medal and the outstanding wrestler award. At 135 pounds is state king Alex Ekstrom (Palmyra-Macedon-5) who should coast to the finals rom the bottom bracket. Hoping to reach the finals from the top tier will be the winner of the Mark Crisafulli (Phoenix-3) vs Brian Sewalt (Waverly-4) opening round match. Others to watch are eighth-grader Zach Diekel (Whitehall-2) and Logan Collins (Ripley-6). The 140-pound class has returning titlist, junior Mike Nevinger (Letchworth-5) in the bottom bracket. He should sail into the finals and capture his second title. Possible finalists here are Jeff Brigham (Roy-Hartland-6) or Robert Merchant (Cobleskill-2). At 145 pounds is defending champion, junior Kenny Betts (Fredonia-6) who will face Jesse Carling (Waverly-4) in the quarterfinals. In the top bracket look for finalist Josh Mayville (Marion-5) and state placer Antonio Doldo (38-1) of IHC-3 to be engaged in a close semi-final bout. Standing tall at 152 pounds is top ranked and retrurning finalist Derek Brenon (38-1, 28 pins) of IHC-3. Interesting opening draw has state placer Aaron Barber (Hudson Falls-2) against Cory Storie (Gouverneur-10). The winner of that bout will most likely face bronze medalist Nick Czapla of Warsaw-5. In 160-pound class is finalist Mike Gresh (Ripley-6) who is perched in the talented upper bracket. Also placed in that bracket are Ryan Black (Warrensburg-2), Kris Stafford (BGA-4) and Pat Carter of Attica-5. Third-place finisher Ryan LeBlanc (39-2) of Morrisville-Eaton-3 should reach the finals from the bottom bracket. The favorite at 171 pounds is sophomore Tyler Beckwith of Greene-4. His finals opponent should be either Cody Hutcheson (Bath-5), Josh Nephew (Beekmantown-7) or Wheeler Brunschmid of Sherburne-Earville-3.The 189-pound class has returning bronze medalist senior Nate Schiedel (Caledonia-Mumford-5) and is lodged in the top bracket. Upper bracket contenders are junior Chris Nocchi (Waverly-4) and Rob Piscitello (Locust Valley-8). Hoping to reach the championship bout from the lower bracket are Andrew Penree (Frankfort-Schuyler-3), Lou Emden (Johnstown-2) and Chad Danlin (Phoenix-3). At 215 pounds senior Hank Penree of Frankfort-Schuyler-3 is the top choice here and should dominate the upper bracket and reach the gold medal match. Potential finalists are Jake Dale (Keshequa-5) and Brad Eichelberger (Fredonia-6). The 285-pound class has reigning champion Dustin Frederick of Ausable Valley-7 in the top bracket. Possible semi-final opponents are Dillon Fiske (Waverly-4) or Chris Pike (Sherburne-Earville-3). Looking to reach the finals from the lower bracket are Austin Lee (Cato-Meridian-3), RJ Sharp (Red Creek-5) and Art Garvey of East Aurora-6.
Undefeated Paul Liguori of Wantagh will lead an experienced Nassau squad at this year's meet. Liguori, a 125 pound junior will be looking for his third state crown.
Defending state champion Steven Keith of Shoreham Wading River is at 112 pounds this year and will lead a very strong Suffolk team up to Rochester this weekend.