Between March 16-20, WIN Magazine will be in Detroit, Mich., for the...
Battle for the Belt: Super 32 Review
By Willie Saylor
Another Super 32 is in the books, but it wasn’t just “another” Super 32. The 2011 edition, which was held Oct. 29-30, was competed with perhaps the deepest and most talented field ever in Greensboro, which is quite a feat considering that the Division I wrestling rankings are filled with former Super 32 competitors.
The wrestling this year was again outstanding. Compelling match-ups could be found everywhere, even early and often on Day I in the Greensboro Coliseum. Head to any of the close bars or restaurants at the end of the day and they were buzzing with wrestling folk digesting all the day’s results.
Day II? Forget about it. So much top-quality action the spectators in the bleachers and skyboxes looked as if they were watching tennis with their back-and-forth head swiveling.
In the end, some stars fell while new ones emerged, all in another memorable year in the Coliseum.
Here is a weight-by-weight run-down of all the championship matches and notes of one of the wildest Super 32s yet.
Michael Kemerer (Pa.) scored just seconds into the bout and rode out the rest of the first. Matt Kolodzik (Ohio) took neutral and returned the favor in the second. Some thought he deserved a nearfall on that takedown. To start the third, Kemerer chose bottom. Kolodzik nearly rode the entire period out, but had a tilt locked up when Kemerer rolled through it for the escape and decisive point and won 3-2.
“I was a little nervous coming in,” Kemerer said. “It was my first big high school tournament and I knew all the good guys here. So I just had to go out there and work my stuff and do the best I could do.”
Notes: Pennsylvania has had a junior high placer at 103/106 in three of the last four years at the Super 32 as eighth-grader Luke Pletcher finished fifth. Indiana also brought in a talented seventh grader. Though he didn’t place, Nick Lee was impressive, losing a narrow 3-2 decision on the front side to Sean Russell (Ga.) and came within two matches of placing in a bracket with well over 100 entries.
In a rematch of the three-period Fargo final from July, Jarred Brooks of Indiana reversed the decision in a fantastic bout to win 3-2 over Ohioan Nathan Tomasello, who finished as a runner-up for the second straight year.
“We were in opposite brackets, so I knew there was a long way for both of us to get to the finals, especially with so much talent here,” said Brooks. “So I just went out and wrestled it match by match. He’s a great kid, and a great wrestler, so it feels good to win a Super 32 title and to beat him here.
“Tomasello has a great sweep single, so I tried to take that away.”
Notes: In March, Brendan Calas and Luis Gonzalez wrestled in the New Jersey state finals. On Sunday, they wrestled again in the wrestlebacks at Super 32, with Calas winning again.
West Virginian Ryan Diehl (who was fourth at 103 pounds last year) was a heavy underdog. In a championship bout dominated by short-offense situations, Diehl came out on top and, in the process, put himself in the conversation as one of the country’s best as he defeated George DiCamillo (of Ohio), 4-2. Diehl’s leg passes on his opponent’s final takedown attempt in the waning moments was simply brilliant stuff.
“I went to a camp this summer and the instructor showed us some stuff,” Diehl said. “So I’ve been messing around with it in practices lately.”
Notes: Diehl was originally registered to wrestle here at 113. He said after the finals that he had high school certifications (and the required hydration test) just two days before the Super 32. That made him drink a lot of water, and his weight went up. Instead of cutting it late, he just moved up to 120. Andrew Atkinson (Va.) won five consecutive wrestleback matches to take third. His only loss came to Jacob Goodwin (Texas), the same guy he beat for third.
This was a bout of two halves; the first featured Anthony Ashnault (N.J.) staying away and playing the edge. The second, with Joey Dance (Va.) in the lead, had Ashnault more aggressive.
“Early on I tried to make him close the gap,” Ashnault said. “He is so quick, I wanted to neutralize that. But obviously, I was trailing then. So I thought I better just wrestle the way I know how, and to use my stuff. At the end, I was able to put a shot on top of a shot and it worked out.”
Ashnault also talked about “the toughest bracket ever.”
“Ah. I don’t get into all that,” he said. “At the Super 32, when it gets down to it, everyone is tough. I just try to stay focused for every match and grind it out.”
Notes: Dance doesn’t know how to NOT make the finals here. The junior made it for the third straight year. Both he and Ashnault already had S32 belts coming in.
The match went to overtime tied at two; a reversal for Devon Jackson (Ind.) vs. two escapes by Alex Cisneros (Calif.). Cisneros had a good scoring opportunity in overtime, but couldn’t convert the takedown on the edge. Jackson chose bottom and Cisneros rode him out for a 3-2 win and his second Super 32 belt.
Consider these facts: Austin Mathews (Pa.) is ranked nationally, he’s twice won NHSCA national weight-class titles in Virginia Beach and he was a Pennsylvania state runner-up last year as a sophomore. Now consider that Michigan’s Ben Whitford completely dominated him, 13-3, in a match that included many “wow” moments. Whitford is a special talent.
Notes: You also have to give Ohioan Nate Skonieczny his due. Despite a disappointing early loss, he won eight straight wrestleback matches to claim third. North Carolinian Tony DeAngelo, who was a NHSCA junior runner-up, had another great tourney and placed fifth. Corey Stasenko (N.J.) and Mike Hess (Fla.) put their names on the map by claiming fourth and sixth.
Lenny Richardson (N.J.) proved he’s a very good wrestler with high upside after almost running the gamut in Greensboro as he scored first in the finals (in one of the weirdest takedowns you’ll ever see). But Jacob Crawford (Va.) came back with one of his beautiful low singles and a couple escapes to take the belt, 4-2, in his second career Super 32 final.
Notes: How about Jake Faust of Ohio. He lost in the second round then ripped off ten straight wins to finish third. The list of kids he beat on the back side is impressive, to say the least: Will Switzer (Md), Kevin Moylan (Ill.), James Dekrone (NY), Ty Lydic (Pa.), Solomon Chisko (Pa.) and Matt Cimato (Pa.).
In a battle of former NHSCA champs, Josh Llopez (Md.) and Nick Kee (N.C.) are two probable future stars. Llopez is much smaller than Kee, but that didn’t stop him as he put his slickness and non-stop motor to use, winning scrambles in a 5-1 win.
“It was great to win this,” Llopez said. “It’s a great tournament with so many good guys here. I feel like I always come up just short. To tell you the truth, I feel like I’ve choked a lot in big matches. So getting a win in the finals of such a big tournament was a great feeling.”
Notes: This weight was extremely young. Of the top five placers, only third-place John Keck (N.Y.) has more than two years of high school wrestling experience. With their past credentials and now a placing here, fourth-place Garrett Hammond (Pa.) and fifth-place Garrett Peppelman (Pa.) upped their stock.
Pennsylvania sophomore Chance Marsteller was in control as usual, but the hardnosed, blue-collar Cody Allala (Va.) made him work for his points in a 5-2 decision.
Notes: The backside was filled with injury defaults. Devon Gobbo (N.J.), Victor Peirera (Calif.), Jason Luster (Pa.) and Geno Morelli (Pa.) all sacrificed at least one bout.
Taylor Massa (Michigan) enforced his will on Elliot Riddick (Pa.), getting him out of position and capitalizing on it time and time again for a 16-6 major.
Oregon’s Brandon Griffin was looking for his second title, and in the opening moments of the bout it looked like he was off to a good start. He got in with a standing single, and was looking for the first points.
But he was unable to convert and Timothy Dudley (S.C.) posted won two hand-fighting situations thereafter to cap an 8-1 win and a fabulous tournament.
Dudley, the NHSCA Junior champion from last spring, verballed to North Carolina just days before the tournament.
This was a really interesting match-up of two similar wrestlers Matt McCutcheon (Pa.) and Brooks Climmons (Ga). Both are on the smallish side. Both are quick and active and really ‘go’. Both have great hips. Regulation went without a takedown, but that wasn’t due to a lack of action. McCutcheon escaped for the belt in the ride out of a 2-1 decision.
Thomas Haines (Pa.) wrestled both fluidly and assertively, turning everything Ray Stone (Ohio) had into points for a 13-0 major.
Haines, who was the heaviest freshman to win a Pennsylvania state title last winter, also becomes the heaviest sophomore to win a Super 32 title. Patrick Bond (Great Bridge, VA) won at 189 pounds in 2002.
Although it was just a one-point affair, Doug Vollaro dominated positioning and was noticeably excited after winning the belt, 3-1 over fellow Floridian John Dreggors. Florida took the top three places with Mike Kosoy claiming third.