It goes without saying that this year has been very different than any other year in history. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned this nation on its ear and the ripple effect has impacted everyone. While I am certainly not suggesting that our senior wrestlers have been affected in the same way as a coronavirus victim or a small business owner has, I do feel that they have been shortchanged from a recognition standpoint so I have decided to put together this post focusing solely on our senior Section 9 champions, finalists and place winners.
State Place Winners – D1 and D2
Tommy Askey (Pine Bush)
Askey cemented his legacy as one of Section 9’s all-time greats with an absolutely incredible senior season. One year after finishing 4th in NYS at 145, Askey put together a flawless senior campaign finishing 41-0 winning both the Eastern States Classic and the NYSPHSAA Championships. Asked capped off his senior season by defeating AJ Kovacs in the state finals. Kovacs was a defending state champion and ranked #5 in the nation at the time of the match. Askey will continue his academic and wrestling career at D1 Appalachian State.
Joey McGinty (Monroe Woodbury)
McGinty capped off a phenomenal senior season by making it all the way to the 160 pound state finals before losing a decision to nationally ranked Cooper Kropman of Section 5 Penfield. He was a 2X state placer taking 4th place honors at 152 during his junior season. McGinty finished the year 36-5 and also placed 4th at the Eastern States Classic. McGinty has committed to wrestled at D1 Hofstra University in the Fall where one of his assistant coaches will be fellow Monroe Woodbury graduate Jamie Franco.
James Oosterom (Port Jervis)
Oosterom is a 2X place winner at the NYSPHSAA Division 2 Championships. James took 5th place as a junior and then ascended two spots and placed 3rd at 220 pounds this season. Oosterom’s record this season was 40-3 and all three of his losses came to the two wrestlers that finished ahead of him at the state tournament – Karl Bouyer (2X) and state champ Jeff Crooks. James has chosen to continue his academic and athletic career at Alfred State where he will be coached by Highland graduate Justin Signorelli.
Matt Morris (Red Hook)
Morris is also a 2X place winner at the NYSPHSAA Division 2 Championships. The Red Hook senior placed 6th as both a junior and a senior. Matt wrestled at 120 pounds as a junior and 126 as a senior. Morris’ record this past season was 38-3 and he continuing his academic and wrestling future at Millersville University in PA.
Justin Morales (Middletown)
Morales is a 3X NYSPHSAA Division 1 Championship tournament qualifier and a 2X Section 9 champion. Justin capped off his excellent high school career by taking 6th place at 106 pounds at the state tournament in Albany as a senior. Morales finished his career as Middletown’s all time leader in wins with 157.
Joe Velazquez (Middletown)
Velazquez capped off an outstanding high school wrestling career by not only winning the Section 9 title but also placing 6th in NYS at 170 pounds. Velazquez sported an impressive 44-9 record as a senior and also placed 6th at the Eastern States Classic.
Nate Ross (Onteora)
Ross had an awesome senior year and won his 3rd Section 9 Division 2 title. Nate was hung up in an extremely tough weight class at the state tournament this year and did not place however he did place 6th in the state at 152 as a junior. Ross will follow the footsteps of his two older brothers Dillon Ross and Austin Weigel and continue his wrestling career at Division 1 University of Buffalo.
Maxx DeCapua (Newburgh Free Academy)
DeCapua has the interesting distinction of being the only wrestler in Section 9 history to be a 2X state place winner who has never won a Section 9 title. DeCapua finished 6th in the state at 195 as a sophomore and then took 3rd at 220 in his junior year. Maxx will continue his academic and wrestling career at Division III Johnson and Wales.
Division 1 Section 9 Champions and State Qualifiers
Jacob Chenier (Kingston)
A 2019 Section 9 champion at 113 pounds, Chenier is one of the most successful wrestlers in Kingston history. Jacob went 2-2 at the state tournament as a junior and was one win away from placing. As a senior, Chenier was stuck in an extremely tough 120 pound weight class and finished 3rd with his only loss coming to 2X champ Nick Picariello. Jacob will continue his wrestling career at SUNY Oneonta.
Nick Picariello (Minisink Valley)
Picariello is a 2X Section 9 D1 champion at 120 pounds. As a junior he defeated heavily favored Marco Vespa from Monroe Woodbury and won MOW and as a senior he repeated as S9 champ and was one match away from placing at the state tournament. He will wrestle for Ellenville graduate Anibal Nieves at Division II East Stroudsburg University in the Fall.
Jordan Suarez (Minisink Valley)
Suarez finished off an impressive high school career as a 2X Section 9 Division 1 champion. He won his first title at 126 pounds as a junior and then won title #2 at 132 as a senior. Suarez was a 4X Section 9 finalist! He finished his senior season with a 41-6 record and notched over 130 wins during his high school career!
Matt Romano (Valley Central)
Romano is a 3X qualifier for the NYSPHSAA Championship tournament. Matt was the Section 9 champion in 2018 at 126 pounds as a sophomore. He earned a wildcard birth into the state tournament in 2017 at 113 and then again this past season at 132 pounds.
Sean Savacool (Minisink Valley)
Savacool finished his career as a 2X Section 9 Division 1 champion and a 4X sectional place winner. Sean won both of his titles at 138 pounds and was one win away from placing at this year’s NYSPHSAA Championship tournament. Savacool was also a 2019 Eastern States Classic place winner. Sean has decided to serve our nation in the Coast Guard after high school.
Brian Giacchi (Middletown)
Giacchi came from the #3 seed in the Section 9 tournament and picked off the #2 seed Scott Geyson from Minisink Valley in the semis and top seeded Joe Russell from NFA in the finals to cap off his career as a Section 9 Division 1 champion. Giacchi suffered losses to both Geysen and Russell during the regular season! Brian will continue his wrestling career at Division 3 Castelton.
JC Cabrera (Minisink Valley)
Perhaps the biggest “Cinderella” story of the 2020 Section 9 Division 1 tournament was JC Cabrera. The Minisink Valley senior was not in the Warriors starting lineup for the majority of the season and was their 2nd entry at the 220 pound weight class for the sections. Cabrera had a great tournament and defeated the #2 and #4 seeds to finish his career as a Section 9 champ.
Division 2 Section 9 Champions
Joe Amato (Port Jervis)
Amato was the 132 pound Section 9 Division 2 champion. He was a 2X sectional place winner and finished his senior season with an impressive 33-8 record after going 1-2 at the state tournament in Albany. Amato, along with Marlboro’s John Antonelli, was awarded the Most Exciting Match of the Section 9 D2 finals.
Alex Lopez (Red Hook)
Lopez finished a very good high school career as the Section 9 Division 2 champion at 138 pounds. He dominated the sections with two pins and a win by forfeit. He finished his career as a 2X sectional place winner and he had a 27-9 record as a senior.
Tyler Benincasa (Red Hook)
Benincasa had an up and down senior season but he definitely got hot at the right time. Tyler finished the season with a 29-15 season, however he pinned his way through the Section 9 Division 2 tournament and was crowned the 145 pound champion!
Bryce Horner (Port Jervis)
Horner finished his high school career as a 2X Section 9 Division 2 finalist and he was the 2019 champion at 160 pounds. He made it to the finals at 160 pounds once again in 2020 however he ran into Onteora hammer Patrick Ross and had to settle for the silver medal.
Hunter Roberts (Eldred)
Roberts had a very solid season but basically flew under the radar for the majority of the season. He changed all of that in the Section 9 Division 2 tournament when he pinned the top seed Connor Boyer at the 1:00 mark in the finals and was crowned the 195 pound champion. Roberts went 1-2 at the state tournament and finished the year with a 27-8 record.
Devin McGovern (Chester)
McGovern capped off a great senior season as the 285 pound Section 9 Division 2 champion. He finished the season with a 23-6 record and he is a 2X sectional finalist. Devin has decided to continue his academic and wrestling career at SUNY Sullivan under head coach Anthony Ng, a Monticello HS graduate.
2020 Section 9 Division 1 Placewinners
2nd @ 120 – Santos Ocasio (Monroe Woodbury)
2nd @ 126 – Moises Diaz (Middletown)
4th @ 126 – Mia Macaluso (Minisink Valley)
5th @ 126 – Steven Armendariz (NFA)
6th @ 126 – Joe Ferro (Kingston)
3rd @ 132 – Josh Sam (Middletown)
4th @ 132 – Travis Phillips (Valley Central)
6th @ 132 – Eli Weinstein (Goshen)
5th @ 138 – Christian Francisco (Kingston)
6th @ 138 – Mitchell Gibson (New Paltz)
2nd @ 145 – Gabe Galarza (Pine Bush)
4th @ 145 – Aiden Cuppett (New Paltz)
6th @ 152 – Levi Wyns (New Paltz)
3rd @ 160 – Evan Gibbons (Warwick)
3rd @ 170 – Max Wernicki (Monroe Woodbury)
4th @ 170 – Nick Paterson (NFA)
5th @ 170 – Chris McLaughlin (Minisink Valley)
6th @ 170 – Ionnis Karystinakis (Goshen)
2nd @ 182 – Darwin Banegas (NFA)
3rd @ 195 – Zavier Bennet (Kingston)
4th @ 195 – Davis Burgoa (NFA)
6th @ 195 – Ed Wilkins (Pine Bush)
2nd @ 220 – Armel Duke (Middletown)
5th @ 220 – Stephon Holmes (Kingston)
6th @ 220 – Tyler Augustus (Wallkill)
3rd @ 285 – Frankie Hernandez (Monroe Woodbury)
6th @ 286 – Alex Nguyen (NFA)
2020 Section 9 Division 2 Placewinners
2nd @ 132 – John Antonelli (Marlboro)
3rd @ 132 – Mark Bruckenstein (Chester)
3rd @ 145 – Dan Klotz (Port Jervis)
4th @ 160 – Nick Tsironis (Red Hook)
2nd @ 170 – Kwalin Gonzalez (Chester)
3rd @ 182 – Henry Peters (Eldred)
3rd @ 195 – Erik Quick (Port Jervis)
2nd @ 220 – Jacob Southard (Port Jervis)
3rd @ 220 – Dylan Bullock (Chester)
2nd @ 285 – Shamar Gittens (Highland)
3rd @ 285 – Christian Kuster (Rondout Valley)
4th @ 285 – Jon Perez (Highland)