The Journal News: Area wrestlers exude confidence

Senior Captain Danny Kornberg

From The Journal News

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Written by VINCENT Z. MERCOGLIANO

When the Edgemont Panthers look up at the state champions banner in their wrestling room, they see not a single name printed on it.

The blank spaces where the names should be serve as a reminder that there is much to accomplish for this season’s Panthers, as there is for every team across Section 1.

“It’s easy for a high school kid to confuse confidence and complacency,” said Edgemont first-year coach Pete Jacobson, who is taking over for George DiChiara after 22 seasons. “What we talked about today is that confidence is good, but there is no place for confidence in the way of hard work. We haven’t won anything yet. … There’s a reason we got that banner.”

Coaches around the section preached the same message to their teams on Monday when the first official day of wrestling practice began ? expectations are great, but they don’t win championships.

Edgemont is one team in particular that enters the season with some hype surrounding it. The Panthers placed second in Division 2 last season with no seniors on the team, and have everyone coming back with the hope of making a run at a title.

“I feel more confident than I ever have,” Edgemont senior Danny Kornberg said. “It’s been completely different coming into this season. We’re returning everyone, and we have a bunch of new kids who are ready to go also.”

Edgemont’s biggest competition for a sectional title figures to be defending champion Nanuet. The Golden Knights were absolutely loaded in 2010-11, but lost four state qualifiers. Still, they were by far the deepest team in Division 2 last season and have a strong core returning, led by junior Anthony Calvano.

“You can’t start looking at teams like Nanuet and other teams upstate,” said Edgemont junior Trey Aslanian, who placed second in the state last season. “I can’t control what they’re doing every day; all I know is what I’m doing every day and the example I’m setting.”

In Division 1, defending champion Fox Lane enters as the early favorite to repeat. The Foxes lost state champion Steven Rodrigues, but return the majority of their core. Seniors Sam Speno and Danny Ventura will both be looking for state titles after placing second last season.

“With the experience coming back, it forms a nice nucleus,” Fox Lane coach Joe Amuso said. “I think once kids get in the room and see the caliber of competition, they know they have to work hard.”

Fox Lane’s biggest competition figures to be Somers and New Rochelle.

The Tuskers have the hands-down best wrestler in the state in Cornell-bound senior Brian Realbuto, who has won two state titles. Realbuto and his younger brother Dylan, who placed second in the state last season, lead a team that brings a lot of talent back.

The Huguenots lost state champ Malcolm Allen, but have a roster loaded with senior wrestlers, led by defending sectional champ Aaron Butler.

“This is probably the most amount of seniors we’ve had since 2008,” New Rochelle coach Jim Guccione said. “But even though we had a lot of seniors in ’08, we didn’t have as many returning high place-finishers.”

Brewster, North Rockland, Suffern and Mahopac also figure to be in the mix in Division 1.

The big story entering the season is the major weight-class changes. Most lighter weights have been bumped up by a few pounds, and there are now seven weight classes above 150 pounds, as opposed to six in years past.

“I think it definitely gives an advantage to large schools like us, because we’re going to have an easier time filling those weights,” North Rockland coach Andy Guccione said. “It’s harder to find those bigger guys.”