Apex Wrestling takes Second at the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) Pre-Season Nationals!

For the second consecutive year APEX Wrestling School placed second behind Blair at the NHSCA Pre-Season Nationals.  In the past three years APEX has placed 1st, 2nd, 2nd at this tournament.  While Blair won this year by a wide margin the score was closer in reality as two athletes that wrestled for APEX were listed under the home town schools, rather than APEX.  Congratulations to everyone who competed.

The young squad started off the first two rounds with a bang, going a combined, 17-4!  At 103 Billy Reardon got the squad started with a strong 6-0 win over Holt Johnson of Blair.  Meanwhile Luis Gonzales followed up with a very strong technical fall over Travis Passaro from Long Islands Razor wrestling club.

At 112 Mike Constantino showed even though he was wrestling up a weight he couldn’t be taken lightly with a late take down in the third period to secure an 8-4 win over the older Tony Giancola.  Senior Chris Lantz showed that he was in competition shape when he started 2-0 on the day with a 13-0 win over Franklin’s Andrew Turner and a 4-1 win over the dangerous Chad Walsh from Wrecking Crew Wrestling Club.

119 saw Cranford Junior Joe Giaccio wrestling up a weight.  Joe started strong with a pin via arm bar and figure four over Steel’s Gil Sa.  In the next round Joe squared over in an intense match against Mark Grey of Blair.  Joe came out strong and tried to control the tempo as the more experienced Grey took advantage of a small mistake to go up 2-0.  Working hard from bottom Joe fell just short of a reversal as the first period time ran out just as Joe secured the reversal.  It was a close call but the table indicated time had just barely run out.  Grey chose top in the second period. On bottom in the second period Joe nearly escaped in the first few seconds only to be driven out of bounds.  From their Grey ran a nasty tilt series to put the match almost out of reach.  Going into the third period Joe chose neutral and once again pushed the pace.  Using his speed and heavy hand fighting Joe took down Grey with a beautiful high crotch and nearly secured the turk.  Unable to score from top Joe ended up losing 11-2.

Joe Orrechio showed off some new muscle wrestling at 125.  A quick pin over Brian Dorman of Wadsworth was followed by a convincing 7-3 win over Senior Josh Medina of Hamilton West who was coming off a first period pin of his own.

At 130 we had Joe Dequinzio who wrestles for both APEX and the Olympic wrestling club.  Joe found himself down early in the first match but earned a reversal to tie the match at 2-2.  On his feet in the third Joe showed to have too much experience for Club Fury’s Spencer Parcel as he earned the winning takedown.  The next round saw Joe hit a groove with a 15-0 technical fall.

135 had Cranford’s Matt Digiovanni.  Coming off and injury there was concern about how Matt would do but he quickly showed that he was back in competition shape as he cruised to a third period pin over Eddie Loomis.

We move on to 152 where Brearly’s Devin Geoghegan showed that he will be looking to make a statement this coming season.  Devin over powered Team Tugman’s Taylor Caputo in a 10-0 match that showed Devin scoring the first takedown, an escape and several turns throughout the match.  In the next match Devin came out looking to score first and countered Triumph’s Conner Case’s leg attack for a early 2-0 lead.  Devin pinned Case in early in the second period with a fall time of 1:47.

At 160 Ben Villaret from Staten Island was forced to injury default out of the tournament after severely pulling his hamstring in the first round.  Good luck in your recovery Ben!  Sophomore Keith Lemongello showed that he was looking to show everyone that his Freshman National Finals appearance was no fluke!   Down in the third period against Club Fury’s Chris Carey Keith used his superior conditioning to push the pace.  Carey was doing a great job of countering and hand fighting not giving up position.  With less than 15 seconds left Keith got in on a high single which saw Carey sprawling hard.  It looked like the match was going to be over when Keith gave it everything he had and lifted Carey high in the air bringing him down hard to the mat for the match winning takedown.  Keith followed that up with another come from behind victory over the experienced Josh Zarmin of Steel Mat Club who was disqualified after the match when he tried to take a swing at the victorious Lemongello.  Keith kept his cool and showed great sportsmanship.

At 189 Khusen Tamarov of Brearly started strong when he countered Sal Carillo’s sprawl, putting Sal on his back.  It looked like the Sal was pinned when injury time was called.  In the second period Khusen threw Carillo to his back and secured the fall.  The next round showed Khusen is not just a counter wrestler when he scored on a late single to win 5-4.

With 5 semi-finalists things were looking good for Apex to make a run at Blair for the team title.  At 112 Chris Lantz was taken out of the match by some questionable officiating that saw both Coaches Logan and Wernikoff going to the scoring table to question calls as well as poor work on the clock by the scoring table.  In the end Chris was on his feet and unable to secure the takedown to tie the match against NY’s Chris Perez.  Perez is a state title hopeful in what will be one of the most loaded weights in NY this year.

Joe Orrechio showed he wasn’t going to be stopped from achieving his goals in a win via fall in 4:25.   Starting off slow once again Joe Dequinzio turned it on in the quarters to win 7-3 only to lose in a heartbreaker 5-3 against Scott Festejo from Shore Thing.  Scott went on to take second losing 5-1 against Austin Ormsbee from Blair.

With a 6-2 victory in the quarters over one of North Carolina’s best, Nick Vetell, Devin Geoghegan found himself down 3-2 in the semi’s.  Having been hit with stalling :02 seconds after escaping in the second period Devin had no choice but to come out on his feet in the third very aggressive.  In what might have been one of the worst calls in the whole tournament Devin’s opponent got a takedown call on the edge of the mat to put the match out of reach.  While there are no excuses and ref’s don’t decide matches one can’t help but feel sympathy for Devin’s frustration which was certainly shared by his coaches.

At 189 Khusen was beat by the much more experienced Chaste Harrell 4-1.  Khusen then won his next two matches to take a very strong 3rd in a loaded weight class.

In the finals Joe Orrechio posted one of the most exciting matches of the tournament.  Down early Joe had to wrestle back and close the score.  With less than :30 seconds left in the match Joe earned the tying takedown and put the match into overtime.  The first period of overtime went with out a single takedown as both athletes had several scoring chances.  In double OT Joe was put down where he was twice stalemated.  With less that :12 seconds left Joe found himself in a crab ride and it looked like he was not going to get out.  Ever the fighter Joe continued to work and with :03 seconds left earned the escape and won the match.

Congratulations to all of the APEX Wrestling School wrestlers who chose to test themselves at this great event.