* Watch a TV broadcast of the match on Monday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. on iO Ch 14 *
WEST NYACK, N.Y. — On paper, New Jersey looked like a heavy favorite heading into Sunday's NY/NJ All-Star Wrestling Charity Challenge at Clarkstown South High School.
The Garden State grapplers boasted an impressive roster with nine state champions, which nearly doubled New York's total of five. New Jersey also had five state runner-ups to New York's two.
But the kids from the Empire State left their mark where it mattered most: on the mat.
New York pulled out a thrilling 27-23 victory over New Jersey behind a clutch effort from Shenendehowa 285-pounder Cole Lampman. The barrel-chested heavyweight edged Morris Knolls' Jermaine Eleumenor, 2-1, in triple overtime of the day's final bout.
Lampman earned the go-ahead point with an escape in the second overtime and then corralled Eleumenor over the final 30 seconds of the third overtime to seal it.
“I've been training since November, so my conditioning never went away after states,” said Lampman, who placed third at the NYS D1 championships last month.
Long Beach 152-pounder Dylan Palacio was there to greet Lampman immediately following the match, hoisting him up on his shoulders to spark the post-match celebration. It was a moment that capsulized New York's unlikely victory, as two kids from completely different parts of the state reveled in a an almost brotherhood-like camaraderie.
“I only knew a few kids before this meet,” Lampman said. “Right now, however, we are really close. It feels like we are teammates and like we've been wrestling together the whole year.”
North Rockland 145-pounder Mike Caputo, who was joined by Scarsdale's Jacob Berkowitz (182) as the only other Section 1 participant, expanded on the feeling.
“It's live, man,” said Caputo, who dropped an 11-5 decision to Lenny Richardson of St. Peter's Prep. “It's everyone supporting each other. It doesn't matter if you win or lost — everyone is on their feet getting loud cheering on their teammates. It's just one state.”
Overall, Palacio was New York's best wrestler. The undefeated (41-0) NYS D1 champ recorded the lone pin, turning Trenton Central's Raamiah Bethea with 48 seconds left in the final period. Like Palacio, Bethea also entered as an undefeated state champ. Palacio remained perfect and earned Most Outstanding Wrestler honors.
The biggest upset of the day belonged to Canastota's Zack Zupan (170), who snapped Ryan Harrington's 84-match winning streak with a narrow 6-5 decision. Harrington, a West Morris Mendham senior, was penalized for grabbing Zupan's headgear as time expired in the first period. Zupan, who was coming off a NYS D1 crown and entered with a record of 43-1, was awarded a point. It ended up being the difference in the match. Harrington also gambled in the third period by granting Zupan precious escape points.
New York's lightweights and middleweights scored the bulk of its points. Jose Rodriguez (99, Wantagh), Nick Piccininni (106, Ward Melville), Sean McCabe (120, Connetquot), Maverick Passaro (126, Eastport-South Manor) and Nick Kelley (132, Shenendehowa) all recorded wins by decision to help New York jump out to a commanding 15-3 lead.
New Jersey cleaned up as the scales tipped, taking six of the final nine matches to setup the eventual do-or-die heavyweight showdown. At that point, however, New York had decided that losing wasn't an option.
“We had a lot of heart,” Caputo said. “Our guys know how to wrestle in big tournaments. They know how to get it done.”
NOTES: The NY/NJ All-Star Wrestling Charity Challenge benefitted two charities — Pinning Down Autism and The Adam Frey Foundation. Frey, who lost his battle with cancer in 2009, wrestled at Blair Academy and then at Cornell University. The non-profit organization was formed to help cancer patients deal with the rigors of treatment. Pinning Down Autism was founded in December of 2006 by members of the wrestling community who were directly affected by Autism. The group has worked to create awareness by holding wrestling tournaments across the Tri-State.
99: Jose Rodriguez (Wantagh/NY) dec. Kyle Bierdumpfel (Mahwah/NJ), 11-7
106: Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville/NY) dec. Carl Buttitta (JFK/NJ), 7-4
113: Brandon Calas (Seton Hall Prep/NJ) dec. Patrick Skinner (Kellenberg/NY), 5-0
120: Sean McCabe (Connetquot/NY) dec. Mike Magaldo (Watchung Hills/NJ), 4-2
126: Maverick Passaro (Eastport-SM/NY) dec. Gary Dinmore (Hunterdon Central/NJ), 3-1
132: Nick Kelley (Shenendehowa/NY) dec. Scott Delvecchio (South Plainfield/NJ), 5-1
138: B.J. Clagon (Toms River South/NJ) dec. Anthony Finocchiaro (Canastota/NY), 8-4
145: Lenny Richardson (St. Peter's Prep/NJ) dec. Mike Caputo (North Rockland/NY), 11-5
152: Dylan Palacio (Long Beach/NY) pin Raamiah Bethea (Trenton Central), 5:12
160: Johnny Sebastian (Bergen Catholic/NJ) dec. Rrok Ndokaj (Monsignor Farrell/NY), 6-3
170: Zack Zupan (Canastota/NY) dec. Ryan Harrington (West Morris Mendham), 6-5
182: Dallas Winston (Jackson Memorial/NJ) maj. dec. Jacob Berkowitz (Scarsdale/NY), 10-2
195: Eric McMullen (North Bergen/NJ) maj. dec. Reggie Williams (Johnson City/NY), 14-2
220: Lex Knapp (Lacey Township/NJ) dec. Patryk Kopcynski (Brooklyn Tech), 1-0
285: Cole Lampman (Shenendehowa/NY) dec. Jermaine Eleumenor (Morris Knolls), 2-1 (3OT)
Final: New York 27, New Jersey 23
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Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass