20-in-'12: Fox Lane wrestling

by Rob Diantonio+ on
Thu, Dec 29, 2011 11:00 PM

Updated Thu, Jan 5, 2012 10:09 PM
20-in-'12: Fox Lane wrestling
Photo by Rob DiAntonio

Joe Amuso (41st year)
Last year’s record: 20-1 (placed first at sectionals and second in the state)
Returning starters: 16

Familiar faces
Sam Speno, 126 pounds: The senior placed second in the state at 112 pounds last season and is a three-time Section 1 champion. The Binghamton-bound Speno has his eyes on a state championship this year. Amuso said that Speno is a well-rounded grappler in that he is strong in all positions: top, bottom and standing.
Danny Ventura, 132 pounds: The senior fell to Suffern’s Nick Oliveto in the 119-pound Section 1 final last season, but received a wild card bid to states and placed second. He avenged his loss to Oliveto in the state semifinals. The senior is the favorite to win a Section 1 title at 132 pounds this year.
Tom Grippi, 138 pounds: He placed second at sectionals at 135 pounds last year, losing to a two-time state champion in Somers’ Brian Realbuto. He’s the favorite at 138 pounds, but it won’t be easy in a tough weight class. He’s very strong from the top position and has plenty of experience, Amuso said.
Matt Pasqualini, 160 pounds: The senior took second in Section 1 at 145 pounds last year and is the favorite in his weight class this year. He’ll have to go through Hendrick Hudson’s Phil Siegel, who placed second at 152 pounds last year. Pasqualini has an uncanny ability of reversing unfavorable situations into positive ones, Amuso said.

Names to learn
Giancarlo Morreale, 145 pounds: Morreale, a senior, will definitely be in the mix for a Section 1 title. He took fifth at 140 pounds last season. He could meet North Rockland’s Mike Caputo in the final, which would make for an exciting match.
Ben Ettlinger, 120 pounds: After a sixth-place finish last season at 96 pounds, the sophomore should improve on that finish.
Danny Clune, 220 pounds: Clune, a senior, was all-league last season and has the potential to make some noise at sectionals.
Frank Surace, 126 pounds: The freshman had a huge pin against Monroe Woodbury to win a match early in the season, which helped the Foxes win the Carlucci tournament for the third-straight year. He was all-league last year.

Marquee dual meets/tournaments
Jan. 13 at Eastern States Tournament: The Foxes should put forth a strong showing at this highly competitive tournament, which is a solid preview of states.
Jan. 28 at Super 16 Tournament (Carmel HS): Fox Lane won this tournament last year and should repeat this season.

Full roster (name/grade/weight class)
Ryan Boddie – senior, 170
Andrew Caico – senior, 145
Dan Clune – senior, 220
A.J. D’Ambrosio – junior, 182
Nick Engert – senior, 106
Matt Engert – senior, 106
Ben Ettlinger – sophomore, 120
Ari Faust – junior, 128
Brandon Fay – sophomore, 99
Warren Gabrillo – senior, 113
Tommy Grippi – junior, 138
Alexander Karaqi – senior, 195
Andriy Lypchuk – senior, 285
Christian Magnan – junior, 160
Christopher Manjuck – junior, 160
Giancarlo Morreale – senior, 145
Matthew Pasqualini – senior, 160
Steven Robare – junior, 126
Sam Speno – senior, 126
Frank Surace – freshman, 126
Danny Ventura – senior, 132

Story of the season
Fox Lane has been a dominant force in Section 1 since 2004, winning four Section 1 titles over that period. The Foxes have won the section three out of the last four years.

This year looks like it will be no different. Fox Lane is loaded again and focused on making a run at another Section 1 title.

They boast five grapplers that should be serious contenders for individual Section 1 titles in senior Sam Speno (126 pounds), senior Danny Ventura (132 pounds), junior Tom Grippi (138 pounds), senior Giancarlo Morreale (145 pounds) and senior Matt Pasqualini (160 pounds).

It’s basically like the equivalent of the 1920’s New York Yankees batting lineup which was labeled ‘Murders’ Row.’

“We’re pretty solid from 120 to 160 with a lot of good, experienced kids,” coach Joe Amuso said of the strength of his lineup.

Fox Lane will be the favorite to win the majority of tournaments they enter. They finished second in the state last season.

“Tournament-wise we have enough experienced kids that will place in tournaments or win tournaments,” said Amuso, who recently picked up his 400th career win. “That will give us a good team showing in all the tournaments as long as everyone stays healthy.”

Speno, who placed second in the state at 112 pounds last season, is looking to end his career as a state champion.

“He’s a very good technician from all areas – standing, top and bottom,” Amuso said of the three-time Section 1 champ. “He has good mat awareness. His execution is very good.”

Ventura received a wild card bid to states last year and made the most of it. He avenged a loss to Suffern’s Nick Oliveto in the semifinals and finished second.

Amuso said that Ventura is the type of wrestler that “really thinks his match out ahead of time.”

“He scouts his opponents and comes up with a strategy on how to beat them,” Amuso said. “If he gets beat the first time around, he’ll change his strategy a little and come back and beat them.”

Pasqualini, Grippi and Morreale could all end up being Section 1 champions and have the capability of making some noise up at states.

The Foxes came up short of defending their crown as champions of the Section 1 Division 1 Dual Meet Tournament. They fell to Brewster, 36-31, which is their lone dual meet loss this season after starting off at 15-0.

“We’ve got to work harder in the room,” Morreale said of what they learned from the loss. “We’ve got to stay hungry, there’s a lot more wrestling to go. We need to break down what we did wrong, and also focus on what we did right. If we build from this, I could see us winning a Section 1 title.”

Amuso admitted that they’re not as strong in dual meets as last season. They graduated a few key pieces such as state champion Steven Rodrigues, who recently transferred from Rutgers to the University of Illinois. The Foxes are inexperienced in some of the upper weight classes as well as a few of the lower ones.

The veteran coach believes that the loss to Brewster teaches the team that you can never slack off.

“You have to stay on top of your game the whole time,” Amuso said. “It’s a long season, but you can’t let down. You reach a certain level and you think that’s your peak – you have to go to the next step.”

After placing second in the state last season, the Foxes are looking to take that next step as a team.

“The goal is to win states,” Ventura said.

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