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A few weeks ago I asked my Twitter followers how they would put together an all-time great college dual team with the current weights using athletes from their home states. The responses were great and really got me curious. So, I did the research and have now putting together the best possible team for some of the top states, including some formidable back-up teams.
Across the next handful of days/weeks, we will unveil these teams before pitting them against each other in a national duals format type competition.
Now let's hear it for New York.
125 Starter: Troy Nickerson, 2006-10
Hometown: Chenango Forks
NCAA Finishes: 2, 3, 1, 4 (125)
Going 97-8 with 38 falls over the course of his career, Troy Nickerson never lost more than three matches in a season. His career at Cornell was highlighted by his junior season where he went 25-0 with 12 pins and won an NCAA title. He boasts wins over Anthony Robles, Angel Escobedo, Paul Donahoe, Jayson Ness, Andrew Long, and Chad Mendes.
Unfortunately, Nickerson was not able to compete at the same level his senior year due to a shoulder injury. However, he was still able to finish in fourth place at the NCAA tournament.
Watch Troy Nickerson pin Andrew Long below.
125 Backup: Jeff Prescott, 1989-92
College: Penn State
NCAA Finishes: DNQ, 5, 1, 1 (118)
In all of Penn State’s storied history, Jeff Prescott was the first wrestler to ever win OW at the NCAA tournament. This happened his junior year when he went pin, pin, 20-10 over Erik Akin, 5-0 over Lou Rosselli, 14-0 over Chad Zaputil. The bracket also included Sammie Henson, John Buxton, and Nick Purler. He repeated that same success his senior year going tech, pin, major 13-6, 2-0 over Zaputil in the finals. Prescott put together a career record of 88-15-2 but went 52-2 his last two years. A 2019 Buffalo News article included this quote:
“When you talk about tenacious wrestlers, Jeff was the epitome of what you’d want in a wrestler.”- Alex Conti on Jeff Prescott
125 Honorable Mention
Brad Penrith - 3X finalist and 1986 NCAA champion for Iowa
David Hirsch - 2X AA and 1994 NCAA champion for Cornell
Dave Auble - 1959 and 1960 NCAA champion for Cornell
Nick Gallo - 2X AA and 1977 NCAA champion for Hofstra
Carl Destefanis - 1984 NCAA champion for Penn State
Lou Rosselli - 1991 and 93 AA for Edinboro
133 Starter: Clar Anderson, 1981-84
College: Auburn/Oklahoma State
NCAA Finishes: 6, R12, 1, 5 (134)
Clar Anderson, the former long-time Duke head coach, was one of two All-Americans for Auburn in 1981, the year Auburn cut the wrestling program. After transferring to powerhouse Oklahoma State, Anderson AAd twice more, winning the title in 1983 when he went 30-4-1.
133 Backup: Joe Gratto, 1956-58
NCAA Finishes: 4, DNQ, 1 (134), NQ (147)
The 1950s and '60s are arguably the EIWA’s greatest era, and Gratto’s only EIWA loss was against Penn State’s John Pepe, an NCAA runner-up, which Gratto avenged, 9-8, in that year’s NCAA finals. Gratto owned five career wins over four different NCAA finalists. Of his six losses, five came against national finalists.
Not only was Joe Gratto a bad dude on the mat, he did three tours in Vietnam and earned a Bronze Star and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry before retiring as Lieutenant Colonel. He then earned a Ph.D. and became a dean at DeVry Institute before becoming president of Potomac State College from 1987-1994. What a life.
133 Honorable Mention
Lou Ruggirello - 3X qualifier and 2011 AA for Hofstra
141 Starter: Yianni Diakomihalis, 2018-
NCAA Finishes: 1, 1 (141)
I don’t need to write too much here. We’re all familiar with the greatness of Yianni Diakomihalis. He’s had one slip-up in a Cornell singlet against Jaydin Eierman, which he later avenged. He tore his ACL mid-match against two-time defending champion Dean Heil, beat him, and then wrestled two more matches to win his first national title. Yianni is world-class, as in he has a legitimate (although 65 kg is ridiculous internationally) shot at winning an Olympic medal right now while still in college.
Watch Yianni absolutely break one of my personal favorite wrestlers Ismail Musukaev at the 2019 Yasar Dogu below.
141 Backup: Peter Yozzo, 1984-87
NCAA Finishes: NQ, 3, 2, 1 (142)
Nicknamed "The Wizard of Yoz” for his exciting takedown style, Peter Yozzo’s record over his final three years was 82-5-2. He won three EIWA titles and pinned Pat Santoro in the 1987 NCAA finals his senior year.
141 Honorable Mention
Harold Masem - 1940 NCAA champion for Lehigh
149 Co-Starter: Gregor Gillespie, 2006-09
NCAA Finishes: 7, 1 (149), 5, 4 (157)
Look at who was in the 2007 bracket that Gregor Gillespie won as a true sophomore: Jordan Burroughs, Dustin Schlatter, Josh Churella, Lance Palmer, J.P. O’Connor, Jordan Leen, Matt Storniolo, Cyler Sanderson, and Dan Vallimont. Come on. When wrestling his best, Gillespie was incredible. With a solid offense and great top wrestling, Gillespie went 144-13 over the course of his career. For almost any other state, he would be head and shoulders above a backup. However, Jesse Jantzen was a baaaaad dude.
Listen to Gregor Gillespie after taking out Dustin Schlatter in the 2007 NCAA semifinals below.
149 Co-Starter: Jesse Jantzen, 2001-04
NCAA Finishes: NQ, 3, 3, 1 (149)
Co-Starter is a bit of cop out, but these two are too close to call. Jesse Jantzen is the most decorated wrestler in Harvard history. He went 131-13 with 50 falls, was a three-time All-American, national champion, and 2004 NCAA Championships Outstanding Wrestler. To earn OW, Jantzen beat Ryan Churella 11-4 and Zack Esposito 9-3 while the bracket also included Trent Paulson, Matt Storniolo, Ty Eustice, Dustin Manotti, and Jeremy Spates. Like I said before, Jesse Jantzen was a baaaad dude.
149 Honorable Mention
Jon Masa - 3X AA for Hofstra in the mid 2000s
Frank Bettucki - 1953 NCAA champion for Cornell
157 Starter: J.P. O’Connor, 2007-10
NCAA Finishes: 5, 6 (149), R12, 1 (157)
J.P. O’Connor’s senior season was amazing. He went 35-0, won CKLV, earned the #1 seed at the NCAA tournament, and then went 15-2, 8-1, 8-1, 14-2 at the NCAA tournament before beating Chase Pami 6-4 in the finals, and was a Hodge Trophy finalist. His career record while at Harvard was 132-16.
157 Backup: Carl Adams, 1969-72
College: Iowa State
NCAA Finishes: 5 (152), NQ (150), 1, 1 (158)
When Carl Adams placed fifth at the 1969 NCAA championships, he became the first freshman to earn All-America honors as 1969 was the first year that true freshmen were allowed to compete in the NCAA Championships. He would go on to win national championships his junior and senior seasons. The year Adams failed to place at the NCAA Championships, his season record was still 20-1-1. His overall career record was 77-9-4.
157 Honorable Mention
Tom Ryan - 2X AA and 1991 NCAA finalist for Iowa
165 Starter: Kyle Dake, 2010-13
NCAA Finishes: 1 (141), 1 (149), 1 (157), 1 (165)
Similar to Yianni, I could never possibly write enough about Kyle Dake. The first four-time champ at four different weights, he owns a career record of 137-4. Dake went undefeated his last two seasons, including two wins over two-time Hodge Trophy winner and another one of the greatest NCAA wrestlers of all time, David Taylor. He will always be a legend of the sport and his name will be remembered forever.
Watch Kyle Dake defeat David Taylor at the 2013 Southern Scuffle below.
165 Backup: Chris Edmond, 1981-85
NCAA Finishes: NQ (158), 4, 1 (167)
The University of Tennessee’s only national champion, Chris Edmond, won a tough 167-pound bracket in 1985 that included Kevin Jackson, Mike Van Arsdale, Lindley Kistler, Tad Wilson, and Pete Capone. His record in his final two seasons was 72-15-2.
165 Honorable Mention
Keith Stearns - 2X AA and 1978 NCAA champ for Oklahoma
Joe Lymere - 2X AA and 1952 NCAA champ for Penn State
174 Starter: Mitch Clark, 1994-98
College: Ohio State
NCAA Finishes: NQ, DNQ, 2, 1 (177)
Mitch Clark was the first-ever wrestler to record a technical fall in the NCAA finals. Largely due to his top game, Clark defeated West Virginia’s Vertus Jones 17-0 in 3:00. His senior season Clark went 39-1. He sits at five all-time on Ohio State’s list of career pin leaders with 45.
174 Backup: Dean Morrison, 1991-94
College: West Virginia
NCAA Finishes: DNQ, NQ, NQ, 1 (177)
A three-time national qualifier and three-time EWL champion, Dean Morrison became WVU’s second national champion when he won in 1994. At the 1994 NCAA Championships, Morrison entered his bracket as the No. 2 seed and defeated three ranked opponents to reach the finals. In the championship match, Morrison beat Wyoming’s Reese Andy, 3-2, to cap his second straight season of 30 wins or more. His career record was 103-32-3.
174 Honorable Mention
Greg Parker - 2X AA and 2002 NCAA finalist for Princeton
Carl Fronhofer - 2003 NCAA finalist for Pitt
Wayne Catan - 3X AA and two-time finalist for Tennessee/Syracuse in the 80s
Dan Mayo - 2X AA and 1988 NCAA finalist for Penn State
184 Starter: Ed Banach, 1980-83
Hometown: Port Jervis
NCAA Finishes: 1, 1, 2 (177), 1 (190)
A three-time NCAA champion, Ed Banach’s only NCAA Championship loss came to three-time NCAA champion, two-time World champion, and Olympic champion Mark Schultz. His career record was 144-9-1 with an astonishing 73 pins, which is still an Iowa record. Banach would go on to win an Olympic gold medal just one year after finishing his collegiate career at Iowa.
184 Backup: Noel Loban, 1978-1980
NCAA Finishes: DNQ, NQ (177), 1 (190)
Noel Loban won a D1 title for Clemson in 1980 and an NJCAA title for Farmingdale State College in 1977. Known for his exceptional technical skills and match strategy, Loban posted a perfect dual meet record for three seasons at Clemson and was a three-time ACC Finalist, winning the ACC Championships as a senior. His career record for Clemson was 88-13.
184 Honorable Mention
Joe Mazzurco - 2X AA for Cornell in the mid-2000s
197 Starter: Josh Glenn, 2005-08
Hometown: Johnson City
NCAA Finishes: NQ, 4 (184), 1, 5 (197)
Josh Glenn became American University's first and only NCAA Division I national champion when he defeated Kurt Backes of Iowa State in the finals. The bracket also included Chris Weidman, Phil Davis, and JD Bergman. His senior year Glenn was undefeated before taking fifth at the NCAA tournament. His career record stands at 110-14 with 44 pins.
Watch Josh Glenn beat Northwestern’s Mike Tamillow at the 2007 Midlands below.
197 Backup: Chris Weidman, 2006-07
NCAA Finishes: 6, 3 (197)
A two-time NJCAA All-American before transferring to Hofstra, Weidman then became a two-time DI All-American. As mentioned above, Weidman was in a tough 2007 197 lbs NCAA bracket where he defeated JD Bergman 9-4 for third and outplaced Phil Davis, who took fifth. Weidman went 51-21 while wrestling at Hofstra.
197 Honorable Mention
Tom Schlendorf - 1967 NCAA champion for Syracuse
285 Starter: Nick Gwiazdowski, 2012-16
College: Binghamton/NC State
NCAA Finishes: 8, 1, 1, 2 (285)
Yes, I am aware that Kerry McCoy was a two-time champ and Hodge Trophy winner who won 131 of his last 132 matches. However, Nick Gwiazdowski was also a two-time NCAA champion, who was just as, if not more, dominant, and it took three-time World/Olympic champion Kyle freaking Snyder, in one of the greatest NCAA finals matches of all-time, to dethrone Gwiz. And Kerry McCoy lost to Justin Greenlee 4-3 his junior year at the NCAA tournament.
Gwiz’s final two seasons he went 65-1 and had over a 70% bonus rate with 24 pins, 7 techs, and 17 majors. His sophomore year he went 44-2 with the two losses coming to Tony Nelson and Adam Coon, both of which he would later avenge at the NCAA Championships.
Watch Nick Gwiazdowski beat Adam Coon at the 2015 National Championships below.
285 Backup: Kerry McCoy, 1993-97
Hometown: Middle Island
College: Penn State
NCAA Finishes: NQ (190), 1, 3, 1 (275)
Like I mentioned before, Kerry McCoy was phenomenal and would be the head over shoulders starter for almost any other state. He’s a two-time champion, Hodge Trophy winner, put together two undefeated seasons, and won 131 of his last 132 college matches. His senior season when he won the Hodge, McCoy went 41-0 with 27 bonus point wins (11 pins, four techs and 12 majors).
285 Honorable Mention
Lou Banach - 2X NCAA champion for Iowa in the early 80s
There you have it, the greatest New York D1 lineup of all-time.
|125||Troy Nickerson||2006-10||Chenango Forks||Cornell|
|133||Clar Anderson||1981-84||Olean||Auburn/Oklahoma State|
|174||Mitch Clark||1994-98||Canton||Ohio State|
|184||Ed Banach||1980-83||Port Jervis||Iowa|
|197||Josh Glenn||2005-08||Johnson City||American|
|285||Nick Gwiazdowski||2012-16||Delanson||Binghamton/NC State|