5 is team to beat in state wrestling tourney
By LEO ROTH, Times Union
(Thursday, March 1,1984) - Spencerport High's John Suhr was a victim
of his own enthusiasm in last year's state wrestling tournament. In
the finals at 145 as a junior, he gave up a five-point move 20 seconds
into the match and wound up losing 7-6.
"I was what you'd call overpumped," Suhr said. "I did a stupid thing
right off the bat and got caught... but after going through that,
you gain confidence. The experience helps."
The experience of Suhr and six others returning to the Onondaga War
Memorial in Syracuse just may help Section 5 to the team title it
last won in 1981. Section 5 is the favorite with Section 11 (Suffolk
County) and Section 8 (Nassau County) also considered top contenders.
THE TOURNAMENT begins at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow. Saturday's action
begins at 10 a.m. with the finals at 8 p.m.
"We have the best chance of winning the team title," says Suhr, back
at 145 pounds, "but you never know. In the states, anything can happen.
Guys tend to come out of nowhere."
At the state level, where there is no such thing as an "easy" match,
wrestlers are extra careful climbing a ladder that may have a rung
sawed in half.
One wrestler who won't surprise anyone is Section 5's Marty King of
Canandaigua, last year's 119-pound state champion who will wrestle
this weekend at 126.
King, a senior, will be appearing in his fifth state tournament and
some time tomorrow should become the state's all-time winningest wrestler.
He is currently tied with Irondequoit's Tony Cotroneo ('81) with 164
"Getting back there (the state meet) is as big a thrill as the first
time," said King after winning last Saturday's Super Sectional title.
Dealing with the record hasn't been a problem for King, the center
of a hot recruiting war between hundreds of colleges.
"I knew if I wrestled like I could, it would just come," said King,
33-0 this year. "I knew I wouldn't let myself down."
JOINING KING in Syracuse again are five runners-up. Besides
Suhr, they are Canandaigua's Butch Hibbard (98) and Paul Lamphier
(105), Brighton's Brian Kurlander (155) and East Rochester's Chris
The team's other returning member is ER's Tim Quinn (132).
The newcomers include two more of Canandaigua's super lightweights,
Mike Locagnato at 91 and Joe Hibbard at 112.
The rest of the team: Brighton's Jon Blauvelt (119), Edison's Mike
Cronmiller (138), Pittsford's Pete Zajkowski (167), Williamson's C.C.
Grant (215) and Avon's Bill Maher (250). All members are the weight
class champions from last week's state qualifier.
SINCE THERE is no seeding of wrestlers, the tournament's draw
is very important.
"We could run into a lot of Section 8 kids in the second round and
Long Island always has good wrestling," ER Coach Don Quinn said. "But
if your kids are tough enough and meet the challenge, we could pick
up a lot of points right away."
Of course, the mind games have started.
At 155 pounds, Fulton's Jeff Merritt (32-0), fifth in the state last
year, is favored over Kurlander (33-0). Last year, Kurlander beat
Merritt 8-7 in the quarterfinals. By the luck of the draw, they meet
in the first round tomorrow in what will be the match of the day.
"I'm feeling no pressure at all," Kurlander said. "He's 'seeded' ahead
of me. That took all the pressure off me.
MEANWHILE AT 177, ER's Schojan, trimmed down from 215 pounds,
is in a rugged class where as many as four people are contenders.
Schojan, 33-0, has handled the heat all season. But it doesn't get
"Every match is still pressure," he said. "You have it every match,
you're nervous every match. No one match is easy."
A class-by-class look:
91 pounds - Canandaigua's Mike Locagnato (32-5), a
junior, could meet Joe Lofredo (31-1, Baldwinsville-3) in the
semis, the winner meeting Ricky Brzozinski (28-0, West Islip-11)
in the finals. Darkhorse: Jeff Prescott (27-3, Olean-6).
98- Canandaigua's Joe Hibbard (32-3) has a good draw and should
meet Gene McNeil (31-0, Huntington-11) in the finals. McNeil
has the rugged half of the bracket with Rick Barone (20-1,
Carey High-8) and darkhorse Chip Pettitt 252-2, Baldwinsville-3)
to contend with.
105- A wicked weight class with two state champs and a runner-up in it.
Last year's 91-pound state champ Richard Pidgeon (26-2, Locust
Valley-8) should meet Rob Waddington (32-1-1, Falconer-6) in
the upper bracket semis. Down below, returning runner-up Paul Lamphier (29-4) of Canandaigua is looking at a rematch with Bret Penrith (32-2, Union Endicott-4). Penrith beat Lamphier 12-4 in last year's
112- Canandaigua's Joe Hibbard has his work cut out, drawing returning
champ Jeff Clark (29-0, Voorheesville-2) in the first round.
Also in the bracket is Chris Labbate (32-1-1, East Syracuse-3).
Best of the other half is Tony Melfi (33-2, Connetquot-11).
119- Brighton's Jon Blauvelt (33-2) is a darkhorse in a balanced
weight class. The favorites include Willie Warren (29-0, Freeport-8)
and David Cummings (27-0-1, Smithtown East-11) in one half. Steve Brandish (31-3-1, Mexico-3), Treavor Erney (32-2,
Maine Endwell-4) and Mike Pisciotta (29-4, New Paltz-9) in
126- The Marty King show. Expect a long standing ovation Saturday
night. Possible finalist is Darrin Cummings (29-0, Smithtown
132- A tough weight class includes runner-up Joe Plante (27-0, Brentwood-11)
in upper bracket. ER's Tim Quinn (26-4), solid all year, has
to contend with Ron Leder (37-0, Salamanca-6) and Dave Angeleri (29-2-1, Fulton-3) down below. Quinn beat Angeleri 8-6 in dual.
138- Edison's Mike Cronmiller (28-0) could have his biggest challenge
in the second round against Mike Arena (28-0, Mempham-8). From
there a finals matchup with Tom Becker (33-0, Beaver River-3)
145- Returning runner-up John Suhr (28-2) of Spencerport is in a
good position to advance to the finals. Favored to meet him is Mark Sabo (23-3-1, Grandville-2). Sabo must get past John Barrett (26-0, Peru-7) or Andy Rice (33-1, Lowville-3).
155- The bracket's best meet in the first round - Brighton's Brain
Kurlander (33-0) vs. Jeff Merritt (32-0, Fulton-3), another
signal the state needs to seed at least the top six wrestlers. Winnner
to meet either Reinaldo Garcia (27-1-1, Amsterdam-2) or Todd
Freischiat (33-0, Lewisiston Porter-6) in finals.
167- Pittsford's Pete Zajkowski (33-3) may surprise people in very
balanced weight class. Zajowksi's top foe is Ken Weinkauf (26-0,
Lynbrook-8) in upper bracket. Other finalist could be Paul Bailey (33-1, Nanuet-9) or Jim Ruffelt (32-0, Shoreham-11).
177- A four-man race. The Semifinals could be ER's Chris Schojan (33-0)
vs. Craig Linkner (27-0, 25 pins, Rockland Center Southside-8)
and Pat Conners (30-1, Baldwinsville-3) vs. Mike Hines (31-0,
215- Williamson's C.C. Grant (31-1) has a shot in very balanced
weight class. Other contenders are Jeff Ellis (35-0, Clarence-6)
and Mike Sanzo (30-1, Elmira Southside-4). Down below are Mike
Barrett (28-1, Baldwinsville-3) and Dan Macca (29-1, Irvington-1).
Take your pick.
250- Returning runner-up Randy Morrison (26-1, Lowville-3) is a
slight favorite. Could meet Avon's Bill Maher (27-5) in the
finals. Maher's top obstacle is Larry Iacano (16-3, Sachem-11)
in upper bracket.