ALBANY — Eight local wrestlers competed at the NYSPHSAA Division 1 State Championships over the weekend at MVP Arena in Albany, concluding their seasons against the top wrestlers in New York State.
Ballston Spa’s Darrien Insogna finished as the NYSPHSAA Division 1 runner-up at 215 pounds, falling to Minisink Valley’s Ethan Gallo in the state championship match. Connor Gregory earned a third-place finish at 160 pounds for the Scotties, while Ralph Keeney placed fourth at 110 pounds. Also competing for the Scotties was Cameron Hinchcliff.
Saratoga Springs’ Taylor Beaury earned a seventh-place finish at 126 pounds, while Lorenzo Palleschi battled to an eight-place finish at 189 pounds. Also competing for the Blue Streaks were Vito Spadafora and Patrick McKinley.
Ballston Spa head coach Harvey Staulters said it was “great to get them out there a second time,” noting that Insogna, Gregory, and Keeney all wrestled at last year’s state championships as well.
“Because of their experience, they were a little more at ease, and had a little higher expectations, a little higher goals,” said Staulters. “It was great to watch them compete.”
All three of the Scotties’ returning wrestlers improved on their finishes from the 2022 state championships.
Saratoga head coach Jake Zanetti said the weekend was “a nice culminating event” for Spadafora and Palleschi, who are seniors. Zanetti added that it was great experience for Beaury, a sophomore, and McKinley, a junior.
“Definitely a great opportunity for all four of them for different reasons,” said Zanetti.
For Ballston Spa, Insogna opened his tournament by pinning Longwood’s William Francois, then pinned Central Square’s Rocky Files in the quarterfinals. Insogna pinned Bellport’s Jaiden Green in the semifinals, dropping an 11-4 decision to Gallo in the state title match.
Gregory earned a 17-6 major decision over Horseheads’ Liam Levantovich in his opening match, rallying to earn a 6-4 sudden victory decision over Iona Prep’s Sean Dagl in the quarterfinals. Gregory fell in the semifinals, dropping a 5-3 decision to Cornwall’s Tyler Reed, before winning a consolation match over Churchville-Chili’s Coy Raines to advance to the third-place finals. There, Gregory beat Degl again, earning a 3-2 decision.
Keeney opened the tournament with a 15-2 major decision over Brady Judd of Warwick Valley, dropping a 9-0 major decision to Valley Central’s Luke Satriano in the quarterfinals. Keeney earned consolation round victories over Jason Euceda (Brentwood), Ryan Cielinski (Spencerport), and Ryan Ferrara (Chenango Forks), before dropping the third-place finals in an 8-4 decision against Long Beach’s Dunia Sibomana.
Hinchcliff defeated Hilton’s Tyler Simons in the first round, falling to Niagara Falls’ Amarfio Reynolds in the second round. In the consolation rounds, Hinchcliff earned a 9-5 decision over Horseheads’ Cody Dale, and a win by fall over Carthage’s Landon Copley before dropping a 5-0 decision to Pittsford’s Samson McKissick-Staley.
Staulters had praise for his wrestlers, saying they “exceeded expectations” over the weekend.
“They were inspirational, to continually fight and move forward, despite some of the adversities,” said Staulters. “Sometimes they lost, and they just kept coming back. It was really a great experience.”
For Saratoga, Beaury opened the tournament with a victory by technical fall over West Babylon’s Billy Colloca. He fell to Calhoun’s Ray Adams by an 8-2 decision in the quarterfinals. Beaury won his first consolation match over Fox Lane’s Justin Gierum, falling to Nikolas Massero of St. Joe’s Collegiate in the second. Beaury earned a 4-2 decision over Bellport’s Camryn Howard in the seventh-place match.
Zanetti said that Beaury “did really well,” noting that the 126-pound weight class was particularly strong.
“The seeds don’t really matter much at states,” Zanetti said. “He’s a tenth-grader, he battled a lot of older kids than him.”
Palleschi beat Canandaigua’s Mason Depew in the opening round, avenging a loss to Depew earlier in the season on Jan. 21. Palleschi fell to top-seeded Zack Ryder of Minisink Valley in the quarterfinals, and bounced back by winning his opening consolation match over Bethlehem’s Quincy Bonville. Palleschi lost to Pine Bush’s Braydon Pennell in the second consolation match, and dropped a 6-2 decision to Orchard Park’s Jack MacDonald in the seventh-place match.
Zanetti said it was nice to see Palleschi avenge his earlier loss to Depew, which came in sudden victory during the King Bison Invitational at Shaker High School.
“For him to get a ‘W’, that was really nice,” said Zanetti.
Spadafora lost his opening round match to Nyack’s Sam Szerlip, defeating Lancaster’s Mikey Schaefer in the consolation rounds. Spadafora fell to Clarke’s Justin Soriano in the third consolation round.
“(Vito has) been a key program guy for a long time, so for him to get to the state tournament was really fun for him,” said Zanetti.
McKinley earned a 5-3 sudden victory decision over Davit Abjandadze of Edward R. Murrow High School, falling to Gallo, the eventual state champion at 215 pounds, in the quarterfinals. McKinley beat Josh Amiel of John F. Kennedy (Bellmore) by 4-3 ultimate tiebreaker in the first consolation match, falling to MacArthur’s Ben Velasquez by 7-2 decision in his second consolation match.
Zanetti described McKinley as “a total Cinderella story,” saying he emerged as one of the team’s top wrestlers midway through the season.
“Once he started showing signs of that, it was great for him to get out there,” Zanetti said.
From left, coach Gene Staulters, Connor Gregory, Cameron Hinchcliff, Ralph Keeney, Darrien Insogna, coach Harvey Staulters, and coach Jake Warren are pictured at the 2023 NYSPHSAA Wrestling Championships on Feb. 24.
Photo by Molly Insogna.