Team USA cruises to a 34-9 victory at Dapper Dan

Brian Realbuto defeated Cody Copeland at 152 (Photo/Tami Knopsnyder)

PITTSBURGH -- After victories from the Keystone State squad in two of the last three Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic main events, Team USA made it seem like 2001-2008 all over again with a 34-9 victory over the Pennsylvania squad in front of a close to capacity crowd at Fitzgerald Field House on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Though many of the matches were individually close, Team USA capitalized on the momentum storm early and often.

The USA team started the evening with four consecutive decisions. No. 5 Zane Richards (Carbondale, Ill.) used a second period takedown to outlast Mac McGuire (Upper St. Clair, Pa.) 3-1 in the opening match at 132 pounds. Then, it was yet another fifth ranked wrestler -- and also Junior National freestyle champion -- in Brian Realbuto (Somers, N.Y.) taking to the mats and earning a decision at 152 pounds. Realbuto used two takedowns in the opening period, a second period reversal, and lots of riding to earn a 6-1 victory over Cody Copeland (Greenville, Pa.).

With a 6-0 lead and not much momentum for the home side, the next two matches served to sap even further momentum, since they were both defeats and the matches were relatively dull. At 170 pounds, No. 2 Kyle Crutchmer (Tulsa Union, Ok.) outlasted No. 13 Elliott Riddick (Bethlehem Catholic, Pa.) 2-1 in the tieberakers, while Doug Vollaro (Pine Castle Christian, Fla.) -- ranked No. 13 among all class of 2012 prospects -- upended Averee Robinson (Susquehanna Township, Pa.), ranked No. 15 at 285 pounds, 5-1 in overtime.

As Team USA sensed things going totally their way, No. 1 Jordan Rogers (Mead, Wash.) took to the mat in the evening's fifth match at 182 pounds against No. 13 Wes Phipps (Grove City, Pa.). Finally, some flurries of action ensued. After one period, it was two takedowns and a two-point near fall giving Rogers a 6-1 lead. Phipps did cut the deficit down to 8-4 after two periods with an escape to start the period, and a late reversal. However, it was lights out early in the third period when Rogers countered a Phipps shot, hipped over and scored the fall on a beast of a counter at the 4:34 mark.

"For the most part, I had good counter offense," observed Rogers about his match. "I didn't get to my offense as much as I wanted, but capitalized on some opportunities, and used my hips extremely well to score the fall." That performance earned Rogers Most Outstanding Wrestler honors for the USA squad.

"It's a great feeling to wrestle along with the top guys in the nation," Rogers added. "It's an honor to be here, it was a fun trip, and I'm very excited to have wrestled as well as I did."

Facing an 18-0 deficit, the Pennsylvania squad had to turn to a pair of wrestlers who have football in their futures in hopes of stemming the momentum of Team USA. Taking to the mat at 195 pounds was No. 7 Perry Hills (Pittsburgh Central Catholic), who will be attending the University of Maryland on a football scholarship, and will compete for the starting quarterback job this fall. After two periods, Hills led 3-2 over No. 5 Gage Harrah (Crystal Lake Central, Ill.).

Harrah had an early match takedown. Then Hills scored a reversal late in the first period, and an escape in the second. The Drexel-bound Harrah responded with an escape early in the third, and then scored the match winning takedown with about five seconds remaining after the two wrestlers engaged in an excellent scramble. The 5-3 victory for Harrah stretched out the Team USA lead to 21-0.

Three-time state champion John Rizzo defeated Stanford-bound Josh Marchok (Photo/Tami Knopsnyder)
Next up for Team USA was another Illinois native, No. 4 Josh Marchok (Schaumburg), facing No. 3 John Rizzo (Richland, Pa.). Rizzo, a three-time state champion, will be playing Division I football in college, while two-time state champion Marchok will be wrestling at Stanford. Rizzo used a first period takedown to score a 3-2 victory and get the Pennsylvania team off the schneid.

"I didn't open up as much as I wanted to, but still came out with the win, which is great," said Rizzo. "I wanted to go out there and try to turn things around (after the 0-for-6 start from the Pennsylvania squad)."

Rizzo, who wants to be a running back in college, will "greyshirt" and delay his college enrollment until January 2013. In the interim, he will participate in the Pennsylvania East-West All-Star Game during the first week of May. Interestingly, Rizzo will be joined by Hills as a teammate on the West squad in the event to be held in Gateway, Pa.

Four-time undefeated state champion Jon Meeks emerged victorious over Steve Spearman in ultimate tiebreaker (Photo/Tami Knopsnyder)
It was back to regularly scheduled programming for Team USA with the next match, a tightly contested win, as No. 2 John Meeks (Des Moines Roosevelt, Iowa) upended No. 6 Steve Spearman (Erie McDowell, Pa.) 3-2 in the ultimate tiebreaker at 138 pounds. Neither wrestler was able to score an offensive point, as they traded escapes during regulation and in the :30-:30 portion of the tiebreaker. Having escaped in the second period, Meeks had choice in the ultimate tiebreaker.

Choosing the down position, Meeks was able to score the escape, and as a result the four-time undefeated state champion emerged victorious over two-time state champion Spearman.

Yet another four-time state champion took to the mats for Team USA in the next match, as No. 1 Jason Tsirtsis (Crown Point, Ind.) dominated Zach Beitz (Juniata, Pa.) by 13-4 major decision at 145 pounds. Tsirtsis, ranked No. 2 overall in the Class of 2012, scored a pair of takedowns during each period, and joined older brother Alex as a winner in the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic. Alex earned a 6-4 victory in 2004.

"I wanted to push the pace, and score points, as I do in every match," said the Northwestern-bound Tsirtsis. "Though I got a little tired mid-match, things worked out and I was able to push through it."

Even though Pennsylvania had already mathematically lost the dual meet, trailing 28-3 with four matches remaining, No. 5 Brian Brill (Central Mountain) came through with an exemplary performance in the 160 pound match against No. 3 (at 170) Zach Brunson (Churchill, Ore.). Facing a four-time state champion with just two career losses, Brill stormed out to a 6-1 lead after two periods with a first period takedown, and a reversal and takedown in the second period. Brunson, a Junior National freestyle champion this past summer, scored to takedowns in the third; but it was too little, too late -- as Brill scored the 7-5 victory.

Each of the last three matches of the dual meet featured a number one wrestler taking to the mats. First, at 113 pounds, it was Jarred Brooks (Warsaw, Ind.) facing off against No. 9 Billy Rappo (Council Rock South, Pa.). Brooks emerged with an 8-5 victory over Rappo, scoring his first two takedowns on impressive duck-under attacks. Billy was the fourth Rappo to wrestle in the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic, and the family dropped to 1-3 in the event, with only Mike securing a 10-5 victory in 2006.

George DiCamillo defeated Nick Roberts, 10-5, in a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2 at 120 (Photo/Tami Knopsnyder)
Next, at 120 pounds, it was George DiCamillo (St. Ignatius) wrestling No. 2 Nick Roberts (North Star, Pa.). The wrestlers traded takedowns and escapes in the first period, as the period ended tied at 3-3. However, DiCamillo separated somewhat in the second period with a choice escape and late takedown to take the 6-3 lead.

"After the second (period) takedown, I could just feel it," said DiCamillo. "I knew the match was there to be had."

Roberts scored an escape early in the third period to cut the deficit to 6-4. However, DiCamillo sandwiched takedowns around another Roberts escape to earn an impressive 10-5 victory. "(Roberts) is a tough competitor, but I seized the opportunity," said DiCamillo.

The evening's last match was also the clear highlight for the Pennsylvania squad. Wrestling in front of a hometown crowd, Jimmy Gulibon (Derry Area, Pa.) turned it up about ten notches in the last ninety seconds of the match to secure a 10-3 victory over No. 5 Cory Clark (Southeast Polk, Iowa) in a battle of four-time state champions.

Penn State-bound Jimmy Gulibon defeated Iowa-bound Cory Clark in the final match (Photo/Tami Knopsnyder)
After scoring the opening takedown, Gulibon gave up a late reversal to Clark in the first period, as the match was tied 2-2 after one. The wrestlers traded escapes at the start of the second and third period. Then, the steamroll occurred when Gulibon scored a takedown, then trapped Clark on his back in a scramble type situation for three, and scored a tilt for two more right at the end of the match.

"The end of the match felt great," said Gulibon. "I finally got back to normal -- less tentative, more comfortable, and more confident."

That result earned Gulibon the Most Outstanding Wrestler award for the Pennsylvania squad. "I've been coming to the Dapper Dan since I was nine years old," said Gulibon, "and it's incredible to win the way I did. It was so much fun."

Bound for Penn State, Gulibon will join fellow Pittsburgh area native Nico Megaludis -- who just finished second at the national tournament as a true freshman -- on the Nittany Lions roster as a lower weight. "I watched Nico last weekend on television, and it was incredible," said Gulibon. "I can't wait to wrestle with him again (as they trained together for just over three straight years prior to Megaludis moving on to State College)."

132: No. 5 Zane Richards (Carbondale, Ill.) dec. Mac McGuire (Upper St. Clair), 3-1
152: No. 5 Brian Realbuto (Somers, N.Y.) dec. Cody Copeland (Greenville), 6-1
170: No. 2 Kyle Crutchmer (Tulsa Union, Okla.) dec. No. 13 Elliott Riddick (Bethlehem Catholic), 2-1, TB
285: Doug Vollaro (Pine Castle Christian, Fla.) dec. No. 15 Averee Robinson (Susquehanna Twp.), 5-1 OT
182: No. 1 Jordan Rogers (Mead, Wash.) pinneed No. 13 Wes Phipps (Grove City), 4:34
195: No. 5 Gage Harrah (Crystal Lake Central, Ill.) dec. No. 7 Perry Hills (Pittsburgh Central Catholic), 5-3
220: No. 3 John Rizzo (Richland) dec. No. 4 Josh Marchok (Schaumburg, Ill.), 3-2
138: No. 2 John Meeks (Des Moines Roosevelt, Iowa) dec. No. 6 Steve Spearman (Erie McDowell) 3-2 UTB
145: No. 1 Jason Tsirtsis (Crown Point, Ind.) maj. dec. Zach Beitz (Juniata), 13-4
160: No. 5 Brian Brill (Central Mountain) dec. No. 3 (at 170) Zach Brunson (Churchill, Ore.), 7-5
113: No. 1 Jarred Brooks (Warsaw, Ind.) dec. No. 9 Billy Rappo (Council Rock South), 8-5
120: No. 1 George DiCamillo (St. Ignatius, Ohio) dec. No. 2 Nick Roberts (North Star), 10-5
126: No. 1 Jimmy Gulibon (Derry Area) dec. No. 5 Cory Clark (Southeast Polk, Iowa), 10-3

Maryland All-Stars defeat WPIAL All-Stars

After two straight years of very close undercard matches involving the WPIAL squad, last year's match was a blood-letting to say the least. In fact, it was the first shutout in the history of the event, as a very strong WPIAL squad scored a 42-0 blanking over a team of all-stars from Michigan.

Coming into the match, and looking at things from the outside, one would have expected this to be close. The WPIAL team was not as strong "on paper" as last year; and while Maryland is not as highly reputed a wrestling state as is Michigan, their squad was truly a reflective organization of the best seniors the state had to offer.

Not only was the margin of the dual not that close, the visiting Maryland squad came in extremely prepared and focused, then came up with wins in ten of the thirteen matches - many of which were tightly contested.

If the opening match was to be any indication, the above opinion would have been insanity. No. 12 (at 120) Godwin Nyama (Brashear, Pa.) took it to Tony Farace (Owings Mills, Md.). This year's Pennsylvania state champ scored nine takedowns in securing the 18-7 major decision over a three-time state champion in the five minute match (two periods of 2-1/2 minutes, each starting in the neutral position).

That performance earned Nyama, who just started wrestling as a sophomore in high school, Most Oustanding Wrestler honors. "Three years ago I couldn't even hit a switch or finish a double leg," said Nyama. "Through lots of hard work and drilling things over-and-over, I've been able to reach this level of success. The difference this year was learning how to take wins, instead of sneaking them out."

However, the Maryland squad responded back with three consecutive wins. First at 120 pounds, Eric Friemdan (St. Paul's) scored a 4-2 overtime victory over Colton Shorts (Canon McMillan) to cut the dual meet deficit to 4-3. Then, at 126 pounds, No. 8 Nathan Kraisser (Centennial) gave the Maryland squad the lead for good with a 9-0 major decision over Derek Evanovich (Peters Township).

That result earned the four-time state champion, and returning Junior National double All-American, Most Outstanding Wrestler honors for the Maryland squad. "To be able to perform the way I did feels great, and makes me proud to represent Maryland," said Kraisser. "We've been doing it together since junior league (Kraisser and about five others trained with Cary Kolat all the way from youth through high school), and we came in here well prepared and ready to win."

Tyler Goodwin (Arundel, Md.) then separated a match that he led 4-3 after the first period with a five-point move in winning 9-4 over Josh Kwasny (Charleroi) at 132 pounds. Tanner Wiltrout (Connellsville) was able to cut into the Maryland lead with a 9-5 victory over Collin Harrell (Broadneck) at 138.

Two-time state champion Alex Rice (Chesapeke, Md.) then came up with a critical victory to keep his squad with the lead, as he upended the very talented Ty Lydic (Greater Latrobe) 5-3 in the tiebreaker at 145 pounds. The wrestlers traded takedowns in regulation, with Rice securing a reversal in the tiebreaker to give Maryland a 13-7 lead.

In the next match, the Maryland-bound Tyler Manion (Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Pa.) responded with an upset for the WPIAL, avenging a 1-0 loss from the quarterfinals of the POWERade with a 5-3 victory over Peter Galli (St. Paul's), a four-time National Prep placer. Manion scored a four-point move early in the second period, but then had to hang on at the end as Galli came on strong in the back portion of the period with a takedown and then an almost takedown as time was up.

"I was more tentative last time," said Manion. "This time, I was able to open it up a bit and wrestle my style. However, at the end, I was just trying to hold on because (for some reason) I struggled in the last minute."

Trying to hold on to a 13-10 dual meet lead, the Maryland squad sent out Brad Mutchnik (St. Paul's) at 160 pounds, who placed sixth at National Preps this past year. His opponent was state champion Francis Mizia (Bentworth, Pa.). Scoring a first period takedown, Mutchnik hung on for the 2-1 victory.

"I've heard of this event since I was a little kid, though I never thought I'd get to participate," said Mutchnik, who will wrestle collegiately at American University. "It's kind of surreal to think that I'd come in here, face a Pennsylvania state champion, and score the win.

That win started a string of six consecutive wins to close out the dual meet for the Maryland squad, which ended up winning 34-10.

The next two matches were 5-4 decisions. At 170 pounds, Tyler Rill (Mt. St. Joseph) upended Jake Wisener (Ringgold); while it was the Princeton-bound Judd Ziegler and his 4.7 GPA scoring the victory over Jarred Lux (North Allegheny) at 182.

Two-time National Prep placer Dylan Devine (DeMatha) scored 6-2 victory over two-time state placer Jordan Kitta (Southmoreland) at 195 pounds. 2011 National Prep placer Kevin Marvel (McDonogh), who placed at the Ironman and Beast this year, scored a fall in 2:24 over Greg Krumer (Fort Cherry) at 220 pounds. Finally, it was state champion Jason Johnson (River Hill) winning 1-0 in the tiebreaker against Corey Garry (Fort Cherry) when Cherry was called for locking hands in the top position.

113: No. 12 Godwin Nyama (Brashear) maj. dec. Tony Farace (Oakland Mills, Md.), 18-7
120: Eric Friedman (St. Paul's, Md.) dec. Colt Shorts (Canon-McMillan), 4-2 OT
126: No. 8 Nathan Kraisser (Centennial, Md.) maj. dec. Derrick Evanovich (Peters Twp.), 9-0
132: Tyler Goodwin (Arundel, Md.) dec. Joshua Kwasny (Charleroi), 9-4
138: Tanner Wiltrout (Connellsville) dec. Collin Harrell (Broadneck, Md.), 9-5
145: Alex Rice (Chesapeake, Md.) dec. Ty Lydic (Latrobe), 5-3 OT
152: Tyler Manion (Central Catholic) dec. Peter Galli (St. Paul's, Md.), 5-3
160: Brad Mutchnik (St. Paul's, Md.) dec. Francis Mizia (Bentworth), 2-1
170: Tyler Rill (Mt. St. Joseph, Md.) dec. Jake Wisener (Ringgold), 5-4
182: Judd Ziegler (Middle Town, Md.) dec. Jarred Lux (North Allegheny), 5-4
195: Dylan Devine (Dematha, Md.) dec. Jordan Kitta (Southmoreland), 6-2
220: Kevin Marvel (McDonogh, Md.) pinned Greg Kumer (Fort Cherry), 2:24
285: Jason Johnson (River Hill, Md.) dec. Corey Garry (Fort Cherry), 1-0 OT


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