The Shenendehowa wrestling team's busy January ended as it began -- with the Plainsmen on top.
Seven Shen wrestlers won their weight classes to lead the Plainsmen to the team title at their own invitational Saturday. Shen finished with 256 points, 68 points ahead of runner-up North Rockland.
\I'm very pleased with the way they performed, said Shen coach Rob Weeks. "We were in a grind for a month and a half [with dual matches and tournaments]."
As has been the case all season, Shen's "Murderers Row" led the way in the championship round. Most Outstanding Lightweight Performer Nick Kelley pinned Niskayuna's Matt Stenard in 58 seconds, while 135-pounder David Almaviva scored a technical fall over Scotia-Glenville's Nick Leffler in 1:52.
"I think David [Almaviva] went in with a game plan," said Weeks. "He wanted to get [Leffler] in a takedown early, and he did that. Then, he got him in a tilt series [where he turned Leffler on his back several times in a row]."
Shen's Jim Carucci battled North Rockland's Mike Caputo in the 140-pound final before he pinned Caputo with 56 seconds left in the third period. Max Miller -- the fourth member of "Murderers Row" -- received the 125-pound title in an injury default.
Shen's heavyweights also won championships. Tony Fusco defeated Scotia-Glenville's John DiPace 12-2 for the 189-pound title, while Mike Almaviva defeated Harrison's Duke Alvora 5-2 in the 215-pound championship bout. Cole Lampman added a 2-0 victory over Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake's Alberto Biasiucci for the 285-pound title.
"Mike [Almaviva] is, I think, finally healthy," said Weeks. "You could see he still had some concerns about his knee, but once he realized that it would be OK, he was able to relax and wrestle his style."
BH-BL and Niskayuna each had one individual champion at the Shen Invitational. BH-BL's Jeff Matrazzo held on for a 4-3 victory over Glens Falls' Jared Strong in the 171-pound final, while Niskayuna's Alex Espina shut out Brewster's Nick Gheraducci 3-0 for the 152-pound title.
BH-BL placed fourth in the team standings with 148 points, and Niskayuna finished fifth with 90 points.
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