Oct 8, 2019
It's a special look back at 20 years of the Super 32 on the
Short Time Wrestling Podcast!
Back in 2000, I was still in college at Old Dominion. I was working on tracking down results from any and all high school tournaments and after attending my first USA Wrestling Cadet & Junior Nationals the summer prior, I started covering more off-season stuff for the first iteration of Mat Talk Online. This involved fall folkstyle events from USAW and the AAU, spring freestyle and paying attention to out-of-state tournaments where Virginia teams participated. One of those tournaments popped up in 2000, my fourth year in college at ODU and my fourth running Mat Talk Online. It was the Super 32. I first noticed it that fall when a local wrestler in the coverage area of the newspaper I was working at won at 119 pounds. George Dodson was an Eagle Scout from Denbigh High Sc hool who never reached the Group AAA state tournament. Then I saw Drake Dickenson’s name. Drake wrestled at Magna Vista in the Southwest portion of Virginia before crossing the state line to wrestle for Dave Barker at Eden-Morehead. And that’s how it all began for me.
This list is a look back at things that make me go “oh wow,” and is not designed to be an inclusive list. During the 2005-08 years, I ran InterMat for the NWCA, which then owned the site. So my knowledge of high school wrestling from that era was in top form. Prior to 2005, I worked and lived in Virginia, so that’s where the lion’s share of my knowledge existed.
In 2000, the very first champion was at 101.1 pounds and it was host Morehead’s Chris Moore defeating future Virginia four-time state champion Matt Epperly of Christiansburg, Virginia. Epperly went on to wrestle at Virginia Tech and qualified for the NCAA Division I Championships twice.
Current UNC Pembroke coach Othello “O.T.” Johnson claimed a title at 163 pounds, beating Chris Ward of James Madison High School in Virginia. One time in Fargo, Ward got out after curfew. Team Virginia coach Ben Summerlin ran him outside until he puked.
In 2001, David Barker cites this as a turning point in the tournament’s second year. Virginia powerhouse Great Bridge shows up and crowns four champions. Daren Burns, who wrestled at UNC Greensboro, was third at 190 pounds. He got better.
In 2002, the word is out. The Super 32 is now challenging the Lock Haven Fall Classic as the top preseason event on the east coast and the event is starting to gain traction nationally. A middle school division is added as well. Ashtin Primus from Connellsville, Pennsylvania comes down and cradles his way to a title. Future Division III All-American Donny Ooton of Great Bridge wins at 140, while future Old Dominion All-American Chris Brown wins at 145.
In 2003, we’ve got nationally ranked wrestlers hitting one another before the finals. Eric Hoffman, a future NJCAA national champion from Iowa Central and D1 national qualifier comes out from Iowa where he falls in the finals to Dusty McKinney at 125. A pair of future two-time D1 All-Americans meet in the finals at 103 where Tyler Nauman of Middletown, Pennsylvania beats eighth-grader Scotti Sentes of Riverside, Florida, 6-2.
Primus wins another title, this time at 135. Future Missouri All-American Raymond Jordan of New Bern, North Carolina beats future Limestone Division II national champion Dan Scanlan of Loudoun County, Virginia 4-1 in the finals at 171. Scores of future Division I wrestlers who don’t place.
Moving to 2004, Ashtin Primus wins his third straight Super 32. Hammer champions include – well, they were pretty much all hammers. At 112, Ian Moser of Delaware beat Walker Faison of Virginia in a bout with two of the best lightweights in the country. New Jersey brought a strong group from Bound Brook as Nick Murray and Andrew Flanagan won titles. Top-ranked wrestlers Patrick Bond of Great Bridge, Cody Gardner of Christiansburg and Kenny Lester of Oviedo, Florida swept the top three weights.
In 2005, Brandon, Florida’s talented crop of hammers comes in, led by Eric Grajales at 103 pounds. Grajales bests Steve Mitcheff of Ohio 7-0 in the finals. Among the names at 103 were Matt Snyder and Nic Bedelyon of Pennsylvania – shout out to the late Wayne Danger – Eric Dunnett of New Jersey, Zeke Hofer from Colorado, Joey Lazor of Georgia and Andrew Williams of Virginia. No, I’m not going to load up all these brackets, because this is where the podcast will get significantly larger. UWW media guy Eric Olanowski was also in this bracket.
At 112, North Carolina’s Brandon Davis emerged as the champion, but wasn’t heard from much in college. Current Huntingdon College head wrestling coach Matt Oliver, beat Marshall Peppelman in the semifinals and felt to Davis in the final.
Anyone remember Ryan Fields from Ohio? Yup. He was the champ at 119, beating future D1 All-American Walter Peppelman in the finals. Future All-American Jarrod Garnett of Virginia Tech doesn’t place. 13-seed Abbie Rush, a future Boston U. wrestler, stormed into the finals, beating future All-American Peter Yates and past champ Ian Moser. He falls to Mike Robinson of Lewistown, Pa., who later on in the year will hand Mike Grey of Delbarton, New Jersey, his first high school loss at the Beast of the East. Robinson was given a #42 seed at the Super 32 and won it. He was unseeded when he fell in the finals to Kellen Russell at the Beast. Tyler Nauman beat Peter Yates in the blood round.
Bishop Lynch from Texas came out and brought some studs as Luke Silver and Luke Ashmore won titles. Christiansburg’s Andrew Clement won 10 matches – although two were forfeits – to claim third at 140.
Nick Nelson, a future All-American at Virginia, stopped Ashtin Primus in his bid for a fourth title with a fall in the finals at 145. Nelson had earlier edged Bubba Jenkins and then beat Matt Cathell of Delaware and Bryan Tracy of Paulsboro, New Jersey in the semis. Jon Reader of Davison, Michigan had four pins and a major to reach the finals against Matt Epperly. Reader won 4-1. Future NCAA champion Dustin Kilgore was third, losing by fall in the quarters to eventual champion Tommy Spellman of New Jersey. Spellman beat Reynolds’ Lawrence Beckman in the finals. Yes, of those Reynolds Beckmans.
You know what, if I do this for every year, it’ll be longer than the three-hour finals show I put on from the Asian Championships. So let’s look at JUST THE FINALS for 2006 and the numbers.
Nine Division I All-Americans, of them, there was two-time champion David Taylor from Graham, Ohio. You also have Division II champion Tommy Abbott of Delaware, two-time NJCAA champion and NAIA All-American Jamelle Jones, also of Delaware.
The head-to-heads of note saw Pennsylvania’s Troy Dolan beat Jarrod Garnett of Delaware. Man, Delaware had a good crop of guys in that era. Collin Dozier of Virginia over Tyler Nauman of Pennsylvania, Dustin Kilgore of Ohio beat Jordan Blanton of Illinois in a battle of future three-time All-Americans. Jones beat future NCAA finalist Chris Honeycutt of St. Edward at 189.
New York’s Kyle Dake, wrestling at 112, lost to Virginia’s Michael Garafalo and Georgia’s Joey Lazor and finished 7/8. Olanowski won this bracket by the way. At 119, returning champion Brandon Davis of North Carolina fell to the 7/8, which wasn’t yet wrestled. Among champion Frank Perrelli’s victims – a guy named Creed, a Levi Strauss, Scotti Sentes and Josh Kindig. That was just to reach the finals. Ok, the first two were more for name effect. His opponent, Gabriel Espinosa of Florida beat Travis Coffey of North Carolina, Nic Bedelyon and Eric Grajales to reach the finals. Nick Nelson repeated, winning at 145 pounds with a 5-3 win over Tommy Abbott.
Future Division III champion Vincent Renaut was ousted in the blood round by future Buffalo Bull John-Martin Cannon at 152. Scott Winson beat Ben Bennett in the semis at 160, Jordan Blanton beat Cam Simaz in the semis before falling to Kilgore in the finals.
Moving to 2007, which was the second-to-last year I attended because when you move away from the East Coast, getting to North Cacka-lacky ain’t so easy. First, the finals stats: seven Division I All-Americans, one three-time D1 champion, and a Greco-Roman World teamer – Max Nowry.
At 125, Eric Grajales beat Pennsylvania’s Jordan Oliver 1-0, Collin Palmer of Ohio beat Kenny Courts of Pennsylvania 4-2 at 135. Future All-Americans to fall were Walter Peppelman, who lost to Tony Jameson of Ohio and Ed Ruth, who lost to Michigan’s Jacob Burge 5-4 at 171. Anthony Clinton of North Carolina won by injury default over Virginia’s Max Huntley, who hadn’t yet transferred to Blair Academy.
Now, the fun stuff. A.J. Schopp beat Devin Carter for third at 103, Jeremy Sandoval of Texas beat Tony Ramos for fifth at 125, Jarrod Garnett beat Josh Kindig for third at 130, Marshall Peppelman beat R.J. Pena of Oregon for third at 140, future All-American from The Citadel, Odie Delaney was fifth at 215.
Other “what the heck” stats include: Max Nowry beating A.J. Schopp in the semis, Grajales beating Ramos 8-0 in the semis, future Cornell backup Joe Stanzione beating Joey Lazor. There’s some weird tie-in there with Dake if you can do the math. Collin Palmer over Taylor Massa in the semis. Sightings of C.J. Napier of Kansas and Carson Fields of Georgia at 135. Another Kansan, Aldon Isenberg finishing second to Trevor Melde of New Jersey at 140. The aforementioned free-wheeling Tony Jameson of Ohio. Future four-time NAIA champion Brock Gutches beating future Division III All-American Emmanuel Ajagbe of New Jersey in the consolation semis at 145. Joe Booth making his national breakout performance at 152. My friend Nate Schy still can’t stand him from his fantasy wrestling draft picks. He even told him such on Facebook. Eric Cubberly of Ohio beat Scotty Winston of New Jersey in the finals at 160.
Ed Ruth beat Jordan Blanton in the semifinals and this is before Ruth ever went to Blair. Jacob Burge’s semifinal opponent? Future Division III All-American Colin Lenhardt of Gloucester, Virginia. Yes, you’ve heard that name before. There’s 14 Lenhardts. There’s also at least two Ed Ruth’s. Edward and Edmond. That’s where my research ends.
If it wasn’t a copyright violation, the entire background for the rest of this episode would be playing MC Hammer on repeat, because STOP, Hammer Time. Ok. That’s lame.
Moving to 2008, Alex Cisneros, a California hammer, wins at 103, Devin Carter wins at 112. Zach Neibert takes it at 130, while a beefed up David Taylor wins at 135 after winning two years earlier at 103. Andrew Alton mauls Taylor Massa at 140. How about 119 where David Klingsheim of California and Frank Goodwin of Maryland finish 1-2, but the other placewinners in the bracket of note were All-Americans Camden Eppert (third), A.J. Schopp (fifth), Alan Waters (sixth), Tyler Cox (seventh) and Mitchell Port (eighth). Future Greco-Roman world teamers were also in the mix as Ellis Coleman was third at 135, beating Josh Dziewa, Caylor Williams was fifth at 189 and future Virginia Tech All-American Chris Penny was 7th at 215. None of the guys in front of him placed in D1. Nick McDiarmid did wrestle for Michigan State. He was third.
Now we get to 2009, the 10-year anniversary of the Super 32. And now we feel old, because 103-pound champion Joey Dance was a freshman in high school. He’s now coaching at the college level.
At 103, Dance beat Freddie Rodriguez – remember him – in the finals, while future NCAA finalists George DiCamillo, Zeke Moisey and Zain Retherford also placed. Retherford was eighth, losing to Moisey. Oh, Zain made the finals three times, winning it for Penn State, as you are well aware. A trio of guys who wrestled at ODU, Jerome Robinson, Chris Mecate and Tristan Warner won at 112, 119 and 171.
Frank Cagnina beat Jason Tsirtsis at 130. Nick Gwiazdowski was third at 189, losing to – get this – Timmy McCall, a North Carolina native who wrestled at Wisconsin who’s now training in Raleigh at the Wolfpack Wrestling Club. McCall would later fall in the blood round to some guy I can’t remember.
Moving to 2010 – are we having fun yet? Hey, let’s start at 103, since that’s one of the controversial topics in high school wrestling today – what should the lowest weight be. Well, we’ve got a pair of future NCAA champions meeting in the finals. Darian Cruz of Pennsylvania topped Nathan Tomasello of Ohio. Oh wait, more NCAA champs meeting in the finals at 112 as Anthony Ashnault of New Jersey beat Zain Retherford of Pennsylvania. Two more NCAA runners-up were in the weight as DiCamillo was 4th and Moisey 8th.
All-Americans meet at 119 as Nathan Kraisser of Maryland beat Joey Dance of Virginia. Earl Hall was third. 135 was pretty stout, All-American Dan Neff of PA was second, four-time Division III All-American Bobby Dierna was fourth, All-American Anthony Perrotti of New Jersey was 6th and Division II All-American Brent Fickel, son of Wrestling USA’s Dan Fickel, was seventh.
At 145, James Green was second to Nick Hodgkins of PA. You know what, as great as the Super 32 is, the action probably does center around things below what was 152. There’s some solid guys who place up top, but with football season and other fall sports playing a role, I believe the lower half of the brackets are worth triple the price of admission. So many studs. Scattered D1 and D2 All-Americans populate the upper weights, too.
In 2011, we’ve got weight class changes and with it, 106. Let’s go right off the top with the top five wrestlers eventually becoming D1 All-Americans – Michael Kemerer, Matthew Kolodzik, Ryan Millhof, Luke Pletcher and Sean Russell.
At 126, we got Ashnault, Dance, Retherford, Randy Cruz. Wow. At 145, All-Americans Lenny Richardson and Solomon Chishko. At 160, we thought we had some can’t-miss studs with Chance Marsteller, Cody Allala, Geordan Speiller, Zach Epperly, Geno Morelli and Jason Luster placing in the top eight. Allala was a bad dude and Marsteller handled him 5-0 in the final. Marsteller decked Speiller in the semis. Speiller is a past Greco-Roman world teamer.
At 182, South Carolina’s T.J. Dudley won, while Matt McCutcheon of PA beat Brooks Climmons of Georgia in a bout that many thought could be the future of 184 in college. Climmons eventually placed for NAIA Brewton-Parker after stops at Air Force, Oklahoma and ODU.
In 2012, NCAA champs met at 106 with Nick Suriano of New Jersey beating Spencer Lee of Pennsylvania. Lee would win in the NCAA finals in 2018. D1 All-Americans Luke Pletcher and Chad Red placed, as did D2 champion Jose Rodriguez of Ohio and NAIA champion Hayden Lee of Indiana. Suriano was a freshman, Lee an 8th grader.
High school teammates met in the finals at 113 as Ryan Millhof beat Sean Russell in a Collins Hill battle. Zahid freaking Valencia was third. Who beat Zahid? Nick Piccinnini, who lost to Russell in the semis. At 120 pounds, the weight had two future NCAA champions – one finished third – Darian Cruz – while the other, Seth Gross of Minnesota – was sixth.
At 132, Dean Heil beat Aaron Pico. Yeah. That happened. Oh, Jason Nolf was third. Kyle Snyder beat Thomas Haines at 220.
In 2013, we’ve got Yianni Diakomihalis winning at 106, Spencer Lee beating Nick Suriano 3-1 at 113, Jack Mueller reaching the quarterfinals and falling to Lee by tech and then being knocked out in the blood round. Luke Pletcher over Mickey Phillipi at 120, stop me if you’ve heard this before.
Jason Nolf dominated Brock Zacherl at 138 in the finals. Patricio Lugo didn’t place, losing to Nolf and Justin Oliver of Michigan. Oliver then beat Myles Amine in match before the blood round. Oh by the way, Myles Amine finished fifth in the world last month at 189 pounds. His older brother Malik wrestled at 145 pounds at the Super 32 and 143 at the Worlds. San Marino represent. Malik placed sixth – at the Super 32.
All-American Zack Zavatsky of PA wins it at 182 over Nicky Hall of New York. Zavatsky beats future Virginia Tech teammate Tom Sleigh 5-2 in the semifinals. Georgia’s Chip Ness is pretty much untested in winning at 195. He might have had a Twitter beef with Lance Benick earlier that summer.
Ian Butterbrodt of Massachusetts won at 220, majoring Jordan Wood of PA. Oddly, they never actually met in college. Wood won by forfeit at the EIWA championships this past season.
As we get into 2014, we’re running into wrestlers who are currently in college. Spencer Lee wins again at 113, while Yianni Diakomihalis beats Daton Fix at 120 in the finals. Yup – NCAA finalists meeting. At 145, Michael Kemerer topped Max Thomsen of Iowa, while Hayden Hidlay beat Patricio Lugo for third. All-American Kaleb Young was seventh at this weight, beating current VMI Keydet Neal Richards 4-2. All-American Alex Marinelli was second at 160, losing to Florida’s Fox Baldwin. Zahid Valenica went up to 182 and beat Kollin Moore of Ohio 9-4.
In 2015, we see Sebastian Rivera beat Pat Glory in an all-New Jersey final at 113. DeSanto … was second at 120, falling to Joey Silva of Florida. At 145, David Carr of Ohio beat Austin O’Connor of Illinois. Carr recently won a Junior world title, while O’Connor is the top returning wrestler at 149 pounds for North Carolina. Nick Reenan beat Dakota Geer at 182, while Jordan Wood beat Matt Stencel at 220.
Oh, and Adam Busiello won his first high school Super 32 title, beating JoJo Aragona in the final at 106.
In 2016, Busiello wins again, beating Robert Howard of New Jersey at 113. Patrick Glory takes the title at 120, topping Colorado’s Andrew Alirez, who will make waves two years later when he beats Nick Lee at the Junior World Team Trials in Minnesota. Apparently Alirez was on the radar back then, but still under it, if that’s possible. At 126, Silva beats DeSanto for the second year in a row in the finals. At 160 pounds, Chris Foca pinned 2019 NCAA champion Mekhi Lewis in one minute for fifth place. At 182, Lou DePrez beat Nino Bonaccorsi, which is a match that SHOULD age well. John Borst of Virginia over Gavin Hoffman of Pennsylvania also might age well, depending on how much Borst continues to eat in Blacksburg.
In 2017, Cullen Schriever of Iowa beat Richie Figueroa at 106, Adam Busiello wins another Super 32 title, Joey Silva wins a third Super 32 title, this time beating someone other than Austin DeSanto in the final – it was Jesse Vasquez of California at 132.
At 170, Patrick Kennedy of Minnesota beat Chris Foca of New Jersey in the finals. The girls division took shape with powerful finals that included Oliva Shore of Ohio topping Caitlyn Walker of PA at 103, Emma Bruntil of Washington beating Cara Broaddus of Connecticut at 139 and Jayden Laurent of Wisconsin beating Ashlynn Ortega of Colorado at 148.
In 2018, Stevo Poulin notched a high school title at 106. Shane Van Ness of New Jersey topped Ryan Jack of Connecticut 10-6 at 126. Dylan D’Emilio of Ohio topped Beau Bartlett of Wyoming Seminary 5-2 in the finals at 132. At 170, Dustin Plott of Oklahoma had a high-scoring affair with Patrick Kennedy, winning 16-12.
Caitlyn Walker gets her revenge on Shore, flipping the outcome in the girls division at 108. Amanda Walker of Wyoming Seminary topped Alexys Zapeda of Oregon on criteria – because yes, the Super 32 wrestles the girls divisions in freestyle. Other hammers to win were Jerzie Estrada at 148 and Kennedy Blades at 160.
What’s great about this is five years from now, we’re going to look back at all the studs from high school and go “oh yeah, I remember back at the Super 32 when.”
This is why the nostalgia factor is great from those early years. We’ve seen these athletes come and go at the high school and college level.
It’ll be even better 10 years from now when Dave Barker and Sara Koenig have the 30th annual. Yes guys, we’re not that old and that means we can be doing this for a load more. How about it?!
The numbers are huge, brackets are a grind and gone are the days where it’s a one-day pulverizer of talent, if you believe talent exists. To see where this has come from, a meager fundraiser for Eden-Morehead wrestling to the single best high school tournament, regardless of style, is a testament to the passion Dave and Sara put in each and every year. It’s taken on a life of its own. From a state champ here or there, to meetings that involve future NCAA finals, the Super 32 is a success in grassroots wrestling, passion and support. They do it right, they do it well and they’re very, very good at it.
Want to follow the Super 32? It’s live on Flowrestling with action on 28 mats with all sorts of age-group divisions, but highlighted by the boys and girls high school divisions. It’s part of the FloPro subscription. Action begins Friday, October 11.
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