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  • Matt O'Rourke

Msgr. Martin Wrestlers Reach State Wrestling Final, Place Six for Six; NYS Federation Championships Roundup


Cover photo courtesy of Jeff Pataky


Wrestlers representing the Msgr. Martin High School Athletic Association (MMHSAA) put on the best combined performance in the history of the league competing at the 61st NYSPHSAA federation wrestling championships at MVP Arena in Albany over the weekend.

 

On Feb. 11th, six wrestlers representing St. Joe’s and St. Francis captured NYS Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) titles, earning automatic qualification to the state federation tournament.


All six of those wrestlers placed in the Division I large school federation event, smashing the previous record of two Msgr. Martin place winners at the state tournament set first in 2015 by St. Joe’s’ Richie Jones and St. Francis’s Jake Braunscheidel and tied in 2023 by the Marauders’ Austin Zimmerman and Nik Massaro.

 

Not only did the league place all six of its wrestlers in Albany, but a pair of wrestlers also reached the finals in their respective brackets – St. Francis sophomores Griffin LaPlante and Zach Caldwell – a first in Msgr. Martin wrestling history.


The previous highest placing wrestlers achieved 3rd place finishes; Chris Smith, 1993, St. Joe’s; Tito Colom, 2016, St. Francis; Dominik Thomas, 2019, St. Francis.

 

LaPlante // Pataky


St. Joe’s senior Austin Zimmerman capped off a remarkable career for the Marauders wrestling back to 3rd place at 116-pounds after having fallen in the quarterfinal. The four-time CHSAA champion claimed his second straight federation place finish and the highest for St. Joe’s since Smith’s 3rd place in 1993.

 

Zimmerman // Pataky


St. Francis senior Gage LaPlante earned his second career state federation place finish taking 3rd at 170-pounds while teammates Cullen Edwards (6th, 108) and Connor Miller (8th, 215) reached the podium in their respective brackets.

 

LaPlante // Pataky


Five federation place winners was enough to help the Red Raiders forge a new program milestone while landing the team a 3rd place finish in the individual team scoring.


St. Francis accumulated 83-points, nearly ten ahead of Section IX’s Newburgh with 72.5. St. Francis trailed only NYSPHSAA Division I dual meet champion Plainedge (VIII) by three points, and team champion Minisink Valley’s (IX) 88.5-points.

 

St. Francis coaches Steve Hart (l) and Mike Messore (r) // Pataky


Eastern States champion and 2022 state placer Griffin LaPlante entered as the 3-seed at 152-pounds. A pre-quarter pin and dominating 15-5 major in the quarterfinal advanced Griffin to the state semifinals for a showdown with returning 3rd place winner Jesse Vanorden from Section VIII powerhouse Wantagh.

 

LaPlante // Pataky


A 1-1 tie score after six minutes of wrestling went into sudden victory overtime where LaPlante earned the crucial takedown with only twenty-three seconds left in the first OT period, advancing to the final for the first time in his career while becoming Msgr. Martin’s first state federation wrestling finalist.


LaPlante // Pataky


In the Saturday evening title match, LaPlante met a familiar foe in Williamsville North’s defending NYS champion Cam Catrabone. A first period takedown by Catrabone and an escape in the third were the only points scored in the bout as Catrabone would go on to claim a second state title with a 3-0 decision.


LaPlante // Pataky


At 190-pounds, Zach Caldwell entered as the 2-seed in his first appearance at the state championships. The two-time Eastern States place winner earned decisions in each of his first two matches to set up a meeting with 6-seeded Zach Miller from Section XI’s Islip in the semifinal.

 

Caldwell // Pataky


In that match, Caldwell chose to start bottom in the third period trailing 3-1 to Miller. An escape thirty seconds into the period cut the score to 3-2. With time winding down to only seconds remaining, Caldwell was able to score the takedown for a walk off win to reach the federation tournament final.

 

Caldwell // Pataky


In the title match, Caldwell met Eastern States champion and returning finalist & three-time state place winner Elijah Diakomihalis from Hilton (V) where the unbeaten Cadet junior was a 13-0 major decision winner for the 190-pound title.

 

Caldwell // Pataky


St. Francis coach Ron Lorenz and Caldwell // Pataky


In the 116-pound bracket, returning NYS 5th place winner Austin Zimmerman opened as the 6-seed in the bracket, reaching the quarterfinal with an 8-6 decision over Somers/North Salem’s (I) Ryan Ball to start the day on Friday.

 

Zimmerman // Pataky


In the quarterfinal, Austin met 3-seeded Anthony Severino from Lindenhurst (XI) with advancement to the semis on the line. Severino broke a scoreless 0-0 match early in the third period and added a takedown to seal the win, 3-0.

 

Leaving the loss in the quarterfinal behind, Austin stormed to four consecutive consolation wins to achieve 3rd place in the federation 116-pound bracket. A 9-2 decision over Warwick’s (IX) Brady Judd in the blood round guaranteed another place finish for the Marauder senior.

 

Zimmerman // Pataky


A pin over 2-seeded Carlos Salazar from Section VIII’s Hewlett and a 9-4 decision over Rocky Point’s (XI) 4-seed Aidan Donohue sent Austin to the 3rd place bout against Colonie’s (II) Vincent Mastrianni.

 

Holding onto a 3-2 lead late in the third period, Zimmerman scored a match sealing takedown with less than ten seconds remaining to secure 3rd place with a 5-2 decision over Mastrianni.

 

Zimmerman // Pataky


Zimmerman became the 5th different wrestler in St. Joe’s program history a year ago to achieve a federation podium finish, but is now the second individual to achieve multiple place finishes (Smith, 1991-1993) in Marauder history.


Zimmerman // Pataky


St. Francis’s Gage LaPlante opened as the 2-seed at 170-pounds. The 2022 state place winner and Eastern States champion reached the Saturday semifinal with two pins totaling exactly two minutes of time on Friday, including over the 7-seed in the quarterfinal.  

 

LaPlante // Pataky


In the semifinal, Gage met Section I’s returning NYS 4th place winner from Carmel, Leo Venables. After building a 5-0 lead, a reversal to criteria by Venables ultimately ended with a pin to send LaPlante to the wrestle backs.

 

However, LaPlante refocused quickly, as he was a first period winner by pin over Hilton’s returning NYS 4th place winner Landon Lazarek to secure a spot in the bronze match.

 

LaPlante // Pataky


In the 3rd place bout, Gage met Fulton’s (III) 1-seeded Johnathan Clohecy, who also fell in the semifinal, for a rematch of their meeting at Eastern States from Jan. 13th where Clohecy was a second period winner by pin.

 

On Saturday, LaPlante again built a lead over Clohecy, although this time he secured the pin in the second period, claiming 3rd place in NYS in his final high school bout.


LaPlante // Pataky


The Red Raiders’ Cullen Edwards was the third 10th grader to place for St. Francis at the 2024 federation championships in his third appearance in Albany after having won the Section VI title twice at Frontier previously.

 

Edwards // Pataky


As the 6-seed in the weight class, Edwards won his opening match 5-1 to set up a meeting with three-time state place winner Ralph Keeney from Section II’s Ballston Spa in the quarterfinal. An impressive 8-5 decision over the Ballston senior sent Edwards to the Saturday semifinal against Newburgh’s (IX) defending NYS champion Cooper Merli.

 

Edwards // Pataky


On Saturday, Merli cruised to a 5-0 decision over Cullen before winning a second straight NYS title later on in the evening. In the consolation bracket, a pair of losses landed Edwards a 6th place finish in the federation, his first career state place finish...and with two years remaining in school.


Edwards // Pataky


Connor Miller’s first appearance in Albany resulted in an 8th place finish at 215-pounds for the Red Raider senior, capping off a strong final campaign in his fourth year at St. Francis High School.

 

Miller // Pataky


Miller reached the quarterfinals as the 4-seed in the bracket but fell to Buffalo’s (VI) Kahmari Cook to move to the wrestle backs.

 

In the consolation blood round, Connor earned a crucial 11-2 major decision over James Madison’s (PSAL) Amin Ibrahim to secure a top-8 podium finish. Miller scored four points in the first period, three in the second, and another big 4-point third period to take down Ibrahim to ensure an all-state place finish.



Joining his four other team mates with podium finishes on Saturday, Miller is the 12th different individual to earn a federation podium finish in Red Raiders Wrestling program history.


Miller // Pataky

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