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Zimmerman Becomes First Four Time Champ, St. Francis Sends Five to Albany; CHSAA Wrestling Roundup


Cover photo courtesy of Jeff Pataky


St. Joe’s senior Austin Zimmerman captured his fourth career CHSAA title on Saturday at the NYS Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) Wrestling Championships at St. Anthony’s HS, Huntington, Long Island. In doing so, he became the first four time ‘Catholic states’ wrestling champion in Msgr. Martin High School Athletic Association history and earned the Association's prestigious Iron Man award given to four time conference wrestling champions.

 

Not only is Zimmerman the league’s first four time CHSAA wrestling champion, but also Msgr. Martin’s first ever four time CHSAA champion – individual or team – of any sport in the conference, for both boys and girls interscholastic athletics.

 

CHSAA champion Austin Zimmerman


As the top seed in the 116-pound bracket, Zimmerman dominated his first three opponents, earning pins in each of his first two matches before securing a technical fall in the semifinal in less than four minutes to reach the CHSAA title match for the fourth time.

 

In the final, Austin took an 8-3 lead into the third period of the match against fellow returning champion Brett Crawford from the host school Friars, ultimately going on to win by decision, 10-4, to return to the state federation tournament for the third time.

 

Four time CHSAA champion Zimmerman


Zimmerman is a returning 5th place winner from the 2023 federation championships in Albany and helped to lead the CHSAA combined team to a 6th place finish in the final team standings, the Association’s second best team score in the last ten years (5th, 2019).

 

Austin was one of six Marauders to place on Saturday, helping to lead St. Joe’s to a 6th place team finish in the final team scoring.

 

Nik Massaro (2nd, 131), Damien Ndagano (5th, 101), Sean Gordon (5th, 138), Aidan Schenk (5th, 160), and Nathaniel Lopez (6th, 285) all earned podium finishes for ‘Joe’s.

 

Five individual CHSAA champions and nine total place winners helped St. Francis to second place in the 2024 Catholic states overall team scoring, but was enough to land the Red Raiders a first place finish amongst the small school teams in the field.


St. Francis 2024 CHSAA Division II team champions


Five champions in one CHSAA tournament is also a new program record for St. Francis; the Raiders previously crowned four champions in two different ‘Catholic states.’  

 

Cullen Edwards (108), Griffin LaPlante (152), Gage LaPlante (170), Zach Caldwell (190), and Connor Miller (215) all claimed individual titles on Saturday for St. Francis.

 

Rory White (3rd, 145), Brandon Drummond (4th, 160), Jack Coughlin (5th, 285), and Kole Haseley (6th, 124) all placed to help St. Francis to the small school team title.

 

With six total CHSAA champions representing its member schools, the 2024 Msgr. Martin representative wrestlers tie the largest single group of wrestlers to the state federation tournament in conference history with the 2002-2003 team. Six wrestlers representing St. Francis, St. Joe’s, St. Mary’s, and Canisius qualified for the NYSPHSAA championships held at the Onondaga County War Memorial in Syracuse in March 2003.


2024 NYS CHSAA Wrestling champions


Edwards will return to the state tournament for the third time in his career. He was previously a two time Section VI champion while at Frontier, but has missed placing in Albany in each of those trips to the state championships.

 

Edwards dominated the 108-pound bracket at St. Anthony’s on Saturday, earning two first round pins before a 7-0 semifinal victory over team champion Iona Prep’s Rocco Lamotta. In the title match, the Raiders sophomore got taken down first by returning CHSAA finalist Jack Borowiec from Msgr. Farrell HS, but outscored Borowiec 10-2 thereafter to capture the CHSAA title.  

 

CHSAA champion Cullen Edwards


The upper weight duo of Caldwell and Miller has been a key piece of the lineup for the Red Raiders this season and both will make their first career appearances in Albany.

 

Caldwell earned a pin in the opening round before earning major decisions in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. In the title match, Zach met returning CHSAA 5th place winner Mike Illuzzi for a chance to reach the federation championships on the line. Caldwell would earn the first period pin after building a fast 4-1 lead with around thirty seconds remaining in the opening period.  

 

CHSAA champion Zach Caldwell


At 215-pounds, Miller cruised into the final earning first period pins over each of his first three opponents, including the semifinal. In the final, Miller would mount a furious comeback against Iona’s returning 6th place winner Frankie Serrano to capture the title.


Down 5-2 in the third period, Connor would get an escape and takedown to make the score 5-5.

 

An escape by Serrano gave him a 6-5 lead, however a Miller takedown with less than ten seconds remaining in the bout was the difference maker as the senior from East Aurora would hold on to win 7-6 and earn a trip to Albany.

 

“He’s the ultimate guy that you want to coach,” said St. Francis head coach Mike Messore. “He does everything you ask him to do, he’s a hard worker. He’s accountable and does all the right things. Last year he sustained an injury but came back in time to salvage the season, win a league title, and take third at CHSAA. We thought if he was healthy, he would’ve gone [to Albany], but he had that setback."

 

St. Francis's Miller // Pataky


Messore continued "this season, he made the choice to go up to 215, and has even gone to 285 for us…Connor has been the ultimate team guy, and then he gets rewarded for all of the amazing things about him with a spectacular last second finish this weekend. He didn’t have to walk off the mat thinking about all the ‘coulda-woulda-shoulda’ stuff. Connor’s journey has been really special for me and Coach [Ron] Lorenz, especially.”

 

CHSAA champion Connor Miller


Griffin (152) and Gage (170) LaPlante each captured CHSAA titles for St. Francis on Saturday as well. The brothers both placed in the 2022 NYSPHSAA federation tournament – Griffin, 5th at 132-pounds, Gage, 7th at 145-pounds – and have been squarely in the championship conversation since the beginning of the 2023-2024 season.

 

On Saturday, Griffin dominated the 152-pound bracket going 4-for-4 with wins and pins to capture the CHSAA title and ensure a return to Albany. Three of his pins, including the title match against Kellenberg’s Jack Barkley, came in the first period.

 

CHSAA champion Griffin LaPlante


A CHSAA title rematch of the 170-pound 3rd place match from Eastern States this season put Gage LaPlante against top seeded Jonathan Hoffman from Kellenberg. In that match from Jan. 13th, Hoffman earned a convincing 7-1 decision over LaPlante.

 

This time around, Gage returned the favor in impressive fashion as he earned two takedowns and finished the match with three near fall points with only a minute remaining to secure a 7-0 decision over Hoffman, refusing to concede even a single escape point.


CHSAA champion Gage LaPlante


“Gage’s match was exciting, but also very satisfying,” said Messore after the 170-pound final. “He dominated, was punishing, and was just awesome. He was the hands-down Most Outstanding Wrestler,” which LaPlante did earn by the coaches’ vote.

 

Griffin (l) and MOW Gage (r) LaPlante


“Even with the number of champs and the potential they have for placing in two weeks, I don’t think there’s been another full group like this that we’ve ever had,” said Messore, reflecting on his team’s performance on Saturday and throughout this season. “Before 2015, St. Francis never had anyone place higher than 6th in the federation tournament. Now, we have guys going in expecting to be in the finals.”


St. Francis's five 2024 NYS CHSAA champions

 

The NYSPHSAA Intersectional Championships are Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23rd – 24th, at MVP Arena in downtown Albany.

 

In total, sixteen wrestlers representing Msgr. Martin schools placed at the 2024 NYS CHSAA Championships on Saturday.

 

St. Mary’s sophomore Quinn Martin earned his second career CHSAA place finish in taking 4th at 124-pounds. Martin reached the quarterfinal, but landed in the consolation bracket after falling to the 2-seed. Martin earned a crucial pin in the consolation blood round to guarantee another top-6 place finish. In the consolation semifinal, Quinn secured a 5-2 decision over Kellenberg’s Andrew DiBiase with a late third period takedown to reach the 3rd place match where he ultimately finished 4th at 124-pounds.


St. Mary's sophomore Quinn Martin places 4th at 124-pounds // Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Weiss

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john smith
john smith
15 févr.

great article, thanks. I'm fan of wrestling and box and I even started my own sport blog. I collect cool photos and I downloaded boxing ring images from depositphotos. There are thousands of images on every taste. Stock photos can be used for multiple purposes, including websites, blogs, social media, advertisements, presentations, and more. They provide flexibility in adapting to different projects.

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