MAHOPAC— After a fourth-place finish at states last season, Mike DiNardo is focused on finishing off his career on a high note and potentially bringing home a state title.
The state tournament takes place at the Times Union Center in Albany on Feb. 26-27.
DiNardo, a two-time section champ, was ranked No. 2 in the state at 195 pounds heading into the tournament. He fell to the top ranked grappler in the state, Ward Melville’s Christian Araneo, at Eastern States, but knows he can pull out the win this time around if the two meet up again.
“For Mike, the key is to stay focused and relaxed and to be himself,” Mahopac coach Dennis DiSanto said. “He has been wrestling well all year — he just needs to continue what he is doing. He needs to take it one match at a time and block out all the distractions.”
The senior grappler’s plan is to take it “one match at a time.”
“I can’t get in over my head,” DiNardo said. “I lost 5-3 at Eastern States, but I think I can beat him (Araneo) this time. Honestly, I hit a stupid move (at Eastern States) in the third period.”
DiNardo handily defeated Arlington’s Tannier Nielsen by a 13-2 majority decision in the section final.
“Mike’s technique is at a higher level than most of the opponents he has wrestled this year,” DiSanto said. “He can do stuff on the mat that most wrestlers can’t do in terms of technique.”
Last year DiNardo fell in his first match at states, but rallied for a fourth-place finish. This year he is looking for a higher finish and then some.
“At that point I felt like I had nothing to lose,” DiNardo said of falling in his first match at states last season. “So I just went out there and wrestled.”
When he was a freshman, DiNardo broke his lower back, so it has not been the easiest climb to success as the senior has endured some hardships along the way.
“Last year my main goal for the whole season was just to be healthy at every tournament,” DiNardo said.
Junior Garrett Semenetz heads up to states for the first time in his career and is hoping to make some noise at 99 pounds.
“For Garrett he needs to maintain his confidence level and believe that he belongs up there,” DiSanto said. “Then go out and do what he is capable of doing.”
Semenetz placed third at sectionals last year and credited Iowa Style Wrestling in Somers for some of his improvement this season. He defeated Arlington’s Dennis Robin 13-0 in the Section 1 championship match.
“I just kept training my butt off,” Semenetz said of the work he put in during the offseason.
The confidence level of the junior grappler is high heading into states.
Said Semenetz: “I just have to stay mentally tough and know that I can beat these kids too.”