Mahopac senior Mike DiNardo has been waiting all year long for the wrestling season to start.
DiNardo has some unfinished business in mind ever since his season came to an end last year on the wrestling mats in Albany at the New York State championships.
After winning the Section 1 title last year in the 182-pound weight class, DiNardo advanced to the state tournament and finished fourth. Now, as a senior, he is determined to return to Albany for a chance to win a state title.
“I’m really motivated for this year, especially now that I won sectionals last year and placed fourth at states,” DiNardo said. “I have a target on my back now, so I have to wrestle to the best of my ability every single match this year. I’m ready to win states.”
DiNardo is one big reason for optimism on the mats at Mahopac. Coach Dennis DiSanto has several key veterans returning to the lineup, and some promising newcomers ready to make it another successful year for the Mahopac wrestling program.
The Indians did lose a lot of talented wrestlers to graduation, including sectional champ Ryan Delahanty, along with stars Liridon Hasanramaj, Chris Cornell and Joe Frezza. However, DiSanto feels he has plenty of talent on the roster ready to make Mahopac one of the best teams in Section 1.
“We’re going to put a competitive team on the mats with some big guns back,” DiSanto said. “DiNardo is one of the best wrestlers in the section. Garrett Semenetz took third in the section last year and he’s back in the same weight class. Mike Muldoon is back, and Anthony Martins won divisionals last year and he’s back at heavyweight. We’ve got some solid kids, and we’re filling in with young wrestlers who are pretty good. “
DiNardo will be the favorite to repeat as a Section 1 champ and he will bump up to the 195-pound weight class. DiSanto feels he can challenge for the state title this year and expects a big finish from DiNardo after what he accomplished last year.
Martins is another big gun as he won a divisional title last year but missed the Section 1 tournament due to an injury. This year, DiNardo and Martins will push each other every day in practice to get ready for a big finish to their careers on the mats at Mahopac.
Semenetz returns at 103 pounds and he should be among the top contenders for a title at that weight, and Muldoon will be one of the best in the section in the 126-pound weight class.
Other returning starters for Mahopac include Alex Rabinowitz at 120 pounds, and Anthony Ocello at 132 pounds. Those two pushed each other competing in the same weight class last year, and this year they will both play a vital role as starters. Ocello was second at divisionals.
Senior Eric Gagne is a returning starter for Mahopac at 145 pounds. Gagne suffered an injury during football season, but should be ready for a big year on the mats.
A pair of sophomores who started last year as freshmen return with a year of varsity experience under their belts as Tom Mahoney will be at 160 pounds and Jack McDonald will be at 170 pounds for the Indians.
Newcomers who will be in the starting lineup include sophomore Joe Usewicz at 140 pounds and freshman Frank Casagrande at 99 pounds. Junior Mike Delahanty will get the chance to start at super heavyweight after wrestling behind his brother Ryan last winter.
“It’s a good mix of experienced, established guys and guys who are talented and ready to step in,” said DiSanto, whose team finished third at sectionals last year after placing 15th the previous season. “We have enough to be pretty competitive.”
Mahopac will open the season in the Section 1 dual-meet tournament on the road at Fox Lane on Wednesday, Dec. 2. The Indians then compete in the Somers Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 5.