YONKERS, N.Y.— Somers senior Billy DiBenedetto and freshman Matt Kelly each placed first at the Chris Hernandez Memorial Wrestling Tournament at Yonkers High School on Jan. 7.
“Billy and Matt have great mental toughness to begin with, and their preparation leading to competition always gives them an advantage,” Somers coach Ron DiSanto said. “They did not get intimidated by their opponents and stuck with their game plans.”
DiBenedetto won the 132-pound weight class with a pin of Pleasantville’s Seb Senande in 1:32 in the finals. He scored three total pins in the tourney.
Kelly, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Freshman, scored a thrilling 8-6 overtime win over top-seeded Brian Nicpon of Suffern in the 152-pound championship match.
“Matt was the third seed, but he was determined to prove the seeding wrong,” DiSanto said. “In the finals he came from behind to force overtime and scored a takedown after defending his opponent’s takedown attempt.”
Also placing for the Tuskers, who finished seventh out of 15 teams, were Graham Roediger (138, third), Nick Fiore (145, fourth), Nick Davison (160, fourth) and Sean Freebern (220, sixth).
“The team was refreshed and well-rested after a long break since our last tournament (Dec. 10),” DiSanto said. “We have been able to practice a lot on some key techniques that needed improvement. We’ve also increased the conditioning in practice to improve our endurance, which helped each kid get through their two to four matches on the day. Our recent hard work was evident. Most of the kids wrestled smart and aggressive, which resulted in six out of our eight starters placing in the top six.”
Somers suffered a tough dual-meet loss on criteria to Hendrick Hudson on Jan. 5 after the match was deadlocked at 42-42. The Sailors won the most overall matches, 8-7, to take the win.
Earning wins for Somers were Roediger (138, pin), Kelly (152, pin), Jimmy Hogan (182, forfeit), Freebern (220, pin), Matt Russo (99, pin), Eric Giancaspro (126, pin) and DiBenedetto (132, pin).
The Tuskers will compete in the Hendrick Hudson tournament on Jan. 14.
“As we get into the final month of the season, with nothing but individual tournaments leading up to the postseason, our team is gaining momentum,” DiSanto said. “Our lineup has become better suited for tournaments rather than dual meets. We are starting to shift our focus on each individual doing what they have to do to peak in February.”