20-in-'12: North Rockland wrestling
Coach: Andy Guccione (7th year)
Last year’s record: 18-4 (finished eighth at sectionals, first at Rockland County Championships)
Returning starters: 12
Blaise Benderoth, 106 pounds: As just an eighth-grader last season, Benderoth came up just short of a Section 1 title with a 2-1 loss to Dylan Realbuto in the 96-pound Division I final. He received a wild card berth to states. Benderoth and Brewster’s Mike Parise are more than likely on a collision course in the 106-pound final this season.
Matt Caputo, 120 pounds: He placed sixth in the state at 96 pounds as an eighth-grader. Last season, he finished fourth at sectionals at 112 pounds in a very tough weight class that featured Fox Lane’s Sam Speno, a state finalist. The sophomore is primed for a big season and is off to a fast start. He recently surpassed 100 career wins.
Mike Caputo, 145 pounds: The senior has finished third in the section twice and has over 140 career wins. He’s been on varsity since the eighth grade. Caputo plans to wrestle in college, but is still undecided as to where he is heading. He was also a star defensive end for the football squad which captured the Section 1 Class AA championship.
Names to learn
Troy Feniger, 113 pounds: Finished fourth in the section at 103 pounds last season and is primed for a solid junior year. He’s strong, focused and one of the best workers in the wrestling room, according to Guccione.
Jake DiMarsico, 126 pounds: The junior is a level above where he was last year, according to Guccione. He put in plenty of training during the off-season and is much improved.
Ekpenede Imasuen, 195 pounds: The senior missed all of his junior season due to injury. Guccione believes that Imasuen possesses plenty of confidence after putting in the time during the off-season.
Marquee dual meets/tournaments
Jan. 10 vs. Monroe Woodbury: The Red Raiders have a budding rivalry with one of the top teams in Section 9.
Jan. 26 at Suffern: It’s one of the most intense rivalries in all of Section 1. This match could decide the league championship.
Jan. 28 at Rockland County Championships at Tappan Zee HS: The Red Raiders are looking to defend their title and are the favorite to do so.
Full roster (name/grade/weight class)
Blaise Benderoth – freshman, 106
Ryan Boyle – senior, 182
Matt Caputo – sophomore, 126
Mike Caputo – senior, 145
Colton Charles – junior, 195
Mike D’Agostino – junior, 138
Nick Didio – sophomore, 152
Jake DiMarsico – junior, 126
Derek DiMarsico – freshman, 99
Troy Feniger – junior, 113
Elliott Figueroa – senior, 170
Ekpenede Imasuen – senior, 195
Jose Jarrett – junior, 220
Frank Lezamiz – senior, 285
Dan Mackey – senior, 160
Dan O’Connor – senior, 120
Conner Reigotti – sophomore, 285
Jose Rodriguez – senior, 132
Story of the Season
In just a few short weeks, the Red Raiders have already made their claim as one of the top teams in Section 1.
North Rockland is off to a solid start, winning its first 16 matches in a row. They suffered their first loss to perennial power Fox Lane in the semifinals of the Section 1 Division I Dual Meet Championships, but rebounded with a win over New Rochelle to place third. It was their first appearance in the final four in program history.
Coach Andy Guccione has been pleasantly surprised with the Red Raiders start to the season.
“It seems up and down the lineup, our guys are much more experienced when it comes to how to win a dual,” Guccione said. “They’re also understanding their role in a dual as far as staying off their backs, getting a fall when they need it and not giving up foolish team points at the end of a period or a match. We’re ahead of where we were last year. The attitude in the room has been that everybody believes we’re capable of accomplishing big things.”
The Red Raiders also won their host tournament, the Jerry McGuire tournament. On top of that, they went 10-0 at the Kingston Duals.
North Rockland is very strong in the lower weights, with freshman Blaise Benderoth (106), junior Troy Feniger (113), sophomore Matt Caputo (120) and junior Jake DiMarsico (126). Then they have senior Matt Caputo at 145 pounds, who has over 140 career wins.
Benderoth may be North Rockland’s most talented wrestler. After falling in the 96-pound Section 1 final to Somers’ Dylan Realbuto last season, he is focused on winning a Section 1 title this year.
“The big thing with Blaise is he knows how to win close matches,” Guccione said of Benderoth, who received a wild card bid to states last season. “He’s a mistake-free wrestler and is very steady and solid from match to match. He’s extremely motivated (to win the section).”
Mike Caputo is competing at 145 pounds and will be in contention for a Section 1 title.
“He’s very experienced,” the coach said. “He’s very tough on his feet this year and has good position with his hips. He’s stepped up to the next level and I think he’s going to have a great year.”
Matt Caputo, Mike’s brother, should also be in the mix at 120 pounds. He’s looking to bounce back from a fourth-place finish at 112 pounds last season after being in a very difficult weight class with Fox Lane’s Sam Speno, a state finalist, and Suffern graduate Asher Kramer.
“It was a difficult year as a freshman for him,” Guccione said. “What stands out the most about Matt is his pure athleticism. He’s definitely one of the most athletic kids I’ve ever coached.”
Matt also surpassed 100 career wins in the finals of the McGuire tournament with a win over Nanuet’s Anthony Calvano.
“It feels good [to have my name with] all of the other legends of North Rockland and some of my coaches,” he said.
The grueling early season schedule hasn’t bothered the Red Raiders.
“We’ve had a lot of matches, but I like it,” Benderoth said. “It gives you a lot of time and practice for the real thing in the sections.”
North Rockland is solid in both dual meets and tournaments, but is probably a better dual meet team. They’ll have to get solid contributions from their higher weights to be successful in tournaments with strong fields.
Grapplers like Ryan Boyle (182), Ekpenede Imasuen (195), Colton Charles (195/220) and Connor Reigotti (285) will have to perform well for them to succeed.
Guccione has high expectations for his team. Their goals are to repeat as Rockland County and league champions, and win the Section 1 tournament in February for the first time in program history.
“We’ve got to keep moving in the right direction and make sure that our less experienced guys continue to work on their mistakes to improve each time they wrestle,” Guccione said. “We have to keep a positive attitude. The work ethic has been very good — we have to continue with that. We’re on a good pace and we’ve put ourselves in a great position to achieve our goals.”
Follow Rob DiAntonio on Twitter @MSGV_RJD