Coach: William Von Tobel (first year)
Last year’s record: 18-7 (placed seventh at sectionals and seventh at the NYS tournament)
Returning starters: 13
Brian Realbuto, 152 pounds: The Cornell-bound senior has done it all during his storied career. He’s a two-time state champion, a four-time section champion and has the most wins in Section 1 history. He also won a national title over the summer. Closing out his career with a third state title would cement him as the best wrestler in Section 1 history. He also wants to see his team succeed and capture a Section 1 title.
Dylan Realbuto, 120 pounds: The junior had a breakout season last year, capturing his first Section 1 title and finishing second in the state at 96 pounds. It’s a bit of a bump from 96 to 120 pounds, but he’ll take it in stride. Realbuto possesses excellent scrambling ability, is skilled on his feet and is tough to take down.
Dom DeVita, 220 pounds: After taking fifth at sectionals at 215 pounds last year, DeVita is hoping to improve on that this season. There’s no reason he can’t. The senior should place in the top 3 in most tournaments he enters.
Names to learn
Jason DiBenedetto, 182 pounds: The senior should be in the mix when sectionals roll around. He should be able to place at sectionals. To win a Section 1 title, he’ll definitely have to go through Scarsdale’s Jacob Berkowitz, the clear favorite.
Nick Giancaspro, 195 pounds: Von Tobel has high hopes for Giancaspro, a senior, who has a unique wrestling style.
Luke Roediger, 113 pounds: The sophomore possesses strong scrambling ability and should be a key factor in the Tuskers’ success this year.
Mark Lasar, 152 pounds: Von Tobel has been impressed by the strides Lasar has made so far this season. He describes Lasar as a resilient, hard-working grappler that has the ability to come-from-behind to win matches.
Marquee dual meets/tournaments
Dec. 29 at Somers Tournament: The Tuskers’ tournament is always a competitive event with some strong teams.
Jan. 13 at Eastern States Tournament: This is the prime tournament of the regular season and features the best of the best. Both Brian and Dylan Realbuto placed first at this tournament last year.
Jan. 26 dual meet vs. Mahopac: Obviously this is big because the Tuskers go up against their old coach of 27 years, Dennis DiSanto. Mahopac has a strong team as usual so it should be a tight match. It also could potentially decide the league championship.
Full roster (name/grade/weight class)
Jason DiBenedetto – senior, 182
Matthew Carlesi – senior, 152
Joseph Stanton – senior, 145
Angelo Revel – senior, 170
Kyle Turchick – senior, 132
Nick Giancaspro – senior, 195
Anthony Campanelli – senior, 285
Brian Realbuto – senior, 152
Mike Donovan – junior, 220
Mark Lasar – junior, 152
Caleb Cassata – junior, 160
Michael Morano – junior, 126
Dylan Realbuto – junior, 120
Andy Venditto – junior, 120
Gabe Sather – junior, 152
Joe Palumbo – junior, 126
Kevin Turchick – sophomore, 132
Conor Bergstrom – sophomore, 160
Craig Dammeyer – sophomore, 126
Alex Graap – sophomore, 126
Will McDermott – sophomore, 182
Dom DeVita – senior, 220
Kevin Writer – sophomore, 113
Luke Roediger – sophomore, 113
Liam Heine – sophomore, 145
Larry Courtien – sophomore, 138
Anthony DiMauro – sophomore, 120
Chris Cousin – senior, 132
Andrew Gross – freshman, 132
Peter Johnson – senior, 132
Eric Rocco – sophomore, 220
Story of the season
Somers has a new coach and high expectations this season.
“As a team, I’m hoping we can ultimately win the sectional tournament in February,” said senior Brian Realbuto, who is a two-time state champion and will compete at 152 pounds.
William Von Tobel takes over the head coaching spot for Dennis DiSanto, who is now coaching at Mahopac after 27 seasons with the Tuskers. Von Tobel, who is the fifth head coach in the history of the Somers program, previously coached at Weston High School in Connecticut for six seasons. He started out as an assistant coach with his alma mater Greenwich High.
To come into a situation with a team comprised of a two-time state champion in Brian Realbuto and a state finalist in Dylan Realbuto, isn’t a bad place to start. Dylan will compete at 120 pounds.
“Their comfort level on the mat is very high,” Von Tobel said of the duo. “I don’t see many situations where they would get caught doing something wrong. They can take risks that other kids can’t take.”
The new coach said he’s not looking to come in and change everything right away, but will gradually impose his methods for this senior laden, experienced squad.
“The first day of practice, I had the seniors run what they’ve done in the past,” he said. “I’ll be honest, the first day I was probably more nervous than I’ve ever been in a wrestling room because I didn’t want to go in there and say, ‘Oh my god, they don’t do what I do.’ The great thing is that their practice is exactly the way I run my practices. It’s been a very smooth transition. They’re a great bunch of kids and work very hard.”
With a new coach and no assistant coaches, Brian Realbuto has taken on more leadership this season.
“Having a new coach is going well,” Brian said. “We are doing many of the things that we have done in the past and our guys are doing well in the room. I definitely feel I have taken on a larger leadership role as a senior captain especially to help our coach transition into our room.”
Von Tobel said Brian, who is competing at 152 pounds, has been like a player-coach.
“It’s phenomenal,” the coach said. “I’ve coached All-Americans in the past who were very mature, intelligent kids. Brian’s wrestling knowledge is a step above most kids I’ve seen. Not only his knowledge, but his ability to translate that into teaching is something that you’ll see in veteran coaches. If he ever went into the world of coaching, I think he’d have amazing success.”
For Brian Realbuto, finishing his career as a three-time state champion would be like the icing on the cake of his storied career.
“It would mean to me that I’ve done my job,” Realbuto said of winning a third state title. “After my loss sophomore year I really made a commitment to winning my last two years and accomplishing that goal will make me satisfied individually.”
Outside of the Realbutos, the Tuskers have some other high end grapplers such as seniors Dom DeVita (220 pounds), Jason DiBenedetto (182) and Nick Giancaspro (195).
“We’re solid down low, but our upper weights have a lot of experience,” Von Tobel said. “From 152 and up, we’re experienced and have that senior group. That’s definitely our strength. But at the lower weights you have Dylan, Luke (Roediger) and Kyle (Turchick), who all have experience. We’re one of the most balanced teams I’ve seen.”
The Tuskers will be a very strong tournament team. With both Realbutos winning basically every tournament they enter, Somers will always be in the hunt for a top 3 finish. DeVita, Giancaspro and DiBenedetto are three grapplers the Tuskers will count on to place high at many tournaments.
Somers won’t be as strong in dual meets. The Tuskers don’t have a 99 or 106-pound wrestler, so they’ll be giving up 12 points in most matches. They lost in the Section 1 Division I Dual Meet Tournament to Fox Lane in the quarterfinals. In the Carlucci Dual Meet Tournament, they placed second, falling to Fox Lane in the finals.
Follow Rob DiAntonio on Twitter @MSGV_RJD