ALBANY, N.Y. – Nick Barbaria is right where he wants to be after day one of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Wrestling Championships.
The New Rochelle junior won his first two matches and advanced to the semifinals of the Div.1 106-pound weight class at the Times Union Center. Barbaria is one win away from wrestling for the 106-pound state title.
Joining Barbaria in the Div. 1 championship semifinals are Fox Lane’s Tommy Grippi (145 pounds), Ossining’s Alex DelaCruz (120 pounds) and Fordham Prep’s Sam Melikian (132 pounds), a Mohegan Lake resident. Edgemont’s Trey Aslanian (120 pounds) is the only wrestler from Westchester County in the Div. 2 championship semifinals.
Wrestling will resume 10 a.m. Saturday with the semifinals in each division and wrestlebacks. The finals are scheduled for 6 p.m.
The five wrestlers who advanced to the semifinals are assured of all-state honors because they are top-six finishers.
This is the second consecutive year Barbaria has qualified for the semifinals. Last year, Barbaria finished sixth at 99 pounds.
“I needed to pull out the necessary wins to get to the semis,” Barbaria said. “Everyone here is tough and there is no such thing as an easy match. I have to take it one match at a time. I realized that from last year, that I have to open up and wrestle the way I’ve trained all year.”
Barbaria opened his day with a 7-3 win over Ryan Burns of Clarence and then decisioned John Twomey of St. Anthony’s (Long Island), 3-1, in a quarterfinal.
Barbaria, the second seed, will wrestle Kyle Quinn of Wantagh, Long Island, in a semifinal.
Grippi is the second member of the family to reach the championship semifinals. His older brother, Joey, was a two-time state place-finisher. Grippi, seeded fourth, outscored his two opponents, 20-1. He will wrestle top seed Louis Hernandez of Mepham.
DelaCruz, seeded third, has earned a rematch with Pearl River’s John Muldoon in one semifinal. Muldoon defeated DelaCruz in the Section 1 120-pound final.
Aslanian is making his third consecutive appearance in the semifinals. The four-time sectional champ advanced with a thrilling last-second takedown for a 4-3 win over Kellen Devlin (Amherst) in the quarterfinals.
Melikian, the Catholic High Schools 132-pound champ, earned a semifinal berth with a 3-2 win over Marcus Popp of Niagara-Wheatfield.