Big “V” For The Big-McZ: Richards Upends #6 Ryan in Finals of St. Benedicts’ Caruso Invitational

December 2nd, 2012—The first weekend of the 2012/2013 scholastic season would go into the books, but not before it would be ignited yesterday by a huge victory for former Gotham City standout, McZiggy (Ziggy) Richards, who pulled off perhaps the biggest victory of his already storied career when he defeated Wyoming Seminary super-stud, Garrett Ryan, 8-5 in the 220-pound finals of the annual Mike J. Caruso Invitational on the campus of St. Benedicts Prep.  The title was the second of only two on the day for the host school as the aforementioned juggernaut that is “WySem” would cruise to the team title behind seven individual champions and four runners-up.  For his efforts, Richards was the recipient of the Outstanding Wrestler award, quite an accomplishment when you consider some of the nationally recognized names that he beat out for the honor.

A two-time PSAL Large School Champion, who placed 3rd in New York State at 182 pounds last season for Wingate, Richards continues to shows just why many consider him to be among the top prospects NYC has ever produced.  In addition to his bronze medal last February in Albany, the two-sport star (was also a decorated soccer player during his time at Wingate) would cap off his senior campaign by earning a pair of All-American distinctions in folkstyle and Greco-Roman, finishing 8th at the Flo National Tournament last April, before taking home 4th place in Fargo on the junior level in the international style.

Making the decision to postpone the start of his collegiate career in order to maybe improve the quality of his scholarship offers, Richards has thrived early on for the Garden State based prep school, finishing 5th in his debut at the Ursinus Fall Brawl (a college open) at 197 pounds.  He would build off of his initial success, failing to place in the top-6, but winning a pair of matches over college opponents at the East Stroudsburg Open.

Entering yesterday as the #2 seed at his weight class, Richards would waste little time in showing that when it comes to the National Prep stage, his is a name that is giving to have to be on the tongues of all experts as he pinned two-time NYS Private School Champion, Roman Accetta of Poly Prep in 2:35 to win the “battle of Brooklyn”.  This victory would set up a finals birth against Ryan, the #67 overall ranked senior in the class of 2013, who we chronicled back in October when he committed to Columbia University.

Surrendering his leg also immediately off the whistle to the Flo Wrestling #6 ranked wrestler in the country, McZiggy would maintain his poise and utilize his flexibility to score a counter takedown to grab the 2-0 lead.  A Ryan escape would cut the lead in half after the first period.  Going against the advice of his coaches, Richards would elect to begin the middle stanza in the bottom position.  This was a decision that would ultimately pay off as he would force a controversial locked hands calls against Ryan, before eventually earning an additional point for the escape.  During this same sequence, Richards would be awarded a TD off of a double-leg.  However, after conferring with his partner, the official would wave off the points, keeping the lead at 4-1.   Richards would provide himself with some much appreciated insurance when again he would use his athleticism and strong defensive skills to turn Ryan’s offense into points of his own, fighting off a single-leg and spinning behind to carry the 6-1 advantage into the final two minutes.  There would be more of the same from Richards in the 3rd as yet again, he would give up his leg only to inevitably find a way to kick free and maneuver behind his opponent, increasing the lead to 8-2.  Ryan, a warrior in his own right, would rally down the stretch, scoring the final three points of the match with an escape and a TD off of a front headlock.  However, with the clock being his biggest foe, the future Lion would not have enough time to work for the equalizing tilt from top.

To view the full results from the 2012 Mike J. Caruso Invitational, please visit Escape Sports.  To watch the 220 pound and all other title bouts (courtesy of Mark Morris), visit PAWR Wrestling.

2012 Michael J. Caruso Invitational Finals Results:
106- Ethan McCoy (Kiski) dec. Nick Lattanze (Malvern Prep), 6-3
113- Jeremy Schwartz (Wyoming Seminary) TF Austin Smith (John Carroll), 17-2 (2:48)
120- Will Crisco (Wyoming Seminary) dec. Matt Lattanze (Malvern Prep), 7-2
126- Judson Preskitt (Wyoming Seminary) pinned Jawan Jones (St. Benedicts)
132- Tyler Ponte (Wyoming Seminary) dec. Scott Strappelli (John Carroll), 2-0 (ot)
138- Chad Saunders (Hill) dec. Joseph Nelson (Wyoming Seminary), 5-4
145- George Weber (John Carroll) dec. Tyrell White (Wyoming Seminary), 3-2
152- Zach Kelly (Kiski) Maj Dec. Chris Weiler (Wyoming Seminary), 13-5
160- Nicky Hall (Wyoming Seminary) pinned Dom Scalise (Kiski) 3:49
170- Terrell Forbes (St. Benedicts) dec. Greg Bacci (Malvern Prep), 2-0
182- Eric Morris (Wyoming Seminary) pinned John Cherneskie (Hill) 2:56
195- LJ Barlow (Haverford) dec. Harry Mauk (Malvern Prep), 8-6
220- McZiggy Richards (St. Benedicts) dec. Garrett Ryan (Wyoming Seminary), 8-5
285- Michael Johnson (Wyoming Seminary) pinned Steven Dwight (Hyde) 3:18

Final Team Scores
1 269 Wyoming Seminary
2 155.5 John Carroll
3 102.5 Malvern Prep
4 94.5 St Benedicts Prep
5 88.5 Kiski
6 77 Hill
7 76 Belmont Hill
8 51 Peddie
9 50 Haverford
10 43 Poly Prep
11 32 Hyde
12 9 James W Robinson