This article is from 02/26/14
On Tuesday, we posted our preview of the Division 1 state tournament (link here). Now, here are some thoughts on the Division 2 event.
Please keep in mind that we will have a LIVE BLOG from Friday morning until the tournament's conclusion on Saturday night to keep you up to date on what's going on at the Times Union Center. Join us!
And if you haven't already, feel free to enter our Prediction Contests (link here).
The Top Seed: Dean Raymond of Deposit-Hancock won a bout in the state capital last year. The sophomore followed with 40-plus win campaign that included a podium finish at the Eastern States Classic.
Returning Medalists: Most wrestlers will be experiencing action at the Times Union Center for the first time, as Raymond is the only wrestler in the field returning to the tournament.
Right Off the Bat: Jonathan Gomez of Locust Valley, the number three seed, certainly navigated a difficult schedule this year, going toe-to-toe with some of the best in the state. He'll see another quality foe in his initial match on Friday, Dylan Walker of Warsaw, a freshman who racked up over 40 wins.
Speaking of grapplers from Section 5, Joe Sliwoski of Wayne had a solid year and will square off in round one with seventh grader Zach Lawrence of Duanesburg, the number two seed. We were told before the season began that Lawrence would make an impact and he hasn't disappointed one bit, including over 40 victories.
Also Keep an Eye On: We've had Dane Heberlein of Alexander in our top 3 in the state (for both divisions) all season long. During his 39-0 ninth grade campaign, Heberlein has 18 pins and 13 technical falls (including one over a returning Round of 8 wrestler). We think he'll be entertaining to watch - and tough to beat.
The Top Seed: Matteo DeVincenzo of Port Jefferson didn't have a lot of fanfare coming into Albany last year. But he did when he left after taking second at 99 pounds. He returns as the favorite after a season in which he lost only once - in the Eastern States title match.
Returning Medalists: Other than DeVincenzo, there are two others who stood on the podium a year ago - Theo Powers of Mexico and Chris Cirigliano of BGAH. There are others who have taken the mat in the state capital before. Hunter O'Lena of East Rochester, Mike Feliciano of Highland, Hammond Raes of Midlakes and John Devins of Saranac all competed in 2013.
Right Off the Bat: Raes missed placement by one match last year. He'll start off his follow up in Albany with the tough Jared Carroll of South Jefferson and if he wins that one, he could get another shot at second seed Luke Yankloski. The two have met four times with Yankloski, an Eastern States placer, getting his hand raised in all of them.
Also Keep an Eye On: Hector Colom of Dunkirk has collected numerous accolades on the national level. This year, he's 27-2 with losses to an out of state foe and Yianni Diakomihalis. It would be interesting to see him clash with DeVincenzo in the quarters if both win in round one. Another potential round of eight bout in the top half could feature last year's top seed at 99 - O'Lena - against returning placer Powers. (Speaking of Section 3, Tanner Cook of Central Valley has shown his potential, including a win over Powers).
Cirigliano surprised some people with his run to the podium at this weight in 2012. This year, we'd be more surprised if he doesn't finish higher, perhaps even making a finals appearance. DeVincenzo plans to be back in the finals again as well. While Section 11 has brought home numerous state titles on the Division 1 side, a Division 2 crown would be the first in years.
The Top Seed: Derek Spann of Adirondack is the reigning 99-pound state champion. He lost twice up at 120 in December, but has been perfect since and will look for a second gold performance.
Returning Medalists: Tony Recco of Lyndonville won a state crown in 2012, the same year Joe Nelson of Oxford was third. Last year, Ryan Hetrick of Southwestern defeated Tanner Lapiene of Ogdensburg in the third place bout at 99 pounds, while Adirondack's Ryan O'Rourke nabbed fourth at 106.
Right Off the Bat: Hetrick will immediately take on a wrestler who came one win from placing in 2012 - Tyler Aslanian of Edgemont - in an interesting matchup. A grappler who missed the medal stand by one match last year - Locust Valley's Hunter Dusold, will clash with Nelson in another contest we're looking forward to watching. Either is capable of going deep into the tournament.
Nelson beat Brandon Gould of Watkins Glen (41-2 this year) for the Section 4 title. Gould will begin his Albany experience with the second seed, Tito Colom of Dunkirk. The winner of that one will face Lapiene or Nolan Foster, the Hoosick Falls sophomore with over 35 wins.
Also Keep an Eye On: Colom certainly took on a lot of decorated opponents this season. He split four matches with Hetrick and went 1-1 up at 120 against 2013 NYS bronze medalist Brad Bihler.
We see a lot of accomplished wrestlers and parity in this weight. We expect a former state champ to come out of the top half and look forward to seeing whether an experienced postseason wrestler or a first-timer like Colom makes a finals appearance from the bottom.
The Top Seed: Nick Casella of Locust Valley is a two-time finalist looking to get over the hump this weekend. He earned All-American honors this offseason and was the Eastern States Classic runner up.
Returning Medalists: This bracket includes a number of wrestlers who have stood on the medal stand in the past. They include 2013 state champ Luis Weierbach of Hoosick Falls, bronze medalist Brad Bihler of Maple Grove, fourth placer Bryan Lantry of Wayne and Austin Ingraham of Highland (sixth). Ingraham's first round opponent, Drew Marra of Olean, was fourth in 2012.
Right Off the Bat: Bihler had an excellent run last year in Albany on his way to third place and continued his strong wrestling into this season. He'll take on Nanuet's Joe Dillon, the Section 1 MOW, who qualified a few years ago and will be back for one more shot as a senior.
Also Keep an Eye On: Matt Morris of Albany Academy was in the #16 spot in the bracket a year ago at the Times Union Center and was eliminated with losses to a pair of All-Staters. This time, after an undefeated season in which he beat Weierbach twice, he is stationed as the second seed and is among the favorites. Weierbach and Morris could meet for a third time if both make the semis.
Lantry took fifth in 2012 and fourth in 2013 in the Division 1 tournament. What will take place in his first appearance in the small school event? He beat the #2 seed (at 126) Ryan Snow, split a pair of matches with the #2 seed in D1 (Jesse Dellavecchia) and was the only wrestler to hold Nick Piccininni to a decision all year long during his fourth place showing at the Eastern States. We think he has a solid chance to finish on top from the fourth position in the bracket.
The Top Seed: Kellen Devlin of Amherst grabbed bronze a year ago at the state tournament and went on to the NHSCA Freshman Nationals finals a few weeks afterwards.
Returning Medalists: Ryan Snow of General Brown has made the podium multiple times, including a fourth place finish in 2013. He sits as the second seed, while Rafael Mateo of Midlakes, who took fifth a year ago at 113, is in the fourth slot in the bracket.
Red Hook's Matt Rauch came within one win of placing last year, while a host of others wrestled in Albany in 2012 and/or 2013: Nate Hayes of Windsor, Joel Rosko of Campbell-Savona, Hunter Richard of Holland Patent, Dan Vandyk of Salem, Kobe Garrehy of Maine-Endwell, Stephen Paternostro of Pleasantville and Cassidy Exum of Oyster Bay. Clearly, there are lots of experienced wrestlers in the field who may avoid the first-time jitters of competing in the biggest tournament of the season.
Also Keep an Eye On: In addition to those mentioned, Tristin DeVincenzo of Port Jefferson comes into the event a little under the radar, like his brother did last year. But after a 35-2 season and some solid wins, he could make a run of his own.
We've had Devlin as our top ranked D2 126 pounder from start to finish in 2013-14. We believe he has a great chance of being on the top of the podium on Saturday night.
The Top Seed: William Koll is tied with four-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake on the Lansing High School list with two state titles. He’ll be looking for number three after a season in which he racked up plenty of bonus point victories and lost only once – at the King of the Mountain tournament in Pennsylvania.
Returning Medalists: Three other wrestlers earned All-State honors in their careers – Cody McGregor of Tonawanda, Carter Merecki of Salem and Sean Peacock of Midlakes. Peacock is a three-time state placer who won it all in 2012 (including a semifinal victory over Koll). Koll beat Peacock 2-0 earlier this season.
Also Keep an Eye On: Austin Acquard of Pioneer has taken the mat in Albany before. And he split a pair of close bouts with McGregor this season, losing in the Section 6 final in sudden victory. Another "Austin" to watch is Austin Whitney of Mexico, who is 43-3 with two of his losses to Section 4 foes - Koll and Jesse Manuel of Tioga. Speaking of Manuel, after losing in his first competition of the season, he has only two additional setbacks - both to Koll.
Both Koll and Peacock will wrestle for New York State teams in college - Cornell and Buffalo, respectively. We expect to see them in the finals again, with the future Big Red lightweight getting his third crown.
The Top Seed: Dakota Gardner of Fredonia is already a two-time state placer. And he's only a sophomore. Last year, as a ninth grader, he was the NYS runner up at 126 pounds. This time, he'll look to go one rung higher on the ladder.
Returning Medalists: Laken Cook of Central Valley placed twice a few years back, while Zach Ayen made All-State in 2012. Tristan Rifanburg was a seventh grade state champion and has placed every year since, while Sam Ward of Locust Valley earned his first NYS medal last year at 132.
Right Off the Bat: First round opponents Sam DeLarge of Albany Academy and the previously mentioned Laken Cook tallied a combined 59 pins and a 84-3 record this year.
Also Keep an Eye On: Codie Gillette of Saranac came within one win of placing at the state tournament in 2012. He has blitzed through this season at 39-0 with wins over state qualifiers and has the ability to pick up more. In addition, Derian Woodard of Midlakes won a solid class in Section 5 that sent a pair of wildcards (Kaydon Newton of East Rochester and Colin Royce of Warsaw) and could add points to a Midlakes team that has six representatives in the state capital.
Rifanburg has been a NYS finalist three times already in his career. To get there again, he could face Ward, a wrestler who has been effective all year long and who beat Rifanburg at the Eastern States Classic in January. The winner of that one would be tough to tackle on Saturday night.
The Top Seed: We expected the top seed to go to a Section 6 wrestler for months - but admit we originally thought it would be Cheektowaga's national champion Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer. It will be Andrew Shomers of Lewiston Porter looking to earn gold from the #1 slot in the bracket after a 45-win campaign. He got his hand raised at the Times Union Center last year at 113 pounds.
Returning Medalists: Alex Herringshaw of Holland Patent took sixth in 2012 as the only placer in the field. Some others have competed in Albany before, however, such as Mike Dusold of Locust Valley and Jamiel Stapleton of Malone (and Shomers).
Right Off the Bat: Both Jay Oakes of Peru and Colin Hopkins of Edgemont had promising seasons cut short in 2013 by injuries that kept them out of postseason action. They both bounced back strong and will meet each other in round one.
Also Keep an Eye On: Section 2 has been strong in this class with the trio of Andy Mollevik of Duanesburg, Jason Hoffman of Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George and Steven Culbert of Galway. Culbert will battle the previously discussed Herringshaw right away. Mollevik notched sixth at the Eastern States in an impressive showing, while Hoffman suffered just one loss this year - to Mollevik - while pinning 27 of his 36 foes. They're all worth tracking over the weekend.
It's hard to ignore experience on the big stage. Mollevik shined at the Eastern States, while Shomers and Herringshaw have competed at the Times Union Center before. Herringshaw majored two members of this field and looked extremely tough in beating a previously undefeated wrestler for his Sectional crown. Can he earn his second podium finish - and go much higher up? Will one of the Section 2 wrestlers go all the way? Speaking of which, can Mollevik (or one of his teammates) send legendary coach Joe Bena to retirement with another state champion?
The Top Seed: Frank Garcia of Norwich was the runner up at 145 in 2013 at this event. He took fifth at the Eastern States, losing his only two matches of the season - to the champion Richard Viruet from Massachusetts and by a 1-0 score to Zach Lugo of Deer Park.
Returning Medalists: Tyler Silverthorn of General Brown and Ryan Kromer of Lewiston Porter both picked up All-State honors in 2013 at different weights (160 and 132, respectively). Also competing at the state capital before were Nigel Williams of Eagle Academy, Paul Cavanagh of Port Jefferson, Eddie Hutschenreuter of Alden and Dan Woughter of Alfred-Almond. Woughter made the Round of 8 a year ago and is someone to track.
Right Off the Bat: Simon Breckinridge of VVS reached 40 wins with his three losses coming in close bouts against Alex Herringshaw of Holland Patent (twice) and Silverthorn. He'll take on Kromer in the initial round.
Also Keep an Eye On: Speaking of Kromer, the Lewiston Porter senior had an impressive win over the top seed at 160, Alex Smythe of Eden, early in the season. He took second in a tough Section 6 bracket that included champion Brian Westerdahl of Maple Grove and bronze medalist Eddie Hutschenreuter of Alden. Those three had a number of tight matches against each other this season and could meet again as all have the ability to advance. Cam Milliken of Albany Academy had a stellar season as well.
Silverthorn was sixth at 160 in 2012 and fifth at that same weight last year. The multiple time NHSCA All-American dropped down to to 152 this year, where he'll have a chance to meet his title aspirations as a senior.
The Top Seed: Alex Smythe of Eden is a two-time state placer who nabbed third at 152 in 2013. He took the previously mentioned early loss to fellow All-Stater Ryan Kromer of Lewiston Porter (see 152), but has been perfect since.
Returning Medalists: Both Nicholas Koelmel of Immaculate Heart Central and Jordan Torbitt of Whitney Point placed at 145 last season (fourth and sixth, respectively). Also competing in Albany a year ago were the number two and three seeds (Jordan Bushey of Peru and Connor Lawrence of Duanesburg) as well as Ryan Woodward of Port Jefferson, Cody-Allen David of Ogdensburg and Jordan Formicola of Locust Valley, who has made multiple appearances.
Right Off the Bat: Formicola, the Section 8 senior, will take part in a battle of "Jordans" with Torbitt in the opener. Formicola came within one win of placing in 2012 and has his last shot in Albany, while Torbitt, an NHSCA Freshman National Champion a year ago, missed some time with injuries, but still picked up 25 wins.
Also Keep an Eye On: Torbitt took second at the Section 4 tournament, dropping the title match to Oxford's Nik Hansen in overtime. Hansen also beat multi-time state placer Tyler Silverthorn of General Brown. Like Torbitt, Nicholas Koelmel medaled in Albany last year but was the runner up in his qualifier. That's because Mexico's Trevor Allard came out on top in the Section 3 championship bout.
At the Eastern States, Peru's Jordan Bushey, a Fargo All-American, and Duanesburg's Connor Lawrence battled, with the Section 7 wrestler coming away with a 7-6 victory. They could meet again if they both advance to the semifinals. We believe those two juniors are real title threats. As is Smythe, who was ahead of Phoenix's Rowdy Prior a year ago in the semis before giving up the fall. He is determined to get to the Saturday night finale this time around.
The Top Seed: Burke Paddock has been a regular at the Times Union Center and is a significant favorite in what will be his last appearance at this tournament. The future Iowa Hawkeye blitzed his way through the event in 2013, pinning all four of his opponents, and has similarly dominated his way through his senior campaign.
Returning Medalists: Ryan Marszal of Unatego medaled at 182 pounds a year ago and is the only other returning placer in the field besides Paddock.
Right Off the Bat: We're interested to see a pair of openers involving Section 3 wrestlers. Mexico's Jacob Woolson will meet Falconer's Kyle Ross in a battle of wrestlers who went a combined 83-4. Woolson has multiple wins over state qualifiers this year, including in his last bout. That was against #4 seed Triston Engle of Dolgeville, who will face North Rose-Wolcott's Dakota White in the first round. The winners of those two contests will square off in the quarters. If Woolson and Engle advance, they would clash for the fourth time of the year. Engle captured the first two, but as mentioned, Woolson took the Sectional title bout.
Also Keep an Eye On: Geno Brancati of Hudson Falls has been here before (more than once). His experience in the state capital should serve him well. And he comes in with momentum from a very successful campaign including wins over All-Stater Franky Nassivera as well as qualifiers Jake Ashcraft of Burnt Hills and Brad Perry of Granville. A potential second match foe for Brancati could be Waverly's Brandon Ellers. The Section 4 grappler has put together a strong senior year, with his only three losses coming to the previously mentioned Marszal (twice by one).
It's not clear whether Paddock can rack up as many bonus points as he did last year in Albany, but we do expect him to put on a show again in his farewell from New York high school wrestling.
The Top Seed: Christian Dietrich of Greene, a two-time state placer, went to the finals at 170 a year ago and has been in the national rankings all year long. He’s been impressive throughout, including an Eastern States crown and nearly 40 wins without any losses.
Returning Medalists: Like Dietrich, Nick Gallo of Schalmont was second in Albany a year ago. He moved up two weight classes from 160, but has continued to see success and will be formidable. While Gallo arrived at 182 from 160, Trey DuVall of Addison went even further, as he recorded a fifth place finish at the Times Union Center in 2013 at 152. The two standouts could clash in the quarters should they capture their opening bouts.
Also Keep an Eye On: Section 3 was loaded here in 2013-14. Daniel Smith of South Jefferson, a returning state qualifier headed to the University at Buffalo, has lost only twice this season – both times to Dietrich. He registered a second place showing at Eastern States.
But there’s more. Phoenix’s William Hilliard picked up NHSCA All-American honors last spring and rode the offseason momentum into his sophomore campaign. He grabbed second at the Sectionals behind Smith, with Port Byron’s Chris Pinckney third. Hilliard and Pinckney went a combined 77-4 this year, splitting a pair of matches with each other. If both come out on top in round one, they'll meet again.
You can’t ever count out the experience factor. Matt Lashway of Northern Adirondack made the Round of 8 last year in Albany and Chris Kim of Edgemont competed as well.
Dietrich is comfortable on the big stage. He placed at the NYS championships at 152 as a seventh grader and earned All-American honors at FloNationals as a freshman at 170. He wasn’t too pleased about his runner up showing last year. We think he’ll go one rung higher on the ladder this time around.
The Top Seed: The first champion from the PSAL was crowned last year as Adis Radoncic won state gold. Will the City have titlewinners two times in a row? Nathanael Rose of Eagle Academy certainly could make it happen. The junior has compiled a 32-3 record. (His losses were up a weight to returning state champ Rich Sisti and twice against Ben Honis of Jamesville-Dewitt on his way to fourth at Eastern States).
Returning Medalists: Rose was one round from placing in Division 1 in 2013, but there aren't any All-Staters in the field. Some of the grapplers with experience at the Times Union Center include Dustin MacKenzie of Onteora, Logan LaFlamme of South Jefferson and Lane Frost of VVS, the number two seed.
Also Keep an Eye On: Section 3 representatives Frost and LaFlamme both have had strong seasons and look to end them on the podium. In addition to those returners, Andrew Barnhart of Whitney Point racked up a 37-1 mark, while Trevor Spicer of Frewsburg still holds an unblemished record (35-0).
The trio of Section 5 grapplers - Ward Hively of Addison, Jeryd Graham of Midlakes and Andrew Ogrodowski of Red Jacket, all reside in the bottom half. Tim Flower of Schalmont has a challenging task ahead as the first round opponent of Rose. Both placed at Eastern States, where Rose won a 5-1 decision between them.
We've had Rose in the top 8 in the state (both divisions) in our rankings for quite some time and believe he can bring more hardware to the Big Apple.
The Top Seed: Ryan Wolcott of Waverly lost only once last year – in the state championship match by a 1-0 score. The Section 4 star has again excelled as a senior with a perfect record. He also recently won his 200th career match.
The Returning Medalists: There aren’t any others who placed last year in Albany in the field. But there are some wrestlers who competed in the state tournament – Geneva’s Christian Shepherd, Cold Spring Harbor's Robert Incorvaia and New Paltz's Troy Grant took the mat at heavyweight, while Rafal Rokosz of Southampton was at 220 last year. In addition, Miguel Perez of Eagle Academy saw action in 2012.
Right Off the Bat: #2 seed Rafal Rokosz of Southampton placed at Fargo in the summer of 2013 and has carried that momentum through the season with his two losses coming by one point each at the Eastern States. (He nabbed seventh at SUNY Sullivan). He'll take on Jake Benedict of Sandy Creek who has seen limited action this year, but has looked good while on the mat with a 14-0 mark (12 pins, 1 major). We like the winner to advance far in the bracket.
Keep an Eye On: Christian Shepherd of Geneva has put together a 38-1 campaign with his one loss coming in sudden victory to the #2 seed in the Division 1 tournament (Tyler Schaefer of Pittsford). Shepherd won a SuperSectional bracket that sent two at-large wrestlers to Albany - the tough Dan Welch of Avon and Nestor Naranjo of Midlakes.
Brad Cunningham of Salamanca racked up a whole bunch of wins this year, including two over Tyler Hall of East Aurora -- until Hall turned the tables with a 1-0 triumph in the Sectional title match.
Wolcott has been waiting for another chance to wrestle for a NYS crown since February of last year. We think he'll take advantage of the opportunity.
The Top Seed: Connor Calkins of Alfred-Almond came into Albany as the #16 seed at heavyweight last year. He responded by pinning returning finalist Alex Soutiere in round one and earning an All-State finish. He has continued on an upward trajectory since, beating national champion Jesse Webb of Vermont to win the Journeymen Classic and dominating his way to the Eastern States crown. The Binghamton recruit, ranked in the top 10 nationally, has been extremely impressive all year.
Returning Medalists: Calkins is the only wrestler who had a podium finish last season. In fact, other than Calkins, only Brooklyn International’s Elvin Gervacio had 2013 state tournament experience.
Also Keep an Eye On: Kyle Fiske of Port Jefferson and Marcus Ramundo of Schalmont jumped into the spotlight with solid showings at the Eastern States Classic, taking fifth and seventh, respectively. Ramundo has had a back-and-forth battle with Nick Scott of Cohoes, with the two splitting four matches (three of which went to overtime). If they both make the semis, they'll have clash number five.
Undefeated Tyler Havener of Oneida is one to watch, while Erik Feitshans of Alden has dropped just one bout in a solid season.
We believed Calkins was a strong favorite before the season began. Watching him at SUNY Sullivan further strengthened that thought. Binghamton currently has a former NYS standout at heavyweight – Tyler Deuel. We think they’ll have a state champ there in the future.
Check back for more on our LIVE BLOG for both Division 1 and Division 2, starting on Friday morning.