Sunday’s newspaper featured a wrestling preview section that answered some of the basic questions. Who are the top teams, top wrestlers, etc. I’ll include that information below. You can also see it by following this link.
The toughest part of the preview was picking the top three Div. II schools. It was hard to leave out Ardsley, which won the team title last year. I talked to a few coaches and they mentioned Nanuet, Pleasantville, and Edgemont the most, so I went with them.
Wrestlers to watch
Justis Flamio, Mahopac: The 125-pound senior has one goal — a state championship. He came tantalizingly close the last two years, losing in the final both times. Another sectional title feels like a foregone conclusion after winning three straight. The 132-23 career wrestler is committed to Navy.
Asher Kramer, Suffern: Perhaps no one had a harder slog through sectionals than Kramer. The junior put on a lot of muscle over the offseason yet will still wrestle at a low weight, 103. His experience against younger kids at that weight will be a big advantage.
Andrew Lenzi, Fordham Prep: Now that his strength has caught up to his technique, Lenzi’s 135-pound body will be able to pull off everything his mind tells it to. Along with Brian Realbuto, the senior from Buchanan is the only local with a state title on his mantle. He went 42-4 last year before falling in the state final.
Brian Realbuto, Somers: Realbuto was already an inspiration as a freshman; as a sophomore he’s a bona fide team leader. Going 53-1 (and 133-9 for his career) with a state championship will do that. Not only is the 112-pounder gunning for a repeat, he’d like to win at Eastern States too.
Steven Rodrigues, Fox Lane: Along with the graduated Joey Grippi, S-Rod was the biggest reason Fox Lane placed third among all New York schools. He dropped a close one in the state championship but is still 131-22 for his career. He is certified at 119 but will probably wrestle at 125.
Teams to watch
Fox Lane: Everybody knew Fox Lane had some elite athletes. No one figured, after Section 1’s struggles in years past, that the Foxes would lead the section to third place at states and put Fox Lane third among all schools. Sam Speno, Steven Rodrigues, Pat Fay, and Grippi brothers Tommy and Peter make the Foxes favorites to repeat as Section 1 champions.
John Jay: The deepest team in Section 1 returns with a flood of talented wrestlers. Coach Bill Swertfager called it the most athletic group he’s coached. The Indians are coming off consecutive Dual Meet championships despite not carrying an individual sectional champ. Billy Watterson, Henry Stauber, Mark Swertfager, Scott Genovesi, and Tim Gecaj headline.
North Rockland: The Red Raiders won the Rockland team championship because of their heavyweights, but their character is changing. An infusion of talent at the lower weights will make for some good matches against rival Suffern, which is also strong down there. Marc Diaz and Joe Slane are returning county champions.
Edgemont: Except for maybe Ryan Osleeb of North Salem, no small-school wrestler enters with as much acclaim as Edgemont’s Ray Wang. The sectional champ at 160 pounds is joined by second-place finishers Trey Aslanian and Mark McCormack. Edgemont finished second as a team.
Nanuet: Nanuet’s lone county champion, John Morato, is back, as are heavyweight Anthony Paratore, Greg Caneparo, and Anthony Calvano. The latter three were all sectional champions. Despite their wins the Golden Knights finished just fifth as a team. Many people expect them to do much better this season.
Pleasantville: Only one Panther, Peter Talesnik, won a Section 1 crown in 2008-09, yet they still finished a notable third overall. He jumped three weight classes to 160, a weight class vacated by sectional runner-up Mike Morra. Morra and Michael Kar, another runner-up, both return.
1. Did Section 1’s budget cuts affect wrestling?
Yes. For one thing, the leagues were realigned to emphasize geography and reduce travel. The schedule was reduced as well. Teams now get 20 points to use, down from 22. Every tournament costs a team two points and every dual meet costs one point.
2. Why aren’t the wrestlers shaking the opposing coach’s hand?
Wrestling hasn’t been hit by a sudden bout of poor sportsmanship. The section mandated for this year that athletes cannot shake hands with the opposing coach. The rule was prompted by a fear of spreading the H1N1 virus, or swine flu.
3. Why is the referee hesitating before he starts a bout?
Officials were looking for a way to reduce so-called ”rolling starts,“ where the kid on top started his move a split second before the whistle, thereby gaining an advantage. After the two grapplers are in place, the ref will wait one second before blowing the whistle to start the match. This will prevent anyone from moving until they hear the noise.
4. When are the big tournaments?
First up is the Section 1 Dual Meet tournament, now in its third year. It begins Dec. 8 and concludes Dec. 16 at John Jay. The granddaddy of them all, Eastern States, is Jan. 8-9 at Sullivan Community College. The Ted Murphy Shoreline Classic is Jan. 16-17 at New Rochelle. The Rockland County Championships and Super 16 are Jan. 30. Sectionals are Feb. 19-20 and states are Feb. 26-27.
5. Who are the other schools that might surprise, like Carmel did at Super 16?
Beacon is getting a lot of love. The Bulldogs, seeded second at Duals, are led by Ryan Tompkins. Carmel, Arlington, Mahopac, Brewster, and Sleepy Hollow round out the top 10 seeds at Duals. Suffern, with its three big guns of Kramer, Nick Oliveto, and Justin Artrip, has potential. Among small schools, Ardsley will be in the mix.