There’s something about predictions that always seems to get the juices flowing. Those who I pick to come out victorious tend to feel that their hard work has been justified, while those who I pick to lose are often determined to make me eat my words. It’s easy to take it personally, but I prefer to view it as healthy and spirited conversation. To me, these are the type of exercises that make this job so much fun.
I’ll be posting plenty of predictions this season — whether it’s which team is going to win the Section 1 duals, or which wrestlers will win sectional titles — but I’m going to start this season with my predictions for how the league title scenarios will play out. I’ve taken a close look at each league, considered how strong each team’s dual meet lineup should be, and come up with some conclusions. Whether you agree or disagree, feel free to express your opinions in the comments section, just make sure to keep things appropriate.
LEAGUE I-A – Arlington, Beacon, Brewster, John Jay-EF, Ketcham
Predicted champ – BREWSTER: I could really see any of these teams besides Beacon ending up taking the title, but I think the Bears will be the strongest dual meet team once again. They have been the past few seasons — they’re only one year removed from winning the Section 1 duals — and look to have a very deep lineup once again with quality from top-to-bottom. Arlington could give them a run for their money and JJEF could be the better tournament team, but I like Brewster to win another league title.
LEAGUE I-B – Carmel, John Jay, Mahopac, Somers, Yorktown
Predicted champ – MAHOPAC: Once one of the strongest leagues in the section, this former group of perennial powers is collectively down. Yorktown had a great season last year, but was heavily reliant on a senior class that is now gone. Somers could be a strong tournament team, but the Tuskers have often struggled to fill all of the weight classes in recent years, which results in too many forfeits. In my mind, this probably comes down to Mahopac and John Jay. Mahopac brings back most of its lineup from last year’s team, which reached the final four of the Section 1 duals, so that’s my pick.
LEAGUE I-C – Hen Hud, Lakeland/Panas, Lourdes, Pawling, Putnam Valley
Predicted champ – HEN HUD: In my opinion, this is a two-team race between Putnam Valley and Hen Hud. I’ve written about how I think the Tigers will challenge for a Division 2 sectional title, so I wouldn’t put it past them to make a run in the league, as well. But the Sailors have had a more complete lineup in recent seasons, and because I think they’ll have less weights where they’ll need to forfeit, I’m taking Hen Hud.
LEAGUE II-A – Mamaroneck, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Scarsdale, Sleepy Hollow, White Plains, Yonkers
Predicted champ – NEW RO: In all honesty, I don’t see any of these teams being particularly strong in a dual meet setting, but the Huguenots seem like as safe of a bet as any. They rarely have trouble filling out a lineup, and after having one of the younger teams in the section last season, they should have a lot of their key guys back.
LEAGUE II-B – Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Eastchester, Edgemont, Hastings, Irvington, Woodlands
Predicted champ – EDGEMONT: There are a lot of ways that you could go here, but I ultimately see Edgemont as the team to beat in a field filled with small schools. The Panthers should be very strong from the light-to-middle weights, but they usually tend to give up some forfeits in the upper weights. They could lose a handful of matches up top, but I don’t see any team in the league that is strong enough to challenge them top-to-bottom. Edgemont also should have a big advantage against league opponents from about 99-152.
LEAGUE II-C – Byram Hills, Croton-Harmon, Ossining, Pleasantville, Westlake
Predicted champ – OSSINING: I may be starting to sound like a broken record, but I’m giving the Pride the nod simply because I think that they’ll be the most successful at filling every weight class. Giving up free points are killer in any dual meet, and the less holes that a team has in its lineup, the greater its chances of coming out on top. Ossining will be young, but in a league with mostly Division 2 teams, it should be the team to beat.
LEAGUE III-A – Rye, Harrison, Fox Lane, Port Chester, Horace Greeley
Predicted champ – FOX LANE: Greeley is very capable of making this interesting, but the Foxes have earned the right to be considered the team to beat. They’ll be lethal from about 99 pounds up until 152 or 160, and they’ll be competitive enough in the upper weights to make sure that most early leads stick. The Quakers’ strength is up top, so this is definitely a dual that I’d like to see.
LEAGUE III-B – Nanuet, Nyack, Pearl River, Tappan Zee
Predicted champ – PEARL RIVER: With Nanuet and TZ having lost a ton of depth to graduation, this looks like the Pirates’ league to lose. Nanuet should still have a full lineup with plenty of tough wrestlers and TZ will be very strong up top, but none of these teams look to be as complete as Pearl River.
LEAGUE III-C – Clarkstown North, Clarkstown South, East Ramapo, North Rockland, Suffern
Predicted champ – NORTH ROCKLAND: This is such a tough league, but I’d have to have my head examined if I picked any team other than the Red Raiders to win it. Clarkstown South may very well be the second-best dual meet team in Section 1 — it was last season — but North Rockland is the reigning Section 1 Dual Meet champ and didn’t lose a dual meet to a Section 1 opponent last season.
Photo by Frank Becerra Jr / The Journal News
UPDATE, 12/03 – Thanks to Edgemont coach Pete Jacobson for pointing out that I accidentally flip-flopped the leagues for Sleepy Hollow and Ardsley. I just moved each team in the correct league and altered my predictions.