There’s obviously no wrestling until the Division 1 sectional championships begin on Saturday at Arlington HS (the semis and finals will be held on Sunday at Clarkstown South HS), but I wanted to share some thoughts on what happened this past weekend and give you a few things to look out for this week…
· I really can’t say enough about the job that Putnam Valley coach Will Carano has done developing that program. They started off in 2000 with just middle schoolers, and didn’t have a full varsity team until 2004. Carano has been there the whole time, including getting a critical youth program started, and now the Tigers are the cream of the crop in Division 2. Four champs were more than Put Valley was expected to have, but the real reason that the Tigers took the title is because of their depth. Before going 4 for 4 in the finals, they had six wrestlers place third—Jared Eliopoulos (113), Noah Kelvas (120), Christian Gonzalez (138), Erdis Canaj (182), Denis Kelly (195) and Constantine George (220). The result was a 30-plus point gap between the Tigers and second-place Edgemont.
· It was also a very impressive weekend for Edgemont, which led the way with five champs—the most in program history. It’s hard to believe, but more than half of the D2 section champs—a total of nine—came from either Put Valley or Edgemont. Nanuet had the most finalists with seven, but only two claimed titles. Put Valley is in good position to repeat next season, but you could argue that the Golden Knights will be the team to beat once again. Of their seven finalists, four will return next season—Dylan Mateo, Eric Boyle, Chris Lowery and Connor Breit.
· Looking at the Division 1 sectional qualifiers, there were some big matches at Horace Greeley. The one that stands out the most was the 120-pound final, where Byram Hills’ Jon Errico made a statement with a 12-3 major decision over top-ranked Matt Grippi of Fox Lane. They had split in their previous two meetings, but Errico staked claim to the top seed with his impressive performance and made it clear that he’s the guy to beat going into sectionals. I don’t think that anyone saw a major coming. Another guy who proved that he should have been ranked higher is Greeley’s Mitch Klein, who won a 3-1 decision over top-ranked Dom Celli of Somers in the 160-pound final. That win may have earned Klein the top seed for this weekend, but North Rockland’s Nick Didio could also be in the mix. That weight class is going to be very, very interesting.
· There were several other finals at Greeley where the rankings held true, as Fox Lane’s Brandon Fay beat JJEF’s Randy Earl with a 9-3 decision at 106, JJEF’s Jay Albis majored Carmel’s Kevin Knox at 113, Fox Lane’s Frank Surace won a 3-2 decision over Somers’ Liam Hiene at 152, JJEF’s Brett Perry pinned Mount Vernon’s Justin Ayala at 182, and Beacon’s Andrew Grella beat Greeley’s Brock Cvijanovich for the third time this season at 195. A minor upset came at 220, where JJEF’s Andrew Anthony won a 9-8 decision over Greeley’s Billy Marino. And in what would have been another 1 vs. 2 matchup, Somers’ Larry Courtien forfeited to Fox Lane’s Ben Ettlinger at 145. Courtien has been dealing with a knee issue this season, and they decided to hold off on the match in order to keep him healthy for sectionals.
· Two weight classes of interest at Mahopac were 132 and 285. Pearl River’s John Muldoon is the favorite for a section title at 132, but the No. 2 seed is up for grabs now that Arlington’s Nick Tolli is done for the year with a fractured wrist. Lakeland/Panas’ John DiDomenico made his case to be No. 2 by beating third-ranked Chris Cornell of Mahopac in the semis and second-ranked Conor Melbourne of John Jay in the final. The 285-pound class at Mahopac featured the wrestlers ranked 2-5 behind TZ’s Mike Manni, and Clarkstown South’s Matt St. Onge emerged from the pack after pinning Lakeland/Panas’ Stephen Kelley in the semis and then beating teammate Nick Holahan in OT in the final.
· At Pearl River, it was a good day for East Ramapo’s Trey Wardlaw, who placed first at 99 pounds by beating fifth-ranked Justin Lopez of Yonkers with a 5-4 decision in the semis and then winning a 7-5 decision over third-ranked Sean McGarvey of Pearl River in the final. Two guys who reminded us not to forget about them are Port Chester’s Justin Karas (170) and Mamaroneck’s Youssif Hemida (220). Karas pinned fourth-ranked Rob Gullo of Pearl River in the finals, while Hemida pinned fourth-ranked Bryan Kondracki of Pearl River in the same round.
· Jordan and Lamont Wallace from New Rochelle were impressive at Harrison, with Jordan winning a 5-4 decision over fourth-ranked Frankie Barchella of Harrison in the 106-semis and then pinning Scarsdale’s Michael DaBramo in the final. Lamont handled fifth-ranked Grant Cuomo of Brewster with a 7-1 decision in the 120-pound final. Both brothers are sleeper picks for sectionals. In a 1 vs. 2 matchup, Brewster’s Gino Gioielli established his place as a heavy favorite at 170 pounds with a major decision vs. second-ranked Adam Hofling of Sleepy Hollow in the finals.
· As you might have expected, no team had more sectional qualifiers than North Rockland, which will send 12 to the championship tourney. Mahopac and Pearl River had the next highest totals with 11, while a handful of teams have 10 qualifiers.
· I’ve received a ton of questions in the past few days about which D2 wrestlers have the best shots at wild cards for states, but as we know, anything that I say at this point is pure speculation. A big part of this is what happens in other sections. With that being said, the guys who come to mind from D2 are Pleasantville’s James Bathon (99) and Thomas Marrone (160), and Croton-Harmon’s Andrew Barsuch (120). Bathon is a former section champ, while Barsuch has been to multiple section finals and knocked off a former champ in Kelvas in the semis. I threw Marrone’s name in there because he probably had the strongest overall season of any other D2 runner-ups. But again, we won’t know anything for sure until next week.
· Another frequently asked question in the last 48 hours is when will I have the seeds for D1? Well, I’m hoping the answer is tomorrow night. That’s when they’ll have the seeding meeting, but they may ask me to hold them for a day to make sure there are no mistakes. I should definitely be able to post them before Thursday, and then I’ll get cracking on some previews and predictions.
Photo by Carucha L. Meuse / The Journal News