The Division 1 sectional championship seeds were released last night, so now it’s just a waiting game until we get to see how things play out on the mat this weekend. I’ll have my predictions posted tomorrow (I assume I’m going to be snowed in at my house dissecting brackets all day), but here are some of my initial thoughts after looking through the seeds:
· For the most part, it’s hard to find many weight classes where there’s much to gripe about. Of the 15 weight classes, the top seeds in 13 are also the No. 1 ranked wrestlers in their respective classes. The only guys who are top seeds that aren’t currently ranked No. 1 are Byram Hills’ Jon Errico at 120 and North Rockland’s Nick Didio at 160. Errico just majored top-ranked Matt Grippi of Fox Lane over the weekend, so if I had to redo the rankings today, Errico would be No. 1. And Didio is in a wide open class at 160. So, I think it’s fair to say that the top-seeded wrestlers in each class are the favorites going into the tournament, with 160 being the only possible exception. (And that’s no disrespect to Didio. It’s just hard to discount Greeley’s Mitch Klein after what he’s done of late.)
· I’ve written about all of these classes before, but 106, 120, 145 and 160 are the ones that I think could be the most interesting. In pretty much every other class, there’s a relatively obvious favorite. But in the four that I mentioned, it’s not as cut-and-dry. Fox Lane’s Brandon Fay at 106 and Errico at 120 look like the guys to beat, but there’s reason to believe that others in each class could pull off the upsets. Fay has only beaten North Rockland’s Alex D’Angelo, New Rochelle’s Jordan Wallace and Harrison’s Frankie Barchella by a combined four points, so we can certainly expect some ultra-tight matches there. And while Errico just beat Grippi handily, he did lose to him in the Shoreline finals, he only beat New Ro’s Lamont Wallace by one point and he’s yet to see North Rockland’s Derek DiMarsico. At 145 and 160, it looks like an essential toss-up between the top three seeds in each class—Fox Lane’s Ben Ettlinger, Somers’ Larry Courtien and Ketcham’s Danny Murphy at 145, and Didio, Klein and Somers’ Dom Celli at 160. To me, those are the most difficult weight classes to predict.
· A common question that I get asked is, which guys are your sleeper picks? Well, history tells us that the higher seeds don’t usually get upset in the early rounds, but there are a handful guys seeded 10th or worse that could make some noise if they’re taken lightly. Suffern’s Brice Artrip (No. 10 at 113) and Tommy Delgado (No. 12 at 120), JJEF’s Paul Bernasconi (No. 11 at 126), Yorktown’s Chris Varian (No. 13 at 132), Byram Hills’ Ben Ratner (No. 10 at 138), White Plains’ Javier Vicuna (No. 11 at 145), John Jay’s Evan Frank (No. 12 at 160), North Rockland’s Alex Schelmety (No. 11 at 170), Nyack’s Adonis Alcime (No. 10 at 182) and Mamaroneck’s Yousiff Hemida (No. 13 at 220) are some of the guys who jumped out to me as possible candidates to send some shock waves through the tourney. Out of that group, the guy to really keep your eye on is Hemida. I had him ranked in the preseason, but he missed nearly the entire regular season due to injury. He recently returned, and when he’s on, you could argue that he’s the third-best guy at 220 behind the top two seeds—TZ’s John Hartnett and Mahopac’s Ryan Delahanty.
· Earlier in the season, it looked like the 160-pound class was going to be one of the deepest in the section, but some of those guys have flocked to 170. You could probably make the argument now that 170 is deeper now, but 160 is more top heavy with its Big Three of Didio, Klein and Celli. The deepest class in the tourney may be 138, which features two defending section champs at the top in North Rockland’s Matt Caputo and Brewster’s Liam Erickson. It’s a little surprising that Erickson decided to drop down from 145, where he would have been the favorite—considering it will be a more difficult road to a section title—but he’s still got a good shot at a wild card if he makes the final. And at states, he may stand a better chance of winning an extra match or two at the lighter weight. After those top two, there’s about 10 others who I considered ranking at one point or another this year, which tells you that there’s some quality further down in the bracket.
· It’s amazing that some people still ask me this, but if you’re not sure of the first round matchups, here’s how the seeds work out in the brackets: 1 vs. 16, 2 vs. 15, 3 vs. 14, 4 vs. 13, 5 vs. 12, 6 vs. 11, 7 vs. 10 and 8 vs. 9. If there is nobody seeded 16 in a certain weight class, that means the top seed gets a bye into the quarterfinals. Start filling out your brackets now, and then we’ll see how they compare to mine after I post them tomorrow!
STAY SAFE AND WARM TONIGHT EVERYONE!
Photo by Peter Carr/The Journal News