These are never easy to do, but it’s always fun. These are my predictions for this weekend’s Division 1 sectional championships, and in terms of champs, there aren’t many huge surprises. There’s only four or five weight classes that really look to be up for grabs, but there will be tons of exciting matches leading up to the finals. I picked some upsets along the way to keep things interesting, and I encourage you to submit your picks in the comments section. In three days, it’ll all be settled on the mat…
No. 1 Alfredo Olmedo (Arlington) dec. No. 4 Trey Wardlaw (East Ramapo)
No. 2 Anthony Sulla (North Rockland) dec. No. 3 Sean McGarvey (Pearl River)
Final – Olmedo dec. Sulla
WHY: Sulla battled Olmedo in a tight 2-1 loss at Eastern States, so this wasn’t exactly an easy pick. But in the end, I’m taking the senior who has been knocking on the door for a few years… Two matches to look out for in the quarters would be Wardlaw vs. Yonkers’ Justin Lopez and Sulla vs. New Ro’s Jake Shore. Wardlaw beat Lopez with a 5-4 decision last week, so I’m taking him.
No. 1 Brandon Fay (Fox Lane) dec. No. 4 Frankie Barchella (Harrison)
No. 2 Alex D’Angelo (North Rockland) dec. No. 6 Jordan Wallace (New Rochelle)
Final – Fay dec. D’Angelo
WHY: Once again, I’m taking the senior who’s been on the big stage to get it done. Fay was a section finalist last year, and he’s already beaten most of his top competition—albeit in very close matches… I’m taking a slight upset in the quarters by picking Wallace over Suffern’s Peter Oliveto, but I think Wallace has the momentum coming in. He just beat Barchella and Scarsdale’s Michael DaBramo during the sectional qualifiers, and also wrestled Fay tough in a recent 5-4 loss. Either way, it’s a must-see match.
No. 1 Jay Albis (John Jay-EF) maj. dec. No. 4 Kevin Knox (Carmel)
No. 2 Brady Robin (Arlington) dec. No. 3 James Kelly (Pearl River)
Final – Albis dec. Robin
WHY: Albis has established himself with two wins apiece over Robin and Knox this season, so the toughest pick here was Robin vs. Kelly in the semis. In the end, Robin has been a bit more consistent, so he’s the pick.
No. 1 Jon Errico (Byram Hills) dec. No. 5 Lamont Wallace (New Rochelle)
No. 2 Matt Grippi (Fox Lane) dec. No. 3 Derek DiMarsico (North Rockland
Final – Errico dec. Grippi
WHY: If you asked me a week ago, I probably would have taken Grippi. He beat Errico at the Shoreline and is only getting better. But after Errico’s major in their match this past weekend, I can’t pick against the Bobcats’ junior. Grippi’s time will come, but he may still be a year away… Don’t sleep on Wallace. I’m taking him to knock off fourth-seeded Luke Francois of East Ramapo in the quarters, and he wrestled Errico tight in a one-point loss at the Shoreline.
No. 1 Alex Delacruz (Ossining) pin No. 4 Marlon Borge (North Rockland)
No. 2 Daiton Powell (Suffern) pin No. 3 Fredy Guevara (Yonkers)
Final – Delacruz maj. dec. Powell
WHY: The top two here have been obvious all season, and there’s no way I’m picking against a defending state champ.
No. 1 John Muldoon (Pearl River) pin No. 5 Romello Bradley (East Ramapo)
No. 3 Conor Melbourne (John Jay) dec. No. 2 John DiDomenico (Lakeland/Panas)
Final – Muldoon pin Melbourne
WHY: Muldoon has to be the pick here, but the race for second is very interesting… DiDomenico and Melbourne had split coming into the sectional qualifiers, but DiDomenico beat the John Jay freshman with a 3-2 decision in the Mahopac final to earn the second seed. Call it a hunch, but Melbourne has been wrestling extremely well in the second half of the season, and with a week for coach Bill Swertfager and his staff to figure out a way to make up the one-point difference, I think Mebourne can get it done.
No. 1 Matt Caputo (North Rockland) pin No. 4 Jonathan Pla (Lakeland/Panas)
No. 2 Liam Erickson (Brewster) maj. dec. No. 6 Daniel Baruch (Scarsdale)
Final – Caputo maj. dec. Erickson
WHY: It’s rare that you have two defending section champs in the same class, which we have here in Caputo and Erickson. They’re heavy favorites to reach the final, and I’d have to take Caputo in a head-to-head matchup. Erickson has been a great wrestler in Section 1, but Caputo is a two-time All-State wrestler who has placed at Eastern States. As a state title contender, he’s my pick… Baruch will likely get JJEF’s Grant Frederick in the quarters, whom he recently beat with a 9-4 decision.
No. 1 Ben Ettlinger (Fox Lane) maj. dec. No. 4 James Giraldez (Nyack)
No. 2 Larry Courtien (Somers) dec. No. 3 Danny Murphy (Ketcham)
Final – Ettlinger dec. Courtien
WHY: This is a tough choice, but I’m picking another top seed. Ettlinger has really raised his level this season, and it just feels like his time. Courtien is very capable of winning, but he’s also been dealing with a nagging knee injury. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Murphy get it done, as this is certainly a wide open class—particular among the top three.
No. 1 Blaise Benderoth (North Rockland) pin No. 4 Chris Carlucci (Lakeland/Panas)
No. 2 Frank Surace (Fox Lane) dec. No. 3 Liam Hiene (Somers)
Final – Benderoth maj. dec. Surace
WHY: Hard to pick against Benderoth based on his strong season and overall track record. He’s already been to two section finals, and the third time may be the charm… Surace just beat Hiene with a 3-2 decision during sectional qualifiers, so I’m sticking with him to reach the finals.
No. 1 Nick Didio (North Rockland) maj. dec. No. 4 Mike Peterson (Arlington)
No. 2 Mitch Klein (Horace Greeley) dec. No. 3 Dom Celli (Somers)
Final – Klein dec. Didio
WHY: This had to be the toughest pick of them all for me. I’ve gone back and forth, and back again, all year. I’ve had Klein ranked behind Didio and Celli for most of the season, but he just continues to win. After beating Celli—who placed fourth at Eastern States—with a 3-1 decision this past weekend, I think that Klein has proven himself enough. With that being said, he has still yet to wrestle Didio, so this is definitely a shot in the dark.
No. 1 Gino Gioielli (Brewster) pin No. 4 Justin Karas (Port Chester)
No. 7 Demetrius Rodriguez (New Rochelle) dec. No. 3 Adam Hofling (Sleepy Hollow)
Final – Gioielli pin Rodriguez
WHY: This is another one where the toughest decision was who will finish second… Rodriguez would have to pull off upsets over Hofling and JJEF’s Brandon White to reach the finals, but he may have it in him. Rodriguez’s only loss in Section 1 this season was a 5-4 decision against Hofling last weekend, but he’s shown significant improvement as the season has worn on, and that early look might benefit him if he gets another crack at Hofling this weekend. This is the type of class where an underdog could make a run to the final, but I don’t see anyone beating Gioielli.
No. 1 Brett Perry (John Jay-EF) pin No. 4 Jon Silveri (Arlington)
No. 2 Peter Pjetri (Suffern) dec. No. 3 Justin Ayala (Mount Vernon)
Final – Perry pin Pjetri
WHY: Perry is another guy who should place at states, and maybe even compete for a title. He’s an easy pick… Ayala and Pjetri is a toss-up match considering they haven’t wrestled this season. Ayala is a strong, explosive dude, so Pjetri has to be careful of being put to his back. But he’s shown some great defense against the likes of Clarkstown South’s Hassan Auwarter in recent weeks, and the longer the match goes, the more I think it plays into Pjetri’s hands.
No. 1 Andrew Grella (Beacon) pin No. 5 Tyrick Jackson (Suffern)
No. 3 Austin Maurer (Clarkstown South) dec. No. 2 Brock Cvijanovich (Horace Greeley)
Final – Grella maj. dec. Maurer
WHY: This is becoming a common theme in the upper weights—the favorite is pretty obvious here. Grella has established himself as the guy to beat with three wins over Cvijanovich, but a match between him and Maurer would be more of an unknown. Maurer finished strong last season and has come on in recent weeks, but I still have to lean heavily towards Grella.
No. 1 John Hartnett (Tappan Zee) maj. dec. No. 13 Youssif Hemida (Mamaroneck)
No. 2 Ryan Delahanty (Mahopac) pin No. 3 Murphy Wilson (Ketcham)
Final – Hartnett maj. dec. Delahanty
WHY: The guy who I think may shake things up here is Hemida. His seed doesn’t reflect where he actually belongs, but after missing the vast majority of the season, he’s a definite threat. I have him upsetting fourth-seeded Andrew Anthony of JJEF and fifth-seeded Billy Marino of Greeley to get to the semis, but I couldn’t pick him to beat a defending champ in Hartnett… I still think that Delahanty is Hartnett’s biggest competition, but Hartnett has reached a new level since his Eastern States finals appearance.
No. 1 Mike Manni (Tappan Zee) pin No. 4 Conner Reigottie (North Rockland)
No. 3 Nick Holahan (Clarkstown South) dec. No. 2 Matt St. Onge (Clarkstown South)
Final – Manni pin Holahan
WHY: Manni has already pinned everyone that I have in the semis, so call this a race for second… Between the practice room and actual matches, Holahan and St. Onge have probably wrestled 100 times in their careers. My understanding is that Holahan has the better head-to-head winning percentage over the years.
Photo by Tania Savayan/The Journal News