The 2022-2023 season kicks off today, officially. Christmas comes early, ladies and gentlemen. As another season is upon us, many will embark on their final journeys while others take the mats at the Varsity level for the first time. As a whole, let's take a look at some of the top headlines heading into the season, this season's "By the Numbers" and a few sleepers that may cause some noise.
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14 - New York State Champions
11 - New York State Runner-Ups
93 - New York State Place Winners
151 - New York State Qualifiers
1 - Eastern States Champion
5 - Eastern States Place Winners
3 - NHSCA Champions
4 - NHSCA Runner-Ups
34 - NHSCA Place Winners
3 - Super 32 Champions
1 - Super 32 Runner-Up
5 - Super 32 Place Winners
2 - Fargo FS National Champions
6 - Fargo FS All-Americans
6 - Fargo GR All-Americans
3 - Grappler Fall Classic Champions
1 - Grappler Fall Classic Place Winner
2 - Journeymen Fall Classic Champions
1 - Journeymen Fall Classic Runner-Up
5 - Journeymen Fall Classic Place Winners
5 - MAWA Champions
3 - MAWA Runner-Ups
6 - MAWA Place Winners
1 - Ohio TOC Champion
1 - Ohio TOC Place Winner
65 - Section 5
61 - Section 3
51 - Section 2
43 - Section 8
42 - Section 11
41 - Section 4
41 - Section 6
27 - Section 9
16 - Section 1
11 - CHSAA
8 - Section 7
8 - PSAL
7 - Section 10
4 - AIS
As the dual meet season came to a conclusion in late January 2022, both Minisink Valley (D1) and Tioga (D2) maintained their #1 State Ranking en route to winning the NYS Dual Meet Championships in their respective divisions.
The Warriors from Section 9 capped off their undefeated season in convincing fashion at the Duals, winning by a combined score of 220-38. Minisink Valley will enter this season ranked number 1 and have a massive target on their back. Coach Gallagher and company have a plethora of returning studs, including NYS Champions Ethan Gallo, Zack Ryder and PJ Duke. In Albany, MV put the entire state on notice as they finished the tournament with 155.5 points. Upperweight Andrew Filip returns after a 4th place finish at 189lbs.
Like MV, the Tioga Tigers out of Section 4 dominated the NYS Duals in a similar fashion. Coach Harrington's squad outscored the opposition 221-44. NYS Champs Gianni Silvestri and Ousmane Duncanson provide a near-guaranteed 12 points in every dual meet. Tiger middleweights Caden Bellis and Donovan Smith are both State Runner-Ups from last season and lightweight Jayden Duncanson was a bronze medalist in Albany. Tyler Roe took 5th at 126lbs, giving Tioga 6 returning state place winners. They amassed an astounding 146 team points at last year's state tournament.
After the conclusion of each season/school year, a common theme seems to arise that creates a massive buzz around the state.....which wrestlers will be on the move and dawning new colors the following season.
As speculation matches integrity, many fans and on-goers question the validity of these moves. Rest assured, Administrators complete their due diligence to ensure these moves are legal and within the confines of the rules set in place by the NYSPHSAA.
Heading into the season this year is no different. Three grapplers from Western NY, Section 6, will help their news teams from a line-up standpoint and we expect to see a huge boost on the individual side as well. Generally, wrestlers on the move stay within the confines of that same section. Although in the same geographical area, Zac Massaro will be switching sections. He has left Section 6 (Grand Island) and will now aim for his first CHSAA title while representing St. Joseph's (Buffalo Region). With the addition of Massaro, that Marauders lineup got instantly better, perhaps a 12-point swing in most dual meets. Nik looks to join defending CHSAA Austin Zimmerman as representatives at the State Championships in February.
Brothers Caden and Jaron Barrientos have made the twenty minute trek south from Lewiston Porter to Starpoint. Both brothers were Section 6 place winners last season for the Lancers. Jaron was 4th @ 102lbs while Caden took the bronze @ 118lbs. Caden had a chance to represent the Black and Orange in Albany, however, fell to Chautauqua Lake's Jordan Joslyn 6-1, in sudden victory, in the true second place match. Onto to Starpoint, giving the Spartan lineup an immense boost which should make them the favorites in Section 6 this season. Coach Hart brings back a massive amount of talent and sectional place winners from last season's team. Last season, Starpoint made the Final Four at the NYS Duals, losing to eventual Champions 55-7. Don't sleep on the Spartans this season.....
There is something special going on down in Section 1, specifically the Yonkers area. Current Yonkers Head Coach Khaled Dassan has emphasized the fact that he is making Section 1 and the surrounding areas a hotbed for developing and progressing wrestlers on a state and even national level. Coach Dassan has opened his own club called KD Trained. KD has hit the ground running, and to put things into perspective for everyone, four of the top NYS wrestlers all train at KD's. Minisink Valley's PJ Duke has well represented the club on a national scale along with Max Gallagher (BBP-11) and Tyler Ferrara (CF-4). Gallagher (c/o '23) and Duke (c/0 '25) are ranked #1 in NYWN's preseason Class Rankings. Ferrara is #2, behind Gallagher in the Class of 2024. Max (UPenn) and Tyler (Cornell) are all committed to Division 1 programs, and no doubt, within the next year or so, PJ will join that elite club also. Other notables that train at KD's are NYS Place Winners Jordan Brown (MW-9), Dillon Arrick (Arlington-1), Jason Kwaak (Brentwood-11), 2022 NYS Runner-Up Ryan Ferrara (CF-4) and 2022 CHSAA Champion Max Watson (Iona Prep-C)
Within the past month, America's oldest Institution locked up arguably two of New York's best Heavyweights heading into this season. 2022 New York State Champions Sam Sorenson (Homer-3) and Tristan Hitchcock (Warrensburg-Bolton-2) committed to Army. Before they head to West Point, much speculation swirls around the state, wondering if 215lbs NYS Champ, Sorenson, will be going up a weight class and challenging 285lbs NYS Champ, Hitchcock. This potential heavyweight showdown between two reigning champs is a rarity and thus gives the heavyweight weight class much needed recognition. This kind of hype reminds me of the heavyweight showdown between 2x NYS Champ/2x NCAA Champ Nick Gwiazdowski and NCAA Champ Kyle Snyder when they met in the 2016 285lbs NCAA Finale.
Last year in Section 5, the Fairport Red Raiders won the Division 1 Dual Meet title over Pittsford, sending them to the state championships in Syracuse. The score was deadlocked at 26 at the end, however, Fairport would be awarded an additional point for winning the most bouts of the dual meet. Overall, Coach Arao's team finished 7th in the final NYS Team Rankings of the season.
The parity in the Rochester area is tight each season. In preparation for another run at a Section 5 team title, Fairport has scheduled two huge out of section dual meets a mere 4 days apart! First, it's a "Clash of the Raiders." Fairport hits the road on December 2nd and heads east to the War Memorial in Fulton. Fulton has been a staple in Section 3 and NYS for decades upon decades. Fast forward, on December 6th, the house will be rocking on Dave Paddock Way as 2022 NYS DMT Semi-Finalist Starpoint will be coming to town.
Last season, the final NYS Division 1 team rakings had Fairport @ 7, Fulton @ 24, and Starpoint @ 13. Two dual meets of this caliber in early December.....Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals!
High school wrestling in New York differs from the other 49 states. During the state tournament, you not only represent your school but you represent your section based on the geographical location of your high school. New York is divided into 14 sections throughout the state. Each section has its own respective colors and designs. Ask any NY wrestler about what it means to represent their section at the NYS tournament, and the instant smile on his/her face will say it all.
A couple of years back, the NYS Committee pondered the idea of removing sections completely and going to a regional format. In my biased opinion, if that eventually happens, it will diminish the pageantry and brotherhood that all wrestlers experience with their "sectional team." From state practices with new partners to media day to the parade of champions, it would be a travesty and disheartening not to honor these great athletes in such a grand atmosphere.
As the 2022-23 season kicks off, nearly 95% of high school wrestlers have never felt that overwhelming sensation of walking into the MVP Arena in Albany as a competitor. The culmination of one's season is tightly wound into a magical, emotional, and highly intense weekend of phenomenal wrestling.
This season may be your time. It could be a senior with one last shot, a junior that couldn't "get over the hump", a sophomore that had an injury last season, a freshman who hit a growth spurt, an 8th grader who has a year of varsity experience under their belt or a 7th grader who is ready to shock the entire state.
Below are wrestlers from each section who are under the radar this season. Can they make that push and qualify for the Big Dance in late February?
Section 1 - Alex Berisha (Fox Lane)
Section 2 - Cameron Groncki (Mohonasen)
Section 3 - Trey Darmody-Latham (Syracuse)
Section 4 - Quamani Viera-Powell (Union Endicott)
Section 5 - Sam Ricci (Victor)
Section 6 - Grady Peterson Jr (Niagara Falls)
Section 8 - Jack Valentin (Long Beach)
Section 9 - Robert Wilson (Middletown)
Section 10 - Noah Park (Massena)
Section 11 - Kenneth Leverich (Smithtown West)
CHSAA - Gabriel Garibaldi (Iona Prep)
PSAL - Dylan Pipitone (Tottenville)
Section 1 - Kyle Peske (Hendrick Hudson)
Section 2 - Luke Schirmacher (Mechanicville-Stillwater)
Section 3 - Colin White (Adirondack)
Section 4 - Levi Bellis (Tioga)
Section 5 - Ben Merrill (Alexander)
Section 6 - Ryan Carpenter (Randolph)
Section 7 - Aaron Edwards (Peru)
Section 8 - Finnegan O'Brien (Locust Valley)
Section 9 - Oliver Rekuc (Ellenville)
Section 10 - Cyler Baer (Gouverneur)
Section 11 - Gavin Mangano (Shoreham Wading River)
AIS - Leo Tansey (Collegiate)