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Division 1 - State Tournament Preview

By BV, 02/25/15, 4:00PM EST

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It's hard to believe how close we are to the first whistle at the Times Union Center.  For each of the Division 1 brackets, we took a look at the returning placers and qualifiers, a first round match or two that we look forward to watching and a few other thoughts on the weight.

Stay tuned for our Division 2 article, which is here.

Please note that there have been changes to the brackets since the original versions were posted. For the most recent brackets, go to www.trackwrestling.com and search for "2015 NYSPHSAA State Championships."

If you haven't yet entered our prediction contest, feel free to do so here.

Don't forget to visit our site during the state championships - we'll be blogging and updating throughout the tournament.

99 Pounds

Returning Placers: Adam Busiello (Eastport-South Manor, 11); Benny Baker (Newark Valley, 4)

Right Off the Bat (First Round Matches): There are several matches we're interested in watching in the opening round. One of them features the only senior in the field - Fulton's Joe Abelgore - against junior Kevin Meloni of Shoreham-Wading River in a battle of wrestlers we expect to be in the mix for podium spots. (Also look out for the wrestler who topped Meloni at the Section 11 tournament - Tony Negron of North Babylon).

In addition, East Ramapo's Trey Wardlaw is the only undefeated grappler in the field. Mitchell Seaver of Lockport has just one setback (which he quickly avenged). They are set to meet on Friday morning. Who will keep their winning streak going? Whoever does could take on a wrestler who will be tough to beat, #3 seed Kyle Mosher of South Side, who has been in our rankings and who lost by a point to returning NYS medalist Benny Baker of Newark Valley at the Eastern States. (Michael Gonyea of Columbia made the podium at SUNY Sullivan as well, while Cody Anders of Brockport hasn't lost since early January).

Keep an Eye On: Speaking of Benny Baker, he and Adam Busiello of Eastport-South Manor both placed in Albany last year as seventh graders. There are a number of talented wrestlers in what often is an unpredictable 99 pound weight, however, we've had Busiello and Baker at #1 and #2 in our rankings the entire season and we see them squaring off in the finals with Busiello turning last year's silver into gold.

106 Pounds

Returning NYS Placers: Jacori Teemer (Long Beach, 8), Kelan McKenna (New Hartford, 3), Anthony Sparacio (North Babylon, 11)

Returning NYS Qualifiers: Tommy Cox (Deer Park, 11), Joe Marino (Tottenville, P)

Right Off the Bat (First Round Matches): Both Trent Nadeau of LaSalle and Randy Earl of John Jay East Fishkill have had strong seasons and are competing in Albany for the first time as sophomores. They will face off in round one. Earl was the only wrestler to hand Connor Greiner of Minisink Valley a loss this year. The Section 9 freshman drew one of the favorites in his opener - Tommy Cox of Deer Park. North Rockland's Anthony Sulla just missed qualifying last year and the Section 1 champ will look to take full advantage of his debut at the Times Union Center.

Keep an Eye On: This is a loaded class, with four wrestlers (Jacori Teemer of Long Beach, Jake Silverstein of Hauppauge, Tommy Cox of Deer Park and Kelan McKenna of New Hartford) included in the national rankings and another returning state placer in the field (Anthony Sparacio of North Babylon). At the Eastern States Classic, all of those just mentioned competed and placed, along with Schroeder's George Bardanis. Teemer showed stellar top wrestling on the way to first place, edging both Silverstein and McKenna by 1-0 scores.

In the fall, when Teemer and Silverstein faced each other at the Journeymen Classic, one of the coaches standing nearby said, "You're watching this year's state final matchup right now." That wouldn't surprise us. Teemer got the job done when he won a NYS title at 99 pounds last year. The margins are razor thin at this class, and the list of potential winners is long, but we like Teemer's chances to do it again.

113 Pounds

Returning NYS Placers:

Kyle Quinn (Wantagh, 8), Jay Albis (JJEF, 1), Tito Colom (St. Francis, C), Jemone Carter (Niagara Falls, 6)

Returning NYS Qualifiers:

Christian Gramuglia (Burnt Hills, 2), Ryan Burns (Clarence, 6), Ryan Brown (Canton, 10), John Arceri (Huntington, 11), Malik Grant (Curtis, P)

Right Off the Bat (First Round Match): Tito Colom of St. Francis placed in Division 2 last year when he began as the #2 seed before winning his first two matches each by one point (the first in double overtime). He once again will face strong competition immediately, with Section 11 runner up Phil Spadafora of Half Hollow Hills East up first. Spadafora fell 1-0 to three-time Suffolk champion John Arceri of Huntington in a bracket that also included Rocky Point's Anthony Cirillo. Speaking of Cirillo, he'll face Middletown's tough Pedro Rosales in his opener.

In addition, a pair of senior standouts, Joel Zambrano of Mepham and Jemone Carter of Niagara Falls (2014 NYS medalist), will battle each other on Friday morning. One of Carter's losses this year was to Hilton's Austin Hertel, who also beat 2014 state placers Dean Raymond and Joey Sliwoski.

Keep an Eye On: Kyle Quinn of Wantagh and Jay Albis of John Jay East Fishkill were locked in a tight bout in the semifinals of the Eastern States Classic until late in the third period.  Albis, a placer in Albany a year ago, suffered an injury and spent significant time out of competition, but returned for the postseason and looked good at the Section 1 tournament. He could clash with Quinn again should both advance to the semis. Meanwhile, another All-American, Clarence's Ryan Burns, also sits on the top half of the bracket, looking to break through as a senior. At the end of the day, Quinn is quite familiar with the finals in Albany after winning the 106-pound crown in 2013 and taking second behind Vito Arujau of Syosset at 113 last year. His only losses in the past two seasons have been to state champions, something he looks to be again on Saturday night.

120 Pounds

Returning NYS Placers:

Yianni Diakomihalis (Hilton, 5), Peter Pappas (Plainview, 8), Vinny Vespa (Monroe Woodbury, 9)

Returning NYS Qualifiers:

Alex D'Angelo (North Rockland, 1), John Devine (Columbia, 2), Derek Osman (Vestal, 4), Anthony Argentieri (Kenmore West, 6), Donny McCoy (Niagara Falls, 6), Gerard Daly (Minisink Valley, 9), Shane Leguillow (Grand Street Campus, P)

Right Off the Bat (First Round Matches): On the campus of Hofstra, Peter Pappas of Plainview and Ed Matyka of Riverhead were wrestling simultaneously in the finals of the Section 8 and Section 11 championships, respectively. Pappas, a returning state runner up, was upset by Syosset's Alexander Vargas, while Matyka overcame a 5-0 third period deficit to win an overtime match. Now, they'll wrestle each other in the opening round in Albany.

A pair of experienced postseason grapplers, Donny McCoy of Niagara Falls, who made the Round of 8 a year ago, and Columbia's John Devine, will also square off right away. Both beat opponents in their Section finals who had defeated them earlier. In McCoy's case, it was fellow 2014 qualifier Anthony Argentieri of Kenmore West, who will also be someone to watch.

Keep an Eye On:  While Vargas defeated Pappas, Gerard Daly of Minisink Valley also beat a returning NYS placer to win his Section crown. Daly went 0-2 at the Times Union Center a year ago with a difficult draw, but is certainly capable of winning matches in the state capital this time around.

As you can see from the list of previous medalists and qualifiers, there are numerous accomplished wrestlers in this bracket, including 2014 top three placers Peter Pappas and Vinny Vespa of Monroe Woodbury. We wouldn't be surprised if Army-bound Vespa continues his pattern of moving up the podium (fifth in 2013, third in 2014) and makes the finals.

However, Yianni Diakomihalis majored both Vespa and Pappas at the Times Union Center a year ago and quite simply is one of the best in the country. We see three state titles in a row for the Hilton star.

126 Pounds

Returning NYS Placers:

Nick Piccininni (Ward Melville, 11), Ben Lamantia (St. Anthony's, C), Parker Kropman (Penfield, 5), Mitchell Woodworth (Fulton, 3), Dominic Inzana (Saratoga, 2)

Returning NYS Qualifiers:

Anthony Orefice (Lockport, 6), Raeco Jackson (Westbury, 8), Gavin Perrine (Massena, 10)

Right Off the Bat: On his way to top four finishes at the state tournament as an eighth and ninth grader, Lockport's Anthony Orefice dropped close decisions to Ward Melville's Nick Piccininni. Now, as a senior, Orefice is looking to return to the medal stand. He'll face another 12th grader in round one, Sam Goldman of Port Washington, whose only two setbacks this year have been at 132 pounds. Orefice was upset by fall (against Connor Day of Iroquois) in the Section 6 finals. What will his response be against Goldman?

Keep an Eye On:  There are plenty of accomplished wrestlers in the group, including 2014 placers Parker Kropman of Penfield, Dominic Inzana of Saratoga (defeated by Averill Park's Max Tempel in the Section 2 finals) and Mitchell Woodworth of Fulton as well as Tommy Lancie of Schroeder, who has beaten multiple All-Staters, among others.

Nick Piccininni and St. Anthony's Ben Lamantia also were on the podium a year ago. The two met in the semifinals at 120 pounds with Piccininni coming away with a hard fought 3-0 win. Despite the quality field, we expect to see the nationally-ranked grapplers square off again with gold on the line. Piccininni would not only be facing a very formidable foe, but potentially also an injury that hampered him during his run to his fifth Section 11 title. That said, we find it hard to bet against Piccinnini, a champ who knows how to get it done at the Times Union Center and who is looking to join a very select group of wrestlers with four NYS championships.

132 Pounds

Returning NYS Placers:

Vito Arujau (Syosset, 8), Jesse Dellavecchia (East Islip, 11), Da'mani Burns (Newburgh Free Academy, 9)

Returning NYS Qualifiers:

Dempsey King (New Hartford, 3), Isaiah Colgan (Johnson City, 4), Kevin Marcano (Victor, 5), Evan Barczak (Monroe Woodbury, 9), Michael Brown (Massena, 10)

Right Off the Bat: Evan Barczak of Monroe Woodbury put together an impressive performance, defeating Da'mani Burns of Newburgh Free Academy 8-1 in the Section 9 finals after losing to Burns twice earlier in the campaign. It will be Barczak's third appearance in Albany, while it will be the debut for his first round opponent, James Szymanski of Shoreham-Wading River. Szymanski was called the best wrestler in New York to never make the state tournament by several coaches before the season, after he defeated two state finalists last year. This should be a great Round of 16 bout, along with clashes between wrestlers we've discussed in the rankings, Zack Barker of Fairport and Isaiah Colgan of Johnson City as well as Fred Eckles of Lake Shore and Matt Seitz of Monsignor Farrell. 

Keep an Eye On: We have looked at just about everybody in this bracket during rankings time this year (and had Suffern's Daiton Powell in our final set).  There are a ton of grapplers capable of making a run to All-State status.

Syosset's Vito Arujau has made two trips to the state capital and got to the finals both times. In 2013, he lost in the ultimate tiebreaker to Yianni Diakomihalis at 99 and last year, he was the champion at 113. Arujau and Da'mani Burns had an exciting match at the Eastern States Classic and a finals rematch is certainly a possibility, although returning finalist Jesse Dellavecchia of East Islip has been outstanding throughout an unbeaten season and will be a tough test for anyone. In any event, Arujau, ranked in the top 10 nationally, hasn't skipped a beat despite moving up three weight classes. We see finals appearance #3 and title #2 for him.

138 Pounds

Returning NYS Placers: Frankie Gissendanner (Penfield, 5), Mike D'Angelo (Commack, 11), Brad Wade (Islip, 11), Richie Burke (Ithaca, 4)

Returning NYS Qualifiers: Nick Toutant (Indian River, 3), Tristan Almeter (Iroquois, 6), Ricky Stamm (Division, 8), Owen Bachelder (Hewlett, 8), Chris Truglio (Minisink Valley, 9)

Right Off the Bat: There will be some fun matches immediately in this class. Two-time qualifier Owen Bachelder of Hewlett will face another wrestler who has competed in the state capital, undefeated Chris Truglio of Minisink Valley, in round one. In addition, two more grapplers who took the mat at the Times Union Center last year, Brad Wade of Islip and Nick Toutant of Indian River, will square off in the Round of 16, along with two tough Long Islanders - James Matias of Rocky Point and Naquan Warren of Farmingdale.

Keep an Eye On: Like Truglio, Ricky Stamm of Division is unbeaten this year and is a threat to string together several wins. Richie Burke of Ithaca did that last year in Albany, taking fourth. He missed time during the campaign but has what it takes to make a run again.

Top-seeded Frankie Gissendanner of Penfield is a freshman, but he won't be intimidated by the atmosphere at the Times Union Center. After all, this is already his third appearance at the state tournament. In 2014, he took fourth, dropping his final match at the Times Union Center to the previously mentioned Brad Wade, but he avenged that result at the Eastern States Classic, where he also topped number two seed (and nationally-ranked) Mike D'Angelo of Commack in the ultimate tiebreaker for the title.

Gissendanner was extremely impressive throughout the year and we look for him to make his first appearance in the NYS title bout. D'Angelo, a future Princeton wrestler, took his first Section 11 title last week in his fourth trip to the finals. Making the finals has been a frequent occurrence for him - as he also nabbed second at the NHSCA Nationals, the Super 32 Challenge and the Eastern States Classic. Is it time for him to make another prestigious title match and get gold?

145 Pounds

Returning NYS Placers:

Tommy Dutton (Rocky Point, 11), Jake Einbinder (Bethpage, 8)

Returning NYS Qualifiers:

Tristan Broddus (Fayetteville-Manlius, 3), Mike Raccioppi (Minisink Valley, 9), Ryan Ferro (Warwick, 9), Austin Amo (Massena, 10), Adam Santoro (Fordham Prep, C), Steven Kim (Cardozo, P)

Keep an Eye On: There's lots of Albany experience in this bracket. A year ago, Ryan Ferro of Warwick Valley went 2-2 to just miss placing up at 152. He's back after a strong season, looking for more.  He has some quality wins, but did lose a close decision to Shoreham-Wading River's Jack Taddeo a few weeks back. Those two could meet again, if they both win their first round matches.

On the bottom half, Jake Einbinder of Bethpage, a returning state placer, will look to move up the podium after taking sixth in 2014. On his way to that finish, he edged a wrestler we've seen some impressive performances from - Minisink Valley's Mike Raccioppi.

Tristan Broddus of Fayetteville-Manlius was one win from placing last year and has been in our rankings, as has Mike LaLoggia of Schroeder, while others like Ketcham's Danny Murphy and John Jay East Fishkill's Grant Frederick have been discussed there as well.

Rocky Point's Tommy Dutton has been a top three seed at the state tournament the past two years, coming away with fourth and fifth place showings. This year, however, Dutton has completely dominated from start to finish, including a commanding victory in the Eastern States finals against Norwich's Tristan Rifanburg. We think Dutton has saved his best Albany performance for last.

152 Pounds

Returning NYS Placers: Jakob Restrepo (Sachem East, 11), Jesse Porter (Shenendehowa, 2)

Returning NYS Qualifiers: Blake Engebretsen (Central Square, 3), Anthony Bell (Fairport, 5), Kirk Feeney (Lockport, 6), Thomas Wightman (Warwick Valley, 9), Hunter Perrine (Massena, 10), Matt Porello (John Glenn, 11)

Right Off the Bat: Matt Porello of John Glenn and Thomas Wightman of Warwick Valley both competed in Albany a year ago and will look to go further in the bracket this time around after clashing on Friday morning.

Keep an Eye On: Kirk Feeney of Lockport has been in our rankings this year and in our rankings article, we also mentioned the stellar season of Great Neck South's Elias Kokalis.

Meanwhile, returning fourth placer Jesse Porter of Shenendehowa has been dominant once again this year, with a large number of pins. He has three setbacks (all by 2-1 scores) against 2014 state champion Trevor Allard (up at 170), Jonathan Viruet of Massachusetts and Jakob Restrepo of Sachem East. (He did have an offseason victory over Restrepo).

Last year, Porter defeated Fairport's Anthony Bell at the state tournament in the Round of 8. After just missing the podium, Bell followed up with an All-America performance at Virginia Beach as well as a fantastic campaign in which he defeated 2014 state champion Alex Herringshaw as well as finalist Andrew Shomers of Lewiston Porter.  He is the #2 seed.

We may see another showdown between Porter and Bell, this time with a potential finals spot on the line. Meanwhile, in the top half, Jakob Restrepo, a finalist a year ago at 145, is undefeated. After suffering his only loss of last season in the gold medal match to Hilton's Vincent DePrez, Restrepo has been waiting for the opportunity to wrestle on Saturday night again. In another low-scoring chess match with Porter, we think Restrepo will take first place in his last high school bout.

160 Pounds

Returning NYS Placers: Chris Mauriello (Hauppauge, 11), Blaise Benderoth (North Rockland, 1), Louie DePrez (Hilton, 5)

Returning NYS Qualifiers: Vinnie Darpino (Newark Valley, 4), Dylan Lundmark (Jamestown, 6), Addrian Ferrarie (Mount St. Michael, C)

Right Off the Bat: When we were looking at some of the wrestlers who could make a big impact in this bracket outside the top seeds, a few guys quickly came to mind. And some of them will meet right away. AJ Aeberli of Minisink Valley and Brandon Mendez of Huntington both put together outstanding seasons in which they had just one loss - to a state champion (for Aeberli it was Alex Herringshaw of Holland Patent in overtime; for Mendez it was Chris Mauriello of Hauppauge).  In addition, returning qualifier Vinnie Darpino of Newark Valley will face Jerrett Norton of Central Square in an interesting first round tilt.

Keep an Eye On: This is a weight where we could see a whole bunch of wrestlers winning it all. Brandon Aviles of John Glenn, Blaise Benderoth of North Rockland, Louie DePrez of Hilton and Chris Mauriello of Hauppauge have had some good battles this year with close scores.  Mauriello earned state gold in 2014, while DePrez and Benderoth made a tremendous runs to third place.

However, Aviles has looked like a man on a mission and has come out on top against state champions four times by one point (Herringshaw and Mauriello, twice each) plus a two-point victory over DePrez. While winning those tight matches may make him the slight favorite, he is the only wrestler in the top four seeds to never compete at the Times Union Center before. Will a more experienced senior like Benderoth, who has taken the mat in the state capital numerous times, earn gold?

170 Pounds

Returning NYS Placers: Quinn Zsido (Cornwall, 9)

Returning NYS Qualifiers: Kevin Parker (Shenendehowa, 2), Sonny McPherson (Indian River, 3), Travis Race (Fulton, 3), Nate Schwab (Clarence, 6)

Right Off the Bat: Getting a top seed doesn't mean the first match won't be a challenging one. Kevin Parker of Shenendehowa earned a meeting with fellow NHSCA All-American Mike Spallina of Hilton, Nate Schwab of Clarence drew a wrestler who could make a run, Dan Arkow of Bellmore JFK, and Quinn Zsido will face a battle-tested Section 11 grappler, Joseph Puca of Huntington.

Keep an Eye On: Undefeated Anthony Fitzsimmons of Calhoun has looked very good, while Francisco Bisono of Hauppauge won a deep Section 11 weight class and the Section 3 duo of Travis Race of Fulton and Sonny McPherson of Indian River bring quality wins and Albany experience to the table.

Top-seeded Kevin Parker has been very tough at 170 pounds, losing just once to a New York Division 1 wrestler (160-pound #2 seed Brandon Aviles in an action-packed bout at the Union-Endicott Duals). The Eastern States finalist has beaten Clarence's Nate Schwab three times this year as well as 2014 NYS medalist Quinn Zsido of Cornwall. Parker has wrestled at the Times Union Center twice before, but has yet to win a match. We don't think that will be true after the weekend; in fact we think he'll win four.

182 Pounds

Returning NYS Placers: David Hamil (Deer Park, 11)

Returning NYS Qualifiers: Jake Ashcraft (Burnt Hills, 2), Richie Jones (St. Joseph's Collegiate, C)

Ryan Schlager of Clarence sits in the top spot in the bracket after racking up some quality wins during the season over NYS qualifiers like Jake Braunscheidel of St. Francis, Hobie Strassner of Hilton, Jacob Woolson of Mexico (twice), Alex Kelly of Cattauraugus and Richie Jones of St. Joseph's Collegiate. Jones, the #4 seed, split with Schlager, taking their second meeting of the campaign. Another wrestler in the top half with a very strong resume is Jake Ashcraft of Burnt Hills, who beat 2014 placer Geno Brancati of Hudson Falls and several other grapplers in the bracket - Aaron Gondola of Grand Street Campus, Marcus Bisono of Hauppauge, Dylan Dubuque of Columbia and Tom Lane of Garden City (split two bouts).

Besides Lane, the only Division 1 wrestler to beat Ashcraft this year is David Hamil of Deer Park, who also has topped some others in the bracket, like Jones and Bisono. Hamil's only setback this season was to Wyoming Seminary's nationally-ranked Christian Dietrich by one point.

As the only returning placer from the 2014 182-pound NYS tournament bracket, Hamil has experience on this stage and we think he can ride it to a finals victory, perhaps against Ashcraft.

195 Pounds

Returning NYS Placers: None

Returning NYS Qualifiers: Nick McShea (Monroe Woodbury, 9), Alan Clement (Canton, 10)

Right Off the Bat: Jake Braunscheidel of St. Francis moved up to 195 late in the season and defeated 2014 NYS qualifier Peter Corbett for the CHSAA crown. He is the fourth seed and will face a wrestler who had an excellent campaign, in round one. Washingtonville's Bryan Beyers racked up a 32-1 mark with his first loss in the Section 9 finals to Monroe Woodbury's unbeaten Nick McShea.

We'll also be interested in the bout between the #3 seed Peter Pjetri of Suffern and John Glenn's Chris Bosco, whose only New York losses prior to the Section 11 tournament were to the previously mentioned McShea and top seeded Christian Araneo. (At the Suffolk championships, Bosco fell to Smithtown East's Tom Stevenson).

Keep an Eye On: There aren't any returning placers in the field, which should make for an exciting bracket. Cameron Caldarelli of Brockport has gone undefeated so far and is someone to track, along with Freeport's Deny Tavarez who appeared on his way to a perfect season record before getting pinned while holding a lead in the Nassau finals. We've also had the previously discussed Pjetri and Chris Goudy of Queensbury in the rankings this year.

However, our top two Division 1 wrestlers for quite some time at this weight have been Ward Melville's Christian Araneo and Monroe Woodbury's Nick McShea. With the exception of the Eastern States title bout against 2014 Division 2 state champion Nathanael Rose of Eagle Academy, Araneo has been in complete control throughout the season. The Suffolk wrestler has won by regular decision just twice all year with more than 20 technical falls. Similarly, the undefeated McShea has won all but four contests by bonus points. We'll guess that the two continue their winning ways all the way to the title bout, with Araneo having a slight edge.

220 Pounds

Returning NYS Placers: Vin Feola (Walt Whitman, 11)

Returning NYS Qualifiers: Youssif Hemida (Mamaroneck, 1), Tyler Hudson (Whitesboro, 3), Allan-Michael Rios (Chenango Forks, 4), Mike Newman (Monsignor Farrell, C)

Right Off the Bat: Mike Newman of Monsignor Farrell has been outstanding, with his only two losses this year against Wyoming Seminary's Harrison Nye. He took fourth place at the Eastern States. Newman's opponent in the first round, Brandon Mascaro of Wallkill, didn't medal at that event, but is someone Section 9 fans believe can do some damage this year. Brock Cvijanovich also impressed at SUNY Sullivan and is certainly battle tested after wrestling the top seed multiple times this season. The Horace Greeley star will face a returning qualifier, Allan-Michael Rios of Chenango Forks, in an interesting round one match.

Keep an Eye On: Tyler Hudson of Whitesboro competed in Albany a year ago and is unbeaten at 220 this year, while Port Washington's Elmer Mendez lost twice on December 20 but has won all his bouts since. We haven't forgotten about Sachem North's Anthony DiMatteo, who handed the #2 seed, Vin Feola of Walt Whitman, a loss a few weeks back. (Feola beat DiMatteo twice, including at the Section 11 championships).

Youssif Hemida of Mamaroneck wasn't well known to some New York wrestling fans last February when he went from a double-digit seed to a champion at the Section 1 tournament. He followed with a 2-2 performance at the Times Union Center, but has rarely lost since, picking up All-America honors at nearly all of the nation's biggest events and bringing an undefeated mark into the weekend. There are some tough foes in the field, including the previously mentioned Newman and Feola, a returning NYS silver medalist. Hemida and Feola aren't strangers, having wrestled multiple times in the offseason and twice during the high school campaign. The matches have been close, but Hemida has prevailed. We'll say that happens again.

285 Pounds

Returning NYS Placers: Erik Jessell (Carthage, 3)

Returning NYS Qualifiers: Edwin Rubio (John Glenn, 11), Nolan Terrance (Massena, 10), Sean Dee (Sachem East, 11)

Right Off the Bat (First Round): A pair of solid wrestlers who took third at their Sectional events will square off when Jon Solorzano of Lindenhurst and Joe Fuino of Hilton face off.  The performance of Fuino, who placed at the Eastern States, will be significant for Hilton, which is looking to defend its state team title. A wrestler who handed Solorzano two of his four losses, Monair McDonald of Roosevelt will meet another Eastern States medalist, Ryan Delahanty of Mahopac, in another interesting opening round contest.

Keep an Eye On: John Glenn's Edwin Rubio looked like he was going to run the table for a perfect regular season, a second-straight Section 11 crown and the #1 seed at the NYS tournament. However, he was defeated in the ultimate tiebreaker in the Suffolk title match against returning qualifier Sean Dee of Sachem East.  If both win their first two, Rubio and Dee could meet again in the semifinals.

On the other side of the bracket, Nolan Terrance of Massena picked up the first seed after beating Dee twice this year. There are a number of grapplers to look out for up top, including Eastern States medalist Isaac Serrano of Newburgh Free Academy, returning placer (at 195) Erik Jessell of Carthage and Irondequoit's Cameron Rohr. The last two have just one loss apiece (to the #1 seed in Division 2 and by disqualification, respectively).

If we had to guess, we'd say we could see a third overtime battle between Terrance and Rubio. The first two bouts (last year in Albany and at the Eastern States) were won by the John Glenn standout.

SECTION/TEAM

Section 11 came out on top for the sixth straight time in 2014 and is the favorite again. With more than 20 wildcards added to the mix, in addition to an extremely strong class of Sectional champions, Suffolk will rack up significant points throughout the weekend. Five Suffolk wrestlers earned a #1 seed, with more than 10 others in the #2-4 spots in the brackets.

As far as teams go, defending champion Hilton will certainly be in the thick of things once again. Two placers return for the Cadets - two-time champion Yianni Diakomihalis, who picked up bonus points in all of his matches in Albany last year and Louie DePrez, who was third at 138 a year ago.  In addition, the remaining qualifiers from the Section 5 squad have the ability to make podium runs - Austin Hertel (113), Mike Spallina (170), Hobie Strassner (182) and Joe Fuino (285).

Who are some of the top contenders to prevent a Hilton repeat? How about the top two teams in the dual rankings - Section 9's Minisink Valley and Monroe Woodbury. Minisink features five qualifiers, who are all capable of placing, while Monroe Woodbury has six, including Vinny Vespa and Nick McShea, who were highly ranked at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Suffolk's Hauppauge and John Glenn can't be overlooked. Both bring four wrestlers to Albany, including some state title threats. For the Eagles, Chris Mauriello looks for his second NYS gold, while Jake Silverstein will be in the mix at 106. Francisco and Marcus Bisono have both had strong seasons at 170 and 182, respectively. Meanwhile, John Glenn's Brandon Aviles and Edwin Rubio are both seeded in the top three while Matt Porrello and Chris Bosco could put up some points.

Last year, East Islip took second at this event, with a pair of finalists leading the way (in addition to another placer). Who are some of the dynamic duos who could make the title bouts and boost their teams high in the team race? Nick Piccininni and Christian Araneo of Ward Melville, both top seeds, certainly come to mind. In addition, several other teams have a pair of highly seeded grapplers - Tommy Cox and David Hamil of Deer Park, Frankie Gissendanner and Parker Kropman of Penfield, Jesse Porter and Kevin Parker of Shenendehowa, Ryan Schlager and Nate Schwab of Clarence and Jakob Restrepo and Sean Dee of Sachem East all fit in the category. There are several other teams who could be in the fray, with Rocky Point, Shoreham-Wading River, Wantagh, Columbia and Burnt Hills among the others mentioned in your prediction contest responses. That said, we expect to see Hilton at the top.

Don't forget to check out our coverage during the tournament!