We're just a few days away. For each of the Division 2 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 class.
Our Division 1 preview can be found 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!
Returning NYS Qualifiers:
Mikey Bruno (Putnam Valley, 1), Jack Bokina (Mattituck, 11), Kevin Velez (Petrides, P)
At the Saratoga Invitational, two of the top small school 99 pounders squared off in the finals, with Cody Fields of General Brown topping Orion Anderson of Schuylerville in overtime. It was Anderson's only loss of the season. Both are certainly threats to make the title match on Saturday night, although they would meet in round two if both win their initial bouts.
Among those also in the fray on the bottom half are the wrestler Anderson beat for the Section 2 crown, Dillan Palaszewski of Galway, and Jack Bokina of Mattituck. The Suffolk star made the Round of 8 a year ago in Albany and earned All-America honors in Virginia Beach. Some others to keep an eye on include Carson Dobozy of Peru and Sean McGarvey of Pearl River.
Despite all that talent (and more), we've had Drew Schafer of Palmyra Macedon and AJ Burkhart of Waverly as the #1 and #2 wrestlers in Division 2 in New York. Both have made national podiums and demonstrated their skills throughout the campaign. Schafer stood out at the Eastern States, beating Burkhart as well as South Side's Kyle Mosher (the #3 seed in Division 1) and went toe-to-toe with one of the nation's best in Wyoming Seminary's Beau Bartlett. The Palmyra Macedon freshman is our pick to go all the way.
Returning NYS Placers: Jonathan Gomez (Locust Valley, 8), Jacob Nolan (Saranac, 7)
Returning NYS Qualifiers: Trey LaFlamme (South Jefferson, 3), CJ Walz (Central Valley, 3), Dylan Walker (Warsaw, 5), Shane Hetrick (Maple Grove, 6), Dean Artrip (Tuxedo, 9)
Right Off the Bat: A bit of deja vu? Trey LaFlamme of South Jefferson beat Shane Hetrick of Maple Grove in the opening round in Albany a year ago and the two are set to face off in round one again.
Keep an Eye On: In our last rankings, we listed the top four D2 106 pounders as Jonathan Gomez of Locust Valley, the previously mentioned LaFlamme, CJ Walz of Central Valley and Dylan Walker of Warsaw. All have Albany experience and all are on the top half of the bracket.
Two of the wrestlers we had right on the verge - returning placer Jacob Nolan of Saranac (who gets the tough Jeffrey Gress of Lyndonville in his first match) and AJ Putt of Maple Grove, are in the bottom half, along with Austin O'Reilly of Mexico, who defeated LaFlamme on his way to the finals in Section 3. Caleb Wiggins of Chenango Valley grabbed the #2 seed (and will face Vin Miceli of Port Jefferson).
Jonathan Gomez went to the finals last year at 99 before taking second place. He made the podium at Fargo in Freestyle and put together another strong season. We're looking for another Saturday night appearance for the Nassau standout, but this time, with a different outcome.
Returning NYS Placers: Zachery Lawrence (Duanesburg, 2), Theo Powers (Mexico, 3), Dean Raymond (Deposit, 4), Dane Heberlein (Alexander, 5), Joey Sliwoski (Wayne, 5)
Returning NYS Qualifiers: Nolan Foster (Hoosick Falls, 2), Chris Cirigliano (BGAH, 4), Johnny Fiebelkorn (Akron, 6), Mike Feliciano (Highland, 9), Dom Mazzella (Babylon, 11)
Right Off the Bat: Chris Cirigliano of BGAH and Zachery Lawrence of Duanesburg have both placed in Albany, in 2013 and 2014, respectively. If they are to make the medal stand again, one of them will have to do it through the consolations, as they will meet in round one. Looming in the second round for the winner could be another All-Stater, Dean Raymond of Deposit, if he gets past returning qualifier Dom Mazzella of Babylon.
Keep an Eye On: The bottom part of the bracket also has some standouts, including 2014 medalist Joey Sliwoski of Wayne and Nolan Foster of Hoosick Falls. In addition, Herkimer's TJ Philpotts has several victories over wrestlers who will be competing in the state capital this weekend.
We haven't yet mentioned the top two seeds, Mexico's Theo Powers and Alexander's Dane Heberlein, who have clashed twice this year, with Heberlein winning the first by two points and Powers taking the second by the same margin. Both know what it takes to succeed in Albany, with Powers coming off a third place showing in 2014 and Heberlein winning it all at 99. We'll say a one-point battle this time, with Heberlein making it two in a row.
Returning NYS Placers: Derek Spann (Adirondack, 3), Tony Recco (Lyndonville, 5), Luke Yankloski (Wayne, 5), Ryan Hetrick (Maple Grove, 6), Hunter Dusold (Locust Valley, 8), Matteo DeVincenzo (Port Jefferson, 11)
Returning NYS Qualifiers: Logan Robinson (Walton, 4), Joe Rorick (Odessa-Montour, 4), Kevin McColgan (Petrides, P), Cordell David (Ogdensburg, 10),
Right Off the Bat: Tony Recco of Lyndonville and Ryan Hetrick of Maple Grove have each been on the podium multiple times in their careers. The march toward another medal starts -- against each other on Friday morning.
Keep an Eye On: How many state champions can you have in a single bracket? This one has four - Matteo DeVincenzo of Port Jefferson, Derek Spann of Adirondack, Hunter Dusold of Locust Valley and Tony Recco of Lyndonville. Then, add in 2014 Prep All-American Jimmy Overhiser of Lansing, placers Ryan Hetrick and Luke Yankloski and the additional returners listed above and you have a seriously deep weight. (Also, don't forget LeRoy's Jon Lauricella, who beat Yankloski recently and lost only once - to Recco).
We had DeVincenzo and Overhiser as our highest ranked 120 pounders in Division 2. Since they're on the same side, we'll guess that they'll meet in one semifinal, while the other could feature a rematch of last year's 113-pound championship - Spann and Dusold. DeVincenzo and Spann are undefeated thus far, while Overhiser has one loss - to an out-of-state opponent. So, who will come out on top? We'll say Spann gets to his third straight title bout but comes up with silver. Will it be against DeVincenzo in another finals rematch? (The two met in the 2013 99-pound championship)
Returning NYS Placers: Kellen Devlin (Amherst, 6), Brad Bihler (Maple Grove, 6), Ryan O'Rourke (Adirondack, 3), Tanner Cook (Central Valley, 3)
Returning NYS Qualifiers: Zach Burke (Morrisville-Eaton, 3), Brandon Gould (Watkins Glen, 4), Colin Hogan (Peru, 7), Taylor Benson (Red Hook, 9), Daniel Mullin (Gouverneur, 10), Brett Frole (Babylon, 11)
Right Off the Bat: Tanner Cook of Central Valley missed a part of the season and took some losses, but earned a spot back in Albany. The 2014 placer will meet Pearl River's Jake Kurzhals, who had a strong campaign at 126 pounds with several quality victories. In addition, Brett Frole of Babylon and Taylor Benson of Red Hook are repeat qualifiers looking to break through.
Keep an Eye On: Nick Gaiser of Alexander is a definite podium contender. Brandon Gould of Watkins Glen was unbeaten until the Section 4 tournament, where he fell against Ian Lupole of Susquehanna Valley in a bracket won by Austin Ryan of Unatego.
Both Ryan O'Rourke of Adirondack and Brad Bihler of Maple Grove are multi-time NYS placers. However, neither is the favorite at this weight. Kellen Devlin of Amherst won his first state title in 2014 at 126. Will he make it two straight? We think so.
Returning NYS Placers: Cody McGregor (Tonawanda, 6), Nick Casella (Locust Valley, 8), Tristin DeVincenzo (Port Jefferson, 11)
Returning NYS Qualifiers: Tyler Field (Onondoga, 3), Andrew Suleiman (Highland, 9), Joe DiForte (Petrides, P)
Keep an Eye On: Tyler Field of Onondoga has a handful of wins against 2015 state qualifiers and looks to build upon his victory in Albany last year. If he and returning placer Tristin DeVincenzo of Port Jefferson win their openers, they will face off in the quarters. Making the medal stand at the Eastern States Classic was Dylan Wood of Walton, while Emerson Block of Palmyra Macedon also picked up some good wins during the year and drew #2 seed Nick Casella of Locust Valley right off the bat.
Speaking of Casella, he and Cody McGregor of Tonawanda have both stood on the podium three times in Albany. Last year, McGregor notched fourth at this weight, while Casella grabbed fifth at 120. However, in the two previous years, Casella made the finals before taking second. Could a third time in the finals be the charm for Casella before heading to Maryland? McGregor will be a tough customer, with 30 pins and an Eastern States silver.
Returning NYS Placers: Hunter Richard (Holland Patent, 3), Sam Ward (Locust Valley, 8), Colin Royce (Warsaw, 5)
Returning NYS Qualifiers: Steven Culbert (Galway, 2), Nate Walker (Canastota, 3), Kobe Garrehy (Maine-Endwell, 4), Jesse Manuel (Tioga, 4), Joey Bush (Gouverneur, 10)
Right Off the Bat: Steven Culbert of Galway wrestled at the state tournament a year ago. He dropped his Section 2 title bout to Salem's Luke Fronhofer, but received a wildcard. In his return visit, he has a challenging task ahead - top seeded Hunter Richard of Holland Patent - in the first round. Darren Ostrander of Groton won a solid Section 4 bracket that also included returning qualifiers Jesse Manuel of Tioga and Kobe Garrehy of Maine-Endwell.
Keep an Eye On: Nate Walker of Canastota won a match in Albany a year ago, while Colin Royce of Warsaw nabbed sixth place. They'll be among those on the bottom half looking to make some noise.
Both Sam Ward of Locust Valley and Hunter Richard of Holland Patent earned bronze medals at the state tournament in 2014, at 138 and 126, respectively. Each has just one loss this season and Richard impressed with his third place performance at the Eastern States Classic. If it happens, we expect a great finals bout between the two, giving a slight nod to the senior Ward, who has overcome a midseason injury to return for the stretch run.
Returning NYS Placers: Tristan Rifanburg (Norwich, 4), Corey Farrell (Warsaw, 5)
Returning NYS Qualifiers: Austin Whitney (Mexico, 3), Garrett Mitchell (Camden, 3), Austin Trombley (Northern Adirondack, 7), Aaron Bush (Gouverneur, 10)
Right Off the Bat: Returning NYS sixth placer Corey Farrell of Warsaw didn't get a seed ... and begins against the #2 wrestler in the bracket, Austin Whitney of Mexico. Whitney has been in our rankings all year long and placed at the Eastern States Classic. When we wrote down a list of unseeded grapplers we thought could make an impact, one was Kevin Jackson of Locust Valley. He'll be tested right away -- against state champion Tristan Rifanburg of Norwich.
Keep an Eye On: Garrett Mitchell of Camden has been impressive after winning twice in Albany in 2014. Three of his five losses have been to Whitney, who is on the same side of the bracket. (The other two were to Division 1 qualifier Tristan Broddus).
Four finals appearances, two titles - that's Norwich's Tristan Rifanburg's resume through his junior season. The Section 4 star majored Mexico's Austin Whitney earlier in the campaign and if they meet again, on Saturday night, we think Rifanburg makes it three NYS titles before heading to Binghamton.
Returning NYS Placers: Frank Garcia (Norwich, 4), Dakota Gardner (Fredonia, 6), Andrew Shomers (Lewiston Porter, 6)
Returning NYS Qualifiers:
Cliffton Wang (Edgemont, 1), Josh Griffith (Warsaw, 5), Mike Dusold (Locust Valley, 8)
Right Off the Bat: Ralph Oswald of Hampton Bays had an emotional run to the Section 11 title. After losing his father earlier in the week, Oswald put together an outstanding performance to punch his ticket to Albany. He'll meet a wrestler we think will make a podium push - Mike Dusold of Locust Valley - in the opening round. In addition, Israel Byler of Addison enters with a lot of momentum. He registered a number of wins over NYS qualifiers in the past few weeks of the season, including Warsaw's Josh Grifffth twice and will take on Colby Davendonis of Hoosick Falls, a wrestler who lost just twice this year (both in overtime).
Keep an Eye On: Edgemont's Cliffton Wang is back as a sophomore and is a medal contender, as are other 10th graders, Madison Hoover of BGAH and Caleb Beach of South Jefferson.
Norwich's Frank Garcia has just one loss as a senior - to Jakob Restrepo of Sachem East in the Eastern States title match. He is already a two-time finalist who collected his first NYS championship at this weight a year ago. But repeating won't be easy. A pair of Section 6 wrestlers who have both taken silver in Albany during their careers will be in the hunt. 2014 finalist Andrew Shomers of Lewiston Porter won the showdown with Dakota Gardner of Fredonia last weekend and another clash in the state semis seems like a good possibility. Both are tough, but we'll take Norwich back-to-back with Rifanburg and Garcia.
Returning NYS Placers: Alex Herringshaw (Holland Patent, 3), Simon Breckenridge (VVS, 3), Connor Lawrence (Duanesburg, 2), Jason Hoffman (Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George, 2)
Returning NYS Qualifiers:
Danny Khomitch (Byron Bergen, 5), Brian Westerdahl (Maple Grove, 6), Bailey Phelps (Ogdensburg, 10), James Hoeg (Mattituck, 11), Vance Cuffee (Eagle Academy, P)
Right Off the Bat: Two experienced postseason wrestlers, Danny Khomitch of Byron Bergen and Brian Westerdahl of Maple Grove, will collide in round one on Friday morning. Last year, both got in the win column in Albany. Khomitch was defeated by Corey Cristales of Williamson for the Section 5 crown. Cristales will face another talented wrestler, Carle Place/Wheatley's Shawn Mosca in the opener. Like Cristales, seniors Joe Judge of Spencer-Van Etten and Nick Hosmer of Canisteo are making their first appearances in Albany and look to break through. Meanwhile, James Hoeg of Mattituck drew the third seed in round one, but looks to win some matches in his return to Albany.
Keep an Eye On: In our last rankings, we had the top four Division 2 wrestlers at this weight as Alex Herringshaw of Holland Patent, Jason Hoffman of Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George, Connor Lawrence of Duanesburg and Simon Breckenridge of VVS. All placed in Albany last year. Herringshaw defeated Breckenridge for the second time this season to capture the Section 3 crown, while Hoffman downed Lawrence in overtime to grab Section 2 gold a few weeks ago. The way the brackets are set up, we wouldn't be at all surprised to see those rematches in the semifinals.
Herringshaw has been tested this year, nabbing fourth at the Eastern States, where he battled some of New York's best. The Buffalo recruit picked up gold at the Times Union Center last year and we see him as the frontrunner as he looks for title #2.
Returning NYS Placers: Trevor Allard (Mexico, 3), Jordan Bushey (Peru, 7), Howie Nolan (Maple Grove, 6)
Returning NYS Qualifiers:
Willie Messinger (Putnam Valley, 1), Theodore Mapes (Highland, 9), Robert Welgoss (Petrides, P)
Right Off the Bat: While he is set to wrestle the top seed Trevor Allard of Mexico right away, it was nice to see Tyler Green of Schuylerville, who missed the end of last season with an injury, fight his way to the Times Union Center this year. Josh Burge of Watkins Glen was hurt during the Section 4 tournament last year and also rebounded to make the field.
Keep an Eye On: There are a number of wrestlers who could threaten for All-State accolades here. Among them are two who have already stood on the podium - Howie Nolan of Maple Grove and Aaron Paddock of Warsaw. Paddock last wrestled at the NYS tournament as a seventh grader and after his incredible recovery and tremendous season, he's back to add another medal to the family collection.
The only two wrestlers to sit atop our 170 pound rankings this year, Jordan Bushey of Peru and Trevor Allard of Mexico, headline this class. Allard didn't come in with a high seed last year, but had a tremendous run through the tournament, coming out on top in close matches to win a state crown. Bushey took fifth in the same bracket, but his dominance this year has vaulted him into some national rankings and to the top of our polls. That's why we've given him a slight edge, but we'll see what happens under the spotlight.
Returning NYS Placers: Geno Brancati (Hudson Falls, 2), Triston Engle (Dolgeville, 3), Jacob Woolson (Mexico, 3), Ryan Marszal (Unatego, 4)
Returning NYS Qualifiers:
Ian Chedzoy (Watkins Glen, 4), Kevin Morgans (Eldred-Liberty-Fallsburg, 9)
Right Off the Bat: Alex Kelly of Cattauragus had a strong season last year, with losses only to 2014 state placers Kyle Ross of Falconer and Alex Smythe of Eden. He followed up with a successful senior campaign in which he won over 40 times. He'll take on another 12th grader making his Albany debut, Garrett Wright of Hoosick Falls, an athletic foe who also serves as his school's quarterback. It should be an interesting opener for some under-the-radar wrestlers.
Keep an Eye On: Kevin Morgans of Eldred-Liberty-Fallsburg and Ian Chedzoy of Watkins Glen are both back in Albany for the second straight year.
There are some heavy hitters at this weight, with four returning placers. Ryan Marszal of Unatego, Triston Engle of Dolgeville, Jacob Woolson of Mexico and Geno Brancati of Hudson Falls were second, third, fourth and sixth, respectively, at 170 a year ago. We've had Marszal and Engle as our top two ranked small school wrestlers at this weight for quite some time. We aren't looking back now.
Returning NYS Placers: Nathanael Rose (Eagle Academy, P)
Returning NYS Qualifiers: Adam Goode (Mattituck, 11)
Right Off the Bat: Jack Buell of Sherburne-Earlville has been outstanding, including a third place showing at the Eastern States. He'll take on Bryce Dusold, one of three Dusold brothers to qualify for the state tournament, who will be on the hunt for points to support Locust Valley's bid to repeat as Division 2 team champions.
Speaking of Buell, he's taken the mat against Unatego's Riley Hanrahan this year four times, with two wins. Hanrahan has no other losses and we could be treated to bout #5 if both reach the semis. You can't count out some of the others on the bottom part of the bracket, however, including Dolgeville senior Kasey Foster, who had a one-point loss to Buell early in the season.
Ricardo Dawkins of General Brown has put together an excellent year, including fourth at the Eastern States and will see returning qualifier Adam Goode of Mattituck in round one.
Keep An Eye On: Phil Wilshire of Attica topped Dylan Royce of Warsaw at the SuperSectionals and we look forward to seeing what they can do in their first Albany appearances.
The wrestler to beat is clear. The best 195 pounder overall in NYS this year has been Nathanael Rose of Eagle Academy. Can he become the first ever PSAL wrestler to win two state titles? We say yes.
Returning NYS Placers: William Hilliard (Phoenix, 3), Garrett Duvall (Sherburne-Earlville, 3), Miguel Perez (Eagle Academy, P)
Returning NYS Qualifiers:
Tyler Hall (East Aurora, 6), Paul Herrea (Saranac, 7), Spencer Matthaei (Locust Valley, 8), Aaron McEathron (Gouverneur, 10)
Right Off the Bat: In our last rankings, we had Phoenix's Will Hilliard and Oxford's Garyn Huntley both in the top four for Division 2. We could see both on the medal stand, but one will start with a loss as they meet in the opening round. Two other wrestlers we're high on - Elijah Sampo of Canastota and Aaron Mann of Warsaw - will also tangle right away.
Keep an Eye On: Miguel Perez of Eagle Academy earned All-State honors a year ago, while Paul Herrea of Saranac was just one win short of doing the same. We've mentioned Zach Gifford of Deposit and Todd Brockuizen of Palmyra Macedon in our rankings discussions during the campaign.
We had Will Hilliard as our top Division 2 wrestler in this class for much of the season, however, he dropped an overtime contest to returning third placer Garrett Duvall of Sherburne-Earlville in the Section 3 finals. Could there be a rematch for gold? Perhaps, but look out for East Aurora's Tyler Hall. The 2014 qualifier and University of Pennsylvania recruit became the single-season pins leader in Section 6 this year. In close to 45 matches, only two opponents have taken the mat against him and not gotten pinned -- and those ended in a major and technical fall. He could certainly make a finals run.
Returning NYS Placers: Austin Dean (Sidney, 4)
Right off the Bat: Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George's Tyler VandenBogaard picked up an at large bid and then the #4 seed after a strong season in which he placed at the Eastern States Classic and faced a number of quality foes. He'll see another in the first round as he takes on Peter Strassfield of Southampton, a 2013 NYS qualifier, who defeated Division 1 Section 11 champion Sean Dee during a 30-win campaign. Whoever comes out on top is a threat to go far.
Keep an Eye On: In a bracket which features only two wrestlers who have been on the Times Union Center mats before, it's unclear who will embrace the atmosphere and make a run. Section 6 has three competitors in the bracket. Dunkirk's Nick Jones impressed last year as a freshman, finishing as the runner up at his state qualifier. He's had some good battles with Jeff Andrews of Randolph of Laith Alsous of Lewiston Porter. Alsous captured the Section 6 crown and has been on a roll. Jordan Keys of Salem handed the previously discussed VandenBogaard losses three straight times and will be formidable, as will Herkimer senior Dan Appley (who has not lost at 285).
Austin Dean of Sidney is the lone returning medalist from 2014 at heavyweight. He wrestled one of the most memorable matches at last year's tournament in the semifinals in a 14-13 loss to eventual undefeated state champion (and current Binghamton Bearcat) Connor Calkins. Dean has cruised through the season and we'll say his experience makes the difference on Saturday.
Section 3 took the team title a year ago and looks to be in solid position to repeat, with close to 20 at large selections and six #1 seeds (along with more than 10 others slotted in the number two or three spots in the bracket).
Locust Valley won the Division 2 team title in 2014 and the Falcons are back with nine representatives competing at the Times Union Center. That includes three wrestlers who have been state finalists in the past - Hunter Dusold, Nick Casella and Jonathan Gomez, as well as 2014 third placer Sam Ward. All of those grapplers will be in the mix at their weights. In addition, Bryan Coll (2013), Mike Dusold and Spencer Matthaei have taken the mat in the state capital before, while Kevin Jackson and Bryce Dusold will be making their debuts. With both quality and quantity, this is a team that should put a lot of wrestlers on the medal stand.
That's true of a few other squads that we expect to be in the running as well, including Warsaw. The Section 5 school qualified eight wrestlers, three of whom have earned All-State accolades before (Colin Royce, Corey Farrell and Aaron Paddock). In addition, Dylan Walker and Josh Griffith experienced the state tournament a year ago and could do some damage, along with Sam Wolf (99) and a pair of tough upperweights, Dylan Royce (195) and Aaron Mann (220).
Bringing seven wrestlers to the tournament is Maple Grove, including three who placed in 2014 - Brad Bihler, Ryan Hetrick and Howie Nolan - along with AJ Putt, Shane Hetrick, Jed Micek and Brian Westerdahl.
While Mexico doesn't have as many wrestlers in the field, the Tigers will be in the thick of things with some high powered wrestlers capable of winning it all. Trevor Allard grabbed gold in 2014 and will look to finish his career as a two-time state champ, while Theo Powers and Jacob Woolson look to move up from third and fourth place finishes, respectively. Meanwhile, Austin Whitney has been among the top 145-pounders all year, while Austin O'Reilly recently took second in a deep Section 3 bracket.
What are some of the other teams in the mix? Norwich boasts the dynamic duo of Tristan Rifanburg and Frank Garcia, along with first-time qualifier Cole Rifanburg, while some other squads also have a pair of top two seeds - Alex Herringshaw and Hunter Richard for the Holland Patent, Jack Buell and Garrett Duvall of Sherburne-Earlville and Derek Spann and Ryan O'Rourke for Adirondack. (Plus Adirondack brings Joe Hennessey and Kierstan Armstrong to the table as well).
We're watching Unatego (Ryan Marszal, Riley Hanrahan and Austin Ryan) and Mattituck (Jack Bokina, James Hoeg, Tanner Zagarino and Adam Goode) closely as well. And some others mentioned in your prediction contest responses include Port Jefferson, Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George, Alexander, Palmyra Macedon, Phoenix, Wayne, Eagle Academy, Lansing, Island Trees, VVS and Peru.
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