Getting Close to That First Whistle: Division II State Tournament Preview

 
 
First, we will be doing a LIVE BLOG of the tournament, starting Friday morning. To access the blog, see here: LIVE BLOG link

Here are some weight class by weight class thoughts on the upcoming Division II state tournament in Albany. For our Division I Preview, see this link.

99 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Andrew Flanagan, Holley (Fourth at 99)

Hunter O’Lena of East Rochester sits on the top line after winning the SuperSectionals, including a victory over the favorite, returning placer Andrew Flanagan of Holley. O’Lena has a 30-4 mark in his freshman campaign. While Flanagan is the only medalist back in this bracket, there are some repeat entrants, including Tanner Lapiene of Ogdensburg, who has put together a 31-3 season, including a trio of victories against Division I qualifier Ryan Brown of Canton. The four wrestlers that make up the second grouping in the top half of the bracket, Dean Raymond, Matteo Devincenzo, James Bathon and Ryan Hetrick sport an impressive combined record of 148 wins and four losses (all have just one setback).

Flanagan sits in the #2 position following a 47-3 record, including a fourth place finish at the Eastern States Classic (where he sustained two of his losses and had some quality wins). One of the competitors to watch for in the bottom half is Adirondack’s Derek Spann, who has piled up solid victories in a season with over 40 triumphs. He defeated Danny Fox, the second seed at 106 and fellow qualifier Theo Powers. Speaking of Powers, he has looked strong throughout the year, including a win over Section 6 champion at 106 Ryan Burns. Also back in 2013 is the PSAL’s Dolan McColgan, who makes another appearance in Albany after a 35-1 campaign and a win in the state capital in 2012.

So . . . Flanagan is the only senior in the field and the only returning placer. We think that will matter as he claims a championship over Hetrick.

106 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Luis Weirebach, Hoosick Falls (Fifth at 99)

Weirebach took fifth at the state tournament last year and followed up with an unblemished record in 2012-13. The Section 2 wrestler pinned qualifier Nico Riccio twice and registered an impressive win over Eastern States medalist Golan Cohen of Colonie. Another grappler making his return to the state capital is Locust Valley’s Hunter Dusold, now an eighth grader. Also keep an eye on the fourth seed, Austin Trombley of Northern Adirondack, who has a win over Section 4 champion Chris Cirigliano.

Cirigliano topped Joe Rorick of Odessa-Montour to take the Sectional crown, the only loss Rorick endured all year. Rorick will look to get back on the winning track when he faces the PSAL’s Alpha Diallo in Round 1, with the winner of that one possibly facing number two seed Danny Fox of Dolgeville, a wrestler who is 35-2 with a 1-0 victory over Ryan O’Rourke in the Section 3 championship. We had O’Rourke ranked in the top 8 in the Empire State at 99 and think he has the potential to make a run at Saturday night. Also look out for the Section 5 duo of Tyler Hamsher and Jason Charlette.

So . . . A year after finishing fifth, Weirebach will be adding a first place finish to his resume.

113 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Cheick Ndiaye, Brooklyn International (Second at 106)
Nick Casella, Locust Valley (Second at 99)
Dillon Stowell, Gouverneur (Fourth at 113)
Andrew Marra, Olean (Fourth at 106)
Corey Hollister, Perry (Fifth at 106)
Austin Keough, Warsaw (Sixth at 113)

Cheick Ndiaye was the first PSAL wrestler to reach the state finals, when he wrestled Lucas Malmberg in the 106-pound title match last year. He’s hoping to be the first champion in a few days and will begin that quest against Matt Morris of Albany Academy. The Section 2 representative is 41-1 with 25 pins, with his only loss coming by a point to Corey Ali of Shenendehowa.

In addition to Ndiaye, the top portion of the bracket includes returning placers Drew Marra of Olean and Nick Casella of Locust Valley. While Andrew Shomers of Lewiston Porter wasn’t a medalist a year ago, he is someone to watch as he has beaten All-Staters such as Marra (multiple times) and Anthony Orefice this year. His sole setback came at the hands of Austin Keough, 3-2.

Speaking of Keough, he received the #3 seed. He is familiar with Ndiaye as they split a pair of matches at the Eastern States. The Warsaw wrestler is also acquainted with fellow Section 5 wrestler Corey Hollister of Perry, who resides in the lower half. (Perry is 1-2 against Keough and those are his only losses). Keough also is no stranger to Gouverneur’s Dillon Stowell. Both have been prominent forces at the state tournament for years, finishing in the top three in 2010 and the top four in 2011. Last season, Stowell received an injury default from Keough as both made the medal stand at 113. And at the Eastern States, the pair clashed in the semifinals, with Stowell picking up a 4-2 win in sudden victory. We see a high likelihood of another match between them on Saturday.

So . . . We think Stowell is the wrestler to beat given the way he has competed all year long.

120 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Sean Peacock, Midlakes (Champion at 113)
Trey Aslanian, Edgemont (Second at 113)

This is a battled-tested group. At least 10 of the participants were on the mat in Albany last year. On the top half, that includes returning state champion Sean Peacock of Midlakes and Nanuet’s Anthony Calvano. Both wrestlers competed at the Eastern States and neither made the podium, but it would be surprising if the same happened at the Times Union Center. Peacock has 30 pins this year and a 45-3 mark. Calvano is 35-4 with quality wins over the #1 and #2 seeds in Division I, Steve Michel and John Muldoon. A semifinal between the two, should they both get there, would be intriguing.

On the bottom half, the wrestler who beat Calvano for the Section 1 crown, Trey Aslanian, sits as the second seed. The Princeton-bound grappler lost a pair of matches at Eastern States but is unbeaten otherwise. He is among the wrestlers in the lower half of the bracket returning to action at the Times Union Center, along with Nate Hayes of Windsor, Carter Merecki of Salem and Kellen Devlin of Amherst. Devlin is someone we’ll be keeping close tabs on as he is capable of going very far in this tournament. His only two setbacks this year were one-pointers against the previously mentioned Michel.

So . . . Aslanian has taken runner up honors at this event the past two years, including against Peacock in 2012. It’s his last shot at a title and we think he’ll take advantage.

126 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
William Koll, Lansing (Third at 113)
Ryan Snow, General Brown (Third at 106)
Dakota Gardner, Fredonia (Sixth at 120)

Koll, Photo by BV

William Koll has registered a 38-3 mark with quality wins over Sectional champions Mike Raccioppi and Jacob Green as well a championship at the prestigious King of the Mountain tournament in Pennsylvania. He’ll begin his journey on Friday with Majed Mohamed of Lackawanna. The two met in the semifinals back in 2011, when Koll won and went on to capture a state title at 103.

An interesting potential bout in the quarters on the top half could be between Brandon Muntz of Falconer and Nick Forget of Peru. Muntz avenged one of his two losses in the Section 6 title match and has over 40 wins. Forget has an impressive win over the #2 seed in Division I (at 132) Brandon Lapi, and has beaten Antonio DeLuco and John Diekel as well. Both Muntz and Forget could be on the medal stand.

In addition to Mohamed, Koll defeated Laken Cook during his championship run a few years back. Cook is the number two seed in the bracket after an undefeated campaign in which he has registered triumphs against Forget, Diekel, DeLuco, Ryan Snow and Alex Herringshaw. He could meet Jake Nicholson of Waterloo in his second match, a wrestler who is 39-1 with his sole loss coming against the Division I top seed, Steve Michel, by two points. Among the other formidable wrestlers on the bottom half are General Brown’s Ryan Snow, who is no stranger to the podium and Dakota Gardner of Fredonia, a sixth placer a year ago as an eighth grader. The Section 6 freshman opens with Cortland’s Zach Alexander, who has put together a 45-win campaign.

So . . . William Koll of Lansing won the state title as a freshman in 2011. After a bronze showing last year, we think he once again stands on top of the podium.

132 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowoga (Second at 126)
Tristan Rifanburg, Norwich (Sixth at 126)
Zach Ayen, Gouverneur (Fifth at 120)
Alex Herringshaw, Holland Patent (Sixth at 99)

Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer wasn’t a top four seed last year, but he left as one of the more talked about wrestlers in the Division II tournament as he went all the way to the finals. He enters this year’s event with a perfect record with only three regular decisions, the closest of which was a five-point victory. He’ll see another wrestler who is accustomed to success in the first round. Pavilion’s Jake Sepor has a single loss in 2012-13. Right underneath those two in the bracket is an interesting first round tilt between returning placer Zach Ayen of Gouverneur and the wrestler who defeated Sepor – Clyde Carey of Addison. Despite competing with a significant injury in Albany in 2012, Carey won multiple matches. He and Ayen are both medal contenders.

Another Section 6 wrestler who resides on the top half of the bracket, Tyler Cassidy of Fredonia, put together a strong season which featured multiple victories over All-Stater Cody McGregor as well as over Ryan Kromer.

But Kromer got revenge for that setback in mid February and the Lewiston Porter grappler is the third seed at this weight. He’ll begin by facing a returning medalist, Alex Herringshaw of Holland Patent.

A wrestler with the potential to be real threat in this class is Locust Valley’s Sam Ward. In a 35-2 campaign, Ward has topped highly regarded wrestlers such as Conor O’Hara of Sachem East and Vinny Turano of Wantagh. In fact, his victory over Turano in mid January is the last time he won a bout by regular decision. Since then, he has racked up nine wins – all by technical fall or pin (and a forfeit). His losses were by a point to the top seed in Division I, Matt Leshinger, and in sudden victory to Jake DiMarsico of North Rockland.

Jon Crast of South Jefferson has rebounded from a past surgery to have a strong senior campaign. He won the Section 3 crown from the #4 spot in the bracket. If he were to advance to the quarterfinals, there’s a good chance he would see two-time New York finalist (and three-time placer) Tristan Rifanburg of Norwich who won the prestigious Eastern States title and is undefeated with 19 pins.

So . . . In last year’s Round of 8 at 126 pounds, Rodriguez-Spencer and Rifanburg put on a show in a match that was won by the Cheektowoga wrestler, 8-6 in overtime. We’ve had the pair at #1 and #2 in our recent state rankings and we expect another classic clash that could go extra time like the last meeting did — perhaps with the same result.

138 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers
Nick Tighe, Phoenix (Champion at 126)
Connor Lapresi, Lansing (Champion at 132)
Dan Reagan, Lewiston Porter (Fourth at 138)

Tighe, Photo by BV

Nick Tighe and Albany seem to be a pretty good combination. Over the past three state tournaments, the Phoenix senior has recorded five pins, a technical fall, two majors and, most importantly two state titles and a fifth place finish at the Times Union Center. Some one-loss wrestlers sit on the top half with Tighe, including Palmyra Macedon’s Taylor Jones, whose only setback in a 47-1 year was to Tighe and Mineola’s Matt Long, who, according to the NWCA Scorebook dropped his first contest of the campaign and has been on a winning streak since. A few wrestlers familiar with Tighe, fellow Section 3 grappler Todd Stevens of Holland Patent and Whitehall’s John Diekel (who faced Tighe in the fifth place match back in 2010), are also in the upper bracket. Diekel’s opponent in the Section 2 Sectional final, Sean Romanski of Albany Academy, is the fourth seed after a 40-3 year.

Tighe isn’t the only state champion in the field. Lansing’s Connor Lapresi won it all at 132 last season and is looking for another title before heading off to Bucknell. Among those mounting challenges in the lower half could be state tournament regular Drew Longo of Ardsley, who was a finalist a few years back, Peru’s Jordan Bushey, and Lewiston Porter’s Dan Reagan, who took fourth at this weight last February. Reagan dropped a decision to the 145-pound top seed Drew Hull in early December up at 152, but has done nothing but get his hand raised since.

So . . . Upstate fans were excited about the prospect of a Tighe vs. Lapresi semifinal at the Eastern States, but it didn’t happen (at least on the mat) due to a forfeit. This time, we think the match between champions will happen, with Tighe picking up his third straight on the way to Binghamton.

145 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Drew Hull, Royalton Hartland (Second at 145)
Jude Gardner, Fredonia (Sixth at 138)

Drew Hull, last year’s silver medalist in this class, is unblemished thus far in 38 matches. One wrestler he has seen a lot of is Fredonia’s Jude Gardner, also a returning medalist. Hull has topped his fellow Section 6 grappler three times in 2012-13 – the first by fall and the last two by slim 1-0 margins. (Those are Gardner’s only losses). The way the field is set up, the pair could square off again in the semis. But let’s not look that far ahead considering some of the experienced grapplers in the way. Codie Gillette of Saranac and Austin Hedges of Letchworth are familiar with the Times Union Center. Gillette came within one win of placing last year. One of the darkhorses who could do some damage is Whitney Point freshman Jordan Torbitt. In his 39-2 campaign, Torbitt has some very solid wins, including splitting with qualifiers Trevor Hoffmier of Newark Valley and Frank Garcia of Norwich.

Garcia is the #2 seed in the bracket. He responded to a 7-0 setback against Torbitt in early February with a 2-1 victory in the Section 4 final. Garcia was one win shy of making the medal stand in 2012 and despite battling some injuries for a portion of the campaign, has followed up with a strong season, including a podium spot at the Eastern States. Garcia’s first challenge will be Locust Valley’s Mike Dusold, who has over 30 wins. After appearances last year, a number of wrestlers, such as Matt Dillon of Nanuet and Ryan Hake of Bayport Blue Point, are looking to pick up a few more victories. In addition to Garcia, upstate is well represented in the bottom half with Nick Koelmel, who is undefeated this season, as well as the wrestler Koelmel beat for the Section 3 title, Mexico’s CJ Loomis. In addition, Codie Nichols of Unatego from Section 4 will try to make an impact.

So . . . Hull fell 6-5 in the 2012 title bout at this weight to Tyler Button of Phoenix. With that experience fresh in his mind, he finishes one spot higher in his last high school bout.

152 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers: None

One of the most anticipated matches of the Section 3 tournament was the title bout between Phoenix’s Rowdy Prior and Adirondack’s Tyler Spann. Last year, Spann defeated Prior at that event and made it to the state tournament. However, a few weeks ago, the pair met again and after Spann got out to an early lead, Prior did what he does so often – get the fall.

Other than Spann, a few other wrestlers in the top part of the bracket have wrestled in the state capital before, including Irvington’s Brett Pastore, who went 1-2 a year ago. Keep an eye out for Alex Smythe of Eden who wasn’t at the Times Union Center in 2012, but was previously. He has put together a very solid season at 42-2. Two Section 5 competitors will meet right away, as Max Lloyd of Palmyra Macedon and Dan Woughter of Alfred Almond battle in Round 1.

While the #1 and #4 seeds went to Section 3’s Prior and Spann, the #2 and #3 spots went to Section 4 wrestlers. Section 4 was well represented at this weight last year by a fourth place finish by Greene’s Dan Dickman.  This year, Unatego’s Kevin Thayer defeated Dickman in an exciting 18-16 bout at the Section championships. Thayer is 35-3 with two of his losses coming to Kyle Halladay of Chenango Valley (the #2 seed), whose only setback was at 170 pounds. Another wrestler with a single ‘L’ is Trey Duvall of Addison who beat Lloyd and Woughter to take the SuperSectionals. Not to be overlooked is Connor Lawrence, who is back at the Times Union Center for Duanesburg.

So . . . Another Prior vs. Spann bout would be worth the price of admission. While we had Spann ranked higher for most of the season, Prior has shown his ability to compete with and beat top competition this year. At Eastern States, where he took second, he beat Dan DeCarlo and Zach Joseph, among others. We think the winner of that bout will take the title and for now, we vote Prior.

160 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:

Burke Paddock, Warsaw (Third at 170)

Tyler Silverthorn, General Brown (Sixth at 160)

Paddock, Photo by Josh Conklin

Burke Paddock is the state’s top ranked wrestler at this weight and the favorite to add another title to his family’s trophy case. In the quarters, he could face the athletic Jordan Formicola of Locust Valley, who is 25-4 with one-point losses to Chris Koo of Great Neck South and 2012 qualifier Dan Tracy of Mepham. Another potential Round of 8 pairing, should they advance, would be between a pair of Eastern States placers, Austin Weigel of Onteora and Mike Beckwith of Greene. Weigel came within one bout of a medal a year ago and gave Paddock his closest match this year in a 1-0 decision at SUNY Sullivan. Paddock also topped Beckwith in Loch Sheldrake, by a 7-0 score.

There are some very dangerous wrestlers in the bottom half. Tom Confer, the number two seed, defeated returning sixth placer Tyler Silverthorn (the #3 seed) of General Brown early in the season. However, a potential quarterfinal opponent for Confer could be Oneida’s Matt Fisher. Fisher, who went 1-2 in Albany last year with both losses by a point, has five victories over Confer this season (and one sudden victory loss to the Camden grappler). It’s hard to believe that they could meet for the seventh time in one season.

An opening round win for Silverthorn would mean a bout with either Gunner Van Curen of Portville, who lost twice in late November (to Confer and Paddock) and then won the rest of the way or Schalmont’s Nick Gallo, another Eastern States placer who came within a match of making the medal stand as a freshman in 2012 (and has a win over Fisher). Not any easy group to navigate.

So . . . When we talked to Paddock prior to the season, he admitted that he expected to have a state title under his belt by now. While he took second and third the past two years, he’ll get top billing as a junior.

170 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Troy Seymour, Peru (Fourth at 170)

Christian Dietrich of Greene returns to Albany after missing last season with an injury. The top seed, who placed as a seventh grader at 152, will begin with returning qualifier John Messinger of Putnam Valley, who has over 30 wins. The winner of that one will battle a very solid wrestler – either Mattituck’s Tomasz Filipkowski, who came within one bout of placing last year, or 45-1 Section 3 champion Daniel Smith of South Jefferson.

Mike Green of Cobleskill-Richmondville is the #4 seed after a 41-2 campaign. He could greet Jon Levchuk of Byron Bergen, the winner of a tough SuperSectional bracket, in Round 2.

Green wasn’t the Section 2 titlewinner, as he lost to Geno Brancati of Hudson Falls in the finals, a week after beating him. Brancati was in the state capital last year as a ninth grader and was eliminated by Adis Radoncic of the PSAL. Radoncic, who finished in the top 8 in 2012, could be in Brancati’s path again in 2013.

Additonal returners are Jeff Day of Letchworth and unbeaten Zack Buckley of Fredonia, who tie up in the opening round with the victor potentially squaring off with the 2012 fourth placer at this weight, Troy Seymour of Peru.

So . . . Seymour, the preseason #1 at this weight, lost a tight 3-2 bout to Dietrich at the Eastern States. After taking fourth in New York and second at the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach, the Peru senior tops the freshman to leave high school atop the podium.

182 Pounds:

Returning 2012 State Placers:
Zack Zupan, Canastota (Champion at 170)
Tim Schaefer, Warsaw (Third at 182)
Brad Burns, Hoosick Falls (Sixth at 170)
Andy Martinez, Liberty (Sixth at 182)

Zack Zupan won one of the most challenging brackets at the state tournament last year in either Division. That 170-pound weight included previously undefeated Nick Mitchell of Frewsburg (who recently took third at the Edinboro Open in college) and the previously mentioned Troy Seymour and Burke Paddock. This time, he enters as the clear number one. Austin Lynn of Frewsburg, Tyler Veno of Portville and Gage Bourdeau of Beekmantown are among those who have had solid years on the top side. The favorite to take on Zupan in the semis, however, would likely be Walton’s Mike Beers, a returning state qualifier who has defeated 2012 state placer Andy Martinez of Liberty three times this season.

Martinez sits on the lower half, with a potential quarterfinals meeting looming with Warsaw’s Tim Schaefer, should both advance. Schaefer, a multi-time medalist who took bronze at this weight a year ago, is 50-1. He has seen a number of the foes in this bracket before, including Canisteo-Greenwood’s Derrick Din (three times). Din will open with a possible sleeper in the bracket – Brad Burns of Hoosick Falls, a sixth placer at 170 in 2012. The number three seed is Unatego’s Ryan Marszal, who has topped Beers on multiple occasions.

So . . . Zupan beat Schaefer 5-2 in the finals at Eastern States. We anticipate an exciting sequel but no surprise ending.

195 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Bryce Mazurowski, Avon (Second at 195)
Tyler Smith, Midlakes (Fourth at 195)

Mazurowski, Photo by BV

Bryce Mazurowski went all the way to the finals last year and the Binghamton-bound senior looks to return. There are potential stumbling blocks along the way for the Avon standout, as nearly all of the grapplers in the field have some quality wins. We’re interested in the opening round contest between Jeff Senecal, the fourth seed, and returning qualifier Mark Viviano, who hasn’t lost since mid-December.

Dustin Mackenzie of Onteora is in the field for the second consecutive year. In 2012, his initial bout was against Mazurowski and this time he opens with second seed Hunter Ayen of Gouverneur, who looked very good at the Eastern States and has had a stellar senior season. The winner of that one could face one-loss grappler Matt Booth from Section 6. Tyler Smith of Midlakes earned fourth at this weight in 2012 and hopes to get a little higher on the podium. Look out for Wyatt Albanese, who has beaten (and lost to) Division I seeded wrestler Ben Honis as well as Lane Frost.

So . . . Future Bearcats will be picking up plenty of hardware at the tournament. Mazurowski will contribute by getting his hand raised in his high school finale.

220 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Zack Bacon, Hornell (Second at 220)
Mike Silvis, Holley (Fifth at 220)

Zack Bacon is the returning runner up and is undefeated in his senior campaign. He has some tough opposition on his side of the weight, including Fredonia’s Chris Saden, General Brown’s Corey Gaffney and returning qualifier Luke McKee. And of course, Holley’s Mike Silvis sits in the fourth spot, ready for a possible semifinal battle. Bacon and Silvis met in last year’s state tournament (a decision for Bacon) and again at the SuperSectionals where the Hornell grappler won 1-0.

The other half of the bracket also includes several tough wrestlers. A pair of unbeatens, Waverly’s Ryan Wolcott and Nanuet’s Dan Breit, lead the list. Wolcott upended the top seed in Division I, Nick Lupi, in December at the Windsor Christmas Tournament. Meanwhile, Breit registered numerous quality victories in earning the Eastern States crown (including over Silvis in the championship round). He also has topped at least two wrestlers in the bottom part of the bracket – Dillon Hurlbert and Jesse Corcoran, as well as the second seed in Division I, John Hartnett.

So . . . Bacon has been our #1 ranked wrestler throughout the campaign and has been dominant. But we’re going to say that the battle-tested Breit will repeat the championship performance he showed at Eastern States, after a difficult semifinal battle with Wolcott.

285 Pounds:

Returning 2012 Placers:
Alex Soutiere, Ravena (Second at 285)
Matt Montesanti, Medina (Sixth at 285)

Soutiere, Photo by BV

Alex Soutiere recorded one of the bigger upsets of the Division II tournament last year when he beat Holley’s Kacee Sauer in the semifinals on his way to the silver. He’s back looking for more after a 44-1 season. Windsor’s Matt Abbott also has one loss this season – to Ryan Wolcott of Waverly.

Abbott spent a fair amount of time at 220 this year, as did returning qualifier Matt Acevedo of Pawling. (Nate Sarkin and Elvin Gervacio also competed in this class last season and are back). Acevedo will begin against Section 3’s Wyatt Morris, a 30-4 wrestler who dropped the Sectional final 1-0 against Lowville’s Brandon Fayle. Fayle, the number two seed, finished in the top 8 in Albany a year ago. One of his losses at the Times Union Center was to Medina’s Matt Montesanti, who grabbed sixth place in 2012. The Section 6 competitor is undefeated this year with 19 pins.

So . . . Montesanti topped Fayle 4-3 in their state capital meeting last season. We’ll pick the Medina wrestler to repeat that result and capture victory against Soutiere.

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