By Vince Mercoglia
Guess what Division 2 fans? There’s a new team coming in to crash the party this season, and it just might be the new favorite. Pearl River is dropping down to D2 after years in D1, where it was a top 10 team last season. The Pirates graduated John Muldoon, who was the face of the program for the last few years, but return a handful of wrestlers who should compete for D2 titles, particularly among their lightweights. When you factor in Edgemont, Nanuet, Pleasantville and defending champ Putnam Valley, it looks like D2 just got a whole lot deeper and should have a formidable top five.
Here are the responses that I received from coach Grier Yorks, who is entering his 21st season as head coach and 31st with the program:
How did your team do last season? The Pirate Matmen had a record of 16-6 last year and we placed 8th in the large school sectionals despite some key injuries.
Who are your top returning wrestlers? We have several wrestlers who will be contenders for a small school sectional title and a couple who could place at states. These wrestlers are: James Kelly (120 lbs), Sean McGarvey (99 lbs), Jake Kurzhals (132 lbs), Dylan Urban (106 lbs), Jack Chesman (138 lbs), Anthony Malfitano (145 lbs) and Jack Arnold (195 lbs)
Who are the top wrestlers that you lost at graduation? We lost some real good seniors highlighted by John Muldoon (fifth in NYS; currectly wrestling at SIUE; D1 college program), Rob Gullo (2 x all section), Nick Simeti (currently wrestling at Plymouth St.; D3 college), Bryan Kondracki and Dave Avery.
What is the biggest strength of your lineup? We are very strong in the lightweights and very weak in the heavyweights.
What is you main area of concern entering the season? I am quite concerned with filling out lineup in the last six weights. We may have some forfeits and/or very green freshman in those classes.
What did your team do to make progress in the off-season? Several wrestlers went to camps this summer and several have club wrestling programs throughout the year. Some guys competed with those clubs in tough competition and did very well.
Which team(s) is your biggest rival? Our two big rivals are Nanuet and Tappan Zee. We have the “Battle of the Belt” with Nanuet. Coach Peter Dene of TZ is a former Pirate Wrestler, which makes us friendly rivals.
Will you host any tournaments this season? We host the PR/O’Connell tourney every year. The date this year is Monday, December 29th.
How would you assess the state of your program? We are in a building year as we will have at least half of our weight classes filled with freshman and eighth graders. We only have two returning seniors and two returning juniors. We will have a team that can compete with anyone from 99-145 lbs, but we will have problems beating anyone with a full lineup. We will have a good tournament team and should be in the top 4 in the Division 2 sectionals.