Division 1 (large schools)
1. John Jay — With a loaded junior class, the Indians arrived earlier than expected last season to edge Suffern for a sectional title by 3.5 points. Those juniors now form what coach Bill Swertfager called, “The best senior class I’ve ever had.”
2. Suffern — The Mounties and the Indians were neck-and-neck last season, and they remain the clear top two. Suffern also brings back most of its key wrestlers, minus two-time state qualifier Stephen Lauro, but passing John Jay will be a tall order.
3. Arlington — Picking who should be No. 3 was a bit more difficult, with at least five or six teams that will be in the mix. The Admirals took the bronze last season and are always among the deepest teams in the section, which I don’t expect to change anytime soon.
4. Ketcham — The Indians are a prime candidate for a breakout year. They took seventh overall last season without a single senior on the team. Everyone is back and a finish in the top five – maybe even top three – is within reach.
5. Horace Greeley — Another program on the rise, the Quakers were young and very talented last season, which landed them at No. 8 in the final standings at sectionals. Most of their top performers are back, including a rising sophomore in Aaron Wolk and senior big-guy Stephen Nadler.
6. Fox Lane — It’s been three years since the Foxes finished in the top 10, but look for this proud program to snap that streak this season. State finalist Matt Grippi is a known commodity, but there is a lot more to like about a team which might only feature one senior in its starting lineup.
7. New Rochelle — The Huguenots have two obvious section title contenders in senior Jordan Wallace and sophomore Jake Logan, but their depth will be tested. After finishing fourth overall last season, they could slip back a few spots, but this is still a top 10 team.
8. John Jay-East Fishkill — This could be a strong year for Dutchess County, and the Patriots are another reason why. They’ve made a habit of finishing in the top 10. Randy Earl is their leader as an All-State returner and Tyler Albis is another name to watch.
9. Mahopac — This is the exact same spot where the Indians finished last season. Losing the reigning Journal News Westchester/Putnam wrestler of the year Mike DiNardo is a big hit, but the rest of the lineup should remain very competitive.
10. North Rockland — It’s nearly impossible for the Red Raiders to live up to the standards that they set when they won back-to-back championships in 2013 and 2014, but they’re creeping back up. They made it to the final four of the Section 1 Duals last season and should have a strong lineup again.
On the bubble: Brewster, Carmel, East Ramapo, Tappan Zee, Yorktown
Division 2 (small schools)
1. Pearl River — Since coming down to D2 three years ago, the Pirates have forged an exciting rivalry with Putnam Valley. Last season, only 9.5 points separated the two teams in the final standings. It’ll be close again, but as the defending champ, Pearl River gets the early edge.
2. Putnam Valley — With its Big Four of Satoshi Abe, Mikey Bruno, Jared Eliopoulos and Kyle Sams, the Tigers are bringing back a quartet of All-State caliber wrestlers. No team in the section, regardless of school size, can match that.
3. Pleasantville — The Panthers finished well behind Pearl River and Put Valley last season, but they outpaced the rest of the returning field. There is some young talent to be excited about in Pleasantville, namely freshman Len Balducci.
4. Edgemont — In senior Cliffton Wang, the Panthers probably have the best shot at a state champ in D2. The rest of the roster is improving and coach Pete Jacobson expects to fill every weight class for the first time in years.
5. Pawling — We’ve seen steady improvement from the Tigers in recent years, who have a solid group of returners. A top five finish looks like a solid bet, especially if some of their third place finishers from last season break through into the finals.