SCARSDALE – Upsets were few and far between on the first day of the Division 2 (small school) wrestling championships at Edgemont High on Friday. And even in the rare instances when the lower seed prevailed, there wasn’t much to be surprised about.
Edgemont senior Andy Williams was a prime example.
Seeded sixth at 120 pounds, he won a 4-2 decision in overtime against third-seeded Cody Massa of Nanuet in the quarterfinals. But Williams knew there wasn’t much separation between him and the rest of the bracket.
“I’m here to have fun,” Williams said. “I don’t really think about the seedings all that much. I’ve wrestled a few of these guys before, so I know what it’s like. I lost to the No. 1 seed (Pleasantville’s Victor Perlleshi) in overtime two weeks ago, so I know I’m right there.”
Williams was one of only two wrestlers seeded outside of the top five to advance to the semifinals, which will begin at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday back at Edgemont. The other was Pawling freshman Alex Santana at 99 pounds, but his win was even more predictable.
Despite being seeded sixth, Santana is considered the favorite after beating his teammate, top seed Jerome Scott, during the regular season.
“Seed doesn’t matter much to me because if you have a lot of technique, you can win as an underdog,” said Santana, who won his quarterfinal with a 7-3 decision over Aidan Canfield of Ardsley/Dobbs Ferry. “Being seeded first would have been nice, but now I can get some of the tougher matches out of the way earlier.”
The lack of drama on Friday should lead to plenty of it on Saturday.
An argument can be made that the most competitive weight class is 132 pounds, where each of the top four seeds has previously reached the section finals. The top two seeds, Putnam Valley teammates Jared Eliopoulos and Kyle Sams, are defending champs, with Sams having defeated third-seeded Dylan Urban of Pearl River for the title last year.
Sams also beat Urban earlier this season, but the Pirates’ sophomore was anxious for a shot at redemption.
“The semis tomorrow against Sams is going to be a battle,” Urban said. “I’ve gotten my butt kicked a couple of times, but I’m going in there to win. That’s my mindset for all of my matches. If you go in there thinking, ‘I’m going to lose,’ the match is over. You shouldn’t have even stepped on the mat.”
Another weight class without a clear favorite is 160 pounds. The top two seeds, Pawling’s Paul Bellucci and Putnam Valley’s Robbie Velichko, have yet to wrestle, which adds to the uncertainty.
Velichko has been overlooked at times on a team which features five former section champs, but he’ll have a chance to put his name on the map with a title.
“I’ve been wrestling the majority of my life, and things are finally starting to come together at the right time,” the senior said. “I’ve had great people to support me, and I have a great family. I also have great teammates who are almost like my coaches because they’re so talented.”
Most other weight classes have established front-runners, including 113 pounds with Putnam Valley junior Mikey Bruno. But Nanuet senior Akif Ahmad, the No. 2 seed, has come on strong this season and is itching for an opportunity to prove himself.
“Anything can happen,” Ahmad said. “You just have to be better than that guy for one day. I’m confident and I think I can do well. I’m a senior so I want to end in a good way.”