As soon as the seeds for the Section 1 Championships come out each year, the first thing that everyone wants to do is fill out their brackets.
I’m no different.
Tomorrow, I’ll take a crack at making my predictions for the Division 1 (large school) tournament. But since the Division 2 (small school) tourney will begin a day earlier, we’ll start out with that.
Before I get to which individuals I’m taking in each weight class, I did want to briefly address the team race. In each of the last two seasons, Pearl River and Putnam Valley have been neck-and-neck for the title. In 2015, Put Valley won by just nine points. And in 2016, Pearl River returned the favor with a 9.5-point victory. For the third straight year, I’m expecting the margin of victory to be razor thin.
Overall, I believe that Pearl River has a slight advantage in terms of depth, which explains why the Pirates won the dual meet title in December. But as you’ll see in my predictions, I have five Put Valley wrestlers winning titles compared to three for Pearl River. That alone might not make the difference, but the Tigers tend to have a few guys come out of nowhere at this time of year. For that reason, I’m taking Putnam Valley to win the championship by just a hair. But quite honestly, it’s looking like a total coin flip.
All right, now let’s get down to it. I’ve listed which wrestlers I think will reach the semifinals and my predicted results from that point forward. As always, I encourage everyone to voice their own opinions but keep it classy. And if I’m wrong, I fully expect you to let me have it.
No. 1 Jerome Scott (Pawling) over No. 5 Chris DiModugno (Nanuet)
No. 6 Alex Santana (Pawling) over No. 2 Michael Balducci (Pleasantville)
Santana over Scott
Thoughts — Don’t let Santana’s seed fool you. He’s the only wrestler in this bracket who has previously placed at sectionals and beat Scott with an 8-0 major decision at the Edgemont Tournament.
No. 1 Len Balducci (Pleasantville) over No. 4 Hunter Lundberg (Putnam Valley)
No. 2 Owen McDonald (Putnam Valley) over No. 3 Chris MiMeglio (Lourdes)
Balducci over McDonald
Thoughts — I don’t see anyone touching Balducci in this bracket. He’s been the favorite from start to finish, which includes a 15-0 technical fall over McDonald on Jan. 19.
No. 1 Mikey Bruno (Putnam Valley) over No. 4 Brian Roberts (Pearl River)
No. 2 Akif Ahmad (Nanuet) over No. 3 Joel Andrade (Irvington)
Bruno over Ahmad
Thoughts — Although Bruno has yet to wrestle a much-improved Ahmad this season, I don’t see an upset coming. Bruno is a two-time section champ with an excellent chance to pick up No. 3.
No. 1 Victor Perlleshi (Pleasantville) over No. 4 Carlos DeJesus (Pleasantville)
No. 2 Dante Simeti (Pearl River) over No. 6 Andy Williams (Edgemont)
Perlleshi over Simeti
Thoughts — Perlleshi and Simeti have yet to wrestle this season, but I like the consistency that we’ve seen from the Pleasantville sophomore. He’s had success against some quality D1 guys and has established himself as the guy to beat.
No. 1 Satoshi Abe (Putnam Valley) over No. 4 Cris D’Amelio (Irvington)
No. 3 Noah Fleischman (Pawling) over No. 2 Vlad Sidorenko (Pearl River)
Abe over Fleischman
Thoughts — The Lehigh-bound senior shouldn’t have any trouble winning his third title, especially considering he already has a 13-5 major decision over Fleischman. The semifinal between Sidorenko and Fleischman should be a good one, but it’s really a battle for second place.
No. 1 Jared Eliopoulos (Putnam Valley) over No. 4 Thomas Barsuch (Croton-Harmon)
No. 2 Kyle Sams (Putnam Valley) over No. 3 Dylan Urban (Pearl River)
Eliopoulos over Sams
Thoughts — In regard to the top four seeds, you won’t find a better collection of talent in any other weight class. All four have been section finalists, with Eliopoulos and Sams as defending champs. Eliopoulos was having the best overall season leading up to his knee injury in December, and this will be his first action since. Rust is a concern, but coach Will Carano said he’s looked sharp in practice.
No. 1 Jack Wrobel (Pawling) over No. 4 George Mellor (Edgemont)
No. 3 Dylan Mateo (Nanuet) over No. 2 Nicholas Meglino (Edgemont)
Wrobel over Mateo
Thoughts — Eliopoulos’ decision to drop down to 132 opens things up here, while Mateo’s decision to wrestle at 138 adds some intrigue. Mateo is a two-time section finalist who hasn’t wrestled since early January due to injury, but word is that he’s ready to go. I like his chances to get to the final, but Wrobel has taken his game to another level this season and will be difficult to stop.
No. 1 Jack Chesman (Pearl River) over No. 4 Doug Crocitto (Pleasantville)
No. 2 Carmine Pedoto (Pawling) over No. 6 Dean Appell (Putnam Valley)
Chesman over Pedoto
Thoughts — I’m expecting dominance from most of the No. 1 seeds, particularly from this weight up through 182 (excluding maybe 160). Chesman won a title as an eighth-grader before a scary incident in last year’s final in which he was dropped on his head and had to injury default. You can bet he’s ultra-motivated to get back to Albany.
No. 1 Sean McGarvey (Pearl River) over No. 4 Nathan Parker (Croton-Harmon)
No. 2 Greg May (Pleasantville) over No. 6 Ken Rogen (Lourdes)
McGarvey over May
Thoughts — McGarvey’s ideal weight is probably 145, but he’s competing at 152 to avoid a clash with his teammate Chesman. That may hurt him at states, but it shouldn’t at sectionals. He’s poised to win his third title.
No. 1 Paul Bellucci (Pawling) over No. 5 Jeremiah Reeve (Hastings)
No. 2 Robbie Velichko (Putnam Valley) over No. 3 Karl Burnich (Nanuet)
Velichko over Bellucci
Thoughts — This was one of the more difficult picks to make because Bellucci, Velichko and Burnich haven’t wrestled each other and have similar resumes. In the end, I’m giving Velichko a slight edge because he’s shown a tendency to peak at the right time with a third-place finish last year.
No. 1 Anthony Malfitano (Pearl River) over No. 4 Brendan Stierli (Croton-Harmon)
No. 2 Matt Kuhlmann (Pawling) over No. 3 Nate Moncy (Nanuet)
Malfitano over Kuhlmann
Thoughts — Kuhlmann has had a very solid varsity career and probably would have been the favorite at 160, but Malfitano would be tough to pick against. He’s a defending section champ who placed sixth in the state last year. I can’t see him being denied.
No. 1 Cliffton Wang (Edgemont) over No. 5 Jaydan Kammer (Pleasantville)
No. 2 Henry Cunniffe (Pleasantville) over No. 6 Michael Schwartz (Edgemont)
Wang over Cunniffe
Thoughts — Pound-for-pound, Wang is probably the best local wrestler in the D2 ranks. He should win his fourth section title and be a major force at states. Cunniffe could be making his third appearance in the finals, which would give him a solid shot at a wild card, but he always runs into very tough competitors.
No. 1 Eoghan Murphy (Hastings) over No. 4 Brett Giannantonio (Pawling)
No. 2 Greg Hart (Hastings) over No. 3 Aaron Lopez (Croton-Harmon)
Murphy over Hart
Thoughts — Nanuet senior Connor Breit was supposed to be the guy here, but him being out opens things up considerably. It should come down to the two Hastings teammates, with Murphy being the more consistent wrestler this season.
No. 1 Chris Colombo (Croton-Harmon) over No. 4 Gannon Duffy (Pearl River)
No. 2 Jesse Fleming (North Salem) over No. 3 James Bellucci (Pawling)
Colombo over Fleming
Thoughts — Even though both Colombo and Fleming appear to have enough weigh-ins to compete at 195, it seems that they each decided to wrestle here before they heard about Breit’s injury. Either would have been the favorite at 195, but now they’ll battle here. Considering Colombo already pinned Fleming this season, he’s the pick.
No. 1 Constantine George (Putnam Valley) over No. 4 Surmed Khan (Edgemont)
No. 2 Tyler DiLorenzo (Pearl River) over No. 3 Lou Russo (Edgemont)
George over DiLorenzo
Thoughts — It’s a shame that there are only four wrestlers in this bracket, but the final should be a good one. George was a section champ in 2015 before taking last year off. In his absence, DiLorenzo won his first title last year, but he was pinned by George earlier this season.