From LoHud Wrestling Blog.
Posted by Vincent Mercogliano on 02 December 2013, 6:51 pm
In exercise that I try to do before every season, I’ve gone through both divisions to identify who the contenders, sleepers and favorites are in each. This is my way of forecasting how I think the season might turn out, using my knowledge of the talent that every team in the section has coming back. I’m sure I’ll be off with some of my predictions, but I’m also confident that many of the teams that I’m listing will have strong seasons.
The Champ –
Nanuet: The Golden Knights have built a dynasty with three straight titles coming into this season, but this will be their toughest test yet. The core that was largely responsible for those titles have graduated, leaving coach Carmine Serra with 10 spots to fill—or, two-thirds of his lineup. That includes each of his three All-State wrestlers, so it’s probably fair to say that the era of dominance is over at Nanuet. With that being said, this team will still be in the mix. No D2 program has been able to consistently produce new talent like the Golden Knights, and they have capable wrestlers ready to fill most of those vacancies. They won’t have as much leeway this season, but if things break their way, a four-peat isn’t out of the question.
The Favorite –
Putnam Valley: As I wrote in yesterday’s post with our new poll, there really is no clear favorite in D2. But considering the Tigers’ trend—taking third place in 2011 and second last year—coupled with the fact that they bring back more All-Section wrestlers than Nanuet, I think they’re as safe of a bet as any. Put Valley returns three section finalists to a team that seems to get better every year, so the talent is there on paper. Now, the key for the Tigers will be to avoid reading things like this and focus on the task at hand. If they stay the course, a title could very well be theirs.
The Contender –
Edgemont: For the first two years of Nanuet’s run, it was the Panthers who were the top challenger for the title. They took second in 2010 and 2011, but fell behind Putnam Valley last year when a couple of their top wrestlers were upset at sectionals. Edgemont loses a few key guys—most notably state champ Trey Aslanian—but brings back a bigger portion of its lineup than Nanuet does. At this point, you have to rank the Panthers slightly behind a Putnam Valley team that finished higher last season, but it’s pretty darn close. If they get a better showing from some of their section title hopefuls this time around, this could be the year that Edgemont gets it done.
The Sleeper –
Pleasantville: The Panthers were the last team to win a D2 championship besides Nanuet back in 2009, and after a couple of down years in between, they appear to be ready to vie for a title once again. Pleasantville returns both of its section champs—James Bathon and Stephen Paternostro—from last season’s team, which took fourth overall. That suggests that the Panthers could make a jump, which jumbles the section title picture even more so. I see this as a four-team race, and I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the four teams that I’ve identified take home the hardware.
Others to watch: Croton-Harmon, Irvington, Pawling