With a clean sweep of the Southern Tier Athletic Conference, Section 4 Dual Meet and Division I Tournament titles, Johnson City re-established itself as the top wrestling team in the area last season.
Now, can the Wildcats stay there?
“I think certainly we have a crew of guys that are going to be pretty good,” JC coach Jordan Glenn said. “We do have a solid core of guys, and there are some youngsters who don’t have a lot of experience.
“Once we get down to weight, we can compete with any team in Section 4.”
Despite some expected starters opting not to wrestle, JC’s roster still features considerable talent and experience, with a quartet of reigning Section 4 champions in three-time state place-winner Reggie Williams (195, 220 pounds), Nick Bidwell (195), Tyler Brazinski (120) and Zach Colgan (182) leading the way. Other notables include Isiah Colgan, Corey McCormick, and Dominic Taylor.
The Wildcats should have their way in the Central Division. Union-Endicott and Vestal, probably the best threats to unseat JC atop STAC, should duel for the Metro Division crown, while Chenango Forks and Elmira seem like the best bets to prevail in the East and West Divisions, respectively.
Union-Endicott brings back considerable talent, led by Section 4 Division I champions Lucas DePofi (220) and Andrew Brinser (285). Sammy Davis (182), a Section 4 runner-up in 2012, returns after missing all but one match due to a broken leg. Mikey Carr (120), Xavian Hughes (132) were Section 4 runners-up last season, and Grant Gannon (106), Zack Bendick (138), Tristan Martin (145), Shalik Napoleon (152), Tahjae Napoleon (160) were all sectional place-winners.
Vestal, STAC runner-up a year ago, returns 10 starters, including Section 4 Division I runner-up David Gardner (182). Other impact returners are Alex Crotsley (126), Dan Brunette (106), Derek Osman (113), Garrett Bleir (120), Zach Reyes (132), Max Kilmer (140), Hunter Beck (145), Robert Mastronardi (152), and Owen Jarrold (160). Newcomers of note are Pat Carlin (220) and Tyler Lane (285).
Maine-Endwell has a nice mix with returning state tournament qualifier Kobe Garrehy (126), former Section 4 champion Brock Post as well as Section 4 Division II place-winners Matt Brozovic (195), Zak Garrehy (145), Kiegan Brown (113), Brady Wisniewski (152). Senior Josh Terboss (220) is also back.
Binghamton will lean on the trio of Nate Hitchcock (138), Daenon Davy (145), and Bruce Holbrook (220).
Susquehanna Valley brings back Ian Lupole (126), who is chasing the school’s all-time victory record, along with a pair of solid upper weights in Tristan Roche (220) and Teddy Storti (195). Seniors Jared Haskell (170) and Austin Tingley (182) return, and coach Jamie Lupole thinks Chris Surace (152, 160) could emerge as a threat. Paddy Lupole (99) and Jason Moelder (106) have promise.
Owego should enjoy success with veteran wrestlers Nate and Jackson Bell, Devin and Dylan Horton, and Ryan Kwiatkowski in the fold again. Jackson Bell and Kwiatkowski were Section 4 Division II place-winners last season.
Norwich returns possibly Section 4’s best pound-for-pound wrestler, junior Tristan Rifanburg (145), a former state Division II champion who narrowly missed a second state title last season, finishing runner-up at 132 pounds. Another state runner-up, Frank Garcia, also is back, as well as Tristan’s younger brothers Ty and Cole.
Chenango Forks has seniors Isaiah Zimmer, a Section 4 champion at 170 last season, and Carl Rouse (126, 132), a Section 4 place-winner to lead the way an otherwise youthful Blue Devils squad. Caleb Gould (170,182), Seron Mullings (195), Elliot Butler (160, 170), and Allan Michael Rios (220) are the other key returners.
Oneonta returns Section 4 Division II place-winner Kirkland Dolan (170). Others expected to contribute are senior James Longo (145) and juniors Austin Scheer (160) and Sam Sherrill (160).
Chenango Valley boasts some solid lower-weight wrestlers in Jacob Lehr (106), Mirso Fafulovic (113) and Anthony Colon (120), all Section 4 Division II place-winners, as well as 99-pounder Caleb Wiggins. Reed Grunder (170) and Robert Woodward (160) are capable wrestlers.
Windsor could challenge for the East Division crown with a slew of returners, in particular Section 4 Division II champion Nate Hayes (126) and fellow senior Austin Orshal (170, 182), a sectional place-winner last year. Nick Kennedy (120, 126), Mike Wilmot (106, 113), Conor Mathews (120), Gabe Zakrajsek (138, 145), D.A. Angevine (145), Mike Frederick (152), and Nate Flora (285) also are back.
Elmira returns much of its lineup from last year, including Section 4 runner-ups Curtis Grant (138) and third-place finisher Charlie Mahon (120).
Horseheads’ top returners are Alex Kellar (113), James Eastman (152), Dylan Derr (120) and Dylan Keller (120). Freshman Wesley Woodworth (106) could impress in his first varsity season.
Ithaca boasts three-time Section 4 Division I champion Richie Burke (132), who finished fifth at last year’s state tournament. Collyn Shippos was a Section 4 runner-up and senior Ian VanValen (160) and junior Julian Korfine (145) were place-winners as well along with Devon Welch (126).
Corning returns Blake Abbey (120, 126), a 30-plus match winner last year, and Section 4 runner-up Charlie Kennedy joins the squad after wrestling at Elmira last season.