The best high school wrestlers in New York State are set to take the mat on Friday morning at the Times Union Center in Albany, beginning a two-day marathon that will conclude with 30 state champions being crowned between two divisions.
Section 1 will have 37 representatives in the field, with each harboring his own title hopes. The front-runners among the locals are seniors Blaise Benderoth of North Rockland and Youssif Hemida of Mamaroneck, who will enter as the top seeds in their respective weight classes.
Hemida is considered a heavy favorite in Division 1 at 220 pounds, having already beaten second-seeded Vin Feola of Walt Whitman twice this season, including a 4-1 decision in the Eastern States Classic finals in January.
The path for Benderoth isn’t quite as clear at 160 pounds in Division 1. He placed third last season at 152, but he has yet to wrestle second-seeded Brandon Aviles of John Glenn. Benderoth beat third-seeded Louie Deprez of Hilton with a 1-0 decision at Eastern States on his way to a fifth-place finish.
A total of 13 local Division 1 wrestlers received seeds in the top eight, but only four were seeded from Division 2. Section 1 has had more success in the large school division in recent years, taking third last season. The section placed 10th in Division 2, but the good news is that eight of this year’s small school state qualifiers are sophomores or younger, which bodes well for the future.
Wrestling will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday with the first round, followed by the quarterfinals at 2 p.m. The semis will be held on Saturday at 10 a.m., with the finals scheduled for 5:45 p.m.
Here are the top 10 locals who could earn All-State honors with a top five-finish (with seed and weight class):
1. Youssif Hemida, Sr., Mamaroneck (No. 1 at 220 in Division 1)
2. Blaise Benderoth, Sr., North Rockland (No. 1 at 160 in Division 1)
3. Jay Albis, Sr., John Jay-EF (No. 4 at 113 in Division 1)
4. Peter Pjetri, Sr., Suffern (No. 3 at 195 in Division 1)
5. Danny Murphy, Sr., Ketcham (No. 3 at 145 in Division 1)
6. Trey Wardlaw, Jr., East Ramapo (No. 6 at 99 in Division 1)
7. Sean McGarvey, So., Pearl River (No. 5 at 99 in Division 2)
8. Daiton Powell, Sr., Suffern (No. 8 at 132 in Division 1)
9. Willie Messinger, Sr., Putnam Valley (No. 6 at 170 in Division 2)
10. Anthony Sulla, Jr., North Rockland (No. 7 at 106 in Division 1)