There was a bit of a tectonic shift in the Foothills Council wrestling standings last year, as South Glens Falls supplanted Hudson Falls as Queensbury’s closest challenger.
It’s too soon to tell if the Bulldogs have staying power, but last year’s runner-up finish behind Queensbury was South High’s best showing since it won the Foothills in the 1992-93 season. Queensbury has won 21 of the last 24 — and 10 of the last 11 — Foothills titles.
Queensbury, with its seemingly endless depth, remains the favorite in the Foothills Council, with Hudson Falls, South High, Schuylerville and Amsterdam hoping to challenge.
In the Adirondack League, Warrensburg will be chasing a third straight league title, but will again face a stiff challenge from tough Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George, and Salem-Cambridge appears stronger.
There could be several new faces winning Section II wrestling titles this season, as graduation claimed standouts like four-time state place-finisher Jason Hoffman of Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George, Queensbury’s Nick Robbins and Antoine Grace, and Glens Falls heavyweight Lucas Sanders.
But some names remain the same — Schuylerville senior Orion Anderson returns for a shot at a third straight state championship, and South High freshman Brock Delsignore chases another Section II title.
New this season is the inaugural State Dual Meet Tournament, set for Jan. 27 at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse. There will be twin 12-team tournaments for large and small schools (Division I and II). The individual state tournament is set for Feb. 23-24 at Albany’s Times Union Center.
Glens Falls: The Indians lost their two biggest wrestlers to graduation — Lucas Sanders (285) and Chris George (220) — but coach Dan Perry returns a few he can build around, like Tom Stockdale (152), Hunter Aiken (170) and Kaleb Dingmon (220), along with senior transfer Walton Stanton (170). Glens Falls is young, but has an athletic freshman group, including Jacob Francato at 99 pounds.
Hudson Falls: The Tigers lost several wrestlers to graduation, including Chris Jett and Connor Paige, but return seven seniors who will mix in with some youth. Tom Hill (195), Dametrick LaRock (182), Dylan Steenken (182), Jason Blackman (145), Joe Pomainville (152) and Nick Moore (152) bring a lot of varsity experience to coach Mike Prendergast’s lineup.
Queensbury: The Spartans enjoyed an impressive 2016-17 season, even by their lofty standards, claiming the Division I team title at the Section II state qualifier meet without having a number of studs in their lineup. Coach Bob Winchip is confident Queensbury will remain strong, led by seniors Dom Nassivera (182) and Nico Mattia (195), while Ryan Sleezer returns at 113.
Schuylerville: The Black Horses are combined with Greenwich this season, with three athletes coming from across the river to train with coach Buck Anderson. Senior Orion Anderson (126-132) has been the area’s premier lightweight wrestler for years. He is joined by several veterans like Section II place-finisher Xavier Jones (132-138), Harrison Williams (152), Kyle Burnham (126) and Thomas Donovan (285).
South Glens Falls: The Bulldogs will be younger this season after losing five seniors to graduation, including middleweight standout Matt Saville. Coach Mike St. Louis can build around Brock Delsignore (120-126) and Logan Barody (126-132), but many of the wrestlers around them are from a large underclassmen group that will continue to improve over the season.
Corinth: The Tomahawks again have low numbers, so scoring points will be important for returning veterans like Section II place-finishers Alec Richards (113-120) and Conor Eversole (145). Veteran coach Dick Whitaker said all 14 wrestlers on Corinth’s roster will be important.
Granville: The Golden Horde went 0-5 in their first season in the Adirondack League and lost their 1-2 upper-weight punch of Jody Hermance and Bailey Daigle to graduation. Veteran coach Steve Palmer returns a strong core of middleweights, including William Duffy (145), Cole Haines (152), Zack Haskins (120) and the Burnes brothers, Michael and Christian, at 132.
Hadley-Luzerne/Lake George: The WarEagles lost some veterans like Jason Hoffman and Gideon Jardine, but they can build around a trio of recent state qualifiers in Cody York (160), Rich Conte (170-182) and Mike Sutliff (182-195). Co-coaches Larry Rounds and Mike Varmette also have a pair of transfers from Texas in brothers Logan and Cameron Duers at 152 and 145, respectively.
Salem-Cambridge: The third year of the merger could be big for Salem-Cambridge, as veteran coach Frank Fronhofer II said this could be his strongest dual-meet team since the merger. The middle of the lineup is deep and experienced, and if the lightweights and heavyweights continue to improve, they could be successful in a tough Adirondack League. Zac Cummings (120) is one of the top returnees, and David McFarland (160) is back after missing his junior season to a knee injury.
Warrensburg: The Burghers will be tough from top to bottom, as most wrestlers return for veteran coach Mark Trapasso from a 22-3 season that included the Class D and Division II team title at the Section II state qualifier meet. Warrensburg, which includes a couple of wrestlers from its merger with Bolton, is deep and strong, led by returning standouts like Jack Binder (220), Gary Hill (285), Nolan McNeill (195), Dan Monthony (170), Zack Davis (138), Hunter McKenna (138) and Trevor Winchell (132).
Whitehall-Fort Ann: Longtime coach Bob Diekel’s team is already battling an injury bug, something W-FA can ill afford on a roster with only 20 wrestlers. Graduation claimed a trio of 100-match winners in Jason Ashline, Lucas Morse and Tyler Martel. However, Whitehall has several solid returnees, including Brandon Bolster (220), James Rozell (182), David Austin (132), Brendan Covey (170) and Jake Moore (160).
Hoosick Falls: The Panthers lost some solid talent to graduation and numbers are low, but coach Landon Nelson said they will be strong where they do have weight classes filled, like two-time Section II champ Matt Laporte (138) and state at-large qualifier Gabe Fisher (120).
Mechanicville-Stillwater: The Red Warriors captured their first Wasaren League title last year, but they lost 150 wins and four sectional place-finishers to graduation, so the majority of their lineup is young. Coaches OC West and Fred DeCelle return Section II champ Daniel Motta (132), Richie Latimer (126), Alex Motta (99) and Shawn Farrell (152), and while M-S will fill most weight classes, depth is an issue.
Saratoga Springs: The Blue Streaks return plenty of talent from a team that finished 16-2 overall last season and placed fifth in Class A. Jordan Sartin (113-120), a Section II champ in 2015 and runner-up in 2016, is back as a senior. Section II runner-up Eric Griskowitz (120-126) and place-finishers Ryan DiGiuseppe (160), Frank Spatafora (152) and Brant Robinson (195) also return for coach Kris West.