The talk around state wrestling practice was that this year’s Section 9 Division II team could be its best.
The section returns a record-high four medalists – Port Jervis senior 220-pounder James Oosterom; Onteora brothers Nick and Nate Ross (138, 170); and, Red Hook senior Matt Morris (126) - to state championship weekend in Albany.
However, seeding was unkind to the returning medalists: Oosterom (who placed fifth at 220 last year), Nick Ross (third at 138) and Morris (sixth at 113) received No. 7 seeds. Nate Ross (sixth at 152) is a No. 9.
The local Division II wrestlers earned the most medals (five) and tied for the section’s highest point total (70) in 2019.
Action kicks off at 10 a.m. Friday at Times Union Center.
Here are some Division II storylines to follow:
Ross makes state debut
No section Division II wrestler has delivered a better first-year varsity season than Port Jervis eighth-grader Ryan Ross – he has won 31 of his 34 matches (19 by pin) and decisively knocked off defending champion Peter Bender of Highland in the section final. The No. 12 seed is the third Port eighth-grader to qualify for states. Ross looks to join Eric Biccum (1998) as the Raiders’ only middle-school state medalists.
For the first time in state tournament history, all weight classes (Division I and II) will be contested up to eighth place. In the past, medals for first through sixth place were awarded unless a competitor from the Catholic High School Athletic Association or Public School Athletic League placed in the top six. Then, a seventh-place match was wrestled at the respective weight class.
Ross brothers back together
The last time that the Nick, Pat and Nate Ross competed together at the state tournament, they were joined by their older brother, Dillon, in 2017. Dillon advanced to the Division II 170-pound final the next season. Pat, a junior who didn’t qualify in 2019, is the section’s highest-seeded Division II competitor (No. 3 at 160 pounds) as he continues his quest to become the fourth brother to medal at states.
Port Jervis 132-pounder Joey Amato, Eldred 195-pounder Hunter Roberts and Chester 285-pounder Devin McGovern are among five seniors making their state debuts with difficult first-round matchups.
No. 15 Amato (32-6) drew Central Valley Academy sophomore Marek Bush (50-5), a 2018 113-pound champion and three-time state medalist. Roberts (26-6) meets Warsaw’s Nate Degroff (42-4), who placed third at 195 last season, in the round of 16. McGovern (23-4) locks up with No. 5 Cody Wilson (29-4) of Albion.
Red Hook’s five state qualifiers are the most by a section Division II school since Onteora did so in 2017. Freshman Rian Kirker (106), senior Alex Lopez (138), senior Tyler Benincasa (145) and junior Hayden Campalong (182) will compete in their first state tournament. Kirker and Lopez both will wrestle outbracket matches to reach the round of 16.