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FROM THE PRESS BOX: WHAT WE'VE SEEN TO THIS POINT IN THE WINTER SEASON — PART I (2021-12-29)

My New Year's Resolution is to offer up my observations and opinions on a more regular basis, like I use to, as we head into 2022.

Let's get started today, and take a look at what we've seen to this point in the winter season on the mats, in the pool, and on the lanes.

WRESTLING

Tioga's wrestling team looks to be as dominant as its football team.

The Tigers, ranked No. 1 in the state in Division 2, knocked off Burnt Hills, ranked No. 3 in the state in Division 1, 36-27, in its home building in the finale of the Lee Van Slyke Memorial Duals in its first action at full strength this season.

Then, they came home and blanked Oxford-Greene, 73-0, in its first Section IV dual. O-G is ranked third in the section.

With the new state-qualifying measure in New York State, the top three finishers at the Section IV, Division 2 championships will qualify for States, and for Tioga that will mean an added bonanza. Instead of taking five or six to States as its done the last few years, Tioga could take as many as 10.

Seniors Emmett Wood and Mason Welch, junior Donovan Smith, and sophomores Gianni Silvestri and Caden Bellis - all returning state qualifiers from 2020, as well as sophomore Ousmane Duncanson are pretty much locks.

Seniors Justin Hopkins, sophomores Deakon Bailey, Levi Bellis, Zac Kotsubka, and Tyler Roe, as well as 8th-graders Jayden Duncanson and Logan Bellis are definite possibilities if they can win a spot in this rugged line-up.

In Athens, all eyes will be on senior Gavin Bradley, a three-time state place-winner and returning state runner-up. He has been simply dominant this season with five first-period falls and a tech fall in a 9-0 start.

But the Wildcats are not all Bradley. Seniors Kaden Setzer and Karter Rude, and junior Jake Courtney are off to great starts, and have their sights set on deep runs in the postseason. All three look different this year, and are wrestling with an added degree of confidence.

You should also keep your eyes on sophomores Mason Vanderpool and Josh Nittinger and freshman Caleb Nason. They could make waves in the postseason.

Seniors Colin Rosh (7-2) and Lucas Forbes (6-3) are also off to very good starts for the Wildcats, and could follow in the footsteps of Alex West and Keegan Braund, who had very little buzz, in terms of expectations, surrounding them early in the season, but ended up in Hershey in 2020.

In Waverly,
the Wolverines have good numbers and will looking to get a wrestler or two to States.

Juniors Gage Tedesco, Connor Stotler, and Ty Beeman are the most likely candidates, but keep an eye on junior Landon McCarty, who took a few years away from the sport, but came back last year, and has looked good this season.

Another guy to keep an eye on is junior Braedon Hills, who also took a year off, but is back and wrestling strong.

In Sayre, the season has been a bit of a mess to start, with half the team out with Covid, injuries, or academics.

The Redskins hope to have 10 on the mat once the New Year hits. Senior Josh Wilson has gotten off to a good start, and senior Jake Bennett, and sophomore Kaiden Bennett will be worth keeping an eye on once they return.

SWIMMING
Athens junior Taegan Williams is off to a great start with a strong performance at the Blue Jay Invite at Central Columbia. She won the 500-yard freestyle, and was second in the 200 free.

It will be fun to see how far she can go in the postseason.

On the boys side, juniors Chris DeForest and Ethan Denlinger both turned in very good performances at the Blue Jay Invite.

Freshmen Ethan Hicks, Ryan Gorman, Ronel Ankam, and Carter Lewis also made their presence known, and appear to be the foundation of the Wildcat program over the next three years.

In Waverly, the Wolverine boys (girls swim in fall) have a trio of swimmers who could make waves deep into the postseason in senior Kaden Wheeler, and juniors Oscar Williams and Jerrell Sackett.

BOWLING
The Waverly boys and girls are off to strong starts.

Zach Vanderpool lit up the lanes with a pair of series in the high 700s in his first three outings, while his teammates have been taking turns supporting him to help the team into first place in the Large School Division in the early going.

The Tioga boys lead the Small School chase, with senior Dylan Slater the most consistent Tiger in the early going.

The Waverly girls are in second in their division with Victoria and Rachel Houseknecht, and Shantilly Decker leading the way.

FRIDAY; What we've seen to this point pn the basketball hardwoods, and more. 


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