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FROM THE PRESS BOX: VALLEY SPORTS REPORT'S 14TH YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL COVERAGE BEGINS TODAY (2022-08-15)

The 2021-22 high school sports year in the Valley, especially the fall and winter seasons, was one to remember, and this year could be unforgettable as well — and it all starts today.

Last year featured three state team titles in Tioga — football, state wrestling duals, and team title at state championships — and three individual state titles — Athens wrestler Gavin Bradley, and Tioga wrestlers Gianni Silvestri and Ousmane Duncanson, who will both be juniors this year.

There were also a number of great storylines (click here) that highlighted the 2021-22 school year. Many of them will likely continue this year.

So, what am I expecting to see in in 2022-23?

FALL
I believe Tioga football has a very good chance to repeat as New York State Class D state champion, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see Waverly make a run at a state title as well, providing it can get past Chenango Forks.

Athens should be improved this season, with an influx of former Sayre players, but will be hard-pressed to get past Danville or Montoursville.

It’s going to be different this fall, not walking the sidelines at the Lockhart Street Bowl.

On the soccer pitch, the Athens boys and girls should both make a run at an NTL crown, while the Waverly girls have some new faces for their battles against Notre Dame in the quest for an IAC South Large School crown.

The Waverly boys have good numbers, and could surprise people.

The Tioga girls could also surprise, provided they stay healthy, and the Tioga boys will be playing an IAC schedule (after playing an independent schedule last year) for the first time in four years.

On the volleyball hardwoods, Tioga should once again compete for a division title, while Waverly will look to build on last year.

Athens returns a lot from last year, and should be improved, while Sayre has another new coach looking to rebuild the program.

On the cross country circuit, four of the five harriers who qualified for States last year — Athens’ Emma and Sara Bronson, Waverly’s Harper Minaker, and Tioga’s Thomas Hurd — return this season, and all four could make a return trip.

On the team side, Sayre pulling out of a co-op with Athens this fall has left the Wildcats girls, as well as both Redskin teams short of the necessary five runners to compete as a team, but the Athens boys could make some noise in the NTL.

The Waverly girls could be a team to keep an eye on, while the Tioga boys could also make some noise in the IAC.

Tioga has struggled in recent years in terms of numbers for field hockey, but that appears to be over. While the varsity team may be a bit young this season, there are about 50 girls in the program now from modified through varsity.

The Waverly girls swim team graduated several longtime standouts, but return a few talented swimmers, and will be young overall this season.

The Athens golf team has a good chance to repeat as NTL champs, while Sayre could be in rebuilding mode after losing state qualifier Kannon VanDuzer to graduation.

WINTER
Last year, Tioga wrestling wrote the majority of the headlines in the postseason, and this year appears as if it will be much the same.

I would be very surprised it Tioga doesn’t repeat as N.Y. State Division 2 Duals champs, and win its fourth straight team title at the N.Y. State Championships.

The Tigers sent nine to states last year, and seven of them return this season. They had two state champs — this year’s total could be four.

Waverly sent two to States last year, and that total could jump to four this year.

It will be interesting to see if Athens can keep it’s streak alive in sending wrestlers to the PIAA  Championships. They have a few solid candidates, and a couple of intriguing youngsters.

As for Sayre, I’m not sure who is still there. Time will tell.

On the girls side, Tioga’s Emily Sindoni and Waverly’s Mackenzie LaForest each won state titles — and both return this year, while Athens had a trio of girls earn state medals.

On the hardwoods, the Waverly, Tioga and Athens boys are locks for the postseason. Sayre’s program has been hit hard by transfers.

On the girls side, Waverly has a pair of new faces that could make a major impact, while Athens and Tioga will need to make some major adjustments after being hit hard by graduation.

With a new coach at the helm, Sayre’s future could be on the upswing — if the girls decide to play.

The Waverly boys and girls bowling teams should be the teams to beat in their divisions, while the Tioga boys were hit hard by graduation.

On the swim front, the Waverly boys return three of the four swimmers that made history and qualified for States in all three relays. One of the returnees — Jerrell Sackett — won a bronze medal in the 50 free.

In Athens, both the boys and girls teams could be in for big seasons.

The Waverly indoor track & field team could see a few athletes qualify for States.

SPRING
The Waverly track & field teams were the highlight of the spring, sending 10 athletes and three relays to States. Seven of the 10 return this year, including junior Micah Chandler, who won the Wolverines’ only medal.

Athens saw its streak of nearly two decades of sending athletes to the PIAA Championships end last year, but it has a few athletes capable of re-starting that streak.

Tioga also has a couple athletes who could find their way to States.

On the baseball diamonds, Waverly returns nearly en tact a team that reached the Section IV, Class B championship game. Don’t be surprised if the Wolverines take the next step, and win their first title since 2012 — and the second in school history.

Tioga also returns the majority of its team, and could make a run at a Section IV title.

Athens has added a Division I talent in Lucas Horton, and will make a run at NTL Large School crown, and possibly a District 4 title.

Sayre suffered major graduation losses, as well as losing Horton to Athens. The Redskins also lost several younger players who would have seen varsity time to Waverly.

On the softball diamonds, Tioga will be a heavy favorite to win an IAC South Small School title, while Waverly should be improved.

Athens will be in rebuild mode with a new coaching staff, while a new coaching staff in Sayre will look to start from scratch.

The Tioga golf team could make a run at a Section IV title, while the Waverly girls, which will still be very young, should be improved.

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