Seven defending champions are eligible to return for the 42nd annual New York State Wrestling Championships this season. The new site will be at the University of Buffalo scheduled for Feb. 27th-28th, 2004.
   Defending sectional team champion, Section Four (Binghamton area) returns five state kings and will be tough to defeat. They are led by three-time champion, Troy Nickerson (128-6 career mark) of Chenango Forks. Nickerson, a junior has a chance to become New York's first ever five-time state champion and will probably compete in the 119-pound weight class. Other returning champs for the scarlet cladded contingent are sophomore J.P. O'Connor (Oxford) at 103, senior tough Tyler Mumbolo (B/G Afton) at 112, two-time champion senior Chris Hand (170-17 career) of Whitney Point at 152 and junior Arthur Jones (Union-Endicott) at 275 pounds. Section Five (Rochester area) points to returning champions unbeaten junior Gregor Gillespie (46-0, Webster-Schroeder) at 125 and Trevor Chinn (188-23 career) of Canandaigua at 140 pounds.
   Eight state finalists could return and all hope to improve on their runner-up finish. They are freshman Kevin Smith (Mexico-3) at 103, junior Dan Bishop (Whitehall-2) at 112, two-time finalist junior Tom Magnani (78-4 career) of Islip-11 at 119, senior John Minckler (Gouverneur-10) at 140, highly touted junior Alton Lucas (West Babylon-11) at 152 senior Rob Parker (Northport-11) at 171, senior Elliot Smith (Gouverneur-10) at 189 and senior Justin Tougas (Glens Falls-2) at 275 pounds.
   Third place finishers that will vie for titles will be sophomore Lou Ruggirello (Valley Central-9) at 103, senior Errol Scheid (Canastota-3) at 112, senior Shawn Riley (Huntington-11) at 125, senior Zach Franklin (Tioga-4) at 130 and senior Mike Roberts (Colonie-2) at 145 pounds.

   The last time the NYS Intersectional Championships were held in the Buffalo area was in 1967 at Niagara University, Niagara Falls. Section Eleven (Suffolk County) has crowned a state leading 112 champons, followed by Section Four (Binghamton) with 94 and Section Eight (Nassau County) with 91 individual winners. The Empire State's only four-time champion was the heralded Jesse Jantzen (1997-98-99-200) of Shoreham Wading River. He has finished third at the last two NCAA meets and is currently top ranked at 149 pounds by
Amateur Wrestling News he is competing for Harvard University. Also ranked by AWN are John Clark (Canton HS-10) now at Ohio State, ranked sixth at 165 and Noel Thompson (Freeport HS-8) ranked eighth at 174 pounds while competing for Hofstra Uiversity. In the AWN, High School Rankings, Troy Nickerson is top-ranked at 119, second ranked is Chris Hand at 152, third ranked is Alton Lucas also at 152, and two fifth-ranked grapplers; Trevor Chinn at 140 and Arthur Jones at heavyweight. Only three states have a single classification for state championships, California (over 800 high schools), Indiana and New Jersey. New York will try a two-class system for the first time at the 2004 state meet, it is on a two-year trial basis...
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Chris Hand (Whitney Point-4)  controls  Alton Lucas (West-Babylon-11) in last year's state final.
Shawn Riley (Huntington-11) earns a takedown in last year's state meet.
by Jim and Tony Nordland