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2nd Annual Linda Knuutila Memorial Tournament Roundup

The current WNY small school #2 ranked Newfane Panthers outpaced the top four area large schools – coincidentally, in current ranking order – to claim the prestigious Linda Knuutilla Memorial Tournament team title from Friday through Saturday at Niagara County Community College. The Panthers crowned two champions and placed six wrestlers to tally 161.5 points, pushing past second place Niagara Falls’ 156 points to claim their second straight Memorial tournament title (last won in 2019; there was no tournament in 2020).

Going into the 189-pound final, the Panthers trailed Niagara Falls in the team scoring by a half point. With one wrestler left for Newfane and none for ‘Falls, it was up to the Panthers’ Simon Lingle to not only wrestle for first place in the 189-pound bracket but also to secure the team title for Newfane. Ultimately, Lingle secured a takedown in overtime and finished off the match with a pin to claim first place in the weight as well as the team trophy.

Lingle (13-1) is a returning sectional place winner and sectional title hopeful in Section VI Division II this season.

Also claiming gold for the Panthers was freshman standout Aidan Gillings at 132-pounds in possibly the best bracket in the entire tournament. The top seeded Gillings earned four pins on the way to the championship match where he was a 9-6 winner by decision over Pioneer’s Xander Kirsch who entered the day unseeded. Kirsch took down a returning sectional champion and a returning finalist on the way to the Saturday final. Gillings already has a sectional championship, state place finish, and a sectional runner-up placement on his resume.

Rounding out the place winners for Newfane were Adam Huntington (2nd, 138-pounds), Ayden Buttery (4th, 126), Charles LaRose (4th, 285), and Brayden Kellison-Neglia (6th, 102).

Additionally, Niagara Wheatfield assistant coach Bill Ploetz was awarded the Linda Knuutila Memorial Award for his service and dedication to local wrestling throughout his coaching career.


The 102-pound bracket featured a handful of WNY’s top underclassmen talent as all eight place winners were 7th, 8th, or 9th graders. Southwestern’s star 8th grader Carmine Calimeri claimed 1st in the bracket as the 5-seed in the weight. Calimeri, a returning sectional 4th place winner, took down top seeded defending sectional finalist Trevor DellaPenta from Eden in the semifinal before securing a 15-9 finals victory over Frontier’s Cullen Edwards. The 3-seeded Edwards was a 4-3 decision winner over the 2-seeded Kellison from Newfane in the semifinal and is emerging as a name to watch for individual sectional title considerations.

Additional place winners:

3rd: Trevor DellaPenta – Eden

4th: Eian Peterson – Niagara Falls

5th: Jaron Barrientos – Lewiston-Porter

6th: Braydon Kellison-Neglia – Newfane

7th: Sean Gordon – Hamburg

8th: Mekhi Muhyee – Portville


A sectional final rematch from the 2021 spring season determined the champion of the 110-pound bracket. Starpoint’s JR Leuer avenged a 6-4 section final loss to Hamburg’s Ken Schmitz with an impressive 9-4 decision win to capture 1st place at NCCC on Saturday. Schmitz and Leuer, both juniors, were the top two seeds in the bracket, respectively. Schmitz was a 5-0 winner in the semifinal over Southwestern’s rising star in 5-seed Kenji Walters while Leuer was an impressive 11-1 winner by major decision over Amherst’s Payton Mack, also a returning sectional place winner. Schmitz/Leuer could be on a collision course for another title rematch in February. Also of note, Williamsville North’s Zach Dellinger entered the tournament unseeded, fell to Schmitz in the first round, but won five straight matches to finish 3rd in the bracket.

Additional place winners:

4th: Payton Mack – Amherst

5th: Bryce DellaPenta – Eden

6th: Kenji Walters – Southwestern

7th: Aaron Raczka – Cheektowaga

8th: Joe Jopp – Barker/Royalton-Hartland


This bracket featured a ton of big school and small school firepower. Frontier senior, three-time sectional place winner, and NYS place winner Travis Browning was the top seed at the weight however it was Chautauqua Lake sophomore and returning sectional finalist Jordan Joslyn who powered his way to 1st place in the bracket. The 2-seeded Joslyn earned two pins before an overtime victory, 4-2, over defending Section VI Division I champion Jaden Crumpler from Niagara Falls in the semifinal. Then, Joslyn put on a performance in the final with a 13-4 major decision over Browning. On the top side of the bracket, Browning had to overcome big challenges in the quarters and semis as well, as he was faced with a returning sectional place winner in each round in ‘Falls Ja’Shad Bumpers and L-P’s Caden Barrientos. In total, the bracket featured seven returning or former Section VI Div. I and II place winners.

Additional place winners:

3rd: Jaden Crumpler – Niagara Falls

4th: Caden Barrientos – Lewiston-Porter

5th: Nolan Skowronski – East Aurora/Holland

6th: Nik Massaro – Grand Island

7th: Ja’Shad Bumpers – Niagara Falls

8th: Tyler Zwald – Jamestown


The bracket was headlined by two, two-time defending Section VI champions in Niagara Falls’ Amarfio Reynolds, Jr and Pioneer’s Dan Kirsch. The 2-seed Kirsch claimed victory in the title match over the top seed from the ‘Falls, 3-0, in a loaded field of talented wrestlers that featured three wrestlers with state tournament experience, though Kirsch is the only returning state place winner. The Pioneer senior had to pass a big quarterfinal test before taking down fellow senior and four-time Section VI place winner in Lancaster’s Myles Gronowski, 7-1, in the semifinal. The bracket featured seven current or former sectional place winners. The bottom bracket quarterfinals both featured matches between those sectional place winners while on the top side, 5-seed Brandon Heh from Clarence earned a quality win over 4-seed John Vicario from Eden, a returning Section VI place winner. Later on, Vicario earned revenge in the 5th place match, 9-3. In both the quarterfinal and 3rd place match, Gronowski was a 4-1 winner over Newfane’s rising star Ayden Buttery.

Additional place winners:

7th: Mason Kraft – Maple Grove

8th: Garrett Chase – Niagara Wheatfield


This weight class was jam packed with talent to the tune of nine returning or former Section VI place winners, four sectional finalists, three sectional champions, and two NYS tournament placers. Newfane’s Aiden Gillings defending his top seed with four championship round pins before a 9-6 decsion victory in the final. Three of the four quarterfinal bouts featured matchups of returning sectional place winners; there were even two such matches prior to the quarterfinal round (!). Unseeded Pioneer junior Xander Kirsch was one of the weekend’s stars as he defeated defending Section VI champion Tremell Mathews from Niagara Wheatfield before taking down Starpoint’s star 8th grader and returning sectional finalist Griffin LaPlante, 3-0, on the way to the final. In the quarters, Griffin avenged a loss from the prior week over Iroquois’s Michael Schiffhauer, a returning sectional champion and 2020 NYS tournament place winner. The consolation semifinals were just as critical, as LaPlante avenged another loss from the past, this time the 2021 Section VI Div. I final against Mathews. LaPlante advanced to the 3rd place bout with a 3-0 decision win before securing bronze with his second win over Schiffhauer on the day, 1-0. The bracket featured some critical head to heads and inter-division results that will surely have postseason implications in the not-so-distant future…

Additional place winners:

5th: Tremell Mathews – Niagara Wheatfield

6th: AJ Didas – Clarence

7th: Grady Peterson – Niagara Falls

8th: Karsen DePasquale – Falconer


Top seeded Wheatfield sophomore Te’Shaun Mathews cruised through the first four rounds of the Memorial tournament on Friday and Saturday on the way to the bracket’s championship match. ‘Juicy’ earned four pins including a semifinals pin over Chautauqua Lake standout Trent Burchanowski. In the final, Mathews would meet Newfane senior Adam Huntington in an all Niagara contest and come out a 6-4 winner by decision for 1st place. Huntington earned a quality 1-0 decision over Falconer’s Austin Chase in a match which may very well be important for considering dual meet championship strategy (should the Panthers match up with the Golden Falcons in the tournament). Chase was also an impressive winner by fall over Canisius’s CHSAA finalist Luke Brydges in the quarters. Chase followed up the semifinal loss with high quality wins over Lancaster’s Carter Tadusz and Burchanowski, both of whom are sectional placers.

Additional place winners:

3rd: Austin Chase – Falconer

4th: Trent Burchanowski – Chautauqua Lake

5th: Carter Tadusz – Lancaster

6th: Luke Brydges – Canisius

7th: Carson Fairbank – Chautauqua Lak

8th: Mark Testa – Amherst


A bracket heavy with seniors was indeed not won by an upperclassmen, but rather a sophomore. Starpoint’s top seeded Gage LaPlante, a 2020 sectional champion and 2021 finalist, defended his seed in one of the more impressive showings of the entire tournament. LaPlante earned three pins in the championship rounds but did encounter a big test in the prelims with unseeded Mike Syposs from Niagara Falls. LaPlante was a 7-4 winner in that match while Syposs wrestled back to a 4th place finish. On the bottom of the bracket, Iroquois’s 2020 Section VI champion Ryan Sweeney advanced to the final as the 3-seed after taking down Eden’s 2021 sectional champion Shane Walczyk by major decision, 14-3, in the semifinal meaning three of the four semifinal contestants in the bracket were either current or former sectional champions. In the final, it was all LaPlante by major decision, 13-2, in a win that has surely caught the attention of not only the region but other contenders across the state.

Starpoint head coach Steve Hart said at the conclusion of the tournament on his team’s 4th place finish: “I thought that this weekend was a good measuring stick to see where we stand as a team and as individuals within our weight classes. There were a lot of very good things that our staff has seen from our team, but also a lot of corrections and improvements to still be made. Our goal isn’t to finish in 2nd, 3rd or 4th place. We will continue to work hard towards our team and individual goals and remain hungry.”

Additional place winners:

3rd: Shane Walczyk – Eden

4th: Mike Syposs – Niagara Falls

5th: Ethan Monin – Lancaster

6th: Quinn Brown – Barker/Royalton-Hartland

7th: Jacob Clark – Falconer

8th: Ethan Pfeiffer – Iroquois


Williamsville North’s outstanding sophomore Cam Catrabone surprised the tournament on Friday when he weighed in for 152-pounds, two classes higher than 138 where he has competed mostly this season. The extra weight made no difference for Catrabone who pinned and teched his way to 1st place in the bracket. Maple Grove’s returning sectional finalist and 2020 sectional champ Luke Tomlinson dominated the bottom side of the bracket on the way to the final, but it was all Catrabone in the championship bout with a first period pin. Both of the wrestlers who advanced to the semis (besides Catrabone and Tomlinson) caused upsets in the quarterfinals and then wound up in the 3rd place match.

North head coach Joe Muscarella said after Catrabone’s final and Most Outstanding Wrestler award “Cam has embraced the grind and wants to wrestle the best and is willing to do whatever it takes to find someone who wants to wrestle. He respects everyone but fears no one…no one will outwork him either.”

Additional place winners:

3rd: Liam Edwards – St. Francis

4th: Micah Harry – Lancaster

5th: Giovanni Russo – Amherst

6th: Dalton Caldwell – Falconer

7th: Andrew Le – Clarence

8th: Kaedon Holocomb – Portville


A host of big school and small school sectional finalists and champions highlighted the field at 160-pounds. Portville’s two-time defending Section VI champion and 2020 NYS place winner Dakota Mascho earned the top seed in the bracket. Mascho advanced to the final after a dramatic 3-1 overtime win over Lancaster’s returning sectional finalist and 2020 champion Michael Schaefer in the semifinal. On the opposite side of the bracket, Pioneer’s sectional finalist Brady Heckathorn earned a high quality win over Niagara Falls’ defending Section VI champion Jesiere Carter, 5-4, in the semi. In the all small school final it was Mascho over Heckathorn, 8-2, for 1st place. Schaefer advanced to the semifinal after gutting out a 4-3 decision win over Barker/Royalton-Hartland’s 4-seed Brett Ricker in the quarters. Fast forward to the wrestle backs where Ricker earned a huge pin over Carter to set up a rematch with Schaefer. However, it was the Legends sophomore with a 4-2 win for third place.

Additional place winners:

5th: Luke Smeader – Hamburg

6th: Jesiere Carter – Niagara Falls

7th: Neves Hoose – Southwestern

8th: Cam Millender – Sweet Home


It was the Brian Bielec show at NCCC as the Grand Island senior pinned his way to 1st place. The two-time defending Section VI Div. I champion was a second period winner by pin in the final over 6-seed Falconer senior Kyle Keefe who defeated the 3rd and 2nd seeded wrestlers on the way to the final. Falls’ Max Hill wrestled back to claim 3rd place after falling in the semifinal.

Additional place winners:

4th: Jake LeClerc – Amherst

5th: Devyn Morrison – Falconer

6th: Joseph Pasiak – North Tonawanda

7th: Jack Coots – Hamburg

8th: Mason Manning – Chautauqua Lake


Newfane’s Simon Lingle was the hero for the Panthers in locking up the team title with an overtime pin in the 189-pound final. The 2-seeded Lingle earned three pins before a 3-0 decision in the semifinal over small school rival Ricky Hess from Iroquois. In the final, Lingle was tied with top seeded Reilly Popa from Clarence 1-1 heading into OT. Lingle had already secured a takedown in the period but put his opponent directly into criteria, eventually securing the pin. Lancaster’s Evan Stencel had to defeat the same opponent twice on the way to 3rd place in the bracket.

Additional place winners:

4th: Matt Trim – Maple Grove

5th: Zack Hill – Barker/Royalton-Hartland

6th: Ricky Hess – Iroquois

7th: Tavio Hoose – Southwestern

8th: Thomas Browne – Starpoint


Another 1-seed vs. 2-seed matchup saw Southwestern’s Donte Hoose (2) defeat Canisius’s Braydon Vandenberg (1) by decision, 3-2, to capture 1st place. The defending CHSAA finalist continued to dominate his competition leading up to the final with four first period pins in the advancement rounds. Hoose, a 2020 Section VI champion and 6th place NYS finisher, was unable to compete in the spring 2021 season but is off to an 11-0 start this season.

Additional place winners:

3rd: Trevor Barry – Iroquois

4th: Casey Robinson – Niagara Wheatfield

5th: Matt Caldwell – Starpoint

6th: Jaheim Clayton – Lockport

7th: Noah Michael – Kenmore

8th: David Stein – Falconer


Both of the defending Section VI 285-pound champions had to meet in the semifinals of the bracket while Frontier’s top seeded heavyweight strongman and returning sectional place winner Konrad Krzyszton powered through his first four matches by pin to reach the championship match. Lockport’s 3-seeded Stefaan Fearon and Newfane’s Charles LaRose, the defending sectional big and small school champions, respectively, did battle in the semifinal round with Fearon advancing by decision, 4-1. Fearon and LaRose also pinned opponents in all of their opening matches leading up to the semis. In the final, Krzyszton was a 9-2 winner by decision in a wild and entertaining heavyweight battle that may have previewed the future Section VI Division I final later this season. LaRose wrestled back to the third place match, however Wheatfield’s Trevon Mathews gambled but paid off as he tossed LaRose for the early second period pin in the bronze match.

Additional place winners:

5th: Drew Mascio – Frontier

6th: Tom Carlson – Lancastere

7th: Aidan Lenz – Orchard Park

8th: Andre Clause – Niagara Wheatfield

Team scores:1Newfane161.52Niagara Falls1563Lancaster141.54Starpoint1385Niagara Wheatfield1226Frontier1127Falconer1078Southwestern999Chautauqua Lake9610Iroquois9011Amherst79.512Pioneer7913Hamburg7514Eden69.515Clarence68.516Williamsville North/East6417Barker/Royalton-Hartland5918Grand Island5619Maple Grove5520Canisius5321Portville4722Lockport3823Lewiston-Porter3624St. Francis34.525Orchard Park3426Jamestown3127Kenmore3128Sweet Home1829East Aurora/Holland1730North Tonawanda1731Cheektowaga1532West Seneca West/East+Depew0

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