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Amherst Wrestling Earns First ECIC League Dual Title in Twenty-Four Years

Updated: Feb 1


Photo shared by Amherst Wrestling @AmherstAmbush on X


A Tigers team “dedicated to each other” captured the ECIC II league title on Tuesday with a road win at Pioneer, 42-15, to complete the 2023-2024 season at a perfect 7-0 for the program’s first unbeaten dual season and outright ECIC league dual meet title since the 1999-2000 season.

 

Amherst’s league dual meet title comes after having won the ECIC Championships team title on Jan. 20th, a first in program history in the combined ECIC tournament era.

 

“I think we’ve grown a little bit more into being a program,” said Amherst head coach Dennis Bauer after Tuesday’s league title victory. “But the thing that I am most proud of is how our guys support each other – in dual meets and in tournaments – and how they push each other in the practice room. We’ve tried to emphasize that you can do both as a teammate.”

 

Amherst boasted the single largest senior class amongst WNY area wrestling teams this season with fourteen senior wrestlers on the roster.

 

Bauer went on to invoke the names of some alumni who were known to bring a high degree of energy and enthusiasm to Tigers’ teams of the recent past and how those elements were key to the success of the team this year.

 

“Calik Kennedy (Class of 2018) is the best example out of our program for bringing energy on the bench,” said Bauer. “The energy on Tuesday went all the way through the exhibition matches which was a focus that we said we were going to do. It just made the whole night great. It’s become a point of pride for us and what we do."

Bauer continued "When you go into a place like Pioneer, against a program like that in a place like that, with all the history, you’re either going to fight their energy or bring your own energy. They were young, and still tough this year. Pioneer will always be tough, no matter what."

 

Tuesday’s win over WNY #5 small school Pioneer brought an end to the Panthers’ nine year league dual meet title and 70-match ECIC dual win streak dating back to January 23rd, 2013. Pioneer achieved the seventy straight league win mark on Jan. 24th with a road win over Williamsville South before Tuesday’s home loss to the Tigers.

 

Both Amherst and Pioneer entered Tuesday night’s league championship showdown boasting 6-0 records in ECIC II matches and ranked #5 in their respective large and small school division polls in the latest WNY Athletics dual team power rankings. Pioneer spent the last two seasons competing in the ECIC III division and was previously in ECIC II in the 2019-2020 season.

 

The dual started at 160-pounds with a major decision from ECIC champion Zak Saeed. Killian Simonson earned a huge late second period pin at 170 to extend the Tigers’ lead to 10-0 after two weights.

 

League champion Takota Smith put points on the board for Pioneer with a 1-point decision at 190-pounds but Jordan Passero responded for Amherst and came up big with his own 1-point victory in a crucial bout at 215.


Amherst's Passero // Photo courtesy of Jeff Pataky

 

Chris Howatt picked up a pin and Owen Bliss a decision to earn back to back wins for Pioneer at 285 and 101-pounds, respectively, but Amherst would win each of the next four weights from 108 to 131-pounds capped off by a default win at 131 by Moshin Ali to secure the win with three weights to go in the dual.

 

Mustafa Natiq (pin, 108), Brayden Kirst (major decision, 116), and Joe Magnano (major, 124) all earned bonus points for Amherst in the four match stretch run before Ali’s victory. Pioneer’s Wyatt Opferbeck earned the final win of the dual for the Panthers before Amherst’s Quinlan Lyle (decision, 145) and Nathan Cohen (forfeit, 152) finished off the match for the 42-15 final score.


Amherst's Natiq // Pataky

 

Amherst finishes the 2023-2024 season with a 7-0 record in league duals and 15-4 overall with a 4th place finish in the Section VI Division II Dual Meet Championships as well.

 

2023-2024 Amherst ECIC II league dual scores:

 

Dec. 6th: Amherst 72 – Lake Shore 0

 

Dec. 12th: Amherst 58 – Williamsville South 12

 

Dec. 20th: Amherst 60 – Sweet Home 10

 

Jan. 3rd: Amherst 32 – Hamburg 30

 

Jan. 10th: Amherst 42 – Starpoint 28

 

Jan. 26th: Amherst 49 – Cheektowaga 8

 

Jan. 30th: Amherst 42 – Pioneer 15

 

 

 

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