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Catrabone, Alberti, Browning Lead Seasoned Group of Large School Wrestling Veterans; Section VI Divi

Cover photo courtesy of Bob Koshinski/All Sports WNY. All photos contained within article are courtesy of Bob Koshinski.

Last Saturday’s Section VI Division I Wrestling Championships at Starpoint High School put on display some of the best individual talent in all of WNY that featured three 2020 NYS tournament place winners and ten total defending or former sectional champions just in the finals matches alone.

Niagara Falls led all teams with four individual tournament champions including repeat Section VI champions Jaden Crumpler at 118-pounds and Amarfio Reynolds, Jr at 126. 9th grader Eian Peterson and junior Mike Syposs claimed their first sectional title each at 102 and 160-pounds, respectively. And, all four wrestlers impressively defended their top 1-seed positions on the day. Wolverines senior and 2021 sectional champion Jesiere Carter was the runner-up to Syposs at 160 but earned an auto-qualifier entry to the NYS championships.

Niagara Falls NYS state tournament qualifiers and coaches

While Falls had the most champions in the tournament, Starpoint had the most place winners with twelve wrestlers finishing in the top six of their brackets. Niagara Falls and Niagara Wheatfield followed with ten top-6 placers each while Lancaster and Frontier also tied with six top-6 place winners apiece. Frontier, Starpoint, and Wheatfield all had three finalists, but two Frontier wrestlers claimed individual titles compared to one champion each for the other two squads.

41% of the tournament’s 78 place winners represented Falls, Starpoint, or Wheatfield and just under 45% represented the five Niagara County teams that placed wrestlers in the event. 53% of the individual champions represented Niagara County schools while half of the 26 Division I wrestlers who qualified for states represent only five Niagara teams.

2020 state tournament place winners Cam Catrabone (Williamsville North/East), Carson Alberti (West Seneca/Depew), and Travis Browning (Frontier) all earned Section VI titles and automatically qualified for the state championships next weekend in Albany. Catrabone, who is only a sophomore, claimed his fourth straight sectional title joining Wheatfield junior Collin Coughenour as the only two four-time champions in the tournament. After missing the spring 2021 season, Alberti claimed his third Section VI title while Browning captured his first career sectional title after three previous runner-up placements.

“Within the section I think there’s a weight off my shoulders. I beat the best of the best in the section,” said Browning after the championship match. “Going into the state tournament, I don’t think there is any weight off my shoulders. I still think I have to go out there and do my job cause it’s not over. I need to beat the best of the best in the state now.”

Browning, who was the runner-up in Section VI Division I in the spring season at 118-pounds, certified for 110-pounds this season and made the choice to go lighter for the stretch run. Being disciplined to stay down on weight is, for many wrestlers, not a popular choice, especially for seniors. However, Browning knew that a path to the sectional title and ultimately a state title may favor him being a bigger and older wrestler at the lower weight.

“A lot of people don’t like going to practice and cutting weight…it can be a miserable feeling,” said Browning. “The reason I went down is to chase some kids at states. Some of them have beat me in the past, so I just need to go out there beat them now.”

Twelve of the top seeded wrestlers at each weight class made the Division I finals on Saturday with eleven of them claiming titles and auto-qualifiers to states. Ten of the 2-seeds also reached the final with only two wining their respective weight classes. The true second round had only half as many bouts as the Division II tournament with five and only one non-finalist ‘true 2nd’ winner in Wheatfield’s Casey Robinson at 215-pounds.

102

Top seeded Falls freshman Eian Peterson emerged victorious on Saturday in a weight class that featured no returning sectional place winners. Peterson earned two opening round pins before meeting Frontier 8th grader Cullen Edwards in the final. The 3-seed Edwards was an impressive 7-1 decision winner the 2-seed Sean Gordon from Hamburg in the semifinal round to advance to the championship. In the final, Peterson earned an early takedown which proved to be the difference maker as he held on to win, 2-1, to win the fourth individual title of the night for the Wolverines. Since Gordon went on to claim 3rd place, no true second was contested after the finals so Edwards will also compete for the first time at the state tournament. Starpoint’s Kole Haseley finished 4th overall with North Tonawanda’s Mason Evarts finishing 5th and Falls’ Tommy Crumpler in 6th.

Niagara Falls’ Eian Peterson – Section VI Division I champion 

“102 was wide open,” said Falls head coach Josh Eagan after Peterson’s win. “Why couldn’t it be him? He works hard, he’s in the right room. He’s around three section champs who are working hard around him so there’s good role models in there. He had a different focus about him the last couple of weeks. The whole week going into the sectional tournament he was locked in.”

110

The top three seeded wrestlers at 110-pounds distanced themselves from the rest this season, but Frontier senior Travis Browning proved he’s one of the best in WNY with a dominate performance on Saturday. Browning earned a tech fall in the quarters, a pin in the semifinal, and an impressive tech fall in the final over 3-seed and returning sectional champion in Hamburg junior Ken Schmitz to earn a long awaited Section VI title. Browning, a 2020 7th place NYS Division I place winner, should be in the championship conversation next weekend in Albany. Schmitz advanced to the final with a 3-1 decision over Starpoint 2-seed JR Leuer in the semifinal to even their season head to head rivalry at two wins apiece in their four meetings. Leuer’s 3rd place finish guaranteed for Schmitz an auto qualification to states. Jamestown’s Aiden Senear finished 4th in the bracket, Amherst’s Payton Mack finished 5th, and the Red Raiders’ Connor Bush finished 6th.

Frontier’s Travis Browning – Section VI Division I champion 

118

Niagara Falls got the first champion of the night at Starpoint as senior Jaden Crumpler repeated as Section VI champion to guarantee a trip to the state championships. Crumpler earned two opening round pins to set up a Class AA finals rematch with Williamsville North/East senior Zach Dellinger in the final. Crumpler was a winner by decision, 8-1. Dellinger gutted out a late pin over Grand Island’s impressive sophomore Nik Massaro in the semifinal to advance. One of the day’s earliest upsets saw impressive Wheatfield 8th grader Chase Richards earn a hard fought 9-7 overtime decision over ‘Falls senior Ja’shad Bumpers in the quarterfinal round. Richards wrestled back to a 4th place finish but not after pushing Massaro in a 4-2 overtime defeat. Dellinger earned the runner-up auto qualifier spot in the bracket to advance to the state tournament. Orchard Park’s Simon Cuvelle earned 5th in the bracket while Bumpers finished in 6th place.

Niagara Fall’ Jaden Crumpler – Section VI Division I champion 

126

Falls earned back-to-back champs to start the finals courtesy of their back-to-back defending Section VI champions in Crumpler at 118 and Amarfio Reynolds, Jr at 126-pounds. ‘Junior’ claimed his second sectional crown with an impressive late first period fall over Lancaster journeyman Myles Gronowski in the title match. Reynolds earned a quarter round pin before holding off NW’s star freshman Garrett Chase in the semifinal, 9-5. Gronowski earned two 15-0 tech falls in the first two rounds including one in the semis over eventual 3rd place winner CJ Uptegrove from Starpoint. Reynolds will get his second opportunity to compete at states next weekend while Gronowski earned an automatic qualification for his first chance to wrestle at states; Myles was an alternate for the state pool two years ago. Chase finished 4th in the bracket followed by Amherst’s Riley Kirst in 5th and Frontier’s Rory White in 6th.

Niagara Falls’ Amarfio Reynolds, Jr (top) – Section VI Division I champion 

132

The first of two 2021 sectional final rematches put Starpoint super ‘star’ 8th grader Griffin LaPlante against defending Section VI champion Tremell Mathews in the 132-pound final. Griffin captured his first Section VI title with a 4-1 finals decision over Mathews in their third meeting of the season, all of which LaPlante won by a three point margin over the inner-county Falcons rival. LaPlante earned two pins in the championship rounds leading to the final while Tremell tactically managed decisions over high quality opponents in the first two rounds. 3-seed Clarence freshman AJ Didas fell to Mathews, 5-2, but wrestled back to an important 3rd place finish which resulted in no true 2nd at the weight and an automatic entry in the state tournament for Mathews. NF’s Grady Peterson finished 4th, Starpoint’s Zach Caldwell 5th, and the Red Devils’ Brandon Heh finished 6th.

Starpoint’s Griffin LaPlante – Section VI Division I champion 

“The difference between last year at sectionals to now was my mindset,” said LaPlante after the finals win. “I wasn’t putting the same amount of work and effort into practice last year as I was this year. My mindset is that I mentally and physically break my opponents…just go and win. I think back in practice, the tough times, the last sprints, I just think about these moments and training harder than my opponent. You’ve just got to go in with a mindset of ‘I’m winning this…I’ve put way more work in.””

138

Wheatfield teammates Collin Coughenour and Te’Shaun Mathews squared off in the sectional final which resulted in a highly entertaining overtime 4-2 Coughenour victory for his 4th Section VI title. For Mathews, it was the Falcons sophomore’s third sectional placement and first appearance in the final. In the semis, both wrestlers held off strong opponents as Coughenour was a 6-2 winner over Niagara Falls’ Darren Christian while Mathews was an impressive 8-1 decision winner over Lancaster’s Carter Tadusz. The first true 2nd match of the night set up Mathews against Christian, but ‘Juicy’ earned a third period pin to defend 2nd place and an auto-entry to the state tournament. Tadusz finished 4th in the bracket followed by Amherst’s Zakira Saeed in 5th and Grand Island’s Kaleb Rang in 6th.

Niagara Wheatfield’s Collin Coughenour – Section VI Division I champion 

145 

Two of the best in WNY faced off at 145 in a 2021 finals rematch as Williamsville North’s Cam Catrabone earned his fourth title in as many years with a 7-3 decision over Starpoint’s 2020 sectional champion Gage LaPlante. LaPlante got the first takedown in the bout, but Catrabone answered back with a reversal early in the first period. Catrabone should be one of the top seeded wrestlers in the states bracket with LaPlante not far behind next week. LaPlante did have to wrestle for true second after the final and earned a 2nd period pin over NW freshman Dylan Pringle who started the day as the 4-seed and had to meet teammate Joe Cicco twice on Saturday, earning decisions both times. Those two placements earned Wheatfield two very important sectional place finishes going into next year. Also, both Falcons underclassmen defeated seniors in the consolation semis. Starpoint’s Peyton Lyness claimed 5th in the bracket while Clarence’s Peter Panero finished 6th.

Williamsville North’s Cam Catrabone (left) – Section VI Division I champion 

“I’ll be ready to wrestle in Albany,” said Catrabone after the finals victory. “I’ve got to be ready not only to win, but to dominate. I feel like I have a lot on the line this time.”

152

Top seeded Depew senior Carson Alberti dominated the field on Saturday with an opening round major decision, a semifinals technical fall, and a finals pin over 2-seeded Sweet Home junior Cameron Millender in the final. Millender was challenged right off the bat on Saturday morning when he used a five-point combination to defeat Clarence’s 7-seeded Andrew Le in the quarterfinal round. Millender again had an exciting finish in the semifinal earning near fall points to overcome a late deficit to Starpoint’s Keith Coleman to advance to the final. Alberti earned his third individual sectional title with the win and will look to make another NYS tournament podium finish after placing 5th in NYS in 2020 Division II. 4-seeded Lancaster junior Micah Harry fell in the first round of the tournament but wrestled to a 3rd place finish to set up a true 2nd place match with Millender. The SH junior was a 3-1 winner to secure an entry to the state tournament, the first Panther to do so since the 2016-2017 season. Finishing in 4th place was Jamestown’s Keith Miller, in 5th was Amherst’s Giovanni Russo, and Coleman rounded up the top six.

West Seneca/Depew’s Carson Alberti – Section VI Division I champion 

160

One of the most intriguing weights of the last weeks had all three top Class AA place winners start the day seeded in the top three at sectionals. Ultimately, Niagara Falls junior Mike Syposs captured the sectional title on Saturday as the top seed in the bracket, capping off a remarkable last two weeks in which his move to 160 from 152 paid off big time. Syposs met teammate and 2021 Section VI champion Jesiere Carter in the final and was a 5-4 decision winner for 1st place. In the semifinal round, Carter was a 2-1 overtime winner in a critical head to head with 2020 Section VI champion Michael Schaefer from Lancaster, which was also a rematch of the 2021 sectional final. A true second place wasn’t necessary at the conclusion of the finals so a Niagara Falls double entry at 160 is on hand for the NYS championships next weekend. Schaefer earned two valuable wins in wrestling back to a 3rd place finish ahead of Amherst’s Jake LeClerc in 4th, Hamburg’s Luke Smeader in 5th, and Williamsville South’s Brad Evelt in 6th.

Niagara Falls’ Mike Syposs (bottom) – Section VI Division I champion 

172

Tournament MOW Brian Bielec cruised to his third consecutive Section VI Division I title on Saturday with a third period pin in the final over Lancaster junior Evan Stencel. The Grand Island senior, who owns the all-time Vikings program win record, is eyeing more than a top eight placement in Albany next weekend. Bielec earned a first minute pin in the quarters before an 8-1 decision in the semifinal. Meanwhile, Stencel held off Niagara Falls’ Max Hill in the semi with a third period pin to reach the 172-pound championships match. Starpoint’s Landon Grainy wrestled back to a third place finish to take on Stencel for true second. However, the Lancaster junior defended his runner-up position to earn an automatic qualification to states. Hill finished 4th overall in the weight followed by Orchard Park’s Brody Stevens at 5th and Frontier’s Clay Drew-Deeds in 6th.

Grand Island’s Brian Bielec – Section VI Division I champion 

“I’m looking forward to making a name for myself and showing people what I can do and how hard I’ve worked over the years,” said Bielec looking ahead to the state tournament. “Since 7th grade I’ve done nothing but work hard to achieve this goal…I’m going to be Grand Island’s first state champion. I’m just really thankful for all the opportunities I’ve been given. I’m thankful for my coaches, my family my friends, everyone who has been by my side to support me…just everything all together. I wouldn’t be able to do it without my support system.”

189

The only match of the night that didn’t feature the weigh’s top seed saw Olean/Allegany-Limestone’s 2-seed Chris Bargy cruise to the final for a showdown with Orchard Park sophomore Jack MacDonald. The 4-seed MacDonald took down top seeded Reilly Popa from Clarence in the semifinal with a late pin with only six seconds remaining in the bout to advance to the final. In the championship bout, Bargy led 5-2 late in the third period, but MacDonald stormed back to tie the match with time nearly expiring. However, Bargy earned the overtime sudden death takedown to secure the 189-pound title and an entry to states. Meanwhile, Popa wrestled back to a hard won 3rd place finish but the true 2nd wasn’t needed as MacDonald was already a head to head winner on the day with an auto-qualifier entry to states in hand. Lancater’s Sam Judasz finished in 4th place, Kenmore’s Connor Grohman finished 5th, and Starpoint’s Thomas Browne claimed 6th place.

Olean/Allegany-Limestone’s Chris Bargy – Section VI Division I champion 

215

Lockport junior Kevin Daskavitz made a comeback for the ages in the last two weeks after having missed the entire season up to the Class AA tournament. Daskavitz entered the Class tournament drawn in but captured first place to set up a 2-seed position for the sectional tournament. Daskavtiz met top seeded Starpoint junior Matt Caldwell in the final and cruised to a 6-1 decision victory for his first Section VI title in his second finals appearance. Niagara Wheatfield’s Casey Robinson fell to Daskavitz in the semifinal round, but gutted out two decision wins thereafter to earn the 3rd place position which set up a true 2nd showdown with Caldwell. Robinson earned a late match escape for a 1-0 lead in literally the last match of the tournament to hold on and capture the ‘true 2nd’ and with it an auto-entry to states. Kenmore’s Charlie Marzec finished in 4th place ahead of Sweet Home’s Jared Harris at 5th and Hamburg’s Henry Vallant in 6th.

Lockport’s Kevin Daskavitz (top) – Section VI Division I champion 

285

The highly anticipated fourth meeting of the season between defending Section VI champion Stefaan Fearon and Frontier strongman Konrad Krzyszton materialized in the heavyweight final on Saturday night. Konrad claimed the top seed in the bracket and earned two first period pins leading up to the final. Fearon was pushed in a 3-2 decision win over NW’s Trevon Mathews in the semifinal round but held on to advance to the final for the second straight year. Krzyszton was an 8-3 victor in the final in which he scored five of his eight match points in the first period after nearly earning the fall. Mathews wrestled back to a 3rd place finish in the bracket but the Fearon loss in the final blocked him from the true 2nd match. Krzyszton and Fearon should make an extremely interesting duo in the state tournament bracket in Albany. Starpoint’s Jeremiah Verstreate wrestled back to a 4th place finish in the weight followed by Drew Mascio from Frontier in 5th and Andre Clause from Wheatfield at 6th place overall.

Frontier’s Konrad Krzyszton (left) – Section VI Division I champion 

Section VI Division I entries by weight:

102 – Eian Peterson, Niagara Falls – Cullen Edwards, Frontier

110 – Travis Browning, Frontier – Ken Schmitz, Hamburg

118 – Jaden Crumpler, Niagara Falls – Zach Dellinger, Williamsville North

126 – Amarfio Reynolds, Jr, Niagara Falls – Myles Gronowski, Lancaster

132 – Griffin LaPlante, Starpoint – Tremell Mathews, Niagara Wheatfield

138 – Te’Shaun Mathews, Niagara Wheatfield

145 – Cam Catrabone, Williamsville North – Gage LaPlante, Starpoint

152 – Carson Alberti, West Seneca/Depew – Cameron Millender, Sweet Home

160 – Mike Syposs, Niagara Falls – Jesiere Carter, Niagara Falls

172 – Brian Bielec, Grand Island – Evan Stencel, Lancaster

189 – Chris Bargy, Olean/Allegany-Limestone – Jack MacDonald, Orchard Park

215 – Kevin Daskavitz, Lockport – Casey Robinson, Niagara Wheatfield

285 – Konrad Krzyszton, Frontier – Stefaan Fearon, Lockport


All 2021-2022 Section VI Division I champions and state tournament qualifiers

Please visit the photo gallery at the link provided to view all of the pictures from the Section VI Division I Wrestling Championships finals:


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