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  • Matt O'Rourke

Catrabone Sets New Milestone, North, Clarence Crown Three Champs; Section VI Division I Wrestling Championships Roundup

Cover photo courtesy of Jeff Pataky

Williamsville North senior Cam Catrabone set a new Section VI milestone on Saturday as one of a trio of Spartans wrestlers to win individual titles at the Section VI Division I Championships in the home gym. Clarence also crowned three individual title winners to automatically qualify for the NYSPHSAA Federation Championships in Albany, Feb. 23-24 at MVP Arena.


Section VI Division I dual meet champion team Niagara Wheatfield will send a section-high six wrestlers to the state tournament led by a pair of sectional champions and four runners-up.


NW wrestlers Te’Shaun Mathews (l) and Chase Richards (r) square off in the 145-pound final // Pataky

In total, twenty-six wrestlers will represent Section VI large schools at the 61st NYSPHSAA Intersectional Wrestling Championships on Friday, Feb. 23rd and Saturday, Feb. 24th at MVP Arena in downtown Albany. The section was allocated for two automatic qualifiers to the state championships again this year: each of the thirteen individual sectional weight class winners as well as the runner-up in each bracket.

2024 Section VI Division I wrestling champions and state tournament qualifiers // Pataky

Catrabone posted a 3-0 day with three pins to become Section VI’s first ever six time sectional wrestling champion, passing five wrestlers in Section VI history who all achieved five titles each.


“It’s pretty cool to be the first one to do it,” said Catrabone after the 152-pound title match. “It’s cool to know I will be talked about. This has been a big goal of mine since I was younger…this wasn’t exactly what I was working for, but something that just happened over time.”

Catrabone wrestles Amherst’s Zak Saeed in the 152-pound final // Pataky


Looking ahead to his fifth trip to the NYS tournament, the defending state champion said “I just have to make sure I am ready to go, and if I’m at my best I know I won’t lose.”


For more on Catrabone’s history making day, please visit the below link:


Joining Cam in Albany will be Spartan teammates 101-pound Section VI Div. I champion Tanner Catrabone and 116-pound champion Brayden Kellison-Neglia, both of whom are first time sectional champions and state tournament qualifiers.


Williamsville’s Kellison-Neglia armbars Niagara Wheatfield’s Eian Peterson // Pataky

Clarence also crowned a trio of champions on Saturday with 131-pound champion Trevor Mueller, 138-pound champion AJ Didas, and 285-pound champion Bryce Hawes.


Both Mueller and Didas were the top seeds in their respective weights while Hawes entered the tournament as the 2-seed in the heavyweight bracket. Didas and Hawes both took second in their respective weights in 2023 to qualify for the NYSPHSAA Federation Championships but will return to Albany for the 2024 tournament as the Section VI champion-representatives.


Mueller celebrates with Clarence coaches // Pataky

“Mueller is an up and coming star…kids’ an animal. Didas…one of the best leaders I’ve ever coached and works harder than anyone in the room. Bryce…he’s been the anchor of our team for three years and is no stranger to being in the finals of the sectionals,” said Clarence head coach Keith Stoerr after the final. “I’ve had a lot of help along the way. Jason Chase helped build this program, and I am just doing my best to keep it running.”

Stoerr pumps up Didas before the 138-pound final // Pataky


Hawes gives head coach Stoerr a celebratory lateral drop // Pataky

Also of note, Lafayette/Buffalo Public Schools senior Kahmari Cook was named the tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler in capturing the 215-pound sectional title, the first wrestler in the history of the city school district to do so.


Section VI wrestling co-chairman Israel Martinez (l), MOW Cook (m), and BPS head wrestling coach James Cunningham (r) // Pataky

Additionally, former Grand Island head coach and current assistant Craig Hoplight was awarded with the Niagara Frontier Wrestling Officials Association Jerry Wright Award for outstanding contributions to the sport of wrestling in western New York.

Coach Hoplight with past and current NFWOA referees // Pataky



Top seeded Williamsville North/East 8th grader Tanner Catrabone dominated the lightweight field on the way to his first Section VI individual title on Saturday. Tanner was an opening round winner by pin before a 16-0 tech fall over the 5-seeded Zach Didas from Clarence in the semifinal. On the bottom side of the bracket, 2-seeded 8th grader Cameron Crumpler from Niagara Falls cruised into the title match with a pin and an impressive 15-2 major over Grand Island’s 3-seeded Deni Daghestani in the semifinal.


The title match between Catrabone and Crumpler was the pairs’ third meeting in as many weeks. Tanner impressed with a 12-0 major decision to claim the sectional title and his first trip to the NYS tournament after placing 3rd in the 2023 Section VI championships. Crumpler automatically qualified for the state tournament as well and will be the only Wolverine in the 2024 federation championships.


2024 Section VI Division I 101-pound place winners:


1. Tanner Catrabone (8th-grade) – Williamsville North/East

2. Cameron Crumpler (8) – Niagara Falls

3. Deni Daghestani (9) – Grand Island

4. Cole Randle (9) – Grand Island

5. Zach Didas (8) – Clarence

6. Gabriella Barone (8) – Niagara Wheatfield


North's Tanner Catrabone // Pataky



Starpoint’s Sean McDonald defended his top seed with a dominating performance on the way to the Section VI Division I 108-pound title, pinning his way through the field. In the title match, McDonald met Jamestown’s Zach Little, who as the 7-seed in the tournament was the lowest seeded wrestler to reach the finals. Little took down back to back returning sectional place winners in the first two rounds. First, he upset 2-seeded Mustafa Natiq from Amherst in the opening round, 3-2, before earning a second period pin over 3-seed Zak Massaro from Grand Island in the semifinal. However, McDonald would earn the third period pin in the title match to capture the 108-pound Section VI large school title. Since Massaro wrestled back to a 3rd place finish, Little earned automatic entry to the state tournament, the first Jamestown wrestler to do so since the 2015-2016 season.


2024 Section VI Division I 108-pound place winners:


1. Sean McDonald (10) – Starpoint

2. Zach Little (10) – Jamestown

3. Zak Massaro (9) – Grand Island

4. Mustafa Natiq (11) – Amherst

5. Aiden Rodriguez (9) – Orchard Park

6. Nick Rodriguez (11) – Williamsville North/East


Starpoint's McDonald // Pataky



In their first meeting of the season, Williamsville North/East’s 2-seeded Brayden Kellison-Neglia took down top seeded and two-time defending Section VI champion Eian Peterson from Niagara Wheatfield by a razor thin, 2-0 decision in the sectional championship bout on Saturday. Both wrestlers pinned each of their first two opponents to reach the title match. Frontier’s Trey Abrams fell to Kellison-Neglia in the semifinal but wrestled back to 3rd in the weight class. However, Peterson defended his runner-up finish and third trip to the state tournament with a 12-0 major in the true second place bout.


2024 Section VI Division I 116-pound place winners:


1. Brayden Kellison-Neglia (9) – Williamsville North/East

2. Eian Peterson (11) – Niagara Wheatfield

3. Trey Abrams (9) – Frontier

4. Reverien Nshimirimana (10) – Lafayette/Buffalo Public Schools

5. Nick Melendez (10) – Jamestown

6. Ali Hamideh (8) – Frontier


Williamsville's Kellison-Neglia // Pataky



After falling in both the 2023 sectional final and true second place matches, and only a week removed from a 4th place finish in the Class A tournament, Grand Island’s 2-seeded Dylan Castiglia earned redemption on Saturday in capturing the Section VI Division I 124-pound title. Castiglia earned an opening round pin before toughing out a 3-1 decision over 3-seeded Niagara Frontier League rival and Class A champion Muntathar Abbas from Niagara Wheatfield in the semifinal. Top seeded Hamburg senior Sam Berti reached the final earning a 4-2 decision over returning sectional place winner Ricky Andres from Lancaster in the semi. In the title match, Castiglia gutted out a close 6-5 decision to capture the title and ensure a trip to the state tournament this year. Meanwhile, Berti defended his runner-up finish with a 6-5 win of his own in the true second match over Abbas to land qualification to the state championships.


2024 Section VI Division I 124-pound place winners:


1. Dylan Castiglia (11) – Grand Island

2. Sam Berti (12) – Hamburg

3. Muntathar Abbas (11) – Niagara Wheatfield

4. Ricky Andres (11) – Lancaster

5. Blake Papke (12) – Orchard Park

6. Joe Magnano (12) – Amherst


Grand Island's Castiglia // Pataky



Clarence 8th grader Trevor Mueller overcame a 3rd place finish in the Class A tournament in the week prior to capture the Section VI Division I title on Saturday. Despite his place finish in Class A, Mueller’s resume still earned him the top seed at 131-pounds. In the first round, he earned a pin before earning a 5-4 decision over Amherst’s Moshin Ali, avenging a 5-1 decision from the Class A semifinals. In the title match, Mueller would meet 3-seeded Jamestown junior Tyler Zwald who earned an impressive second period pin over Amherst’s 2-seeded Riley Kirst in the semifinal. Mueller’s 4-1 decision in the final earned him the 131-pound Section VI title and automatic qualification to the state tournament. Kirst’s third place finish meant that Zwald would also earn entry to the federation championships as the runner-up in the bracket.


2024 Section VI Division I 131-pound place winners:


1. Trevor Mueller (8) – Clarence

2. Tyler Zwald (11) – Jamestown

3. Riley Kirst (12) – Amherst

4. Moshin Ali (11) – Amherst

5. Kayden Feagin (10) – Niagara Falls

6. Evan Dorsheimer (11) – Orchard Park


Clarence's Mueller // Pataky



The Red Devils crowned back to back champions with top seeded junior AJ Didas cruising through the 138-pound large school bracket. The returning sectional finalist and state tournament qualifier earned pins in each of his first two matches to set up a Class A final rematch with Niagara Wheatfield's Garrett Chase, also a returning NYS tournament qualifier. In the sectional final, Didas improved on a 4-1 decision victory from the week before with an impressive 12-4 major over Chase to capture his first individual sectional title and second trip to the state tournament. The 2-seeded Falcon junior held off 3-seeded Sweet Home sophomore Abduali Mukumov, 6-0, in the semifinal to reach the final for the first time. Then, Garrett was an impressive first period winner by pin in the true second place match to ensure his second trip to the state championships.


2024 Section VI Division I 138-pound place winners:


1. AJ Didas (11) – Clarence

2. Garrett Chase (11) – Niagara Wheatfield

3. Reginald McCreary (8) – Niagara Falls

4. Abduali Mukumov (10) – Sweet Home

5. Eli Linenfesler (12) – Grand Island

6. Gavin Stevens (12) – Kenmore

Clarence's Didas // Pataky




Defending Section VI champion and NYS 5th place finisher Te’Shaun Mathews from Niagara Wheatfield earned his second straight title as the top seed in the 145-pound bracket. Mathews earned an opening round pin before a 6-0 decision win over Kenmore’s impressive returning 3rd place winner Sawyer Dickinson in the semifinal. 2-seeded returning state qualifier Chase Richards earned a crucial 4-3 decision over Clarence’s Joey Keller in the semifinal to reach the title match against Mathews for the second straight year. In the consolation final, Keller was a 6-3 winner over Dickinson. In the final, Mathews was a 10-1 major decision winner over Richards, which, coincidentally, was the same score of their 2023 title match.

“This time around, we’re going there locked in, no distractions, no nothing…I’m not toying around with anybody,” said Mathews after the final, looking ahead to the state tournament. “We’re going straight for the pin. I’m taking my coaches to the finals, I’m a senior, I want to see my coaches in their suits and win a state title and show everyone why they believe in me.”

2024 Section VI Division I 145-pound place winners:


1. Te’Shaun Mathews (12) – Niagara Wheatfield

2. Chase Richards (10) – Niagara Wheatfield

3. Joey Keller (12) – Clarence

4. Sawyer Dickinson (10) – Kenmore

5. Rocco Urbanczyk (12) – Williamsville North/East

6. Nathan Cohen (12) – Amherst


Niagara Wheatfield's Mathews // Pataky



Now six time Section VI champion Cam Catrabone picked up three pins on Saturday to capture the Section VI title for the final time as he looks to repeat as NYS champion in Albany. Through six sectional championship tournaments, Catrabone finishes with fourteen pins, two major decisions, and one win by decision. 2-seeded Amherst senior Zak Saeed reached the final for the first time after placing 5th in 2023. Lancaster’s 6-seeded Joey Freiberg upset 3-seed Vincenzo Falsetti in the quarters with a 2-1 decision, however Saeed was a 7-3 semifinal winner over Freiburg to reach the title match. In the consolation, Sweet Home’s tricky John Lopez was a 7-2 winner over Freiberg to set up a 3rd place match with Falsetti. With Saeed’s loss in the final, Falsetti earned a shot at true second place after falling in the first round, but the Tiger senior gutted out the 8-7 decision victory to defend 2nd place and earn entry to the state championship tournament, the first Amherst wrestler to do so since 2020.


2024 Section VI Division I 152-pound place winners:


1. Cam Catrabone (12) – Williamsville North/East

2. Zak Saeed (12) – Amherst

3. Vincenzo Falsetti (12) – Niagara Falls

4. John Lopez (12) – Sweet Home

5. Cole Bloomquist (11) – Jamestown

6. Joey Freiberg (12) – Lancaster

Williamsville's Cam Catrabone // Pataky




Longtime rivals Joe Cicco from Niagara Wheatfield and Dylan Gagnon from North Tonawanda met for the 4th time this season in the 160-pound Division I final as the top-2 seeds in the bracket. Going into the final, Cicco held the 2-1 head to head advantage in their season series and earned the top seed in the bracket while Gagnon, the 2023 152-pound Section VI champion earned the 2-seed. Both wrestlers pinned their first two opponents on the way back to the sectional title match. Ultimately, Cicco was a 13-8 decision winner in an exciting, back and forth match to earn his first sectional title but second straight trip to the federation tournament. Gagnon will also head back to Albany for the state tournament for his runner-up performance.


2024 Section VI Division I 160-pound place winners:


1. Joe Cicco (12) – Niagara Wheatfield

2. Dylan Gagnon (12) – North Tonawanda

3. Ben Gombos (11) – Frontier

4. Ilimdar Khasanov (11) – North Tonawanda

5. Aryan Rahimi (12) – Williamsville North/East

6. Mason Tirado (9) – Frontier


Niagara Wheatfield's Cicco // Pataky



Four time Section VI finalist Michael Schaefer earned his second career sectional title with a dominating performance on Saturday. The top seeded Lancaster senior earned pins in each of his first two matches to set up a meeting with 2-seed Evan Braunscheidel in the title match, Schaefer’s second straight sectional final meeting with a Hamburg Bulldog opponent. This time, Schaefer would secure the title with an impressive 15-0 technical fall to earn his third career trip to the state championships. Braunscheidel reached the final holding off 3-seeded Williamsville North/East senior Hussein Zenki, 6-3, in the semifinal. Jamestown’s Keith Miller fell in the quarterfinal round but wrestled back to 3rd place, however, Braunscheidel defended his runner-up finish with a late third period pin to secure a qualification to the state tournament.


2024 Section VI Division I 170-pound place winners:


1. Michael Schaefer (12) – Lancaster

2. Evan Braunscheidel (11) – Hamburg

3. Keith Miller (12) – Jamestown

4. Clayton Feltz (12) – Clarence

5. Killian Simonson (12) – Amherst

6. Hussein Zenki (12) – Williamsville North/East


Lancaster's Schaefer // Pataky



Top seeded Class AA champion Liam Whalen earned two major decisions on Saturday to capture the 190-pound Section VI Division I title. Whalen was a 10-2 major winner over Class A champion and 2-seed Josh Knobloch from Amherst in the title bout to earn his first sectional title and improving on a 3rd place finish in the 2023 championship. On the way to the final, Knobloch earned two decision victories including a 6-4 decision over Niagara Falls 6-seed Demarius Gregory, who upset 3-seeded Iain O’Donnell in OT, 4-2, in the opening round. O’Donnell would eventually wrestle back to a 3rd place finish defeating Gregory 3-2 in the consolation final to earn a shot at state qualification with a true second place match. A 4-3 decision victory for O’Donnell over Knobloch in the true second place match landed the Wheatfield senior his first trip to the upcoming state tournament and was the only one of the eight true second place matches on Saturday where the third place finisher took down the bracket’s finals runner-up.

“I couldn’t do it without my coaches,” said Whalen after winning the Section VI title. “They got me here. It was a lot of hard work in the wrestling room and sticking with it…I never really thought I’d be here. They really took the time to develop me into the wrestler I am today.”

2024 Section VI Division I 190-pound place winners:


1. Liam Whalen (12) – Lockport

2. Iain O’Donnell (12) – Niagara Wheatfield

3. Josh Knobloch (12) – Amherst

4. Demarius Gregory (11) – Niagara Falls

5. Noah Leavell (10) – Hamburg

6. Amari Libertone-Robinson (11) – Williamsville North/East

Lockport's Whalen // Pataky




One of the most anticipated potential sectional title matches from the start of this season delivered on Saturday resulting in another one of the day’s historic firsts. Top seeded defending Section VI champion and NYS 7th place winner Jack MacDonald from Orchard Park met 2-seeded Kahmari Cook from Lafayette/BPS in the title match after both wrestlers dominated their sides of the bracket. In the final, Cook earned an impressive pin over MacDonald to avenge the same result from the Class AA final while also earning the 215-pound sectional title, the very first individual sectional wrestling title in Buffalo Public Schools history. Cook was awarded the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler award for his efforts as well.


In the preceding semifinal match, Cook was a winner by pin over Niagara Wheatfield’s star sophomore John Fike, who wrestled back to a third place finish. However, MacDonald would make sure to secure another trip to the state tournament with a 10-0 major over Fike in the true second place match.

2024 Section VI Division  215-pound place winners:


1. Kahmari Cook (12) – Lafayette/BPS

2. Jack MacDonald (12) – Orchard Park

3. John Fike (10) – Niagara Wheatfield

4. Luke Osmanski (12) – West Seneca/Depew

5. Lucas Clark (11) – Starpoint

6. Santiago Rendon (11) – Lancaster


Buffalo's Cook // Pataky



One of the most intriguing brackets of the sectional championships featured three returning place winners in the top-4 seeds of the weight class. Returning sectional 6th place winner, Frontier junior Mike Welsh earned the 1-seed in the bracket followed closely by 2-seeded returning finalist and state qualifier Bryce Hawes from Clarence, 3-seeded returning 3rd place winner Zaid El Nasser from Williamsville North/East, and 4-seeded Kenmore senior Hezekiah Mercado. A rematch of the Class AA final in the semifinal resulted in a 5-0 decision for Welsh over Mercado for his first trip to the title match. Meanwhile, Hawes was a second period winner by pin in the semi over El Nasser in their third and final meeting of their rivalry this season. In the title match, Hawes was a second period winner by pin over Welsh in their third meeting of the season where Welsh won both of their first two matches. Meanwhile, El Nasser wrestled back to another 3rd place finish earning an impressive pin over Kenmore’s Mercado in the consolation final to set up a shot at the state tournament in the true second place match. In the true second bout, Welsh was able to secure a first period pin to earn a trip to the state tournament.


2024 Section VI Division I 285-pound place winners:


1. Bryce Hawes (12) – Clarence

2. Mike Welsh (11) – Frontier

3. Zaid El Nasser (12) – Williamsville North/East

4. Hezekiah Mercado (12) – Kenmore

5. Jose Escalara-Vasquez (11) – Frontier

6. Leo Haley (10) - Hamburg

Clarence's Hawes // Pataky

2024 Section VI Division I Wrestling Championships

State qualifiers by team


Niagara Wheatfield – 6

Clarence – 3

Williamsville North/East – 3

Hamburg – 2

Jamestown – 2

Amherst – 1

Frontier – 1

Grand Island – 1

Lafayette/BPS – 1

Lancaster – 1

Lockport – 1

Niagara Falls – 1

North Tonawanda – 1

Orchard Park – 1

Starpoint – 1

2024 Section VI champions by league

ECIC I – 7

Niagara Frontier League – 4


Independent – 1


2024 state qualifiers by league


ECIC I – 11

Niagara Frontier League – 10


Independent – 1

Kellison-Neglia vs. Peterson - 116-pound final // Pataky

Didas vs. Chase - 138-pound final // Pataky

Cicco vs. Gagnon - 160-pound final // Pataky


Welsh vs. Hawes - 285-pound final // Pataky


Referee Jesse Beers will represent WNY again at the NYS federation championships // Pataky

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