Much like Falconer in the first division of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association (CCAA), the Randolph Cardinals have dominated the league’s second division as of recent. The Cardinals have won three straight CCAA Div. II titles while posting an 18-0 league record over that time. Maple Grove was the last champion before Randolph’s run in 2014-2015. The seven teams that make up the league are, BEDS wise, seven of the eight smallest schools in Section VI wrestling and accounted for seven of the eleven teams in Class D. All will compete in the newly formed Class C/D tournament next February.
As the smallest schools across the state continue to merge, shut down programs of all kinds, and blame low numbers for the reason to fold their wrestling teams, there are some whose communities, coaches, and athletes continue to fight to preserve their wrestling traditions. To compare, the seven largest teams in Section VI features three combined teams with a total combined BEDS enrollment of over 10,000 students. The seven teams from CCAA Div. II account for one combined team and a total combined BEDS enrollment of just over 1,700 students grades 9-11, good for only 17% of that total BEDS enrollment for the Section’ largest programs.
However, this isn’t to say turnout is great; unfilled lineups continue to be an issue for many squads and over the years some teams have had to merge. As long as these small schools continue to maintain wrestling they keep the spirit of the sport alive.
Randolph Cardinals – Class C/D
2017-2018 resume: 1st place CCAA Div. II (6-0 league), 4th place Class D tournament, Section VI Div. II Dual Meet tournament participant
Seven class place finishers return to a Cardinals lineup looking to extend the league championship streak to four in 2018-2019. Graduated seniors Matt Evans and Nick Becker won Class D titles a season ago and earned trips to the state tournament where they would place 5th and 6th, respectively, in their weight classes.
Now, head coach Todd Conley will need to find new go-to men in the lineup to help alleviate the loss of two very talented wrestlers. Class D finalist and state qualifier place winner Jacob Zachar might be the man for the job. Zacher will need to anchor the upper end a Cardinals lineup that features four returning wrestlers that competed in the class tournament between 7th and 9th grades a season ago.
Portville Panthers – Class C/D
2017-2018 resume: 2nd place CCAA Div. II (5-1 league), 2nd place Class D tournament
Head coach Matt Milne may have had one of the Section’s youngest squads last season, as only two seniors graduated from a team of twenty-three athletes. Nearly half the team alone were sophomores. Twelve Class D place winners return paced by freshman sensation Dakota Mascho, who as an 8th grader wrestling at the ‘man’s’ weight of 152-pounds won forty matches, a class title, and placed 3rd in the section. Mascho comes into this season as one of the state’s most highly rated freshmen. Junior Roland Thompson returns this season coming off of a 6th place finish at the state qualifier. The Panthers may be ready to replace Randolph atop the league standings.
Franklinville/Ellicottville/Cuba-Rushford Panthers – Class C/D
2017-2018 resume: 3rd place CCAA Div. II (4-2 league), 7th place Class D tournament
Franklinville/Ellicottville added Section V small school Cuba-Rushford to the mix this offseason. Only five out of the eight Class D place winners from a year ago return led by defending champion and sectional place winner Cleon Lawton.
The Panthers have shown consistency in league duals over the past five years, never finishing in last and earning at least two league wins. It will big for these Panthers, hit hard by graduation, to continue the team’s competitive streak in the league. Franklinville’s head coach is Scott Palmatier.
Maple Grove Red Dragons – Class C/D
2017-2018 resume: 4th place CCAA Div. II (3-3 league), 8th place Class D tournament
The scrappy 2017-2018 Dragons continued to wrestle in and represent the proud tradition of Maple Grove wrestling. And while the team wasn’t particularly high in numbers, they did feature three talented state level wrestlers. All-State seniors Zak Trim and Shane Hetrick graduated. Ninth grader and Class D champion Luke Tomlinson returns as head coach Mark Hetrick’s top wrestler. Senior and fellow class champion Taige Jones returns as well. Only four total Class D place winners return in 2018-2019.
Salamanca Warriors – Class C/D
2017-2018 resume: 5th place CCAA Div. II (2-4 league), 11th place Class D tournament
Two Class D place winners return for head coach Keith Jones. The good news is that only one senior graduated from a roster of nineteen last spring. The Warriors could be paced by eight returning seniors with experience from last season.
Cattaraugus-Little Valley Timberwolves – Class C/D
2017-2018 resume: 6th place CCAA Div. II (1-5 league), 9th place Class D tournament
The Timberwolves graduated two seniors off of what was already a very limited roster. However, the bright spot for the program over the last few years has been Sam Grey, now in his final season. Grey was a class champion a season ago with a 4th place finish at the Section VI Division II state qualifier. He’ll look to make a run at a sectional championship as one of the area’s top middle weights. Rex Brown is the new head coach of the Timberwolves.
Frewsburg Bears – Class C/D
2017-2018 resume: 7th place CCAA Div. II (0-7 league), 10th place Class D tournament
Three Bears placed in last year’s Class D tournament, and all three return in 2018-2019. Senior Nick Marsh returns coming off of a 6th place finish at the state qualifier. Out of last year’s roster of eleven wrestlers, eight were either sophomores or freshmen, and there were no seniors. A young group of underclassmen led by Marsh and two other seniors that return from last year’s roster could be a recipe for getting Frewsburg back into the ‘W’ column against league rivals. Randy Spicer is the head coach of the Bears.