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Clarence wins Tonawanda Duals

It was a total team effort. And a dominating one at that.

Five wrestlers turned in spotless performances as the Clarence Red Devils steam rolled to the team championship of the Tonawanda Duals that were held at Tonawanda High School Dec.2-3.

The Red Devils defeated West Seneca West (50-20), Amherst (78-6) and host Tonawanda 68-15) on Friday to open 3-0. Then capped off a perfect 7-0 mark on Saturday with wins over Starpoint (46-21), Lyndonville (74-12), Niagara Falls (71-12) and a 48-28 win over two-time defending Tonawanda Duals champion, Newfane, that clinched the championship.

“I think it’s a good tournament to open up the season with. Everybody gets a good amount of experience,” Clarence coach Jason Chase said.

“There’s a good mix of talent here. Some really good wrestlers and some younger wrestlers. So it’s a good opportunity for everyone to get some good, quality matches.”

Senior Christian Rider, who was one of five Clarence wrestlers to post perfect 7-0 records over the weekend, scored a crucial first period pinfall win over Newfane’s Ben Ford in the 195-pound bracket. Rider’s win over Ford made the score 24-16 and set the stage for the Red Devils to start pulling away on the scoreboard.

“Going into the match I thought maybe we had a little bit of an advantage in the upper weights. That’s one of the strengths of our team,” Chase said.

“It was a full team effort. A couple of those matches could have gone either way. We had a lot of guys that really stepped up and did a good job of getting down to the weight class we needed them at winning matches all the way through. We really scored some wins in those upper weights, but a few of those matches in the middle were really key for us too with some of the younger guys finding a way to really grit out some wins.”

Senior Sean Kloss (285), junior Andy Burden (126), freshman Aiden Rabideau (106) and eighth grader Antoine Walker (99) were also 7-0 in the tournament.

A dominating performance as a whole, the Red Devils outscored their opponents 435-114, for an average score of 62.1-16.2

“To me it shows just how much work that we put in in the off season,” Christian Rider said. “All off season we’ve gone to tournaments, duals. Pushing it. Putting more work in. That’s the big change that happened for us.”

The Newfane Panthers won their first five matches, but saw their hopes for a three-peat dashed when they fell to Clarence. They responded by capping off the event with a win over West Seneca West to finish 6-1 and claim the second place trophy.

“We’re battling some larger schools. Up against some tougher competition,” said Newfane coach Charlie Voorhees.

“It was a great weekend for our guys. Coming here, going 6-1 in the first weekend of the season. I’m unbelievably proud of all their accomplishments and the effort that they put in.”

Ryan Nugent (106), Zach Brown (138) and Julian Nixon were all 7-0 for the Panthers. Starpoint took third place with a team record of 5-2, as they were led by Billy Adams (145) and Anthony Robinson (220) who both went 7-0 and Brian Ghiandoni (6-1) who normally goes at 145, but was at 152 for this tournament.

The rest of the field had West Seneca West at 4-3, Niagara Falls 3-4, Tonawanda 2-5, Amherst 1-6 and Lyndonville 0-7.

While the Warriors were obviously hoping for a better showing than 2-5, head coach Dan Bishop believes the tournament will serve a long term purpose as it gave his young squad exposure to larger schools. Which will only make them better down the road.

“It was a good learning experience for them. We have tons of freshmen starting for us. Guys that have wrestled one or two years,” Bishop said. “We kind of took our lumps today, but growing pains will be good. Moving forward we’ve got a lot of positives out of this weekend.”

Bishop succeeded in his goal of putting together an extremely competitive tournament overall as the balance of large and small schools in this lineup really put each team and each wrestler to the test.

“It’s good because each team is better at different weight classes or has their own strong wrestlers,” Rider said.

“So it was good diversity for each of us in each weight class.”

Destin Tirado and Nick Burda were both 5-2 for the Warriors.

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