ECIC I Wrestling Preview
Half of ECIC I’s teams (Lancaster, Frontier, Clarence, and Hamburg) were invited to the 2018 Section VI Dual Meet Championship in January, the most out of any league in the section.
Lancaster will look to defend its league title after retaking it from Clarence last season. However, a host of league rivals will be looking to claim ECIC I for themselves. Some Legends will have big shoes to fill as three seniors have departed that represented Lancaster in Albany last February. The last second merger of the West Seneca West and East teams could upset the final standings in a fashion that was totally unexpected leading all the way up to the first day of practice. The race for ECIC I may be closer than expected in late January 2019.
Lancaster Legends – Class AA
2017-2018 resume: 1st place ECIC I (7-0 league), 1st place ECIC tournament, Section VI Div. I Dual Meet Champion, Section VI Class AA tournament, NYSSWA #20 ranked large school
Coach Ron Lorenz’s Legends won all there was to win in Section VI last season. In addition to all of the team success, four Legends advanced to the NYS Division 1 Championships for the first time in program history. Three of them – Jacob Harry, Parker Rozler, and Joe Andreessen – graduated last spring.
The defending league and ECIC tournament champions return junior Ryan Stencel who has two individual Section VI titles already under his belt. Freshman Myles Gronowski returns as the defending Class AA 99-pound champion. Coach Lorenz will expect his junior standout to lead a Legends team looking to defend all four team titles from a season ago. Lancaster returns seven Class AA place winners and five total Section VI Div. I placers from a year ago.
Clarence Red Devils – Class AA
2017-2018 resume: 2nd place ECIC I (6-1 league), 3rd place ECIC tournament, 2nd place Class AA tournament, Section VI Div. I Dual Meet Tournament participant, NYSSWA Honorable Mention
Head coach Jason Chase lost state tournament wildcard Anthony Corigliano to graduation, however two-time defending Section VI champion Aiden Rabideau returns now only in his junior season. The two-time ECIC champion will need to be the Red Devil’s leader and go-to man in the middle of the lineup as they look to reclaim the ECIC I title. Clarence returns eight total Class AA place winners and five state qualifier place winners.
Hamburg Bulldogs – Class A
2017-2018 resume: 3rd place ECIC 1 (5-2 league), 4th place Class A tournament, Section VI Div. I Dual Meet Tournament participant, NYSSWA Honorable Mention
Hamburg, the only Class A team in ECIC I, has been one of the Section’s most consistent large school programs under head coach Ken Meyer. Since the 2013-2014 season when Hamburg finished last in the league, the 2014-2015 ‘Dogs moved up three spots in the standings, and have finished in exactly 3rd place each of the last three season.
Six Bulldogs with Class A place finishes return in 2018-2019, led by Class A finalist Ryan Forrest now in his junior year. Forrest, along with two other Bulldogs, return with state qualifier place finishes as well.
Given traditionally good numbers and a recent streak of consistent place finishes in both the league and class (4th in Class A in 2015, three straight 3rd place finishes since then), Forrest and the Bulldogs should be a contender for the league championship.
West Seneca West/East Indians – Class AA
2017-2018 resume (West only): tied for 6th place ECIC I (1-6 league), 6th place Class A tournament
West and East will combine forces for at least the 2018-2019 season. The combined squad will participate in Class AA. West was already scheduled to go back to the division, while East would have remained in A.
The Indians under head coach Dave Recor placed seven wrestlers at the Class A tournament, none of whom were seniors. Between those wrestlers four placed at the state qualifier led by senior Kyle Bauer, who finished 3rd in both tournaments and impressively earned bronze at the qualifier as an unseeded wrestler. Three Trojan underclassmen earned places in last year’s A tournament as well. Seven of the returning place winners (between both team) are seniors, which suggests West/East could contend for a shot at the league title and an invite to the Duals.
Orchard Park Quakers – Class AA
2017-2018 resume: tied for 6th place ECIC I (1-6 league), 8th place Class AA tournament
The Quakers showed significant signs of improvement in 2017-2018 over previous seasons. Without argument head coach Jared Teal and staff are doing an excellent job of recruiting athletes.
Orchard Park entered fourteen wrestlers in the class tournament. Seven class place winners and three sectional place winners return for Teal in 2018-2019 including junior Mike Pataky who won bronze in both the class and qualifier tournaments. The Quakers could make a huge statement for the program if it were to earn an invite to the Section VI Dual Meet Championship in January.
Frontier Falcons – Class AA
2017-2018 resume: 5th place ECIC I (3-4 league), 3rd place Class AA tournament, 4th place Section VI Div. I Duals, NYSSWA Honorable Mention
Over the last few seasons, head coach John Chowske’s Falcons have climbed their way annually into the Section VI large school conversation with solid participation, quality wrestling, and consistent tournament performances. Frontier earned another invitation to the Dual Meet Championship in 2017-2018 and were seeded 8th. The Falcons earned a hard won 4th place finish at the Duals.
Seven Falcon seniors who participated in the post season graduated, including state tournament wildcard Derek Wojciechowski. Five class place winners return for the new season, one of whom placed 6th in 2018 in junior Owen Weller.
Jamestown Red Raiders – Class AA
2017-2018 resume: 4th place ECIC I (4-3 league), 6th place Class AA tournament
The Red Raiders may be looking at a rebuild in 2018-2019 as five seniors who placed 4th or better at last season’s qualifier have graduated. Four Class AA place winners return for head coach Jamie Bloomquist’s squad in 2018, led by Class AA 3rd place finisher Jomar Medero-Montanez. Whether in rebuild mode or not, the Red Raiders should never be taken lightly.
Williamsville North/East Spartans – Class AA
2017-2018 resume: tied for 6th place ECIC I (1-6 league), 4th place Class AA tournament
While the Spartans didn’t have the strongest dual team in 2017-2018, the squad ended the season on a high note in placing in the top four in the Class AA tournament team standings and crowned two sectional champions in Vinny Catanzaro and Cam Walter, both of whom have graduated.
New head coach Mickey Moran, a former Lancaster assistant coach, will look to guide the Spartans back on course in 2018-2019. Sophomore Mike Catanzaro, a Class AA finalist and 3rd at the state qualifier, should be Coach Moran’s key piece as the Spartans look to rebuild after losing seven seniors who competed in postseason competition last winter.
The Spartans will face off against defending league champion Lancaster at home on Wednesday, December 5th to open ECIC action. Coach Moran’s first dual meet as head coach is against his former team.