ECIC III Wrestling Preview
For the first time in over three years a team not named ‘Pioneer Panthers’ will win the division; Pioneer was moved into ECIC II. Moving Iroquois into ECIC III was considered, but was eventually dropped.
Eden and Tonawanda tied for the league championship in 2014-2015 with both squads posting 6-1 league records. In that season, Alden was still independent, East Aurora and Holland were combined, and Cheektowaga was in ECIC II while Depew was in III. Those teams have traded places. Alden is back, and East Aurora is independent again. A team currently in ECIC III has yet to qualify for the Section VI Div. II Dual Meet Championship.
The league is wide open. Expect the team with a low number of forfeits and dependable pinners to raise a league championship banner at the end of the season.
Tonawanda Warriors – Class B
2017-2018 resume: tied for 2nd place ECIC III (5-2 in league), 4th place Class C tournament
Senior standout Zach Braddell is in his final season and is looking to make noise in Albany. The three-time Section VI champion and two-time NYS place winner is a legitimate contender for a state championship. Braddell has the opportunity to lead the Warriors back to the top of the league and contend for a spot in the Duals in his final season.
Five Class C place winners return for head coach Dan Bishop including junior Nick Szortyka, a Class C finalist and state qualifier place winner. The majority of returners wrestled lower than Braddell (126-pounds) last season. The Warriors did lose a handful of upper weights to graduation.
Eden Raiders – Class C/D
2017-2018 resume: 4th place ECIC III (4-3 league), 5th place Class C tournament
Head coach Tom Page and his Raiders will make a run at the league title. The Raiders return five Class C place winners, all still underclassmen, led by champions Blake Colantino and Giovanni Schifano, both juniors. Colantino placed 3rd and Schifano 6th at the state qualifier. Freshman Shane Walczyk was 3rd in the class and 6th at the qualifier. The Raiders will need to replace three graduated class place winners and bolster the upper weights, however the youth of the five place winners shows some promise and core of athletes to build around. Coach Page always has his Raiders ready to compete.
Maryvale Flyers – Class B
2017-2018 resume: tied for 2nd ECIC III (5-2 league), 6th place Class B tournament
The Flyers have improved every year since the 2015-2016 season going 2-5 in the league that year, then 4-3 in 2016-2017, and then sharing 2nd place in ECIC III in 2017-2018 with a 5-2 league record. Now that Pioneer has vacated the division, it’s anyone’s league and Maryvale may be the team to win it.
The Flyers return a majority of the team. Four Class B finalists have graduated. Three place winners between 145 and 160-pounds are gone. While the bottom half of head coach Dale Striker’s lineup will need to reload, four senior class place winners that from 160-195-pounds return. The group, led by class finalist Zacori Volious, will need to set the pace for the Flyers if they plan to make a league title run.
East Aurora Blue Devils – Class B
2017-2018 resume: tied for 5th place ECIC III (3-4 league), 7th place Class B tournament
The Blue Devils are led by defending Section VI champion Johnny Putney who is coming off of an All-State soccer performance this fall. Putney will need to be the reliable veteran in the middle of head coach Jeff Michel’s lineup if the Blue Devils are to make a run at the league title. Junior Alex Skowronski is a defending Class B champion and state qualifier place winner.
Besides Putney and Skowronski, six more returning Devils competed in the class tournament. Two were place winners. Six of the returning eight wrestled at weights between Skowronski (113) and Putney (138). Putney’s veteran leadership could be put to the test if the Devils find themselves in the league title race. He’ll be in the mix as a contender for a Division 2 state title in February.
Cheektowaga Warriors – Class B
2017-2018 resume: tied for 5th place ECIC III (3-4 league), 8th place Class B tournament
The Warriors sent Kiar Parker to states as a wildcard in 2017-2018. Now, seniors Tyler Le and Austin Silwinski will make state tournament pushes of their own.
Le was a Class B finalist and 4th place finisher at the Section VI Division II tournament. Silwinski is a defending Class B champion and 4th place finisher as well. Head coach Matt Haberl will look to his seniors to led what should be a young and inexperienced Warriors squad.
Springville-Griffith Institute Griffins – Class B
2017-2018 resume: 7th place ECIC III (1-6 league), 6th place Class C tournament
Springville entered eight underclassmen into the 2018 Class C tournament between the weights of 106 and 145-pounds. Five of those Griffins placed led by class champion and two-time Section VI champion Mikey Evans, now only a sophomore.
While the Griffins have good handful lower weights, the upper end of the lineup might be the concern. Only one wrestler returns with a class placement from a year ago. Mark Vogel is the head coach of the Griffins.
Lackawanna Steelers – Class B
2017-2018 resume: 8th place ECIC III (0-7 league), 10th place Class C tournament
Seven underclassmen competed at the class tournament. Five competed between 106 and 120-pounds and two at 285. Five Steelers return having placed, which is a positive coming into the season especially since all are still underclassmen.
Ninth grader Mohammed Alshawi was the runner-up at 113-pounds and then won the Section VI title as the fourth seeded wrestler in the weight class. The Steelers are coached by Lackawanna’s 2010 NYS champion Abdulgawi Mohamed.
Alden Bulldogs – Class C/D
2017-2018 resume combined with Akron: 2nd place Niagara-Orleans League (4-1 league), 4th place Class B tournament, Section VI Div. II Dual Meet Tournament runner-up, NYSSWA #19 ranked small school
The combined forces of Akron and Alden had great success in a one season merger under head coach Dan Klonowski. Owen Kissell, one of three Alden wrestlers on the combined team, earned a wildcard to the state tournament as a senior after taking second place at the state qualifier.
The 2016-2017 Bulldogs season ended with only three wrestlers on the team. Now that the program is independent again, the first order of business for new head coach Rick Mitchell and the athletic department will be to recruit athletes; the district cut the modified program for 2018-2019. The Bulldogs won the league championship as recently as the 2011-2012 season with a 7-0 league record.
So far, the Bulldogs are off to a good start participation-wise. Coach Mitchell stated that fourteen athletes have come out for the team through the first week of practice. Let’s hope for the best for the 2018-2019 Bulldogs and the future of the program. Alden has been moved back to Class C.
Alden makes its return to the ECIC on Wednesday, December 5th at Maryvale.