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  • Matt O'Rourke

Falcons Fly High to Third Sectional Dual Meet Title; Section VI Division I Wrestling Dual Meet Championships Roundup


Cover photo courtesy of Jeff Pataky


Niagara Wheatfield cruised to the program’s third Section VI Division I Dual Meet title on Saturday at Niagara County Community College. Wheatfield earned the top seed in the large school tournament and took down 2-seed Williamsville North/East in the title match, 48-18, to earn the program’s fourth trip to the NYSPHSAA Dual Meet Championships coming up on Saturday, Jan. 27th at SRC Arena in Syracuse.

 

The Falcons defeated Niagara Frontier League rival 4-seed Grand Island in the quarterfinal, 59-11, in their second meeting this season to advance to the title match for the second year in a row and the fifth time in the seven year history of the tournament. The title match appearance also guaranteed a seventh consecutive top-4 place finish at the Duals for NW.  


On Saturday, the high powered Wheatfield lineup featured ten returning Section VI Division I place winners, six NYS tournament qualifiers, two defending sectional champions, and a NYS 5th place winner in senior Te’Shaun Mathews.


Photo courtesy of Jeff Pataky // all photos contained in article are courtesy of Jeff Pataky


In the title match, Muntathar Abbas earned a pin at 124-pounds to kick off a stretch run of four straight falls to start the dual as NW jumped out to a 24-0 lead. State tournament qualifiers Evan Azbell, Garrett Chase, and Chase Richards all contributed to the Wheatfield effort.



“Those pins were huge for us,” said Niagara Wheatfeid head coach Rick Sweney on the start of the championship match. “We planned on winning those, but not pins. It gave us the momentum, and once we get the momentum we keep riding it. We were worried about Williamsville North all year because they have a lot of studs and can adjust well, so it’s really about catching the right kids at the right places.”





Wheatfield elected to forfeit to North’s defending NYS champion Cam Catrabone at 152-pounds which turned out to be Cam’s 200th career victory making the Michigan-bound senior the 47th wrestler in WNY history to achieve that milestone. Catrabone is the first wrestler to achieve 200 wins among both Williamsville North and East program histories.



The conceded match at 152 only briefly interrupted the NW onslaught as Falcons won the next four weights thereafter. Mathews accepted a forfeit at 160 followed by decision wins from state tournament qualifier Joe Cicco at 170 and Iain O’Donnell at 190. An injury default win by Wheatfield’s John Fike at 215 landed the Falcons another six team points to extend the lead, 42-6.




Williamsville recovered twelve team points in three of the last four weights, but Niagara Wheatfield would get the last points of the dual at 116-pounds, ultimately securing the 48-18 victory for the program’s third Section VI Dual Meet title.


 


“We took second last year and we haven’t won this in a few years,” said Sweney after the match. “We went to states last year as a wildcard, and we’ve been up there a few times, but to win this is bigger. When you get up there [state duals] you have to get in the right bracket.”

 


1-Niagara Wheatfield 48 – 2-Williamsville North/East 18

 

Championship box score

 

124: Muntathar Abbas (NW) p. Jonathan Hans (WNE), 4:32

131: Evan Azbell (NW) p. Zach Gibson (WNE), 0:52

138: Garrett Chase (NW) p. Drew Fletch (WNE), 2:59

145: Chase Richards (NW) p. Rocco Urbanczyk (WNE), 1:46

152: Cam Catrabone (WNE) forfeit

160: Te’Shaun Mathews (NW) forfeit

170: Joe Cicco (NW) d. Hussein Zenki (WNE), 4-3

190: Iain O’Donnell (NW) d. Amari Libertone-Robinson (WNE), 9-3

215: John Fike (NW) inj. def. Chris Harris (WNE)

285: Zaid El Nasser (WNE) p. Peter Sheehan (NW), 3:25

101: Tanner Catrabone (WNE) d. Gabriella Barone (NW), 7-3

108: Parker Brenon (WNE) d. Jacob Sweeney (NW), 2-0

116: Eian Peterson (NW) forfeit

 

The Falcons will head back to the NYSPHSAA Dual Meet Championships for the fourth time in program history (2019, 2020, 2023) on Saturday, Jan. 27th. Wheatfield is 3-4 all time at the Division I state duals but has been a top-8 seed in all three of their appearances so far. NW went 1-1 in the 2023 tournament falling to top seeded Minisink Valley (IX), 42-13, but defeated Section I’s Fox Lane 60-5 in their third meeting with the Foxes in Syracuse.

 

With a 2-0 showing on Saturday, Niagara Wheatfield improved to a Section VI best 15-3 all time at the Duals. Only Wheatfield and Clarence have been invited to all seven dual championship tournaments but the Falcons are the only one to have competed in all six contested events.  

 

Williamsville earned the program’s highest seed and first place finish in their fourth consecutive appearance at the Duals. The Spartans survived 7-seed Niagara Falls, 35-28, in the first round in a rematch of last year’s first round matchup where 3-seed Falls was a 37-27 winner over 6-seed Williamsville. 6-seed ECIC I rival Clarence pushed Williamsville to the last match of their 32-30 semifinal victory on Saturday.

 

In the opening round, the Wolverines won seven bouts to North/East’s six, but only picked up two pins compared to five for Williamsville. Niagara Falls picked up three straight wins at 170, 190, and 215-pounds to bring the match score to within one point of the Spartans, 29-28, with one match remaining. Senior heavyweight Zaid El Nasser secured the win for Williamsville in the final bout with an early second period pin to advance the Spartans to the Duals semifinal for the first time.

 

After an exciting showdown with Niagara Falls, head coach Joe Muscarella and staff had to quickly turn around and get ready for a Red Devils team that surprised 3-seed Amherst in the opening round.

 

Williamsville jumped out to a 16-0 lead on Clarence after three weights but that lead quickly evaporated when the Red Devils responded with three pins and a decision to take a 21-13 lead after seven bouts. The Spartans responded with a pin and two crucial major decisions to take the lead back, 27-21. Zacheus Wells earned a decision at 215 and Bryce Hawes came up with an enormous pin at 285-pounds to put Clarence up 30-27 with only one bout remaining. Had Williamsville won the last bout at 101 by decision, a 30-30 tie team score would’ve resulted in a win by criteria for Clarence. However, returning sectional 3rd place winner Tanner Catrabone got the win and more for the Spartans with a 16-1 technical fall in the final bout to earn five team points and secure the Williamsville North/East victory, 32-30, to advance to the final.

 

Clarence may have fell in the semifinal but the squad posted a 3-1 record on the day to ultimately take 3rd in the large school bracket for the first time since the inaugural Duals in 2017. Clarence has reached the semifinal in three sectional dual meet tournaments and earned a top-3 seed in all four of the first editions of the event.

 

On Saturday, Coach Keith Stoerr’s 6-seeded and WNY unranked Devils exceeded expectations starting in the opening round.

 

Clarence met 3-seed and WNY Athletics #5 ranked Amherst in the quarterfinal in their second meeting of the season; the Tigers were 43-24 winners over Clarence on Dec. 9th.

 

Zach Didas set the tone early with a quick pin at 101-pounds to start the day in the first bout against Amherst. The Tigers took a brief three point lead after the next two weights, but four critical, consecutive pins from Josh Randolph, Trevor Mueller, AJ Didas, and Joey Keller from 124-145-points gave Clarence a 30-9 lead and undeniable momentum. Amherst got one back at 152 with a pin by Nathan Cohen, but Clayton Feltz came up big again with an enormous pin at 160-pounds to extend the Devils lead 36-15 with only four bouts remaining.

 

Amherst won three of those final four bouts, but returning NYS tournament qualifier heavyweight Bryce Hawes delivered the final blow with a pin at 285 to seal the match, 42-30 for Clarence effectively catching the attention of the tournament. Clarence won seven matches to Amherst’s six in the dual, all by way of pin.

 

After falling to Williamsville in the semifinal, Clarence would take down 5-seed North Tonawanda, 37-29, in the consolation semifinal, avenging a loss to the Lumberjacks from the opening weekend of the season. Red Devils again won seven matches and picked up five pins compared to NT’s six wins and only two pins in the contest.

 

Meanwhile, Amherst wrestled back to defeat 7-seed Niagara Falls 46-21 in the first consolation round before taking down 4-seed Grand Island 40-24 in the consolation semifinal to set up a rematch with Clarence for third place. Against the Vikings, Amherst fell behind 18-0 to start the match but won eight consecutive matches from 138 to 285-pounds to jump out to a 36-18 lead with only two bouts left, eventually moving on with a 40-24 win.

 

Grand Island went 1-2 on the day winning one of the tournament’s most exciting matches right in the opening round. 4-seed GI met 5-seed NT for the third showdown of the season between the two Niagara Frontier League rivals, each with a win over one another to this point.

 

The Vikings jumped out to a 26-0 lead on the ‘Jacks after the first six weights, but Aaron Batch stopped that streak with an OT win for North Tonawanda at 145. Two pins and a forfeit thereafter gave the Lumberjacks life, now only a 26-21 deficit with three matches left. A decision by GI’s Tim Bentley at 190 and then a crucial pin by NT’s Mohamed Abdullah at 215 made the dual score a one point GI lead, 28-27 going into the last match.

 

Grand Island’s Anthony Vaccaro saved the day for the Vikings at heavyweight with a sudden victory takedown overtime thriller to seal the win for Grand Island and the program’s first sectional duals win since their runner-up finish in 2018.

 

Although North Tonawanda went 0-2, Coach Tony Fire and the 2023-2024 Lumberjacks achieved a program milestone by participating in the Section VI Duals for the first time in team history, becoming the 16th different large school team to do so in Section VI.

 

The third place finale between Amherst and Clarence didn’t start off the same way as their first meeting of the day as Clarence jumped out to a 24-0 lead after the first five weights. Randolph and Keller again both came up with crucial pins in the 124-145-pound stretch of the lineup whereas Mueller and Matt Cox both picked up decisions and a forfeit to Didas in that same stretch.

 

Four Tiger wins in a row from 160-215 brought the team score to within six points, 24-18, however a forfeit to Hawes at heavyweight and a pin from Didas at 101-pounds sealed the 3rd place victory for Clarence with two weights left. Wins by Amherst in the final two bouts ultimately made the team score Clarence 36, Amherst 27.

 

6-Clarence 36 – 3-Amherst 27

 

3rd place box score

 

124: Josh Randolph (C) p. Brayden Kirst (A), 1:35

131: Trevor Mueller (C) d. Moshin Ali (A), 5-4

138: AJ Didas (C) forfeit

145: Joey Keller (C) p. Quinlan Lyle (A), 1:31

152: Matthew Cox (C) d. Nathan Cohen (A), 11-9

160: Zak Saeed (A) p. Austin Parlato (C), 1:39

170: Killian Simonson (A) d. Clayton Feltz (C), 11-9 SV OT

190: Ali Al-Mutiary (A) d. Zacheus Wells (C), 3-0

215: Josh Knobloch (A) p. Aiden Hammond (C), 1:57

285: Bryce Hawes (C) forfeit

101: Zach Didas (C) p. Ameer Alawan (A), 4:48

108: Ammar Abokefaya (A) forfeit

116: Mustafa Natiq (A) d. Philip Gulisano (C), 6-1

 

“I was very proud of our team today,” said Coach Stoerr after the bronze match. “They showed up ready to wrestle as a team to the level they know they can be and followed the game plan we laid out. Our guys battled in all four matches and came up with big pins and wins when needed. It was our best day together as a team this season. We were the second lowest seed and came in to today unranked and took down two higher ranked and seeded teams and battled Williamsville to the very last match. The rest of the coaches and I are very proud of this effort.”

 

Clarence hosts Williamsville North/East on Wednesday for an ECIC I showdown.

 

Amherst’s 4th place finish at the Duals is the second in a row for the Tigers who competed in the tournament in 2023 for the first time in team history.

 

2024 Section VI Division I Dual Meet Championships scores:

 

Championship

 

1-Niagara Wheatfield 48 – 2-Williamsville North/East 18

 

Consolation final

 

6-Clarence 36 – 3-Amherst 27

 

Semifinals

 

1-Niagara Wheatfield 59 – 4-Grand Island 11

2-Williamsville North/East 32 – 6-Clarence 30

 

Quarterfinals

 

2-Williamsville North/East 35 – 7-Niagara Falls 28

6-Clarence 42 – 3-Amhersst 30

4-Grand Island 32 – 5-North Tonawanda 27

 

Consolation round one

 

3-Amherst 46 – 7-Niagara Falls 21

 

Consolation semifinals

 

3-Amherst 40 – 4-Grand Island 24

6-Clarence 37 – 5-North Tonawanda 29

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