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Health Sciences to Field Wrestling Team for First Time This Winter

For the first time since the school opened in 2010, Health Sciences Charter School (HSCS) will host a varsity wrestling team beginning with the upcoming 2019-2020 season.

While a varsity program and schedule are planned, junior varsity and modified teams & schedules will be contingent on participation. Presently, HSCS, Tapestry, and Maritime plan to merge their athletes and resources to help get the team off the ground.

“I woke up one day and realized ‘We don’t have a [public school] wrestling team in the city of Buffalo,'” said Health Sciences principal Robert Baxter. “I started it with the interest of giving my student-athletes an opportunity to participate in multiple sports all year long. I wanted to give them discipline and the experience, because we do focus on trying to produce education through athletics.” Currently, Canisius High School is the only school within the city limits that has a team, as no Buffalo Public Schools have wrestling.

Baxter, who himself wrestled as a student-athlete, recalled his own experiences as motivation to kickstart a program at Health Sciences.

“Wrestling, from my personal experience, was one of the most demanding, and as far as conditioning, the best sport,” said Baxter, who also played football. “To make it through a whole match takes a lot of energy and training. So, particularly, once we started the football team, I am really big on how wrestling impacted me for football. For our kids, especially football offensive and defensive linemen and linebackers, for the skills and leverage you learn, wrestling is a perfect fit.”

The head coach of the team will be Health Sciences teacher Keith Stoerr. Stoerr is a 2009 graduate of Lancaster High School where he was a standout wrestler. Stoerr wrestled collegiately at Division II Gannon University in Erie and spent the last five seasons as an assistant coach at Alexander High School. Assisting Stoerr will be Tapestry teacher Milton Sheehan. Sheehan is a 2003 Akron graduate and has been an assistant with the Amherst High School team for the previous three seasons.

For the upcoming season at least, Health Sciences, Tapestry, and Maritime will join forces on the mat. Baxter noted that since HSCS and Maritime are already combined for football, it made sense for the schools to continue to partner for the good of the students and program growth.

The hope and intent is that athletes (especially those who are on the football team) will wrestle if they aren’t on the basketball or indoor track teams already. With the number of athletes shared between the three schools, Baxter is confident the team will be ready for varsity competition immediately.

“I think we will get a lot of participation this winter,” said Baxter. “We have a bunch of kids that are really excited about it.”

For this season, the team is anticipated to be independent, wrestling an independently organized schedule, but should land in Class B in the post-season according to the state’s BEDS merger guidelines for combined teams.

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