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Niagara Wheatfield, Falconer Secure Section VI Wrestling Dual Meet Titles

The 4th Section VI Dual Meet Championships went on without interference from the weather this time, and #2 Niagara Wheatfield topped #1 Lancaster, 34-33 on tiebreaker criteria for the Division I crown and #1 Falconer overcame an 18-3 deficit to hold off #2 Iroquois, 42-27, in Division II for the team’s third straight title and ticket to Syracuse.

“This is our fourth Duals, and it was the smoothest one we’ve ever had,” said Section VI wrestling co-chairman Izzy Martinez. “The seeds kinda held for the most part, the finals were fantastic, you could feel the tension during the semis, it was really nice…we had a great time today.”

The quarterfinals and semifinals in both divisions went off without upsets, as all four top seeded teams on either side advanced to the semifinals, with the #1 and #2 seeds advancing to both Saturday night finals. However, #5 Frontier and #7 Hamburg took down #3 Clarence and #4 Niagara Falls, respectively, to earn a date for the 3rd place match in Division I. The Bulldogs ultimately captured 3rd in large schools with a 41-36 win over their ECIC I rivals. The Falcons visit Hamburg for a league showdown on January 29th.

On the small school side, the only wrestle back upset of the day was #5 Pioneer taking down #3 Fredonia (who had fallen to Iroquois in the semifinal) 38-34, in doing so getting revenge for a 41-37 loss on December 13th and earning a rematch with #4 Newfane in the 3rd place final. Ultimately, Newfane claimed 3rd overall taking down Pioneer 40-34 for their second win over the Panthers on Saturday and third this season.

Wheatfield held off Hamburg, 48-28, in the opening round and used a gutsy match-sealing decision win by Garrett Chase at 99-pounds to overcome a two point deficit to Clarence in the semifinal to capture the 32-31 win. The Legends cruised past #8 Williamsville North/East and Niagara Falls on the way to the championship match.

In the final which started at 120-pounds, Wheatfield jumped out to a 21-0 lead before the Legends got on the board with a major decision by Bryce Bolognese at 152-pounds. The powerful lower-middle weights of the Falcons had wins earned by Te’Shaun Mathews, Anthony Kuhn, Mark Kuhn, Colin Coughenour, and a pin by Justin McDougald from 120 to 145-pounds. After that, the solid part of the Lancaster lineup took over with wins by Bolognese and Josh Jelonek, but Wheatfield’s Jake Thibeault captured a decision win good for three team points at 170-pounds.

From 182 to 220-pounds Lancaster’s Ryan Stencel, Codie Scotland, and Dan Empfield earned a pin, a major decision, and a pin, in that order to take a 26-24 Legends lead. At heavyweight Wheatfield’s Andre Clause came up huge with a pin to reclaim the lead, 30-26, with only three bouts remaining.

Garrett Chase was again a savior for the Falcons as he defeated Alex Monile at 99-pounds, whom he had lost to on December 20th, 6-2. With the score 33-26, the Legends’ Carter Tadusz earned a critical major decision to cut the deficit to three. In the final bout at 113-pounds, sectional finalist Myles Gronowski would face off with the Falcons’ Tremell Mathews, needing more than a decision win since Wheatfield owned the tiebreaker. Tremell was able to hold the Lancaster star to a decision win, ultimately giving the Falcons the 34-33 tiebreaker win and their second Section VI Dual Meet title in four years, their first having been won in 2016-2017.

“There was a few keys for us today…every point counts,” said Niagara Wheatfield head coach Rick Sweney. “The last match was huge because if they get a major decision we lose by a point. You can go all through the whole lineup; not giving up pins. We always say if you want to win a tournament you’ve got to get pins and not get pinned. Every kid tried their hardest and if they did get pinned they sacrificed, went out there, maybe went up a weight class, so I give everyone credit. To get an individual through is a lot easier, but when you’ve got to put all these kids together and they all got to make weight, that’s far more difficult.”

In the small school bracket top seeded Falconer cruised past #8 Alden/Depew 78-6 in the opening round, then took down Newfane 43-31 in what was one of the matches of the tournament, as the Panthers showed up eager to take a shot at the defending champions. Iroquois were 54-24 winners over #7 East Aurora in the quarterfinals then stormed to a 30-0 lead over Fredonia in the semifinal before ultimately winning 36-33.

Starting at 120-pounds, the Chiefs took the first lead with a pin by Donovan Bukaczeski. Falconer’s Joey Pillittieri answered at 126 with a 3-2 win over Jake Jozwiak in an outstanding bout wrestled by both athletes. Iroquois would go on to win the next three matches with a pin by Ryan Sweeney and decision wins courtesy of Tristan DeGrace and Daniel Eckert for the 18-3 lead after five bouts.

Falconer’s strong second half of the lineup completely took over the rest of the dual, as the Golden Falcons captured seven straight wins from 152 to 285-pounds, four of which were by pin. Mack Mikula got the run started with a pin in less than a minute at 152, then senior Bryce Baglia really changed the course of the match with a convincing 7-2 win over the Chiefs’ Tyler Barry in a critical match for both teams. John Kozlowski and Hudson Johnson added back to back decision wins setting up Brock Johnson, Collin Beichner, and Collin Mower to pin at 195, 220, and 285, respectively, giving Falconer the 36-18 lead going into the last three weights.

Iroquois collected a forfeit at 99-pounds to cut the deficit to 36-24, however Brayden Newman officially put the match out of reach for the Chiefs as he earned an early pin over Peter Gaglio in the critical 106-pound bout. Michael Schiffhauer ended the match with a win for Iroquois at 113-pounds. The final score: Falconer 42, Iroquois 27.

“It was a total team effort,” said Falconer head coach Drew Wilcox on his team’s third consecutive Section VI Division II Dual Meet title. “All fourteen guys that were out there battled. There were a couple times in each dual we thought we might be on the short end of it but somebody stepped up every dual. [Baglia] stepped up the last dual getting a huge win at 160-pounds. It’s attributed to the hard work these guys have put in both in the summer and in this season.”

Niagara Wheatfield and Falconer earned automatic berths to the 3rd NYSPHSAA Dual Meet Championships on Saturday, February 1st at SRC Arena on the campus of Onondaga County Community College in Syracuse. Lancaster and Iroquois could potentially earn wildcard entries to the event over the course of the next two weeks.

The final standings from Saturday:

Division I

1st: #2 Niagara Wheatfield (3-0)

2nd: #1 Lancaster (2-1)

3rd: #7 Hamburg (3-1)

4th: #5 Frontier (2-2)

#3 Clarence (1-2)

#4 Niagara Falls (1-2)

#6 Grand Island (0-2)

#8 Williamsville (0-2)

Divison II

1st #1 Falconer (3-0)

2nd #2 Iroquois (2-1)

3rd #4 Newfane (3-1)

4th #5 Pioneer (2-2)

#3 Fredonia (1-2)

#6 Lake Shore (1-2)

#7 East Aurora (0-2)

#8 Alden/Depew (0-2)

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