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NYSPHSAA Wrestling Championships Preview – Section VI small schools

Out of the twenty-five wrestlers representing Section VI Div. II in Albany this weekend, three earned top seeds and only four others earned either 3rdor 4thseeds. Fifteen of the twenty-five will make their state tournament debuts, and only six of the ten with ‘states’ experience have placed in Albany.

The Section’s three #1 seeds are Tonawanda’s Zach Braddell, Falconer’s Robbie Penhollow, and Pioneer’s Mike Rigerman. Braddell is a two-time state tournament placer. A championship would be the first for the Warriors since Kyle McGregor in 2009. Penhollow was a 2-seed in Albany last February but did not place. Falconer’s most recent champion was Jake Peru in 2016. Rigerman was 4thin NYS last season. If the Panther senior wins this weekend he would be the first Pioneer state champion since Tony Lock in 2012.

The small school tournament is filled out by representatives from all eleven NYPHSAA administrative districts, the Public School Athletic League (PSAL-NYC), and for the second year now, the Association of Independent Schools (AIS) consisting primarily of secular and non-secular schools along the Hudson River and the NYC/Long Island region. The sixteen-man brackets are filled out by four wildcards. Section VI has ten at-large wrestlers entered in the tournament.

Despite having a relatively inexperienced team, the Section VI Div. II squad will still have high expectations to uphold as Div. II has placed 4thor better at each state tournament over the last decade. At least half a dozen Section VI wrestlers are serious contenders for NYS titles, and with the support of as many placers, could help keep the Section afloat high in the team standings.


Two-time Section VI champion and defending NYS 6th place finisher Andy Lucinski returns to Albany at weight but this time as the 3rd seeded wrestler in the bracket. The Newfane sophomore is currently 38-2 with one of those losses being to the weight’s top seed, Section V champion Jace Schafer (51-3 record) from Palmyra-Macedon. Schafer was a 3-0 winner over Lucinski back in early December and also was a 5-2 decision winner against Andy for 5th place in NYS last February. Lucinski’s opening round match is against Section IX champion Trevor Tufano from Port Jervis.


Unbeaten Gowanda sophomore David Ball (33-0) earned the 4th seed for the state tournament after winning his first Section VI title. Ball’s Friday morning bout will be against Section VIII champion Ryan Romano (28-3), a freshman from Island Trees HS. A potential match to keep an eye on would be a quarterfinal bout between Ball and Section III champion Avery Leonard (44-4) from Cooperstown. Iroquois sophomore and sectional finalist Donovan Bukaczeski (36-7) earned an at-large for his first appearance at states. Donovan was drawn into the bracket and will meet 3-seed Section II champion Caleb Svingala (40-1) from Maple Hill on Friday morning. The bracket’s top seed is defending NYS champion Dante Geislinger from Section IV’s Norwich.


East Aurora junior Alex Skowronski (43-4) will make his first state tournament appearance on Friday wrestling Section II champion and 4-seed Joey Scheeren (33-1) from Galway in the opening round. Scheeren was a competitor at states in 2018 and was one win shy of placing. Skowronski has quietly put together a very strong season in Section VI and could surprise some people in Albany this weekend. The weight’s top seed is two-time defending NYS champion Anthony Noto from Honeoye Falls-Lima (V).


Section VI champion Josh Gill (36-6) makes his state tournament debut on Friday and will face off with returning NYS finalist Jordan Titus (36-1) from Section XI’s Center Moriches HS. Gill, a senior from Newfane, has a chance to make history should he knock off the defending NYS runner-up in the first round of the weekend. Overall, the bracket has six returning NYS place winners making it one of the strongest fields in either division this weekend.


The Section sends not one, not two, but the top three place winners from the state qualifier to Albany this weekend. Section VI champion Julian Martin from Lake Shore makes his states debut against Section III runner-up and 5th seed Dean Shambo from Mexico HS on Friday morning. Sectional finalist and former Section VI champion Mohamed Alshawi from Lackawanna will meet Section II champion and 6-seed Aidan Cullen from Greenville first. Finally, Section VI 3rd place winner Colby Petrie from Medina will meet Section I champion and 8-seed Cris D’Amelio from Irvington in the first round. All four of the bracket’s top seeded wrestlers are returning place winners to include a state champion, a runner-up, a 3rd place winner, and a 5th place winner.


Two wrestlers will represent the section. Section VI champion Giovani Russo (32-3) from Fredonia makes his second trip to Albany having an outstanding last few weeks of the season. Russo missed placing in 2018 as a wildcard but will be looking to get on the podium in a bracket that features only one returning place winner: top seed and two-time defending NYS champion Trent Svingala from Section II’s Maple Hill. Russo has a ‘pigtail’ match against Vikram Ostrander from Horace Mann School out of the AIS league. With a win in that match, Russo would meet 5thseeded Section V champion Ethan Ferro (50-3) from Palmyra-Macedon. Sectional finalist Austin Bourgeois from Chautauqua Lake earned an at-large to Albany and will meet Section III champion 7-seed Dylan Price from Onondaga/Tully in the first round.


Top seeded Zach Braddell (36-4) is a two-time state place winner and was most recently 3rd in NYS in 2018. He’ll make a final run at a NYS title this weekend and has enough experience in high stakes matches to get the job done. The Tonawanda senior’s first round match is against Section IV wildcard Nathan Lehr (42-8) from Chenango Valley. Fredonia’s two-time Section VI champion and one time NYS 5th place winner Dalton Gardner (39-5) is the 4-seed and will see Section I champion Aidan Canfield from Pleasantville in the opening round. While Braddell and Gardner are the top seeds in the upper half of the bracket, there are a few wrestlers that either of them could meet in the quarterfinals that could be thinking upsets. Former NYS 3rd place winner and runner-up John Worthing from Section IV’s Tioga is the weight’s 2-seed.


Falconer’s Jimmy Kramer (48-5) earned his first trip to states after cruising to the Section VI title. Kramer earned the 5th seed and will wrestle Section VII champion Alijah Seymour from Peru in the opening round. A quarterfinal meeting with Section V champion and 4th seeded Chase Runfola (44-0) from Letchworth could be next should both wrestlers advance from the first round. Newfane sophomore Ryan Nugent earned his first trip to states as an at-large and drew top seeded returning NYS 3rd place winner Cahal Donovan (31-2) from Section III’s Marcellus. On the bottom of the bracket former state champion and returning finalist Hunter Shaut from Central Valley Academy is the 2-seed while Tioga’s (IV) returning 5th place winner Austin Lamb is seeded 3rd.


East Aurora senior Johnny Putney (42-3) will look to complete some unfinished business left open from last year when he was unable to compete at states after winning the Section VI title. Putney is the bracket’s 4-seed and will start the tournament off against Section V champion Trent Youngs (39-2) from Mynderse. If he makes it to the semifinal, Putney could see top seeded Zack Lawrence (46-0) from Section II’s Duanseburg. Lawrence is an Eastern States champion and was 3rd in NYS last February. Also representing Section VI will be Eden’s state qualifier runner-up Giovanni Schifano (41-3). Schifano will see the 6-seed in Section III champion Josh Mayden from Camden HS in the opening round.


Another weight that is double entered by Section VI. Returning NYS 4th place winner and Iroquois senior Cory Day (40-3) is the 6-seed. Day will wrestle Section V champion Brock Conaway (42-2) from Perry HS in the first round. Should they met, Day could have an interesting showdown with the 3-seed and defending NYS finalist Jack Chesman from Section I’s Pearl River in the quarterfinal. Falconer senior Nick Saeger earned an at-large to Albany following his runner-up finish at the state qualifier and will wrestle 8-seed Matt McManaman (33-3), the runner-up in Section III from General Brown HS. The bracket’s top seed is Section III champion and sophomore from Dolgeville Jacob Null (38-2). Null was a 5-1 winner by decision over Day at Eastern States in January. Don’t be surprised if Day wins it all as the bracket’s 6-seed.


Fredonia’s Section VI champion sophomore Ceric Kristan makes his first appearance at the state tournament and will wrestle the 2-seed in Warsaw’s Section V champion Sam Wolf (49-2) in the opening round. Kristan fell by a 10-2 major decision to Wolf in the first weekend of the 2018-2019 season. The top seeded wrestler is defending NYS finalist Jacob Nolan (35-4) from Section VII’s Saranac HS. Also in this bracket are a returning NYS champion and a 6th place winner. As one of only three sophomores in the bracket, Kristan can set himself up in a huge way for the future by coming out of this weekend placing top six.


Tonawanda junior Jason Frazer (34-7) enters this weekend as the Section VI champion. Frazer was drawn into the bracket against top seeded and defending NYS champion Ross McFarland (40-1) from Section III’s Phoenix HS. Whether or not McFarland wrestles this weekend remains to be determined since he suffered what was reported to have a been a fairly serious ankle injury in the Section III semifinal. Frazer’s first round matchup could change on Friday morning should Ross be unable to compete. Regardless, leaving Albany with a podium finish would be big for the Warrior junior.


After not placing in 2018, Falconer’s top seeded Robbie Penhollow (45-1) isn’t only looking to make the podium this time around…he’s looking to win it all. Robbie will start the weekend against Section II at-large wrestler Brendan Covey (40-8) from Whitehall HS. However, before looking too far toward the semis and finals, Penhollow could meet Akron senior Millard Young (28-4) for the third time in the last four weeks should both wrestlers win in the first round. Young received a wildcard to the state tournament for his runner-up finish at the qualifier. Millard’s first round match is against the 8-seed, Section IV champion Dell Davis from Spencer-Van Etten/Candor. The bracket’s 2-seed is Section V champion Nate Degroff (47-3) from Warsaw. Degroff was 6thin NYS last year and Penhollow has a 7-2 win over him from December 27th.


Undefeated returning NYS 4th place winner Mike Rigerman (39-0) is the weight’s top seed and looking to become Pioneer’s first champion in seven years. Mike was the 2-seed in the 2018 NYS tournament but dropped an overtime loss in the semifinal and had to wrestleback. Rigerman’s first match on Friday morning is against Section V wildcard Connor Sykora (32-2) from Jasper-Troupsburg. The only other returning NYS place winner in the bracket is the 2-seed in South Seneca’s Section V champion Keagan Carmenatty (39-1). Carmenatty took 6th in NYS last February.


Section VI champion Jaden Heers (24-3) makes his NYS tournament debut on Friday morning against Section III champion Mike Leibl (35-4) from Canastota. The Newfane senior recently won his first sectional title and earned the 7-seed this weekend in Albany. Chautauqua Lake senior Ben Szymanowskiearned another wildcard to the state tournament. Ben has a pigtail match against Section IX champion Jason Lonstein from Ellenville prior to the tournament’s first round. Should he win that match, Szymanowski would meet Section VII champion and 6-seed Dalton Criss from Peru HS. The bracket’s top seed is defending NYS Div. I 3rd place winner Trentyn Rupert from Section IV’s Chenango Valley.

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