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Pioneer Wrestling Secures Ninth Consecutive League Title, Send Edwards Out On Top

Pioneer Wrestling secured the program’s ninth straight ECIC league title at home on Friday with a 67-0 win over Cheektowaga to send 15-year head coach Chris Edwards out with a win in his final home dual as head man of the Panthers.

Pioneer finished this season another perfect 6-0 in ECIC III and 12-3 overall.

Panther fans, supporters, and dozens of alumni packed the gym in Yorkshire on Friday night to honor Coach Edwards and the 2022-2023 seniors.

Athletes on Edwards’ girls’ soccer team came out in support of their coach wearing Pioneer Wrestling gear as well.

Edwards has led the Panthers’ program since 2008. In that time, Edwards’ teams won 231 matches and end this season having won sixty-four consecutive ECIC duals going back to the 2012-2013 season.

“The Pioneer community is amazing. There’s such a rich history here created by coaches Post and Brunner…they created this wonderful wrestling tradition, and it just meshes with the kids in our community. The kids in our community are still hard-working, tough nosed kids from hard working families. Being able to be part of it, on this side of it now, as a coach, is just amazing.”

Edwards is a graduate of Pioneer High School with the Class of 1991.

Edwards coached twelve state place winners, twenty-one NYS tournament qualifiers, and three different NYS champions. Under Edwards, the Panthers won three Class B titles and won the first Section VI Division II dual meet title in 2017.

Edwards is only the third head coach in the history of the storied Panthers Wrestling program. National Wrestling Hall of Fame members Dick Post and Ron Brunner proceeded Edwards for the first 35+ years of Pioneer Wrestling.

“Some of my favorite memories are the ‘first’ of things,” said Edwards after Friday’s win. “One of my best team memories is our first division championship: beating Iroquois in our gym; being down six points with two matches left and winning both matches. Then, it’s my first state champion. [2009] Kyle Colling comes in and wins the state championship as the 9-seed. Those are things that stick out in my mind.”

According to Edwards, the support from the community, school, and his own family for the wrestling program has been second to none in his tenure as head wrestling coach.

“There’s no way I could’ve had better athletic directors…Bill Wiedner, Jim Graczyk, those guys were great,” said Edwards. “All of my assistant coaches I have, as they keep coming back after they’re done wrestling, they’ve been amazing. The most important people – my wife and my kids. They keep everything running while I’m gone…they’re super supportive, the whole time.”

As the 2022-2023 regular season comes to an end for the Panthers, Edwards is a looking forward to the postseason to close out his tenure as the head of the program.

“I love the postseason…it’s so exciting. The great thing about the postseason is you find out which kids and teams really wrestled the grind during the season,” Edwards said. “Hopefully, our kids keep grinding the next two weeks and we get a couple guys to Albany. Going into the Class B tournament, Falconer will probably be the favorite to win it, so it’ll be fun and nice to go in as the underdog. We’ll see how our kids react to that.”

Pioneer kicks off the postseason with the Class B championships on Sat. 2/4 at CSAT. Wrestlers who place in the top-6 of their weights in the Class B and C/D tournaments advance to the Section VI Div. II championships on Sat. 2/11 at Lake Shore.

Wrestlers that place either 1st or 2nd in both Section VI Div. I and II will qualify for the NYS federation tournament, Feb. 23rd and 24th in Albany.

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