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Section VI Division I Wrestling State Qualifier Preview and Predictions

Nine defending Section VI Div. I champions returned this season with seven of them earning number one seeds for Saturday’s NYS qualifier at Starpoint. The Section sent seven wildcards to the 2017-2018 NYS tournament (the most for Section VI Div. I in the wildcard era), had its best place finish (5th) in the team scoring since the 2014 season, and had its first state champion since 2012.

This weekend’s event will feature some very high-level matches between defending sectional place winners, champions, and state tournament representatives. The Section has a very real opportunity to send seven wildcards again, perhaps even more, and potentially crown more than one NYS champion; something Section VI Div. I has not accomplished during the two-division era which started with the 2003-2004 season. Only eight wrestlers will compete in each of the fifteen weight classes in the Division I state qualifier this weekend.

99-pounds

Top seeds:

  1. Cameron Catrabone – Williamsville North– 7th grade

  2. Te’Shaun Mathews – Niagara Wheatfield – 7

  3. Travis Browning – Frontier – 9

  4. Michael Schaefer – Lancaster – 7

  5. Gage LaPlante – Starpoint – 7

Someone will become a Section VI champion for the first time in this very young but talented weight class. Top seeded Cam Catrabone (31-1 record) has head to head wins this season over each of the listed seeded wrestlers making him the clear-cut favorite this weekend. However, don’t sleep on any of the other young stars in this weight class. A Schaefer-LaPlante quarterfinal could be very entertaining. The 99-pound semifinals could have some of the tournament’s biggest fireworks.

Final prediction: Cam Catrabone maj. dec. Te’Shaun Mathews, 12-4

106-pounds

Top seeds:

  1. Carson Alberti – Depew/Cleveland Hill – 9

  2. Myles Gronowski – Lancaster – 9

  3. Mark Kuhn – Niagara Wheatfield – 10

Alberti was 3rd in Div. II last season but the combined Depew/Cleveland Hill team moved to Div. I as a result of the new BEDS rule for combined teams. Gronowski was 5th in Div. I last season at 99 while Kuhn was 4th at 99. Alberti (33-2) has wins over Gronowski and Kuhn this season. Alberti was a big winner by tech fall over Gronowski in the ECIC final, but needed overtime to defeat the Legend, 2-1, at the NFWOA tournament. Gronowski has a head to head win over Kuhn this season.

Final prediction: Myles Gronowski dec. Carson Alberti, 9-8

113-pounds

Top seeds:

  1. Tyler Bartolomei – North Tonawanda – 12

  2. Jack Randle – Grand Island – 11

  3. Michael Alberti – Depew/Cleveland Hill – 11

Bartolomei (41-2) is the defending Section VI champion. Tyler has head to head wins over both Randle and Alberti this season but has split 1-1 with Randle. Randle has had an outstanding junior season coming off of a 3rd place finish at 106 at last year’s qualifier. Alberti was 5th in Div. II at 106 in 2017-2018. Randle has wins over Alberti as well, but won 9-0 in their last match after previously winning by pin in their first meeting. This is a weight class with upset potential.

Final prediction: Jack Randle dec. Tyler Bartolomei, 2-1 2OT

120-pounds

Top seeds:

  1. Collin Coughenour – Niagara Wheatfield – 8

  2. Nick Barberio – Lancaster – 12

  3. Michael Snowden – Niagara Falls – 12

Coughenour (25-8) is one of four defending Wheatfield sectional champions and very outnumbered by upperclassmen in the weight class. Collin has a head to head 12-6 decision win over Snowden this season, but hasn’t met Barberio. For a time it seemed as if Coughenour would end up dropping to 113 to finish the season. Snowden wrestled 126 to start the year. Barberio earned a 5-2 decision win over Snowden to win the Class AA title last weekend. Coughenour should be the favorite to defend his Section title, but Barberio and Snowden may be thinking upset.

Final prediction: Collin Coughenour dec. Nick Barberio, 8-4

126-pounds

Top seeds:

  1. Aiden Rabideau – Clarence – 11

  2. Brian Bielic – Grand Island – 9

  3. Mike Catanzaro – Williamsville North – 10

  4. Sam Stoelting – Starpoint – 12

Rabideau is a two-time defending Section VI champion with a season record of 38-2. The only other wrestler in the top four seeds he’s seen this season is Catanzaro (3rd at 113 last season), and they’ve wrestled three times. The first bout ended in a pin for Rabideau, but Catanzaro has kept it close in each of the last two bouts holding the Red Devil star to 3-0 and 5-4 decision wins. Assuming the wrestlers advance to the semifinal, Rabideau could face an upset-minded Spartan in Stoelting. Stoelting was 5th in Div. II at 126 last season. Catanzaro has a win over Stoelting, but hasn’t met Bielic this year. Bielic was the sectional runner-up at 99-pounds in the 2017-2018 qualifier. The Viking freshman won the Class A title with a 5-1 win over Stoelting in the final last weekend. With a handful of wrestlers looking to upset the defending champion, this is certainly another bracket to keep a close eye on.

Final prediction: Aiden Rabideau dec. Mike Catanzaro, 3-2

132-pounds

Top seeds:

  1. Justin McDougald – Niagara Wheatfield – 11

  2. Ryan Forrest – Hamburg – 11

  3. Nick Bierfeldt – Olean – 12

  4. Lenox Walker – Amherst – 8

  5. Deandre Prum – Niagara Falls – 12

McDougald is a three-time Section VI champion and two-time NYS finalist. He’s undefeated with a season record of 39-0 and an Eastern States champion this year. Justin will be the favorite to win his fourth Section title. Forrest (4th at 120 last season) has had an excellent season for the Bulldogs and is currently 35-6 with two losses to McDougald. Forrest has wins over Walker and Prum, but hasn’t met Bierfeldt as the two didn’t match up at the Class A tournament. Bierfeldt (32-10) was 3rd at 120 in Div. II last year and earned a wildcard to the NYS tournament but missed placing.

Final prediction: Justin McDougald p. Nick Bierfeldt

138-pounds

Top seeds:

  1. Willie McDougald – Niagara Falls – 11

  2. Jacob Mancuso – West Seneca West – 12

  3. Devin Collins – Hamburg – 9

  4. Josh Jelonek – Lancaster – 10

The top seeded Wolverine wrestler is a three-time Section VI champion and defending NYS champion. McDougald is 37-1 this season and has been wrestling lights out all season. Mancuso (28-10) was a runner-up to McDougald in Class AA and but has two wins, both by major decision, over Collins this season. Collins (33-9, 6th in Div. I 2018) has two wins over Jelonek (3rd in Section VI 2018) this year and a head to head loss to McDougald by major decision.

Final prediction: Willie McDougald p. Jacob Mancuso

145-pounds

Top seeds:

  1. Jake DeWolf – Niagara Wheatfield – 12

  2. Kyle Bauer – West Seneca West – 12

  3. Quinten Burke – Clarence – 12

DeWolf is a defending sectional finalist and NYS tournament wildcard. He spent most of the season at 138, but moved up to 145 for the postseason and is the favorite at the weight. DeWolf (26-5) has had some challenges with the injury bug this season, but has looked dominate when healthy. Bauer (33-5, 3rd at 138 in 2017-2018) has been solid for the Indians all season. Bauer won the Class AA title with a major decision win over Burke (5th in Section VI last season), 8-0, in the final. If DeWolf is able to hold up physically this weekend, don’t be surprised if the Falcon senior cruises to his first sectional championship.

Final prediction: Jake DeWolf maj. dec. Kyle Bauer, 9-1

152-pounds

Top seeds:

  1. Warren McDougald – Niagara Wheatfield – 12

  2. Ryan Stencel – Lancaster – 11

  3. Gavin Kulp – Olean – 11

As soon as the word got out that McDougald weighed in at 152-pounds for the Class A tournament, the chatter of a McDougald/Stencel state qualifier final started to buzz. McDougald, a three-time Section VI champion and two-time state place winner, opens as a slight favorite against Lancaster’s two-time defending sectional champion known for his brutal, unrelenting control and pressure from the top position. Warren is 34-3 this season and has looked excellent in wins. It’s been nearly impossible for opponents to get out from underneath Stencel (37-5) this season. Kulp (28-7, 4th at 138 in Div. II last season) has been solid for the Huskies and will have upset on his mind should he meet Stencel in the semifinal. A McDougald/Stencel match could be the biggest final of the weekend in both Div. I and II.

Final prediction: Warren McDougald dec. Ryan Stencel 6-4

160-pounds

Top seeds:

  1. Adam Daghestani – Grand Island – 11

  2. Jojo Dixon – Niagara Falls – 10

  3. Icar Simon – Olean – 12

Daghestani was a sectional runner-up and state tournament wildcard in 2017-2018. As the top seed at 160 going into the state qualifier, Adam is undefeated with a perfect 42-0 record. He’s wrestled both the second and third seeds in the past five weeks. Daghestani was a winner by a tight 4-3 decision over Dixon in the Vikings and Wolverines NFL dual on January 16th. Dixon has had a breakout season with a current record of 34-3 after not placing in the 2017-2018 qualifier. Simon (28-5) met Daghestani in the Class A final but fell by an 8-1 decision. A Simon/Dixon semifinal could go either way.

Final prediction: Adam Daghestani dec. Jojo Dixon, 6-2

170-pounds

Top seed:

  1. Josh Thibeault – Niagara Wheatfield – 12

  2. Devan Moore – Olean – 12

  3. Dylan Wojciechowski – Frontier – 11

  4. Gabe Mastrangelo – Hamburg – 12

  5. Jon White – Clarence – 12

  6. Corey Snyder – West Seneca West – 12

Thibeault is a defending sectional champion. Four of the five seeded wrestlers after him placed in the state qualifiers last year, which sets this bracket up to be perhaps a sneaky good weight. Thibeault (36-4) has wrestled with a chip on his shoulder all year and has been the hammer in the Falcon upper weights. Moore (28-3, 3rd in Div. II last season) medically forfeited the 170-pound final in Class A last weekend but not before gutting out a pin over Mastrangelo in the semifinal. Wojciechowski (35-6) has had a breakout year after not placing in the 2018 state qualifier. He’s got wins over White and Snyder but hasn’t met Mastrangelo this season. At the 2018 Div. I state qualifier, Mastrangelo was 4th at 170, White was 6th at 160, and Snyder placed 5th at 160.

Final prediction: Josh Thibeault dec. Dylan Wojciechowski, 7-3

182-pounds:

Top seeds:

  1. Pat Walsh – Olean – 12

  2. Connor Kenney – Grand Island – 12

  3. Amandip Deo – Amherst – 12

  4. Blake Harlock – Orchard Park – 12

Walsh was a 9-6 winner over Kenney in the Class A final. Walsh (32-5) was 3rd in Div. II last season and earned a wildcard to the state tournament, taking 6th in NYS at 182. Walsh wrestles physically and will be looking to make a statement this weekend. Kenney (35-7) is a defending sectional champion and battle tested after having faced tough opponents throughout the entire season.

Final prediction: Pat Walsh dec. Connor Kenney, 6-5

195-pounds

Top seed:

  1. Mike Pataky – Orchard Park – 11

  2. Codie Scotland – Lancaster – 11

  3. Conner Walsh – Olean – 10

Pataky was 3rd in Section VI in 2018 and holds a season record of 37-2. One of those two losses is to Scotland, but Pataky has two wins over the Legends standout this season. However, Scotland (26-13, 3rd at 170 in 2018) has the most recent win with a pin in the Class AA final last weekend. Walsh was 4th in Div. II last season at 220-pounds and enters the qualifier with a 35-3 record. Walsh has no losses in section, and two of the three losses are to the same Pennsylvania wrestler. Walsh dominated the field in Class A last weekend.

Final prediction: Conner Walsh dec. Mike Pataky, 7-2

220-pounds

Top seed:

  1. Blake Bielic – Grand Island – 11

  2. John Haberman – Hamburg – 11

  3. Matt Wagner – Orchard Park – 11

  4. Raman Singh – Amherst – 12

Bielic has been outstanding this season with a current record of 38-2 with a handful of quality wins, including head to head victories over the two, three, and four seeds. Bielic was a sectional finalist in 2018 at 195 but missed out on a wildcard to Albany. He’s got a fall over Haberman on his record from a month ago, but needed overtime to defeat the Hamburg grappler in the Class A final. Haberman has been excellent for the Bulldogs as well posting a 32-6 record this season. He placed 6th at 220 as a sophomore in 2018.

Final prediction: Blake Bielic dec. John Haberman, 6-3

285-pounds

Top seed:

  1. Ryan Bitka – Amherst – 11

  2. Kevin Halford – Niagara Wheatfield – 12

  3. Tyree Orange – Amherst – 10

  4. Tanner Hulse – Olean – 12

  5. Ryan Venohr – Willaimsville North – 11

Wheatfield made this weight class a little more interesting when Halford showed up at 285 for the Class A tournament. Bitka (34-1) has been at 285 all season with a mission to win the sectional title. He finished strong last season with 3rd place at 220-pounds in Section VI Div. I. Halford was 4th at 285 in 2018 and holds a season record of 28-12. He met Bitka in the Class A semifinal but fell by pin. However, he picked up a big win over Hulse in the third place match. Orange (20-6) knocked off two defending sectional place winners on the way to making the Class A final against his teammate, Ryan Bitka. Hulse was 5th in Div. II at 285 in 2018 and could have another shot at Bitka should he defeat Williamsville North’s Class AA champion Ryan Venohr.

Final prediction: Ryan Bitka p. Kevin Halford

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