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Warriors Learning Life Lessons

For Tonawanda head wrestling coach Dan Bishop it’s more than just about putting his kids on the path to success on the mat. He wants them to succeed in everything they tackle. And, in Bishop’s eyes, there is no better place to sharpen those traits needed to succeed than on the wrestling mat.

“They work really hard and not just in this (practice) room,” Bishop said during the team’s Nov.23 practice.

“Eating healthy. Staying away from sodas. Being disciplined. What I tell the kids every day is the sport of wrestling is a life lesson for later on in life. When you don’t want to get up at six o’clock and get to work. It is what it is. It’s a habit that you get up and handle your business and this sport really teaches you that, I think.”

Bishop, now in his second season coaching the Warriors varsity program, believes that the groundwork of expectations was laid last year. Now, it’s about moving forward and becoming better as individuals and as a team.

“This year was a lot easier,” Bishop said. “We had anywhere between at least six to 10 kids coming in at least once day a week all summer long. We have a pretty good system now. Kids know that if you work hard you get better.”

Bishop, a former state champion himself, said the best way to reach the highest goals is the simplicity of facing the absolute best competition.

The Warriors will get an early dose of stiff competition this weekend when they host their annual Tonawanda Team Tournament on Dec.2-3.

The field of teams will include regulars Lyndonville and Newfane, which is looking for its third consecutive championship in this tournament. The rest of the lineup includes much larger schools West Seneca West, Starpoint, Niagara Falls and Clarence.

“The ultimate goal is to be ranked high in the state as a team down the road,” Bishop said. Bishop continued by saying the effect of going to bigger tournaments and facing stiffer competition has already resulted in noticeable improvements in everyone.

“The kids are buying into that,” Bishop said. “And they want to be pushed.”

But the Warriors will have their share of skilled mat-men as this young team will be led by sophomore Zach Braddell, a two-time state qualifier who will wrestle at 113/20.

Also back for the Warriors will be freshman Jason Frazer at 132 and junior Destin Tirado. “We all work hard and set our goals. Zach wants to win a state title and I want to make it to states,” Tirado said.

“The team has just been working hard every single day.”

Cory Gau, who will go at 132 pounds, is the lone returning senior wrestling for the Warriors squad that is heavy on juniors like Riley Whipple (152/60), Nick Burda (172), Noah Gillis and Chris Tartick (152).

Sophomore Joe Amato will wrestle at 120 pounds and eighth grader Joey McDonald will be at 99. Tonawanda also welcomed 12 newcomers to the varsity lineup.

“What’s nice about our situation is it’s not just the coaches that want it (success),” Bishop said.

“A lot of times coaches want it more than the kids and that’s not the case here. I’ve bounced around to a couple of schools early (in my coaching career) but I figured out that being here, it’s a hard working community. For me, all I can ask is a hundred percent. And that’s honestly what they give me every day.”

Like he did last season, Bishop once again gave credit and thanks to his assistant coaches Jordan McGregor and modified coach Steve Warthling for their help and input.

The Warriors will open their season at home on Nov.30 against Maryvale at 6.

“I’m optimistic about everything,” Tirado said. “Because no matter if somebody’s in here and it’s their second day or their second year everybody in here is just going as hard as they possibly can and just busting their butt.”

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