By Dave Ricci
When it comes to Tonawanda Warriors wrestling hard work is more than just a buy into an idea. It’s a way of life.
As the Tonawanda Warriors prepare for the Section VI Class C championship that will be held at Falconer High School on Feb.4, they will be riding a wave of momentum that is the perfect balance between individual and team success.
“I think it was just the mentality that they were good enough and what they had in their arsenal (of moves) was good enough and could be effective and could win matches,” said assistant coach Jordan McGregor, a former Warrior and member of the program’s 100 Win Club.
“It’s all mental. Wrestling is half mental sport and just drilling in these guys that they can do it and they can achieve their goals is half the battle.” McGregor added that as a team they were a bit slow out of the gates. But as the season has unfolded the more guys experienced success the more it made them work harder to set and archive more goals.
The Warriors have been on a positive path, especially in recent weeks.
Two weeks ago the placed eighth at the ECIC Championships. Last week, they took fourth place out of 19 teams at the Ken-Ton Invitational. A tourney that featured much larger schools like Hamburg and Niagara Falls.
The Warriors were led by Jason Frazer who took first place in the 132 pound bracket and sophomore Zach Braddell who was first at 120. Braddell, a captain, has been the model of consistency for the Warriors. Entering Class with a 35-1 record, Braddell has also taken first place at ECIC Championships and at the Williamsville North Tournament where he was also named Most Outstanding Wrestler.
As solid as Braddell as been, the Warriors have been far from a one man show.
Frazer has 24 wins and scored a key victory in the Warriors win over rival North Tonawanda at their Battle for the Belt match on Jan.10.
Destin Tirado, who placed second at Ken-Ton at 152,is 22-4.
Nick Burda and Noah Gillis have 14 wins apiece.
“Everyone is just coming in and they are pushing themselves just as hard as they can go,” said Braddell.
“Guys are asking coaches and captains what they can do to get better.”
Junior Jared Woodin, is one of if not the Warriors best example of steady improvement. In his rookie season on the wrestling team Woodin is 5-12, but made significant strides when he took fourth place at 285 at Ken-Ton Invitational.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” Woodin said. “Personally, it’s exhausting for me, but I have teammates pushing me. Telling me to do more every day and it helps a lot.”