Cover photo courtesy of Jeff Pataky
Another successful season is in the record books for western New York’s scholastic wrestlers.
A season that started on Monday, November 14th, 2022 and concluded on Saturday, February 25th, 2023 saw 103 straight days of wrestling, which for many is only a small fraction of the total days during the course of a year where WNY area athletes are on the mats.
Nonetheless, Section VI and Msgr. Martin member programs had a historic winter where athletes shined in all four ‘state’ championship events they were entered in after a grueling and competitive regular season.
For the first time in history, wrestlers representing Section VI member teams captured NYSPHSAA Girls’ Invitational, team Dual Meet, and boys’ individual NYS titles in addition to Msgr. Martin athletes winning ‘Catholic school’ individual and a team CHSAA title.
Going into the start of the 2023-2024 season, WNY area wrestlers & teams will bring great expectations along with them from this year and from what is shaping up to be a tremendous offseason full of opportunities to train and compete.
The WNY Wrestling Coaches Association (WNYWCA) once again hosted its annual ‘Banquet of Champions’ on March 5th to thoroughly honor and recognize the passing season’s outstanding wrestlers, coaches, and contributors. A full list of the award winners and honorees can be found at the link below via WNY Athletics:
Awards and recognition
In addition to the WNYWCA’s outstanding lineup of awards, I would also like to recognize some wrestlers and coaches for noteworthy performances this year as well as some of the top moments from the 2022-2023 wrestling season.
Special recognition – head coach: Dennis Bauer, Amherst
Special recognition – assistant coach: Trevor Delahoy, Falconer/Cassadaga Valley
Special recognition – male athlete: Kenny Schmitz, Hamburg
Special recognition – female athlete: Meghan Edwards, Lewiston-Porter
Best dual meet: #2 Niagara Wheatfield 27 – #3 Niagara Falls 19; Section VI Div. I duals semifinal
Newcomer of the year: Tanner Catrabone, Williamsville North/East
Unheralded Wrestler Award: Austin Chase, Falconer/Cassadaga Valley
Selfless Soldier Award: Joey Keller, Clarence
Most Outstanding Wrestler (each league):
CCAA I: Tavio Hoose, Southwestern
CCAA II: Matt Trim, Maple Grove
NFL: Jaden Crumpler, Niagara Falls
N-O: Hamza Merrick, Wilson
Msgr. Martin: Nik Massaro, St. Joe’s
ECIC I: Cam Catrabone, Williamsville North/East
ECIC II: Grffin LaPlante, Starpoint
ECIC III: Xander Kirsch, Pioneer
(All of the above awardees were picked by WNY Athletics’ Matt O’Rourke)
2022-2023 final power rankings
The final WNY wrestling large and small school team power ranking of the 2022-2023 season.
1. Starpoint Spartans
2. Niagara Wheatfield Falcons
3. Niagara Falls Wolverines
4. Hamburg/Eden Bulldogs
5. St. Joe’s Marauders
6. St. Francis Red Raiders
7. Amherst Tigers
8. Lancaster Legends
9. Williamsville North/East Spartans
10. Orchard Park Quakers
Clarence Red Devils
Jamestown Red Raiders
1. Chautauqua Lake Thunderbirds
2. Falconer/Cassadaga Valley Golden Cougars
3. Newfane Panthers
4. Southwestern Trojans
5. Pioneer Panthers
6. Iroquois Chiefs
7. Randolph Cardinals
8. Medina Mustangs
9. Wilson Lakemen
10. Portville Panthers
Lake Shore Eagles
2022-2023 WNY wrestling top-10 moments
(10) Five teams compete in Section VI Dual Meet Championships for first time. Five different teams made their program debuts at the sectional dual meet tournaments on Jan. 7th. Amherst and Orchard Park competed for the first time in the large school tournament while Charter School for Applied Technologies, Southwestern, and Wilson competed in the small school tournament for the first time in each’s program history.
(9) Max DeSantis’s last second takedown lifts Lancaster over Williamsville North/East. Going into the last bout of the ECIC I showdown on Jan. 5, North led 32-30 with only the 110-pound match remaining. Down in the score in the 3rd period and starting on bottom, Legends freshman Max DeSantis was able to escape late in bout to make a one point match. With only seconds remaining in the bout and dual, DeSantis took a final shot and secured the match winning takedown near the boundary, leading Lancaster to a 33-32 win which also ultimately helped to secure the outright ECIC I dual meet title.
(8) Chautauqua Lake defeats Falconer in home environment for first outright CCAA title since 2013-2014. The sectional dual meet champion Thunderbirds stormed to their third win of the season over league rival and eleven-time consecutive CCAA I champion Falconer in Mayville on Jan. 18, the final ‘league showdown’ night across WNY. A packed gym were treated to another outstanding dual meet by both squads in an entertaining and loud environment with the classic ‘mat light’ making the experience reminiscent of legendary small school showdowns of the past. Jordan Joslyn, Martin Ohlsson, Trent Burchanowski, Jack Bourgeois, and John Watson won each of the last five matches to help lead CL to a 40-21 victory.
(7) Two first time Section VI Duals champions. Starpoint in Division I and Chautauqua Lake in Division II each became the 4th different team in the section in their respective divisions to claim the sectional Dual Meet titles. After missing out on the title a year ago, the Spartans got redemption in a big way in 2023 to capture the program’s first Duals title while earning a second consecutive trip to the state tournament. For CL, the T’Birds’ first appearance at the Duals since the inaugural tournament in 2017 paid off with the program’s first small school Duals title and trip to the state dual championships.
(6) St. Joe’s doubles up twice. The #5 Marauders backed up their Msgr. Martin dual meet title with the program’s 9th consecutive All-Catholic Tournament title, tying the 1981-1989 St. Francis teams for the current record win streak. Likewise, ‘Joe’s crowned two CHSAA individual champions who BOTH went on to place 5th in their respective weight classes (Austin Zimmerman, 110, Nik Massaro, 126) at the state federation large school tournament…a program first for the Marauders.
(5) Back to back top-5 finishes in Albany for both Section VI Div. I and II. For the first time in state tournament history (and since the split division format was introduced in 2004), both Section VI large and small school teams finished top-5 in their respective tournaments in back to back years. Section VI Div. I finished 5th in both 2022 and 2023 while Section VI Div. II finished 4th in 2022 and 5th in 2023.
(4) NW’s Barone leads ten WNY place winners at 1st NYSPHSAA Girls’ Invitational. Niagara Wheatfield 7th grader Gabriella Barone pinned all four of her opponents on the way to the 100-pound title at the very first NYSPHSAA sanctioned all-girls invitational in Syracuse on Jan. 27. Barone was one of over thirty athletes representing Section VI teams to participate in the first of its kind event in NYS, ten of whom landed top-6 podium finishes in their respective brackets in a strong showing by WNY area wrestlers.
(3) Four NYS champions put Section VI back on the championship tracks. A year without any NYS individual champions at the 2022 federation tournament in Albany was a rare first for Section VI since the 1998 season. The 2023 tournament proved to be a totally different story as two top seeded Section VI large school wrestlers won titles while two lower seeded Section VI wrestlers in the Division II tournament cruised to state titles in their respective brackets. All four champions impressed in either dominating finals performances or late match heroics to bring individual champions back to western New York.
(2) Tavio Hoose last second takedown secures NYS title. Perhaps one of the most exciting (and likewise least probable…?) finals saw 6-seeded Southwestern freshman Tavio Hoose take on the 4-seeded sophomore from Cold Spring Harbor (VIII) from the top side of the bracket in the small school 172-pound NYS final. With only seconds remaining in the match and down by one point, Tavio battled to get into scoring position from neutral, ultimately securing the match sealing takedown with only three seconds remaining in the bout to win a 5-4 decision for the NYS title.
(1) Starpoint cruises to the NYS large school dual meet state championship. The Spartans secured the top prize for wrestling dual team success in New York State and achieved their year long *goal* with a 4-0 day and a dominating championship performance over the two-time defending favorite out of Section IX in Syracuse on Jan. 28. As 2-seed in the tournament, Starpoint handled both of their first pool dual opponents before defeating a very talented Wantagh (VIII) team in the semifinal. In the final, the Spartans overcame an early deficit with five straight wins from 285-126 (including a major and two pins) to help set up Griffin LaPlante to seal the win with an insurmountable lead, 35-21, with only one match left. Starpoint would go on to win 35-27 to capture the 2022-2023 New York State Division I title.
2022-2023 WNY wrestling final standings
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