Defending sectional finalist Travis Browning knew what would be expected of him when he was told the Falcons’ league match with crosstown rival Orchard Park would start at 113-pounds.
Browning would have to be the last or second to last match since he weighed in at 99-pounds. However, Frontier head coach John Chowske elected to bump his sophomore star to 106-pounds for the final bout of the dual. And, with the Falcons down 33-37 after the 99-pound match, Browning delivered for his team with a first period pin to lift the #6 area big school Falcons over the #10 Quakers, 39-37.
“Browning came up big for us when it mattered most,” Chowske said on his young standout’s walk-off pin. “We have a pretty experienced team this year, so my expectations were very high going into this dual. Our guys know they need to step up and that bonus points are going to matter a lot. I expect our guys to continue to work and get sharper as the season goes on.”
The matchup itself was a case study in what motivated coaching staffs, schools, administration, athletes, and parents can achieve when they commit themselves to improving their wrestling programs and choose to compete rather than let their traditions fall by the wayside.
Not many years ago, this local rivalry featured plenty of forfeits and a lack of returning stars. On Wednesday in Orchard Park, the varsity match only started after the fourteen exhibitions were completed first, a huge number for two programs that once struggled with participation.
The Quakers conceded one forfeit to the Falcons but every other match was contested. Now, both teams are coming off of Section VI Dual Meet Championship tournament invitations as two of the top eight big school teams in the section in 2018-2019 and both are featured in the WNY Athletics initial 2019-2020 team rankings for the first time in quite a few years.
“We were really looking forward to the dual last year,” said Chowske on the meeting between the teams that was cancelled due to weather a season ago. “Coach Teal is doing an awesome job with the Orchard Park program and we wanted to get a chance to compete against them. This year our guys were excited to see them as our season opener.”
Christian Riccio put the Quakers up first with a major decision at 113-pounds good for four team points. After five bouts the team scored favored Frontier, 18-7, however three straight pins by Orchard Park’s Caleb Potter, Lucas Schaffer, and Dylan Coe helped head coach Jared Teal’s Quakers regain the lead, now 25-18.
However, Frontier responded with a streak of it’s own winning four straight matches from 170 to 220-pounds, including a 9-4 decision win at 195-pounds by Dylan Wojciechowski over OP’s Mike Pataky in the highlight matchup of the night featuring both teams’ top wrestler. Wojciechowski was a sectional title hopeful last season and took 3rd in Section VI Div. I at 170-pounds. Pataky is the defending Section VI Div. I 195-pound champion.
“Leading up to the dual last night, we had been expecting to get this matchup,” said Chowske on the potential for a Wojciechowski/Pataky showdown. “I wanted to test Dylan right off the bat and he was ready. We knew he was capable of beating Mike and we knew it would be a key match for us to win the dual.”
With the team down 31-33 at 99-pounds, OP’s Simon Cuvelle gutted out a second period pin to put the Quakers on top 37-33. However, Browning answered with a first period pin in final match to seal the Falcons’ season and league opening win, 39-37.
After the match, Chowske stated “I have high expectations for our team this year and we are really looking forward to seeing our hard work pay off as the season progresses.”
Winners for Frontier include Mitchell Wilson, Adam Kowalski, Jacob Petricca, Owen Weller, Andriy Petrov, Konrad Kryszton, and Browning and Wojciechowski. Browning, Wilson, Petricca, and Petrov earned bonus points with pins.
Orchard Park’s winners were Brody Banks, Ayden Haley (who also added a pin), and Potter, Schaffer, Coe, Cuvelle, and Riccio.
Frontier will take part in the annual Joe Shifflet Sweet Home Duals Friday through Saturday at Sweet Home HS. Orchard Park will compete in the Queen City Southtowns Duals at St. Francis HS Friday through Saturday as well.
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