WNY #1 large school Lancaster cruised to a 51-21 victory on Tuesday night over arch rival #2 Clarence in front of a full crowd in the Legends’ Class of 2020 home finale. The Legends (7-0 ECIC I, 18-1 overall) took back the league title after falling in the 2018-2019 edition of the Border Brawl at Clarence. This is the fourth year in a row where the Clarence/Lancaster regular season finale has decided the ECIC I champion while the home team has won each time.
“I give [Clarence] Coach [Jason] Chase a lot of credit,” said Lancaster head coach Ron Lorenz after the impressive team win. “He wrestled the match without some of his guys and he could’ve done some things a lot different to stay from some of our guys. But, like a class act, he went at us heads up and let the kids wrestle.”
Lancaster started the dual winning seven of the evening’s first eight weight classes. A pin from senior Codie Scotland (38-0) at 220 kicked off the night followed by a forfeit accepted by freshman heavy weight Tom Carleson at 285. The only interruption in in the first half of the match for the Legends was an exciting come from behind 8-7 decision win by Clarence 7th grader AJ Didas at 99-pounds. However, freshman Carter Tadusz (32-7) calmed the Red Devils crowd with a critical pin at 106. In the next bout, a technical fall secured late in the match at 113 courtesy of retuning sectional finalist Myles Growowski turned the heat up on the Red Devils.
“Carter really looked good tonight. He has gotten better over the year,” said Lorenz on Tadusz’s pin. “He has been firing up lately and getting some big wins…he really showed up tonight. Myles turning it into overdrive late in the match to get that tech instead of a major…that shows a lot about him and the mindset it takes to keep you going through the season. Between Carter and Myles they really set the tone in the dual early. This is Myles’ fourth time wrestling in this match, so he really understands the importance of bonus points in this dual meet.”
Following Tadusz and Gronowski, Michael Schaefer, Kaleb Schurkus, and Micah Harry would help Lancaster jump out to a 36-3 lead with seven matches remaining in the dual. Besides a 9-2 decision win at 145-pounds courtesy of Bryce Bolognese, Clarence would capture wins from 138 to 170-pounds courtesy of pins by Jon Palozzi (138) and Aiden Rabideau (152) and decision wins by Jack Feltz (160) and Juan Santiago (170).
Despite a decision loss by Lancaster at 160-pounds, the Legends were guaranteed victory with three bouts left in the dual, as the most team points Clarence could score were eighteen, whereas the Legends currently held a 39-18 advantage. Lancaster seniors Ryan Stencel and Dan Empfield completed the night and their own home-gym wrestling careers with pins at 182 and 195, respectively, for a final score of 51-21. In an act of superb sportsmanship by both teams, Clarence made sure to honor Stencel (35-1) with an opponent on senior night, albeit a far less experienced opponent, to make sure Ryan would have one last chance to wrestle live in front of the home crowd. Stencel is a two time Section VI champion, a three time state tournament representative, a returning 5th place finisher in NYS, and nearing the 200 career win mark.
“Ryan is very close to my heart,” said Lorenz on his senior star. “We have been through a lot together, and that is just the kind of kid he is. He knows how to be respectful to the game on the mat. He just has a great respect for his opponents, the sport, us, the team…he’s just a class kid.”
Lancaster finishes the season on top of a crowded field of league opponents that currently features six of its eight teams ranked in the top nine of the latest WNY Athletics large school power ranking. The Legends travel to Syracuse this weekend to compete in the NYSPHSAA Dual Meet Championships after having earned a wildcard into it and the 8th seed in the large school tournament. It will be the Legends’ second appearance in the first three years of the event which is slated for Saturday at SRC Arena on the campus of Onondaga County Community College.
With the win over Clarence, Lancaster improved to 9-7 over the Red Devils since the start of the ‘Border Brawl’ trophy in the 2004-2005 season.
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