WNY Athletics

Niagara-Orleans League Wrestling Preview

Newfane extended its dominance of the Niagara-Orleans League in 2017-2018. The Panthers pushed the programs’ league championship streak to five straight while boasting a 25-0 league record in that time. The Panthers hit another milestone in sending three wrestlers to the state tournament for the first time in program history. Also, half of the league (Newfane, Akron/Alden, Albion) represented at last season’s Section VI Duals.

While Newfane stole the N-O show once again, the combined Akron-Alden Tigers were responsible for making a significant statement with wins over Iroquois AND Pioneer in the same day at the Duals. Since then, thirteen seniors off of last season’s squad have graduated, Akron and Alden have ended their wrestling partnership, and a new coach will lead the Tigers…quite a turn of events between seasons.

The Panthers will have a different head coach for the fourth straight season. Newfane returns the most talent from a year ago and should be the early favorite to repeat again in 2018-2019.

Newfane Panthers – Class B

2017-2018 resume: 1st place N-O (5-0 league), 2nd place Class C tournament, Section VI Duals participant, NYSSWA Honorable Mention

First year head coach Matt Lingle takes over a squad that returns four sectional place winners including Section VI 99-pound champion and state place winner Andy Lucinksi. On the opposite end of the lineup, Class C champion and sectional place winner Ty Casinelli returns for his senior season. The Panthers also return class finalists Ryan Nugent and Jayden Heers. Nugent and Heers took 2nd and 3rd at the state qualifier in their weights, respectively.

A total of eight Class C place winners return after losing five seniors who accounted for five class placements, three qualifier placements, and two wildcards to the state tournament. The strength of Coach Lingle’s lineup should be the light weights led by Lucinski and Nugent. Seven Panthers who competed in the postseason between 99 and 132-pounds return. The Panthers will be a tough squad to contend with.

Akron Tigers – Class C/D

2017-2018 resume combined with Alden: 2nd place N-O (4-1 league), 1st place N-O tournament, 4th place Class B tournament, Section VI Div. II Dual Meet Tournament runner-up, NYSSWA #19 ranked small school

While Akron and Alden were combined in 2017-2018, Akron was technically the ‘host’ team and Akron students accounted for all but three wrestlers of the thirty certified wrestlers on the roster. Twelve of them graduated in the spring from a team that, despite a big roster, still gave up forfeits at two weight classes.

The upsets that the Tigers pulled off at the Duals in the opening round and semi-final alerted the Section to take notice of what this team was capable of. For the first time in program history, two Tigers in Owen Kissell (from Alden) and Jacob Sarow went to the state tournament in the same year. Both graduated in the spring, as did five out of the six wrestlers that filled out 152 to 220-pounds. All six of those wrestlers placed at the class tournament and five placed at the state qualifier. The lone returning postseason place winner to return for the Tigers this season is Class B champion Millard Young. Young was 3rd at 195-pounds at sectionals as a junior.

Like Newfane, Akron will have a new head coach too. Former West Seneca East head coach Tony Ricchiazzi will lead the Tigers in 2018-2019.

Albion Purple Eagles – Class B

2017-2018 resume: 3rd place N-O (3-2 league), 8th place Class C tournament, Section VI Duals participant

Only two seniors graduated from a Purple Eagles team that placed nine in the Class C tournament. From at least 152/160 to 285-pounds head coach Pat Uveino should have an experienced returning wrestler at every weight class since six underclassmen placed between 145 and 285 at the C tournament. Senior Ben Restivo is the highest placing returner as a class finalist and state qualifier 4th place finisher. Also, three sophomores and a junior with postseason experience return that covered 99-132-pounds last season.

Medina Mustangs – Class C/D

2017-2018 resume: 4th place N-O (2-3 league), 9th place Class C tournament

The Mustangs were hit hard by graduation. Head coach Eric Gross lost five out of seven class place winners. However, what the Mustangs lost in graduation can be replaced in the next few years. Out of the twenty-five certified wrestlers on last year’s roster, thirteen were sophomores, freshmen, or 8th graders, a promising sign for upcoming Mustang teams. Ninth grader RaShawn Bloom is the top returning place winner with a 4th place finish in Class C at 99-pounds.

Barker/Royalton-Hartland Rams – Class B

2017-2018 resume: 6th place N-O (0-5 league), 7th place Class C tournament

The Rams placed eight of their thirteen certified wrestlers at the Class B tournament which was enough to help them out pace league rivals Albion (8th) and Medina (9th). Three of those place winners have graduated. Senior Karson Grover returns among four other Rams with postseason place finishes coming off of a 3rd place finish in C and 6th place finish at sectionals. Matt McCauley is the head coach of the Rams.

Wilson Lakemen – Class C/D

2017-2018 resume: 5th place N-O (1-4 league), 6th place Class D tournament

Head coach Mike Carlo certified thirty wrestlers a season ago, almost an unheard of number of wrestlers for a school as small as Wilson; there are only eight schools/teams smaller in Section VI. Although the Lakemen did not have any class champions, four made the final of the D tournament while nine total placed. Sophomore Anthony Dispenza and senior Josiah Carnegie were both class finalists and one round from placing at the 2017-2018 state qualifier. Coach Carlo will rely on Dispenza and Carnegie to lead a Lakemen squad in which over half of the roster were sophomores, freshmen, or 8th graders last season.

With a group as large as Wilson’s that should return, don’t be surprised if the 2018-2019 Lakemen can double, triple, maybe even quadruple its 2017-2018 league win total.

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