Cover photo courtesy of Jean Sweney
Consolation round placements helped lead the #1 Niagara Wheatfield Falcons over the #7 Grand Island Vikings in the team scoring race, 213.5 to 204 points, on Saturday at North Tonawanda. The Vikings crowned four champions to Wheatfield’s two, however the Falcons placed six wrestlers between 3rd and 4th place, all of whom qualified for the sectional championships, and three more in 5th or 6th place. #5 Hamburg was led by a trio of champions and twelve overall place winners, good for 3rd in the team standings with 192.5 points. HM Amherst edged #10 Starpoint for 4th in the team scoring behind two champions and eleven more place winners. The Spartans were led by two champions and fourteen overall place winners.
99: Starpoint 8th grader Gage LaPlante defended his top seed and pinned his way to the Class A title including a first period fall in the title match. Grand Island’s 2-seeded Nick Massaro wrestled to a runner up finish to guarantee entry to the state qualifier. Wheatfield 7th grader and Section VI Duals hero Garrett Chase fell in the semi to Massaro, but wrestled back to 3rd in the weight defeating Starpoint’s 5-seeded James Leuer, who was victorious in the opening round of the day over the 4-seed and will advance to sectionals.
106: The Spartans’ 2-seeded Chris Uptegrove earned a semifinal pin and a major decision victory in the final over top seeded Jim Gordon from Hamburg to claim the Class A 106-pound title. Unseeded Riley Kirst from Amherst fell by only a two-point margin to the 3-seed in the quarterfinal, but wrestled back to 3rd in the bracket to advance to the state qualifier. Wheatfield’s Josh Augugliaro finished 4th in the bracket to round out the Class A qualifiers for sectionals.
113: NW 9th grader and top seed Tremell Mathews captured the Class A title with a 4-3 decision win in the final over Starpoint’s 2-seed Dylan Lyness. Williamsville South’s Jackson Hewson defeated NW’s Noah Soliday 7-6 for the 3rd place.
120: Top seeded South junior Jaden Friel earned two pins to capture the Class A title. Friel was a winner by fall in the semis before earning a finals pin over the 2-seed Elijah Greenough from Niagara Wheatfield. Starpoint’s 4-seed Gavin Lyness was a major decision winner over South’s Bradley Evelt for 3rd place, taking revenge for a head to head loss all the way back to December 4th.
126: GI senior and top seed Jack Randle earned a semis major decision and a finals decision, 7-1, over a strong opponent in 2-seed Jacob Eckler who has been wrestling well as of late. It was Randle’s first class title in three attempts in the A finals throughout his career as he looks for a last shot at a Section VI title. Eckler had to take down teammate and 3-seed Christian Lasher in the semi who then wrestled back to 3rd in the bracket. Hamburg’s Luke Smeader qualified for sectionals as well with a 4th place finish.
132: Returning state tournament qualifier Ryan Forrest captured the Class A title after having last done so in 2016-2017 as a freshman. The Hamburg senior (42-1 record) pinned his way to the A title as the top seed in the bracket and should be the top seed for the Division I state qualifier next weekend. Forrest was a finals winner over South’s 3-seed Luqman Ahmad who upset Wheatfield’s two-time Section VI champion Collin Coughenour in the semis with a first period pin. The NW freshman, who bounced up a weight class for the post-season, wrestled back to a 3rd place finish, pinning his final two opponents. The Billies’ Ben French qualified for sectionals with a 4th place finish in the weight class.
138: Wheatfield senior Justin McDougald earned his 5th career class title as his final push for a state title heats up. Justin earned three pins on the day including a finals pin over Amherst’s Hasan Dobbins. The 3-seed Dobbins defeated NW’s 2-seeded Mark Kuhn, 3-2, to earn a spot in the final. Kuhn went 4-1 on the day with all four wins by pin to claim 3rd place in the weight class. Unseeded Amherst sophomore Jacob LeClerc fell to Dobbins in the quarterfinal but wrestled back to a 4th place finish, defeating the 5-seed in the consolation semis to guarantee entry to the sectional championships.
145: Hamburg sophomore Devin Collins earned his second straight Class A title with two pins and a finals major decision over 2-seed Jake Miller from Grand Island. Collins and Miller both pinned in their semifinal matches to advance to Saturday’s final. The seeds held on in this bracket as 3-seeded Williamsville junior John Maher was a 6-4 overtime winner over Amherst’s 4-seed Giovanni Russo for 3rd place in the weight class.
152: After an incomplete finish in 2018-2019 Class A tournament due to injury, Bulldogs sophomore Dylan Collins earned redemption on Saturday as the top seed in winning the class title. Collins was a finals winner by decision 7-3 over NW’s 2-seed Ali Assaf. Assaf earned two pins on the way to the final, including a semifinal pin over 3-seed Axel Andrews from Sweet Home. Hamburg’s unseeded senior Jack Gordon didn’t lose after the first round of the tournament and claimed 3rd place in the weight class, including a consolation semi pin over Andrews. Amherst’s Ignacio Pimental-Mendez finished 4th in the bracket to complete the Class A qualifiers for sectionals.
160: Grand Island sophomore Brian Bielec appeared at 160-pounds on Saturday as he looks to win a sectional title in an otherwise ‘up for grabs’ weight class. Bielec earned the top seed in the bracket and earned two first period pins and a semifinal major decision before defeating Wheatfield’s 2-seed Jacob Thibeault in the final by major, 12-3, for the third straight Class A title of his young career. Thibeault downed Amherst’s Ben Buscaglia in the semifinal, however the Amherst senior wrestled back to a 3rd place finish by way of major decisions in both of his final matches of the day. Starpoint’s Thomas Browne started the day as an unseeded wrestler but ultimately earned a spot in the state qualifier with a 4th place finish in the weight class.
170: The Adam Daghestani show rolled on as the GI senior captured his third straight Class A title after pinning all four of his opponents on Saturday in just over two minutes combined, which earned him Most Outstanding Wrestler honors. The returning Section VI champion and NYS 4th place finisher is looking to become the Vikings’ first state champion in program history. Hamburg’s Dom Manzella earned two pins on the way to the final in NT as the 2-seed in the weight class. Manzella was a winner by pin in the semifinal over GI’s Casey Dummit who eventually wrestled back to a 3rd place finish. Dummit defeated South’s Jonathan Clifford who qualified for sectionals despite not being seeded.
182: Top seeded Amherst senior Jonah Christakis earned three straight pins to capture the Class A 182-pound title, including a finals first period pin over Williamsville South rival and 2-seed Ethan Tong. Sweet Home’s Tyler Godson fell to Tong in the opening round, but pinned his next two opponents to finish 3rd in the weight class to qualify for sectionals. Starpoint’s Keith Coleman fell in the opening round as well but on the opposite side of the bracket to the top seed and wrestled back to a 4th place finish.
195: North Tonawanda’s 2-seeded Camerin Holmes was the only finalist and individual champion for the hosts as he defeated top seeded Hamburg wrestler Jon Bennett by an impressive 15-4 major decision win in the final. Holmes, who finished fourth in the class in 2018-2019 and missed sectional placement, has been strong for the Lumberjacks this season. GI’s 5-seeded Caleb Messing fell in the opening round to 4-seed Ben Levine from Amherst, 8-7, but defeated the fellow senior 8-6 in the 3rd place match.
220: Defending Section VI champion Blake Bielec made it three Class A titles in a row as he pinned all three of his opponents including a title match fall over teammate and 3-seed Gavin Larsen. Larsen was a winner by pin over Hamburg’s 2-seed John Haberman in the semifinal to reach the final. Haberman wrestled back to 3rd place with a consolation final pin over Starpoint’s 4-seeded Beckham Peehler.
285: Amherst senior heavyweight Ryan Bitka earned back to back Class A titles pinning in all three of his matches on Saturday. Bitka defeated teammate and 2-seeded Tyree Orange in the title match, who was a 5-1 winner over NT’s 3-seed Chris Kinney in an exciting semifinal bout. Wheatfield’s Andre Clause qualified for sectionals with a 3rd place finish, defeating Grand Island’s Ronald Appoloney in the consolation finale.
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