WNY Athletics

Section VI Wrestling Championships Preview

Last Saturday’s four Class tournament championships provided all of the competitive, high level wrestling, twists and turns, and dramatic finishes that were missed in 2021. The Class tournaments serve as qualifiers for the sectional championships and are attended by schools within similar BEDS numbers. Only the top four place winners in each bracket in Class AA and A advance to the sectional tournament while the top five in B and C/D move on.

While Niagara Falls and Starpoint ran away with the Class AA and A titles, respectively, the small school tournaments literally could not have been closer. Pioneer and Iroquois again showed why they are the class of the Class as they tied for the B title with 216.5 points with both squads entering thirteen wrestlers in the tournament. Iroquois crowned four champions to Pioneer’s three and had eight finalists compared to the Panthers’ seven, but Pioneer placed eleven wrestlers overall compared to the Chiefs’ ten.

Meanwhile in Class C/D, all three of WNY’s top ranked small schools battled to a wild ending that had #3 Chautauqua Lake edge out #2 Falconer/Cassadaga Valley 212.5 points to 212 for the Class C/D team title. #1 Newfane finished in third place with 172 points. Unlike in the B tournament, the top two teams in C/D were low on champions as CL’s Jordan Joslyn was the only individual weight class winner amongst either team. Joslyn was one of four finalists for the Thunderbirds while Falconer was led by two runners-up. Both squads placed eleven wrestlers while Falconer had a big consolation final round as six Golden Cougars claimed 3rd place out of thirteen weight classes.

The return of the Class tournaments resulted in a number of intriguing matches, wrestlers appearing unexpectedly at new weights for the postseason, and highly competitive matches amongst all four tournaments setting up the sectional championship brackets that could make for some very competitive races and some with really no clear favorite.

In Division I, only four sectional champions departed due to graduation in the spring with a whooping nine returning champions and thirty-one total place winners this year. The opposite is in effect for Division II as seven sectional titles won by 2021 seniors are vacant with only six returning champions meaning a number of wrestlers could and will be crowned sectional champion for the first time on Saturday night.

In Division I, Starpoint leads all teams with thirteen entries this weekend, followed by Niagara Falls (12), Niagara Wheatfield (9), Frontier (8), and Lancaster (7). In Division II, Chautauqua Lake and Pioneer each have eleven entries followed by Iroquois (10), Falconer (9), and Newfane (6).

Besides the actual wrestling, perhaps the single most impactful change between 2020 and 2022 will be showcased as Section VI will compete for true 2nd places at the sectional championships. The New York State Wrestling Committee proposed doing away with the wildcard system in favor of an automatic qualifier system to be implemented state wide. The concept was approved by NYSPHSAA before last season, but will be used for the first time this year. Section VI Division I and II will send both the individual weight class champions and runners-up at every weight class to the state tournament automatically; some other parts of the state have three ‘auto-qualifers’ and some have only one. However, at the conclusion of the championship bouts, the runner-up will have to wrestle the athlete who placed 3rd in the weight class if those two wrestlers did not already meet in the tournament. If the 3rd place and 2nd place wrestlers meet for the ‘true second’ and the 3rd place wrestler wins, that wrestler now assumes the runner-up position and thus an entry to the state tournament.

Wrestling at both tournaments begins at 10am on Saturday at Starpoint for Division I and at Jamestown C.C. for Division II with the finals locked in to begin at 5pm.

Weight classes

Division I

102-pounds

Top seeds:

  1. Eian Peterson (9th grade, 22-8 record) – Niagara Falls
  2. Sean Gordon  (8th, 33-6) – Hamburg
  3. Cullen Edwards (8th, 30-7) – Frontier
  4. Mason Evarts (10th, 18-10) – North Tonawanda
  5. Tommy Crumpler (9th, 12-8) – Niagara Falls
  6. Kole Haseley (8th, 21-15) – Starpoint

No place winners return from the 2021 championships meaning a first time sectional champion and five more place winners will be awarded for the first time in Division I 102-pounds. Niagara Falls’ Eian Peterson earned the top seed in the bracket after claiming the Class AA title with a 5-4 decision over Frontier’s Edwards. Peterson also has a head to head over Gordon, who won the Class A title last weekend, to effectively toss out the seed points (Peterson has the third most at the weight) and ascend to the top spot. A likely semifinal matchup could be with either Evarts or Crumpler (Evarts was an 11-4 winner over Crumpler on January 26th) versus Peterson while Gordon/Edwards round three could be on deck on the bottom side; both wrestlers have a 4-2 decision win over the other going back to January 5th. Nonetheless, two young wrestlers will be making the trip to Albany from this weight but on Saturday but the question is who?

Prediction

Champion: Edwards

Runner-up: Gordon (wins true 2nd)

110

Top seeds:

  1. Travis Browning (12th, 25-1) – Frontier
  2. JR Leuer (11th, 34-5) – Starpoint
  3. Ken Schmitz (11th, 34-4) – Hamburg
  4. Payton Mack (11th, 26-8) – Amherst
  5. Aiden Senear (10th, 22-9) – Jamestown

Unlike the preceding weight class, Division I 110-pounds is a dynamite chest of returning talented sectional place winners. Also, for being the second lightest weight, it is uncharacteristically almost completely populated by upper classmen. Frontier journeyman Travis Browning is on his last opportunity for a sectional title and is one of three returning sectional finalists and one of four place winners in the bracket. Browning, already a three time sectional finalist and 7th place NYS tournament finisher is down a weight after a runner-up performance in Section VI at 118-pounds in the spring. Browning already has impressive wins over Leuer, Schmitz, and Senear but hasn’t seen Mack, a two-time returning sectional place winner, which could be a semifinal match. In all likelihood, the Leuer/Schmitz saga could come to a head in their fourth meeting this season should both make the semifinals. Leuer was a 9-4 winner and a 3-2 winner over Schmitz previously, but the Hamburg junior has the most recent win in the Class A final, 9-4 in overtime. Schmitz/Leuer has been one of the best rivalries in WNY this season, and should they meet would be a rematch of last year’s 102-pound sectional final with advancement to the state tournament on the line.

Prediction

Champion: Browning

Runner-up: Leuer

118

Top seeds:

  1. Jaden Crumpler (12th, 26-2) – Niagara Falls
  2. Zach Dellinger (12th, 36-8) – Williamsville North/East
  3. Nik Massaro (10th, 35-8) – Grand Island
  4. Ja’shad Bumpers (12th, 22-9) – Niagara Falls
  5. Chase Richards (8th, 26-13) – Niagara Wheatfield
  6. Simon Cuvelle (12th, 20-8) – Orchard Park

A deep weight class with plenty of experience and a returning champion highlight a packed house at 118-pounds. Top seeded Jaden Crumpler is the defending Section VI Division I 110-pound champion looking to repeat. Crumpler has been outstanding for the Wolverines especially this season, with his only loss in Section VI Division I coming up a weight at 126. Jaden has met each of the following five seeds (with the exception of Richards) and recorded pins over those opponents this season. Crumpler met the 2-seed Dellinger in the Class AA final last weekend and secured a first period pin in the championship match. A possible semifinal could put teammates against one another should Bumpers, also a returning place winner, hold off the very talented Falcons 8th grader and returning sectional placer if they are to meet in the quarterfinal. Bumpers was a 7-5 winner over Richards hardly two weeks ago. On the bottom of the bracket, Dellinger could meet GI’s Massaro in the semifinal in what could be their first meeting of the season. Dellinger has had a breakout senior campaign and is looking to not only place in the section for the first time in two years but also punch a ticket to states. Massaro, a 2020 sectional place winner, who has only lost twice since the last day of December, has been very good as of late and shouldn’t be looked past on the way to the final. However, don’t look past what could be a really good quarterfinal matchup when OP’s Cuvelle and Massaro meet.

Prediction

Champion: Crumpler

Runner-up: Dellinger

126

Top seeds:

  1. Amarfio Reynolds, Jr. (11th, 27-1) – Niagara Falls
  2. Myles Gronowski (12th, 39-5) – Lancaster
  3. CJ Uptegrove (11th, 31-11) – Starpoint
  4. Garrett Chase (9th, 31-11) – Niagara Wheatfield
  5. Riley Kirst (10th, 22-10) – Amherst

The top two seeds in the bracket have been on a collision course from the start of this season that finally resulted in their first meeting, a 6-3 decision win for “Junior” Reynolds in the Class AA tournament final. Reynolds is the defending Section VI 118-pound champion who also was a finalist and state tournament wildcard in 2019-2020. Lancaster journeyman Gronowski was a 3rd place winner in the spring following back to back runner-up finishes in 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 now looking for one more shot to make it to the floor of the NYS championships. A possible rematch in this weekend’s final could result in one of the best head to head matches in all of championship weekend. On the way to the final, a very realistic semi matchup between two battle hardened opponents could put Gronowski against Starpoint’s dangerous CJ Uptegrove, also a returning place winner who has been tested over and over this season in high pressure situations. Young up and comers Chase and Kirst, both Section VI place winners in 2020, will meet for the second time this season for the chance to compete in the semifinal. Chase was a winner in their first meeting in the Class A semifinal, 4-0.

Prediction

Champion: Reynolds, Jr *MOW

Runner-up: Gronowski

132

Top seeds:

  1. Griffin LaPlante (8th, 39-5) – Starpoint
  2. Tremell Mathews (11th, 36-8) – Niagara Wheatfield
  3. AJ Didas (9th, 33-8) – Clarence
  4. Grady Peterson (11th, 20-8) – Niagara Falls
  5. Brandon Heh (12th, 34-15) – Clarence
  6. Zach Caldwell (8th, 21-20) – Starpoint

Another ‘collision course’ matchup may be on deck between the top two seeds at 132-pounds. Wheatfield’s Mathews was a winner in the 2021 Section VI 126-pound final over Starpoint’s ultra-talented then 7th grader Griffin LaPlante. However, LaPlante has held the advantage this year with two 3-0 decision wins over Mathews. A potential finals matchup could see a third meeting in one of WNY’s top rivalries this year. Seeded 3rd is Clarence’s very talented freshman Class AA champion AJ Didas, a returning sectional place winner as well. Didas will meet fellow returning sectional placer Caldwell in the quarterfinal in an intriguing matchup for both wrestlers. Didas may own a better looking record, but Caldwell is dangerous in his own right and has taken on some of the best in WNY this season as an 8th grader. Should Didas advance, a third showdown with Mathews could be on deck. Mathews owns wins in both of their head to heads this season, an 8-6 decision and a 12-6 decision. One of the big moves of Class weekend saw Clarence’s Heh move up to 132 as double entry for the Red Devils. Heh will meet ‘Falls’ returning sectional placer Peterson in the quarterfinal round. Peterson was a slight 7-6 decision winner in their semifinal matchup last weekend.

Prediction

Champion: LaPlante

Runner-up: Mathews

138 

Top seeds:

  1. Collin Coughenour (11th, 22-3) – Niagara Wheatfield
  2. Carter Tadusz (11th, 34-11) – Lancaster
  3. Te’Shaun Mathews (10th, 34-5) – Niagara Wheatfield
  4. Darren Christian (12th, 21-8) – Niagara Falls

The top four seeds all bring sectional placement pedigree led by Coughenour, one of the most experienced wrestlers in WNY. Coughenour is the defending sectional champion and is looking for his fourth title and trip to Albany in five years. A double entry in the bracket by the Falcons puts 3-seeded Mathews in a prime spot to make a run at the final and a third shot at his teammate should the two make the championship bout. Coughenour has two close decision wins over “Juicy” in recorded matches this season, both coming within the last two weekends. If the Falcons pair is to meet in the final for the second weekend in a row, Mathews would have to possibly take down Lancater’s Class AA champion and returning sectional finalist Tadusz if the two meet in the semifinal. Tadusz and Mathews have not meet this season, so that could be a showdown with big time implications on state tournament advancement in this bracket. Meanwhile, on the top side, a realistic semi between Coughenour and NF’s Christian would be their first meeting of the season too.

Prediction

Champion: Coughenour

Runner-up: Mathews

145 

Top seeds:

  1. Cam Catrabone (10th, 40-1) – Williamsville North/East
  2. Gage LaPlante (10th, 35-2) – Starpoint
  3. Peyton Lyness (12th, 25-19) – Starpoint
  4. Joe Cicco (10th, 25-12) – Niagara Wheatfield

Section VI could send one of the best duos in any given weight class at the state tournament should the top seeded Catrabone and 2-seed LaPlante advance to states. Catrabone, a 2020 NYS place winner, is after his fourth sectional title while Gage LaPlante is looking to top the podium again after having won a Section VI title last in 2020. A finals meeting between the two would mean a rematch of the 2021 132-pound final. A Catrabone/LaPlante duo in Albany would be one of Section VI’s best opportunities to place two on the large school podium. Fast fact: Section VI Division I has had two place winners in the same bracket in the same year in three of the last four state tournaments.

Prediction

Champion: Catrabone

Runner-up: LaPlante

152 

Top seeds:

  1. Carson Alberti (12th, 17-2) – West Seneca/Depew
  2. Cameron Millender (11th, 24-10) – Sweet Home
  3. Keith Coleman (12th, 20-17) – Starpoint
  4. Micah Harry (11th, 22-13) – Lancaster
  5. Giovanni Russo (12th, 25-10) – Amherst

Alberti is the favorite for a third Section VI title after having last done so in 2019-2020 as part of the Alden/Depew combined squad and before that in 2018-2019. Carson’s last sectional title resulted in a return trip to the NYS tournament and 5th place finish in Division II. Alberti already has two big wins over the 2-seed and a convincing tech fall over the 4-seed from the Class AA final from a week ago. Besides Alberti, no other wrestlers return with sectional placements on the resume, leaving the door open for someone(s) to make not only the sectional podium but the state tournament for the very first time. Class A champion Coleman was a winner over Millender recently in, but has split with the Sweet Home junior in their head to heads this winter. Lancsater’s Harry has two wins over Russo this season, both by one single point, so the winner will have a shot at Alberti (in all likelihood) in the semis.

Prediction

Champion: Alberti

Runner-up: Coleman

160 

Top seeds:

  1. Mike Syposs (11th, 27-6) – Niagara Falls
  2. Jesiere Carter (12th, 27-5) – Niagara Falls
  3. Michael Schaefer (10th, 41-4) – Lancaster
  4. Luke Smeader (11th, 29-5) – Hamburg
  5. Jake LeClerc (12th, 29-8) – Amherst

One of the biggest results of the entire Class weekend saw Niagara Falls’ gamble with Syposs at 160 work out as the Wolverines junior was first a winner by pin over Schaefer in the semi and then an 8-7 decision winner over Carter in the final, taking down a defending and a former sectional champion in the same day. Syposs earned MOW honors in AA and set himself up with the top seed for the sectional championships after having missed placing in 2021. Carter is one of three defending champions for Niagara Falls, and, in all likelihood, could have a 2021 finals rematch with Schaefer assuming the two meet in the semifinal which would be a highly anticipated showdown since the pair have not met this season. Schaefer captured the sectional title in 2019-2020 and placed in 2018-2019. On the top side of the bracket, LeClerc/Smeader are set up for a fourth result of the season with a big opportunity to advance to the semis on the line. Smeader was a decision winner in both of their contested matches this season including a 6-3 decision in the Class A final. Whoever wins between the two will get their first and only shot at Syposs in the semifinal round. LeClerc was a sectional place winner in 2021, but Smeader last placed in Section VI in the 2018-2019 season.

Prediction

Champion: Schaefer

Runner-up: Syposs (holds true 2nd)

172 

Top seeds:

  1. Brian Bielec (12th, 39-0) – Grand Island
  2. Evan Stencel (11th, 39-8) – Lancaster
  3. Max Hill (12th, 25-5) – Niagara Falls
  4. Landon Grainy (11th, 30-12) – Starpoint

Defending sectional champion Brian Bielec will try to repeat this weekend as part of his quest for state tournament glory. A 3rd place sectional finish in 2019-2020 set the stage for a productive junior campaign, however the limited spring 2021 season meant a missed change to compete in Albany for the first time. Bielec, who became the Vikings’ all-time wins leader last weekend, could have a Class A final rematch with Grainy should the two meet in the semifinal. A Class AA final rematch could be on hand on the bottom side should Stencel and Hill match up again. Stencel, a returning sectional placer, was a 10-4 decision winner over Hill last Saturday. All things considered, a pair of wrestlers will compete in the actual state tournament for the very first time from this pool in two weeks.

Prediction

Champion: Bielec

Runner-up: Stencel

189 

Top seeds:

  1. Reilly Popa (11th, 30-5) – Clarence
  2. Chris Bargy (11th, 29-6) – Olean/Allegany-Limestone
  3. Connor Grohman (12th, 21-13) – Kenmore
  4. Jack MacDonald (10th, 25-4) – Orchard Park
  5. Sam Judasz (11th, 21-9) – Lancaster
  6. Thomas Browne (12th, 29-16) – Starpoint

This bracket, quite literally, is as wide open as it gets which will give one of these athletes a chance to win a sectional title and two of the an opportunity to wrestle in Albany. Grohman is the only returning 2021 place winner in the field while Browne carries a place finish from the 2019-2020 season on his resume. The top seeded Class AA champion Popa hasn’t seen Bargy or Browne this year, but has two decision wins over Grohman and Judasz and has split 1-1 with MacDonald this season. To set the stage in the top side of the bracket, the Judasz/MacDonald quarterfinal would mean a rematch of their only meeting this year which was a 6-1 decision for MacDonald in the 3rd place match in AA. Either way, for whoever wins, (and assuming Popa wins in the first round), a 3rd meeting of Popa/Judasz or Popa/MacDonald would be on deck for the semis. The Quakers sophomore fell in the first meeting with Popa, 4-0, but then was an impressive 7-0 winner in the ECIC finals precisely four days later. On the bottom side, Olean/A-L’s Bargy earned the 2-seed after claiming the Class A title with a pin over Browne in the final. A Browne/Grohman quarterfinal matchup would be their second meeting this year, as would a Browne/Bargy or Grohman/Bargy match. Bargy was a first period winner by pin over Grohman at the Portville Invitational in the second week of the season. Nonetheless, this weight could provide some seriously high stakes matches in every single round on Saturday.

Prediction:

Champion: Popa

Runner-up: MacDonald (wins true 2nd)

215 

Top seeds:

  1. Matt Caldwell (11th, 29-14) – Starpoint
  2. Kevin Daskavitz (11th, 3-0) – Lockport
  3. Casey Robinson (10th, 33-10) – Niagara Wheatfield
  4. Jared Harris (11th, 22-8) – Sweet Home
  5. Charlie Marzec (12th, 16-8) – Kenmore
  6. Nick Baco (12th, 25-16) – Frontier

Starpoint’s Caldwell has had one of the busiest seasons in all of WNY covering two weights and taking on opponents of all sizes and abilities in between. The only defending sectional place winner in the bracket captured the well earned Class A title last weekend after having to win overtime matches in the semi AND final to do so. In the Division I landscape of 215, Caldwell may have emerged as the consensus favorite to claim a sectional title this weekend, however Lockport’s Daskavitz did his best Lee Corso “not so fast!” impression showing up in Class AA in his first outing of the season after having made a full recovery from an injury. Daskavitz was a major decision winner over the top seed in the quarters and then pinned in each of the next two matches to claim the AA title. Remember, Daskavitz was a sectional runner-up as a freshman to Lancater’s two-time state place winner Ryan Stencel in 2020. However, if he is to make it back to the final, Daskavitz will have to pass the first round test before possibly taking on NW’s experienced sophomore Robinson should the two meet in the semis. If that happens, Robinson will have wrestled exactly forty more matches than Daskavtiz this season (!). On the top side, assuming Caldwell and Harris win in the first round, Caldwell would have to follow up his 5-3 OT win over the dangerous Harris from the Class A semis a week ago.

Prediction

Champion: Caldwell

Runner-up: Daskavitz

285 

Top seeds:

  1. Konrad Krzyszton (12th, 30-1) – Frontier
  2. Stefaan Fearon (12th, 27-3) – Lockport
  3. Trevon Mathews (12th, 30-6) – Niagara Wheatfield
  4. Andre Clause (12th, 11-4) – Niagara Wheatfield
  5. Drew Mascio (12th, 20-6) – Frontier

285 has provided some of the best head to head matches with the best ‘big man’ athletes in WNY in both large and small school wrestling this year. Krzyszton/Fearon Part IV could be on the horizon this weekend should the two athletic heavyweights meet again in the final. Fearon is the defending Division I heavyweight champion while Konrad was a 3rd place finisher in spring 2021. Clause was a 3rd place winner in 2019-2020 as well. Konrad holds a 2-1 record vs. Stefaan so far this season, with a default win and also a 9-2 victory. However, Fearon got the latest win in the series, 7-3, in the Class AA final a week ago. Konrad hasn’t seen the 4-seed Clause, who got the upper hand on his NW teammate in the Class A final last weekend, 1-0, and neither has 5-seed Mascio. Mascio and Clause will see who will advance for a shot at Konrad in the quarterfinal. On the bottom side, a potential Mathews/Fearon semifinal could raise some serious interest as Fearon has a 7-3 and 8-2 decision over the Falcons senior. Either way, it’s the last chance for all eight entrants to get to the state tournament since all eight wrestlers are seniors; this could be one of the most entertaining brackets of the whole weekend.

Prediction

Champion: Krzyszton

Runner-up: Fearon

 

Division II

102

 Top seeds:

  1. Dominick Callara (11th, 22-2) – Medina
  2. Carmine Calimeri (8th, 31-1) – Southwestern
  3. Brayden Kellison-Neglia (7th, 28-5) – Newfane
  4. Jaron Barrientos (9th, 23-6) – Lewiston-Porter

Another year, another supremely talented Division II 102-pound field led by Medina’s defending Section VI Division II 102-pound champion. Callara captured the small school title a year ago for his first sectional placement, but fell in C/D final a week ago to returning sectional place winner in the young star out of Southwestern HS. Callara & Calimeri split in both of their head to heads this season, with each getting a pin over the other in those meetings. Rarely does one find two returning place winners back at this very lightest weight for a second year in a row. In the three spot is the youngest wrestler in the bracket in Newfane’s 7th grade phenom Brayden Kellison-Neglia. Brayden pushed Calimeri in a 7-4 loss in last weekend’s C/D semifinal in what was their first meeting this season. Kellison also has a very narrow 3-2 loss to Callara this season, meaning the young Panther is right in the mix in the bracket. L-P’s Barrientos cruised to the Class B title last weekend after battling through a very challenging schedule this season. Barrientos is split with Kellison with one win apiece but hasn’t seen Callara this season. 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3 should, in all likelihood, meet in the semifinals, however, as we have seen in recent sectional tournaments, crazy things can happen with the lightest bracket.

Prediction:

Champion: Calimeri

Runner-up: Callara

110

Top seeds:

  1. Bryce DellaPenta (8th, 29-12) – Eden
  2. Aaron Raczka (12th, 22-10) – Cheektowaga
  3. Wyatt Opferbeck (9th, 20-11) – Pioneer
  4. Kenji Walter (10th, 27-9) – Southwestern
  5. Karsen Lundgren (10th, 25-16) – Falconer/Cassadaga Valley
  6. Victor Cusatis (8th, 19-7) – Wilson

Eden’s battle tested young star may not have won the C/D title last weekend, but he certainly earned top seed considerations with having seen all four of the 2-5 seeds with wins over all of them this season. Southwestern’s Walter was a 3-0 winner in last weekend’s final over DellaPenta, however the pair are 2-2 against one another this season with one match decided by five points and the other three decided by exactly three each time (!). Bryce is also split with Raczka at one win each, has two decisions over Opferbeck, and one decision win over Lundgren. Class B champ Raczka dominated the field last weekend with three pins on the way to the title. Raczka does have a win over Walter, but has losses to both Opferbeck and Lundgren by pin. Walter has had a breakout season for the Trojans and was one of five SW champions last weekend. An early Saturday match against Falconer’s Lundgren would be a rematch of their head to head from only two weeks ago in their league dual which Walter won by major, 14-2. Also, don’t count out Wilson’s Cusatis mixing things up as the 6-seed in the bracket. With no returning or former sectional place winners in the bracket and so many head to head results this season, it’s safe to say the Division II 110-pound title (and runner-up) is one of the biggest toss ups of the entire weekend.

Prediction

Champion: DellaPenta

Runner-up: Walter (wins true 2nd)

118

Top seeds:

  1. Jordan Joslyn (10th, 36-0) – Chautauqua Lake
  2. Dan Kirsch (12th, 36-1) – Pioneer
  3. Caden Barrientos (10th, 23-6) – Lewiston-Porter
  4. Nolan Skowronski (12th, 38-7) – East Aurora/Holland
  5. Caden Inkley (9th, 28-5) – Randolph
  6. Cody Freyburger (9th, 17-9) – Maryvale
  7. Lucas Hoffman (11th, 32-8) – Fredonia
  8. Domanik Clark (9th, 21-9) – Randolph
  9. RaShawn Bloom (12th, 28-9) – Medina

The total opposite situation of 110 exists at 118 with a loaded top five – and some other retuning stars who didn’t even make the top six. C/D champion Joslyn and B champion, 2x Section VI champion, and 2020 NYS 4th place winner Dan Kirsch highlight a very deep small school bracket that includes five current or former sectional placers. Joslyn has followed up his 2021 sectional runner-up performance with one of the single most dominate showings of anyone this season, taking down a number of talented wrestlers which includes major decision wins over two 2020 state tournament placers. Jordan cruised to the C/D title last weekend earning wins over both Randolph wrestlers on the way. Pioneer’s rugged senior Kirsch was challenged by Hoffman and Barrientos in Class B last weekend, but secured the individual title. Kirsch’s lone loss this year came to Joslyn in the Pat Morales Memorial final on January 15th. A sectional final rematch has the ingredients to possibly be one of the best individual bouts in WNY this season. However, if that is to happen, they’ll have to pass a number of tests in the bracket on Saturday. Kirsch was a 7-1 winner in the B final over Barrientos, also a two-time sectional place winner, last weekend in their only meeting this season. On the top side, 4-seeded 2020 sectional placer Skowronski is dangerous but will see a rising star in Randolph’s class finalist Inkley who has had a tremendous breakout campaign. The 6-9-seeds all have the potential of ruining the seeds right out of the gate. For example, look at Medina’s Bloom, a 2019 sectional place winner, going into the 2022 championships as the 9-seed in the bracket…the NINE! File the 118-pound Division II bracket in the ‘get your popcorn ready’ category.

Prediction

Champion: Joslyn *MOW

Runner-up: Kirsch

126

 Top seeds:

  1. Gavin Ciarfella (10th, 26-1) – Medina
  2. Ayden Buttery (9th, 30-6) – Newfane
  3. Xander Kirsch (11th, 29-2) – Pioneer
  4. John Vicario (12th, 34-7) – Eden
  5. Miguel Salas (11th, 24-11) – Newfane
  6. Caleb Day (12th, 16-14) – Iroquois
  7. Blake Hageman (11th, 22-12) – Lake Shore

Medina’s top seeded 2020 sectional place winner and state tournament wildcard captured the C/D title as the 3-seed taking down Newfane’s defending sectional placer Buttery, 6-3, whom he previously lost to in the Niagara-Orleans final exactly one month prior, 3-2. In the final, Ciarfella earned another high quality win with a 3-1 decision over 2021 sectional finalist Vicario, 3-1. Class B was a different story as 2020 sectional placer Xander Kirsch dominated the bracket with a tech fall and three pins in thirty-four seconds or less which earned him MOW honors. Overall, the sectional bracket features five athletes with former or returning Section VI placements. An early Salas/Vicario match will be a rematch of last weekend’s semifinal in C/D which resulted in an 8-1 Vicario victory. A possible class final rematch between Vicario/Ciarfella in the sectional semifinal could have huge implications for the final and wrestle backs, whatever the outcome is. Surprisingly, Buttery and Kirsch have not met this season, but a semifinal bout between the two will be equally as important as the top side. Looking way ahead, a possible Ciarfella/Kirsch final would be a rematch from the very first weekend of the season in which Ciarfella was a 3-1 winner in the Byron-Bergen 132-pound championship match. Tensions may be high in this bracket with a number of wrestlers eager to punch a ticket to Albany.

Prediction

Champion: Ciarfella

Runner-up: Kirsch

132

Top seeds:

  1. Aidan Gillings (9th, 34-1) – Newfane
  2. Michael Schiffhauer (12th, 32-7) – Iroquois
  3. Trent Burchanowski (11th, 34-5) – Chautauqua Lake
  4. Karsen DePasquale (12th, 37-12) – Falconer/CV

This bracket is the only bracket in either Division I or II this weekend in Section VI that features two returning NYS tournament place winners from the 2020 season. “Gilly” captured the 99-pound D2 title in 2020 as a 7th grader resulting in a 4th place finish in Albany while Schiffhauer’s 3rd place finish in the section was all he needed to earn a wildcard to states, resulting in a 7th place finish at 113-pounds. The pair have only meet once this season, back on December 11th in which Gilly was a winner by default. A likely rematch between two-all state wrestlers has been on everyone’s mind since then. Schiffhauer dominated the Class B field last weekend with four second period pins on the way to 1st place. Meanwhile, Gilly cruised to the C/D title with three first period pins. A likely semifinal bout could be Gilly vs. Falconer’s Karsen DePasquale who finished 3rd the bracket last weekend while a Schiffhauer vs. C/D runner-up Burchanowski semifinal seems likely as well. In each of these scenarios, the semifinal bouts would be the first meeting of the season amongst all four athletes. While either of the top two seeds appear to be the favorites, the remainder of the field will have a tall task just in making the final OR in a potential true second place situation.

Prediction

Champion: Gillings

Runner-up: Schiffhauer

138

 Top seeds:

  1. Ryan Sweeney (12th, 36-4) – Iroquois
  2. Shane Walczyk (12th, 37-4) – Eden
  3. Austin Chase (11th, 29-10) – Falconer/CV
  4. Martin Ohlsson (11th, 25-7) – Chautauqua Lake
  5. Amilcar Morales (12th, 26-6) – Albion

The bracket features five wrestlers with sectional placements, two sectional champions, and two athletes with state tournament experience. Iroquois’s Sweeney captured a Section VI title in 2020 while Walczyk is a defending sectional champion. Chase, Ohlsson, and Morales all bring in sectional placements while Ohlsson has state tournament experience from 2020 after a runner-up finish in the section. A week ago, Sweeney claimed the Class B title with a quality 12-5 decision over Morales in the final. Sweeney also has three head to head wins over Walczyk this season, and in each time the score has gotten closer; first an eleven point difference, then seven, and then most recently a four point margin of victory. A likely semifinal could put both wrestlers with state tournament experience against one another on the top side of the bracket, however Ohlsson might have to hold off the 5-seeded Morales just to make the semi. On the bottom side, a fourth meeting this season between Chase and CL’s talented 8th grader Fairbank is on deck. Chase has won all three meetings all without giving up even one point. Assuming Walczyk makes the semi, he’ll see familiar opponents in either Chase or Fairbank. The Eden senior owns two wins over Chase and three over Fairbank just this season alone, including victories over both in C/D last weekend. Whoever claims those top two spots this weekend will most certainly have had to earn them.

Prediction

Champion: Sweeney

Runner-up: Walczyk

145

Top seeds:

  1. Luke Tomlinson (12th, 38-1) – Maple Grove
  2. Adam Huntington (12th, 29-5) – Newfane
  3. Jacob Clark (11th, 26-14) – Falconer/CV
  4. Ellwood Hafner (12th, 29-5) – Albion
  5. Brad Smith (11th, 22-10) – Chautauqua Lake
  6. Ethan Pfeiffer (12th, 29-15) – Iroquois

Is this the year top seeded 200-match winner Tomlinson punches through to a sectional title? Following runner-up finishes in each of the last two years and 3rd place three seasons ago, the Maple Grove senior is surely eyeing a top podium finish the last time out. Tomlinson was a wildcard to the state tournament in 202o. Besides Tomlinson, Clark is the only returning sectional place winner with a 3rd place finish from a year ago. Previously, in 2020, Huntington last placed in Section VI but missed the podium in 2021. Last weekend’s C/D final provided what may have been a sectional final preview that had Tomlinson defeating Huntington, 6-2. The decision win was the very first of the season for Tomlinson, who, besides a major on January 19th has pinned in every single one of his other wins this season with the obvious exception of only three forfeits. In the 3-spot is Falconer’s Clark, a returning place winner who had to settle for 4th in the class last weekend after falling to CL’s Smith in the consolation final and by tech to Huntington in the semi. Meanwhile in Class B, Albion’s Hafner had an impressive day pinning in his first three matches on the way to the final where he was an overtime winner over Pfeiffer, 8-7. The Pfeiffer/Clark rematch from mid-December could one to keep an eye on as Clark was a narrow 4-2 decision winner in their first meeting. In top side of the bracket, Smith could have a chance for revenge should he meet Hafner, who was a first period winner by pin in the Byron-Bergen final. All things considered, Tomlinson has to be the early favorite, but don’t count out Huntington who has had a tremendous senior campaign for the mighty Panthers.

Prediction

Champion: Tomlinson

Runner-up: Huntington

152 

Top seeds:

  1. Dakota Mascho (12th, 29-0) – Portville
  2. Brady Heckathorn (11th, 34-4) – Pioneer
  3. Alex Hafner (12th, 27-6) – Albion
  4. John Watson (10th, 28-10) – Chautauqua Lake
  5. Dalton Caldwell (11th, 31-16) – Falconer/CV

Two-time defending sectional champion and 2020 NYS 4th place winner Mascho brings one of only three undefeated records across the entire area into Saturday looking for a Section VI crown. Dakota has impressed all season and has a number of high quality wins on the resume including an 8-2 victory over 2-seed Heckathorn, also a returning sectional finalist. Both were the top seeds in their respective class tournaments last weekend and claimed individual titles. Mascho earned two pins, one over Caldwell, before a finals 8-0 major over the 4-seed Watson. In B, Heckathorn impressed with four straight pins including a finals fall over 3-seeded Hafner. A likely semifinal would put the Class B finalists back to together, while an all-C/D semi is likely to take place on the top side. A Watson/Caldwell quarterfinal would be intruding since they haven’t met this season. Watson advanced to the final last weekend as the 2-seed while Caldwell moved up a spot taking 3rd place as the 4-seed. With at least one clear leader, one other contender, and not a TON of depth at the weight, in all likelihood the top two seeds hold up here.

Prediction

Champion: Mascho

Runner-up: Heckathorn

160

Top seeds:

  1. Nick Brown (12th, 28-5) – Springville
  2. Donald Bennett (12th, 18-6) – Pioneer
  3. Neves Hoose (10th, 24-7) – Southwestern
  4. Jayden Malecki (10th, 22-12) – Chautauqua Lake
  5. Bryant Morrison (11th, 19-13) – Falconer/CV

A pair of wrestlers will advance to the state tournament for the first time here. Brown and Bennett are certainly the most experienced athletes in the bracket, as Brown enters with a runner-up placement in Section VI last year and a 5th place finish the year before. Bennett finished 3rd in the section in spring 2021 but missed placing in the previous two tournaments after high Class B place finishes. As the 2 and 1 seeds, respectively, last weekend in a thin field, it was Brown taking the class title with a third period pin. A potential semifinal could put Brown vs. Class C/D finalist Malecki which would be a rematch of a 14-7 Brown decision victory from January 8th. Another cross-class semifinal on the bottom half of the bracket could put C champ Hoose against Bennett which would be their first meeting of the season. Hoose had a nice tournament last weekend with two pins and a tech in the championship rounds before a 3-1 win over Malecki in the final. Don’t discount Falconer’s Morrison in the quarterfinal round either. While Brown looks to be the early favorite, don’t be surprised if all chaos breaks loose at 160 Division II on Saturday.

Prediction

Champion: Brown

Runner-up: Bennett

172

Top seeds:

  1. Tavio Hoose (8th, 35-4) – Southwestern
  2. Luke Pagett (12th, 25-8) – Randolph
  3. Dawson Russo (11th, 32-6) – Fredonia
  4. Kyle Keefe (12th, 37-11) – Falconer/CV
  5. Ben Workoetter (11th, 26-8) – Wilson

This bracket may be the single most wide open weight class of the weekend in either division; not a single one of the ten entries has placed in the section in any previous year. Southwestern star Tavio Hoose has had an outstanding season as only an 8th grader in a ‘big man’ weight class which can be very rare to see. Hoose earned two pins on the way to the Class C/D final where he was a 7-1 winner over Randolph’s multi-talented Pagett, who is also a 2nd team all-state Class D linebacker this year. With the exception of Russo, C/D wrestlers possess five of the top seven seeded spots in the bracket as last weekend’s 3rd placer Keefe and 4th place Workoetter round out the top five. Russo defended the top seed in Class B with three pins before the final. A realistic semifinal match could put Pagett vs. Russo for the fourth time this season in which Pagett already has two pins and an 8-1 decision in the series. Falconer’s Keefe has a real opportunity to make some noise as the 4-seed, having won by major over Workoetter last weekend while owning a head to head win, 8-6, over Tavio from just under a month ago. Interesting enough, head to head losses to Russo and Pagett may have actually ‘helped’ Keefe when as it turns out for sectional seeding. Nonetheless, without a lot of sectional tournament experience amongst this crowd, the 172-pound title could truly belong to any of these wrestlers by Saturday night.

Prediction

Champion: Pagett

Runner-up: Keefe

189

Top seeds:

  1. Simon Lingle (12th, 34-1) – Newfane
  2. Ricky Hess (12th, 23-5) – Iroquois
  3. Matt Trim (34-8) – Maple Grove
  4. Zack Hill (12th, 27-8) – Barker/Royalton-Hartland
  5. Dayne Aina (12th, 28-6) – Albion

Early in the season, Lingle quickly emerged as the odds-on favorite to capture a Section VI title, and going into this weekend, he remains the favorite. Simon cruised through the first three rounds of the Class C/D tournament before earning a quality 9-2 victory over Maple Grove’s Trim. Lingle, the only returning sectional place winner in the bracket, already owns quality decision victories over Hess, Trim, and three over Hill this season. Hess earned the Class B title last weekend gutting out a 3-2 decision over Aina in the final. In the semifinal round, the Aina/Hill season long rivalry reached its fourth contest of the season as Aina was a 5-3 winner. Hill has won all three of their first meetings before Aina claimed the most recent head to head. The pair will meet again on Saturday with a final shot at Lingle on the line for the winner. On the bottom of the bracket, Hess/Trim could meet for the second time this season should they both make the semifinal. Not surprisingly, Lingle is the leader of the bunch, however some close results with some of the other contenders might make this bracket worth keeping an eye on. Certainly, this one has the potential to host a true second place match at the conclusion of the final.

Prediction

Champion: Lingle

Runner-up: Trim

215

Top seeds:

  1. Dontae Hoose (12th, 32-1) – Southwestern
  2. Trevor Barry (10th, 35-6) – Iroquois
  3. Xavior Fitzgibbon (12th, 25-8) – Wilson
  4. Ison Shirley (10th, 25-11) – Chautauqua Lake

Perhaps two of the top athletes not just in WNY wrestling but in all sports will meet on Saturday should 2020 section champ and 6th place NYS finisher Hoose meet rising star Trevor Barry in the final. The pair met previously this season in the semifinals at NCCC which resulted in a 7-0 Hoose victory. It might be safe to say that a Hoose/Barry sectional final has been in the works all season, as each wrestler cruised to their respective class titles last weekend; Barry by way of three pins and Hoose with two pins and a convincing 10-3 win over Wilson’s Fitzgibbon. A likely Hoose/Shirley semifinal would be their first meeting of the season, surprisingly, while a Barry/Fitzgibbon match would be a second meeting; Barry was a winner by pin in the lone head to head this season. Besides Hoose, no other wrestlers have placed in the section in this bracket in the past. While Hoose may be the consensus favorite to head back to Albany contend for state honors, don’t forget a small sample of athletes trying to get there for the first time as well.

Prediction

Champion: Hoose

Runner-up: Barry

285

Top seeds:

  1. Charles LaRose (12th, 31-5) – Newfane
  2. Hanza Merrick (9th, 27-8) – Wilson
  3. Gavin Segovia (11th, 20-7) – Chautauqua Lake
  4. Ryan Carpenter (11th, 19-7) – Randolph
  5. David Stein (11th, 32-17) – Falconer/CV

Finally, a very intriguing small school heavyweight class led by defending sectional champion LaRose could provide a wild finish come Saturday night in the Hawks Nest. LaRose is the only wrestler with any sectional placement in the bracket that does indeed feature one of the best fields of the weekend, parity-wise. “Bubbles” wrestled his way to the C/D title earning close decision wins over Carpenter, 5-2, in the semis and Stein, 3-0, in the final. Take a look at the top five seeds in the weight this weekend – all represent C/D teams. That top side of the bracket will be one to keep an eye on as LaRose vs. either Carpenter or Stein, both very dangerous wrestlers, looms in the semifinal. After starting last weekend as the 3-seed, Wilson’s surprising young star Merrick had to settle for 5th place but landed the 2-seed this weekend. A potential Merrick/Segovia meeting in the semifinal would be a first this season for them. While Merrick has losses to LaRose, Carpenter, and Stein, Segovia is split with Stein (1-1) and Carpenter (2-2). While you have to give preference to the defending champion, any of these wrestlers has the ability to turn this weight class upside down, so stay tuned to the very end on Saturday night.

Prediction

Champion: LaRose

Runner-up: Stein (wins true 2nd)

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