*Cover photos courtesy of Michelle Gilbert/MaxPreps*
Saturday’s 6th Section VI Wrestling Dual Meet Championships at Lancaster High School did not disappoint as the event was a welcome return to a near full slate of teams that was badly missed in the 2021-2022 tournament.
Top seeded Starpoint in large schools and Chautauqua Lake in small schools each cruised to their respective division’s dual meet title, a first for each program. Niagara Falls claimed 3rd in large schools for the second consecutive year while Falconer/Cassadaga Valley finished 3rd in Division II.
The Spartans (20-0) earned the top seed in the tournament going into Saturday with a 17-0 record and boasting the area’s deepest lineup. Starpoint earned a quarterfinal win over 8-seed Clarence, 55-18, before cruising past 5-seed Amherst, 70-6, in the semifinal round.
In the final, Starpoint would meet 2-seeded and fellow unbeaten Niagara County heavyweight Niagara Wheatfield (11-1), who, under long time head coach Rick Sweney, are two-time past Dual Meet tournament champions.
Starting at 160-pounds, Zach Caldwell first earned a crucial decision win before Gage LaPlante followed up with a technical fall at 172 for the Spartans. At 189, NW’s John Fike earned a win for the Falcons, however Matt Caldwell earned a forfeit at 215 for six critical team points for Starpoint. A decision for NW by Casey Robinson at 285 made the team score 14-6 in favor of the Spartans after five weights.
Critial pins at 102 and 110-pounds by Kole Haseley and Jaron Barrientos, respectively, saw the Spartans jump out to a 26-6 lead in less than two minutes. A decision earned by JR Leuer and major by Caden Barrientos officially put the match out of reach, now 33-6, with four weights remaining in the dual. Tremell and Te’Shaun Mathews each earned pins for NW while Griffin LaPlante and CJ Uptegrove accepted forfeits at 145 and 152-pounds to close out the dual. The final score: Starpoint 45, Niagara Wheatfield 18.
“Today, we needed everyone to come out and wrestle as hard as they can, do their job, win where we had to win, not get pinned where we had to not get pinned…everyone did what they had to do,” said Leuer after the dual. “It feels good knowing that we won, but we want the bigger one…we want to win the whole state.” Leuer also captured his 100th individual career victory on Saturday.
The Spartans will move on to compete at the NYSPHSAA Dual Meet Championships on Saturday, 1/28 at the SRC Arena on the Campus of Onondaga County Community College in Syracuse where they reached the large school semifinal last season.
At this time, it is unknown if Niagara Wheatfield will receive a wildcard invitation to compete in the duals. The Falcons reached the state duals semifinal in 2019 and competed there again in 2020.
WNY’s top ranked small school Chautauqua Lake made the team’s first appearance at the sectional duals since taking 4th in the very first tournament in 2017. The top seeded Thunderbirds went 2-0 on the day with a commanding 42-22 victory over league rival Falconer in the semifinals followed by a 40-31 win over defending Section VI Division II champion Newfane in the title match.
The now 18-1 Thunderbirds earned the top seed in the tournament, beating everyone on the schedule so far this season with the exception of the returning small school state runner-up team, Canisteo-Greenwood (V). CL and 2-seed Newfane did not have quarterfinal matches, given only six teams entered the small school tournament (the big school bracket had eight).
A semifinal showdown with the powerful Falconer/CV squad appeared to be imminent after the seeds were released on Dec. 30th where the Golden Cougars landed the 4-seed. The T’Birds were eleven point winners in their first meeting on Dec. 28th.
Saturday’s dual saw eight individual winners against Falconer’s five, while six wrestlers earned crucial pins to help CL cruise past their league foe and into the final. In the other semifinal, Newfane erased a 27-9 deficit, winning five of the last six matches to takedown 3-seed Southwestern, 36-33, to advance to the final for the second straight year.
The final match saw Chautauqua Lake jump out to a monstrous lead, 30-0, after only the first five weights. In order from 160 to 215-pounds Brad Smith, Jayden Malecki, Mason Maring, and Ison Shirley secured pins while Gavin Segovia collected a forfeit at 285.
Newfane recovered points in the three lowest weights where Brayden Kellison-Neglia (102) earned a pin, JJ Lucinksi (110) collected a major, and Aden Harris (118) received a forfeit. CL’s retuning state qualifier Jordan Joslyn briefly interrupted a Newfane stretch run with a pin at 126 to make the team score 36-16. However, two pins courtesy of Aidan Gillings and Miguel Salas and a huge decision from Ayden Buttery put the match into reach for the Panthers, now 36-31 CL. Buttery also achieved his 100th career victory on Saturday.
In the last bout, the T’Birds’ John Watson iced the dual with a 12-4 major decision for the 40-31 victory for Chautauqua Lake.
“We work hard for this. We kind of expected this, to come out here and show out for everyone,” said Chautauqua’s Trent Burchanowski after the dual. “We needed to keep our focus, pick each other up after down matches, keep momentum. A state title would mean everything. As a program, to be the first to do it, that would be awesome.”
Joslyn added “We all worked together, kept our eyes on the prize, and kept moving forward. It’s a great feeling, getting that reward for all the work we have put in. All we want is to have all our guys [in Syracuse] and to do as good as we can.”
The Thunderbirds will compete at the state duals for the first time in program history on Jan. 28th. Newfane will learn if they have received the coveted lone small school state-wide at-large entry in the coming weeks.
Overall, the 6th Section VI Duals field saw five teams compete for the very first time at the tournament including Southwestern, Wilson, and CSAT in Division II and Orchard Park and Amherst in Division I.
Niagara Falls’ 3rd place finish was the second bronze placement for the Wolverines in a row. Falls first took down Williamsville North/East in the first round by a very close 37-27 score where the teams were deadlocked at 27-27 with only two matches remaining in the contest.
The semifinals saw arguably the best match of the day as Niagara Wheatfield narrowly escaped Falls with a 27-21 score that featured a number of matchups of returning sectional place winners and state tournament qualifiers. The Wolverines actually won seven bouts to NW’s six, but the Falcons earned three pins while Falls only earned team bonus points at one weight by way of major decision in the forfeit-less dual.
With the win already secured by NW, fans were able to see retuning NYS place winner Amarfio Reynolds, Jr (NF) earn a hard won decision over state qualifier Tremell Mathews (NW) at 132-pounds followed immediately by returning state finalist Jaden Crumpler (NF) earned a 2-1 overtime decision against returning state qualifier Te’Shaun Mathews (NW) at 138. Reynolds earned his 100th individual career win on Saturday as well.
In the consolation semifinal, Falls overcame a 27-21 deficit to Lancaster, running off a tech fall, two pins, and a forfeit to take down the Legends 44-27 to reach the 3rd place match against Amherst.
Falls cruised past the Tigers, 54-21, earning nine wins in the dual, all by way of pin or forfeit, to collect 3rd in the 2023 Section VI Div. I Duals and uphold their seed.
**Division I** round by round results (seed number ahead of team name):
5-Amherst 45 – 4-Lancaster 30
2-Niagara Wheatfield 63 – 7-Orchard Park 6
1-Starpoint 55 – 8-Clarence 18
3-Niagara Falls 37 – 6-Williamsville North/East 27
4-Lancaster 39 – 8-Clarence 28
6-Williamsville North/East 48 – 7-Orchard Park 20
1-Starpoint 70 – 5-Amherst 6
2-Niagara Wheatfield 27 – 3-Niagara Falls 19
5-Amherst 38 – 6-Williamsville North/East 27
3-Niagara Falls 44 – 4-Lancaster 27
1-Starpoint 45 – 2-Niagara Wheatfield 18
**3rd place match**:
3-Niagara Falls 54 – 5-Amherst 21
Entering the tournament as the 4-seed, Falconer went 3-1 on Saturday to earn 3rd place in the small school bracket. The Golden Cougars took down first time duals team Wilson in the opening round, followed by the semifinal defeat to Chautauqua Lake. Falconer took down CSAT in the consolation semifinal before meeting 3-seed Southwestern in the 3rd place match. Southwestern, Falconer, and Chautauqua Lake all represent the CCAA I league, and all are yet to meet one another in their league duals this season.
In the 3rd place dual, Falconer cruised to a 49-20 victory with nine wins and six pins against the Trojans, with four of those pins and one forfeit coming in the last five weights to race away from SW who had a 20-19 lead before that run.
The 3rd place finish for Falconer is the lowest in the six years of the Section VI Duals (five contested tournaments) where they have been the champion or runner-up every time each tournament. The 2020 Golden Cougars were the first and only Section VI team to win the NYSPHSAA Dual Meet Championship team title so far through the first four editions of the tournament.
**Division II** round by round results (seed number ahead of team name):
4-Falconer 65 – 5-Wilson 11
3-Southwestern 54 – 6-CSAT 21
1-Chautauqua Lake 42 – 4-Falconer 22
2-Newfane 36 – 3-Southwestern 33
4-Falconer 66 – 6-CSAT 10
3-Southwestern 50 – 5-Wilson 24
1-Chautauqua Lake 40 – 2-Newfane 31
**3rd place match**:
4-Falconer 49 – 3-Southwestern 20
Leave a Reply