Twenty-six Section VI Division I wrestlers and two athletes representing Msgr. Martin/CHSAA member schools represented WNY at the 60th Annual NYSPHSAA federation wrestling tournament, Friday and Saturday Feb. 23 and 24 at MVP Arena in Albany.
In total, thirteen area large school wrestlers placed including individual champions Jaden Crumpler from Niagara Falls at 126-pounds and Cam Catrabone from Williamsville North at 145-pounds who led eleven total Section VI place winners.
Eleven place winners helped land Section VI a second consecutive 5th place finish in twelve team field. The 2023 top-5 placement was the Section’s fourth time in the top-5 since the split division format was introduced in 2004. Eleven placers was also an improvement on nine place winners from the 2022 state championships.
Section VI Division I also set a new sectional milestone with the back to back top-5 NYS tournament place finishes which has not happened since the 2004 division split.
Three place winners for Niagara Falls led the team to a 6th place finish in the final large school individual team standings with 55 points. The three Wolverines placers also set a new program milestone as the most wrestlers Niagara Falls has ever placed at the state tournament in one year is two (2022, 2004, 1990).
Catrabone’s 4-0, three pin effort helped land Williamsville North a 19th place finish with 30 team points.
From 2018-2020 only Willie and Justin McDougald captured individual NYS large school titles representing Section VI, and before that only four other wrestlers from Section VI big schools had claimed state titles (going back to the 2004 split) with a six year gap between Jim Kloc in 2012 and Willie in 2018.
There was no state tournament in 2021 and the Section went without a state champion (both divisions) in 2022 for the first time since 1998.
This weekend also marked the third time since the 2010 season where two Section VI large school wrestlers won titles in the same tournament.
Four of the eleven Section VI place winners in Albany will return next season along with ten wrestlers who competed but missed placing.
St. Joe’s juniors Austin Zimmerman and Nik Massaro each placed 5th in their respective brackets and were two of eight CHSAA place winners (out of only thirteen entries) that helped lead the Catholic schools to a sixth place team finish only 7.5 points behind Section VI. This was the Association’s highest place finish since 2019 (5th) and only its third top-6 finish since 2013 (6th in 2013). Twelve of the thirteen CHSAA wrestlers made it to Saturday’s semifinals or blood round.
Eden freshman **Trevor DellaPenta** earned the auto-qualification to the big school state tournament as the runner-up in the section. A first round decision win for the 16-seeded DellaPenta set him up for a pre-quarterfinal showdown with the top seeded Newburgh (IX) freshman Cooper Meril. Meril would end up winning that head to head by decision, 6-3, which ended up being Meril’s closest match of the weekend as he went on to claim the Div. I 102-pound NYS title. Meril’s three other wins ended in 18-4, 7-0, and 8-4 scores.
In the consolation bracket, DellaPenta was a 6-0 winner in his first match to set up a showdown with Frontier’s sectional champion Cullen Edwards. Trevor edged out Edwards this time in a tight 3-2 decision to advance into the crucial Saturday morning blood round.
A solid 13-4 major decision over the 13-seed from Mahopac (I) on Saturday ensured a top-8 finish for the Eden freshman, coming all the way from the 16-seeded position. A loss to Mohonasen (II) senior Vincent Gralau landed Trevor in the 7th place match, ultimately settling for 8th place amongst NYS Div. I 102-pound wrestlers.
As it turns out, DellaPenta had the 4th highest seed to placement (16-seed to 8th place) differential in the entire NYS tournament that consisted of 559 athletes.
A promising 8th grade campaign was cut short due to injury, however DellaPenta got plenty of competition this season as a big part of the Hamburg/Eden squad, finishing 38-12 overall and taking a valuable NYS place finish into his sophomore year.
St. Joe’s junior **Austin Zimmerman** made the most of his second trip to the NYS tournament in earning a 5th place finish for the Marauders representing the Catholic High School Athletic Association.
Zimmerman started as the 7-seed in the large school 110-pound bracket and opened with a very tough match against returning NYS 8th place winner Mason Mangialino from Comsewogue (XI). An ultimate tie breaker win, 3-2, would send Austin to the quarterfinals against returning NYS finalist Ryan Ferrara from Chenango Forks (IV).
In the consolation bracket, Zimmerman would win two back to back 1-point decision wins. The first of those matches was against fellow Niagara Falls native and Section VI champion Eian Peterson. A 3-2 victory would ensure a top-8 place finish for the CHSAA champion.
Then, another 1-point match over Mangialino in the consolation quarterfinals would ensure a no-less than 6th place finish.
A consolation semi loss to the defending NYS champion who was upset in the championship semifinal, Dunia Sibomana from Long Beach (VIII) landed Zimmerman in the 5th place match and a rematch with Ferrara.
After building a 5-0 lead over the returning state finalist, Zimmerman was a winner by pin in the second period to avenge the 4-2 quarterfinal loss and claim 5th place in NYS Div. I at 110-pounds.
Zimmerman ends another outstanding season with a 48-7 record and takes a valuable 5th place finish into the senior campaign. Zimmerman is the 5th different Marauder to place in the federation tournament and his 2023 placement is the 7th overall in program history.
Hamburg senior **Kenny Schmitz** captured the Section VI title this season and earned a hard fought placement in his second trip to the state tournament.
Schmitz fell in his first match in the pre-quarterfinal round by a close 6-5 decision to Mohanasen’s Nico Rivera in the 9 vs. 8-seed battle.
In the consolation, Kenny would first edge out Union-Endicott’s (IV) Dylan Mollo, 3-0, to advance to the Saturday blood round.
The Saturday morning blood round (a tournament’s consolation round where losers are eliminated and winners are guaranteed placement) put Schmitz against the 5-seeded Section IX champion Rocco Futia from Wallkill.
Futia selected neutral in the 3rd period and earned four late points with a takedown and near fall with less than thirty seconds remaining in the bout for a 4-3 lead. However, on a restart after going out of bounds, Schmitz was able to escape from bottom to tie it and send the match to sudden victory overtime. A late takedown in the one minute first overtime period gave Schmitz the 6-4 final score to guarantee a top-8 place finish in NYS.
Kenny would go on to fall to Chaminade’s (CHSAA) Shane Meenaghan before falling by a narrow 2-0 decision in the 7th place bout to Section V champion and 3-seed Richard Wood from Brockport to land a final 8th place finish NYS Div. I at 118-pounds.
Schmitz becomes the 3rd NYS place winner in Bulldogs program history and helped set a new program milestone as one of two Hamburg place winners in the same NYS tournament. Kenny’s final season record is 40-7.
Arguably the deepest weight class in the entire tournament featured **three** WNY place winners out of eight total placers at 126 Division I.
Niagara Falls senior **Jaden Crumpler** defended his top seed in winning the NYS 126-pound title in his second trip to the NYS finial. Crumpler teched each of his first two opponents before defeating the first of two Section VIII opponents in Calhoun’s returning NYS placer Ray Adams, 5-0, in the semifinal. In the final, Crumpler would overcome a 2-0 deficit to defeat returning 3rd place winner and Nassau County champion Joe Clem from Wantagh, 4-2, in the championship match. Crumpler is the 3rd ever NYS champion in Wolverines program history and ends this season with a 41-1 record.
For more on Crumpler’s tournament, please visit the link below via WNY Athletics:
Falls senior **Amarfio Reynolds, Jr** earned his second straight NYS tournament placement with a 4th place finish in the bracket.
As the 2-seed in the deep weight class, Reynolds started off with a 15-2 major decision over Ballston Spa’s (II) Cameron Hinchcliff. In the quarterfinal, ‘Junior’ was a narrow 3-2 winner in ultimate tie breaker over outstanding Bellport (XI) 7th grader Camryn Howard to earn a spot in the Saturday semifinal and a guaranteed top-6 finish.
On Saturday morning, Reynolds would meet Clem with a trip to the final on the line. Late in the match and down 3-1, Reynolds would receive a penalty point for stalling on Clem to make a 1-point match. However, time ran out in the third period as Reynolds would fall 3-2 to drop to the consolation bracket.
In the consolation semifinal, Reynolds would meet St. Joe’s 9-seeded junior Nik Massaro, a native of Grand Island. An escape and a point for stalling against his opponent was all Reynolds needed as he held on for a 2-0 win to advance to the 3rd place match.
A consolation bronze match with Calhoun’s Adams resulted in a narrow 5-4 loss for Reynolds who secured 4th place while ending his career as a two-time NYS place winner, the fifth multi time place winner in Wolverines program history.
The Marauders’ **Nik Massaro** captured the CHSAA title in his first season with St. Joe’s to earn a trip to the NYS championships.
Massaro opened as the 9-seed in the weight class and started off with a 7-2 win over the Section III champion on Friday. After falling to Crumpler in the quarterfinals, Massaro landed in the Saturday morning blood round.
A meeting with returning NYS 7th place winner Joe Tornambe from Yorktown (I) resulted in a 5-4 decision victory for Massaro to ensure a top-8 NYS large school place finish. Next, a big 10-1 major decision win over Section II champion and 5-seed Taylor Beaury from Saratoga Springs would put Nik in the consolation semifinal against Niagara Falls’ Reynolds.
In the NYS 5th place match, Massaro impressed with a late first period pin over Pittsford’s Section V champion Samson McKissick-Staley to secure 5th place in the federation.
Massaro ends the 2022-2023 season with a 47-8 record. Alongside 110-pound state placer and teammate Austin Zimmerman, they helped to set a new Marauders program milestone of two federation place winners in the same year.
Niagara Wheatfield junior **Te’Shaun Mathews** earned the 4-seed in the large school 138-pound bracket in his second straight trip to the NYS tournament. ‘Juicy’ was one of seven Falcons in this year’s state championships.
Mathews opened with a major decision win in the pre-quarterfinal to advance to meet Section V champion Cal Russo from Spencerport. Mathews and Russo met on Jan. 14th in Lockport with Te’Shaun getting a late pin to win that head to head.
This weekend, Mathews was an 8-2 decision winner over the Rangers senior to advance to the state semifinal against top seeded returning 4th place winner Nick LaMorte from Section XI power Rocky Point.
In the Saturday semi, Mathews would give the eventual champion his closest match of the tournament, falling by decision 5-2. LaMorte had already pinned both earlier opponents and was a 6-1 winner in the state championship final.
In the wrestle backs, Juicy met 7-seeded Section III champion Manuel Gonzales from Indian River but fell 8-5 to drop to the 138-pound 5th place match against Islip’s (XI) Jared Spahn.
A chaotic 2nd period of that match in which each wrestler reversed one another and earned near fall points ultimately led to a pin for Te’Shaun to secure 5th place in NYS Div. I at 138-pounds and in doing so earned the Falcons’ 45th NYS tournament individual place finish. Te’Shaun ends the season with a 38-6 overall record.
Top seeded Williamsville North junior **Cam Catrabone** cruised through the NYS Div. I 145-pound bracket on the way to his first individual NYS title and third career state tournament place finish. Cam’s individual title is the first in Spartans program history as well.
Cam pinned both of his first two opponents before taking down the surprising 12-seed in Iona Prep’s (CHSAA) Max Watson, 5-2, in the semifinal.
In the final, Cam broke a 0-0 tie in the second period against Amsterdam’s (II) returning NYS 5th place winner Renso Montalvo with a reversal straight to a pin combination, ultimately getting the fall just under a minute into the second period in the state final match.
For more on Catrabone’s tournament, please visit the link below via WNY Athletics:
Sweet Home senior **Cam Millender** earned a top-8 NYS finish in his second trip to the state championships as an auto-qualifier from the sectional tournament.
Millender opened as the 5-seed at 152-pounds but dropped a heartbreaker to 12-seeded Landon Lazarek from Hilton (V) in the pre-quarterfinal to fall to the consolation.
A 6-3 decision win over CJ Jones from Half Hollow Hills East (XI) set up a blood round rematch with North Tonawanda’s Dylan Gagnon, whom Millender had lost to in overtime in the Section VI Div. I final just two weeks prior, for their third meeting in four weeks.
In the Saturday morning showdown of Niagara Falls Boulevard rivals, Millender escaped a late push by Gagnon to hold on for a 6-5 decision victory to ensure a top-8 place finish. Millender also secured his 100th career win in that match.
Losses to the 4 and 6-seeds ultimately landed Millender 8th place in NYS to become the Panthers’ first NYS tournament place winner since Brian Hanselman in 1999. Millender ended the season with a 42-9 record, tying the current Panthers’ single season individual wins record.
Niagara Falls senior **Mike Syposs** finished up his Wolverines career with 7th place team finish in NYS at 160-pounds in Division I.
The two-time Section VI champion earned the 7-seed in the bracket for his second trip to the state tournament and started on Friday with a first period pin over Huntington’s (XI) Max Casiano.
In the quarterfinal, Syposs would push the 2-seed Section III champion from Fulton Johnathan Clohecy in a 10-7 loss.
Syposs ensured a top-8 NYS place finish on Saturday morning with a convincing 9-0 major decision over Queensbury’s (II) Lucas Schell.
A loss to Section V champion Coy Raines from Churchville-Chili sent Syposs to the 7th match where he would meet 5-seeded Section I champion Tristan Robinson-July from Ossining. Syposs was a 6-2 decision winner for 7th place in NYS 160-pounds to help Niagara Falls to a 6th place finish in the team standings.
Syposs’s place finish also helped set a new program milestone with three place winners in the state tournament for the first time in Wolverines history. Syposs finishes his senior year with a 33-8 overall record.
Hamburg senior **Luke Smeader** bounced back from a pre-quarterfinal loss on Friday to earn a NYS place finish on Saturday afternoon.
After that opening loss, Smeader overcame a 4-0 deficit to Fairport’s (V) JT Hohman to tie the score by the end of the first period of his first consolation match. Smeader would go on to get the pin mid way through the second period to advance to the blood round.
A 4-1 decision on Saturday morning over Liverpool’s (III) Owen Atchie guaranteed a spot on the podium for Smeader. The 5-seed Smeader met the 4-seed from Wantagh, Noah Corwin, in the consolation quarterfinal. After falling behind 2-0 to start the match, Smeader earned a reversal in the second period and immediately sought a pin combination which he was able to achieve for his second come from behind pin in the consolation bracket.
A loss to the impressive 11-seed Leo Venables from Carmel (I) sent Smeader to the 5th place match where he was a 4-1 decision winner over Miller Place’s (XI) Robby Cunningham for 5th in NYS.
Along with teammate Kenny Schmitz, Smeader helped to achieve that new program milestone of two place winners in the same tournament. Also, Luke tied his brother Jake, a 2017 Hamburg graduate, with a 5th place NYS finish to match. Smeader also achieved the 40-win mark on the season with the win in the 5th place match.
Orchard Park junior **Jack MacDonald** earned a crucial NYS place finish in Albany after having missed out on the podium a season ago.
MacDonald earned the 6-seed in the 189-pound Div. I bracket and drew 11-seeded rival Evan Stencel from Lancaster in the pre-quarterfinal round for their fifth meeting of the season. MacDonald would survive another two-point decision win this time, the third such result since mid-January.
Next MacDonald would go on to meet 3-seeded Eric Carlson from Manhasset (VIII). An 8-2 loss to the returning NYS 3rd place winner sent to MacDonald to the blood round for a meeting with Fox Lane’s (I) 7-seed Alexander Berisha on Saturday.
After a scoreless three and a half minutes into the crucial blood round match, MacDonald was able to turn Berisha and get the pin with less than fifteen seconds remaining in the second period and thus guarantee a NYS placement.
A loss to Smithtown East’s (XI) Michael Sanchez landed MacDonald in the 7th place match where he was a 6-2 decision winner over Section II champion Lorenzo Palleschi from Saratoga Springs (II). MacDonald also achieved the 40-win mark this season with his final win of the tournament.
Jack’s 7th place finish is the first state placement for Quakers Wrestling since Jason Weber’s 4th place finish in 2004 and is the 10th total NYS tournament place finish in program history.
Finally, at 285-pounds Lancaster senior **Tommy Carlsen** finished off his Legends wrestling career with a place finish in the large school heavyweight bracket.
Carlsen earned the 5-seed in competitive bracket and met Clarence’s Bryce Hawes for their fifth meeting this season. Carlsen was a winner by pin to move on to the quarterfinal round where he met Section II champion Cameron Groncki from Mohanasen.
Groncki was able to overcome a 1-0 deficit in the third period with an escape and takedown. Carlsen escaped but was unable to find more points as the bout ended 3-2 to send Carlsen to the consolation bracket.
In the Saturday morning blood round Carlsen would meet East Ramapo’s (I) Dimitri Pierre. After a 1-1 score at the end of three periods the match spilled into overtime. In the second overtime, Carlsen earned a reversal with only short time remaining for the 3-1 lead. In the following OT 30-second period, Pierre found an escape for 1-point but Carlsen was able to defend from neutral in another nail-biting 3-2 match, this time coming out on top.
A forfeit in the next round advanced Carlsen to meet Colonie’s (II) Will Hotaling. A loss to Hotaling would send Carlsen to the 5th place match where after a wild first minute of the third period Carlsen was able to secure the pin over Iona Prep’s (CHSAA) Gabriel Garibaldi and 5th place in the 285-pound Div. I bracket.
Carlsen is Lancaster’s 31st all-time NYS place winner and ends the season with a Section VI championship and a 43-5 overall record.
**Non-placing Section VI competitors**
102: Cullen Edwards (Frontier)
110: Eian Peterson (Niagara Falls)
110: Evan Azbell (Niagara Wheatfield)
118: Bryce DellaPenta (Hamburg/Eden)
132: Tremell Mathews (Niagara Wheatfield)
132: AJ Didas (Clarence)
138: Chase Richards (Niagara Wheatfield)
145: Garrett Chase (Niagara Wheatfield)
152: Dylan Gagnon (North Tonawanda)
160: Joe Cicco (Niagara Wheatfield)
172: Mikey Schaefer (Lancaster)
189: Evan Stencel (Lancaster)
215: Casey Robinson (Niagara Wheatfield)
215: Cam Hall (Niagara Falls)
285: Bryce Hawes (Clarence)
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