WNY Athletics

Wheatfield’s Barone Leads Ten WNY Place Winners at 1st NYSPHSAA Girls Wrestling Invitational

Niagara Wheatfield 7th grader Gabriella Barone cruised to the 100-pound individual title at Friday’s first ever NYSPHSAA Girls Wrestling Invitational at Onondaga County Community College in Syracuse.

Barone went 4-0 on the day with four consecutive pins including a 2nd period fall over top seeded freshman Gabrielle Severin from Bethpage High School (Section VIII) in the title match. Barone defeated the 2, 3, and 1-seeds consecutively on the way to the title.

“I’ve been practicing a lot, I work really hard, and it’s just nice that it’s paying off,” said Barone after the final. “My year has been going great. Recently, I’ve placed at every boys’ tournament I’ve gone to so far and I have a winning record.”

“Deep down, I knew I was going to win, but it was shocking being in the final and winning and getting the big bracket,” Barone added at the conclusion of the tournament.

Thirty-two WNY wrestlers represented Section VI schools on Friday with ten wrestlers earning top-6 place finishes. Seven more WNY wrestlers just missed placing after falling in their respective bracket’s blood round matches.

Newfane 7th grader Alexa Doxey earned three pins on the way to the 126-pound final but fell to top seeded Rocky Point (XI) junior Alexandra Viera by pin the title match.

At 145-pounds, West Seneca West junior Christina Evans reached the title match but meet #6 nationally ranked Waterloo (V) sophomore Madison Westerberg in the final, falling by pin in the first period.

The tournament featured over 200 female wrestlers from across the eleven NYS public school sections. The Invitational was the first girls-only wrestling tournament sanctioned by NYSPHSAA as the sport was granted ‘emerging sport’ status for this school year.

The 2nd Invitational is expected for next year, with a possible true NYS individual championship in the near future as long as girls wrestling reaches a fully sanctioned status in NYS.

“For being the first tournament, we couldn’t ask for anything more,” said NYSPHSAA Asst. Chairman and girls’ wrestling committee chairman Todd Nelson at the conclusion of wrestling on Friday. “We had great attendance and participation from the athletes. Obviously there are things we can adjust as we grow as a committee, there’s work that we have to do, but it was a great first start and I think it really highlighted and promoted girls’ wrestling here in New York.”

On the future of girls’ wrestling in NYS Mr. Nelson added “I think New York Wrestling has always been one of the best. You look at the girls who go to Fargo, and the success they have there, but I am most excited for the bottom rising up and narrowing that gap between the top and bottom of these brackets. As we move forward and girls get experience and these opportunities, we are going to have some high level competitions.”

Iroquois freshman Michaela Thomas dropped her first round match, 3-0, but stormed back to 3rd place winning five consecutive matches at 152-pounds.

Lockport freshman Ava Bragg wrestled to a 3rd place finish at 165-poumds. Like Thomas, Bragg fell in the first round but won her next five straight matches to capture bronze in the weight class.

North Tonawanda junior Doris Baker reached the 185-pound semifinal in Syracuse with two pins in her first two matches. After falling in the semi, Baker secured pins in both the consolation semi and final to claim 3rd place in the bracket.

NT junior Hannah McCarley landed in 4th place in the very talented 107-pound bracket after reaching the semifinal posting a 3-2 record on the day in Syracuse.

Lewiston-Porter senior Meghan Edwards (145) and Lockport sophomore Khamya J’Maxwell (185) each claimed 5th overall in their respective weight classes while Chautauqua Lake sophomore Gabi Freeburg landed in 6th place at 235-pounds to round out the place winners representing Section VI.

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