*Cover photo courtesy of Bob Koshinski/AllSportsWNY*
**Friday 12/16 – Saturday 12/17**
**3rd Annual Linda Knuutila Memorial Tournament** @ NCCC
Starpoint cruised to the team title in the 33-team field at Niagara County Community College on Friday and Saturday behind five individual champions and twelve total place winners. Second place Chautauqua Lake jumped two spots from their standing at the conclusion of wrestling on Friday behind nine individual placers to just barely outpace league rival Falconer by one half point. The Golden Cougars placed ten wrestlers in the top eight of their brackets, but neither they nor the Thunderbirds crowned an individual champion. Niagara Falls finished fourth in the team standings behind two title winners, only one point ahead of league rival Niagara Wheatfield with their lone champion. Southwestern was led to a 6th place finish with two title winners, only 1.5 points ahead of small school rival Newfane and their champion. Pioneer (8th) and Lancaster (10th) each crowned one champion and Hamburg/Eden was 9th overall round out the top ten teams in the final standings. Seven of the top ten teams crowned at least one champion. Besides first place Starpoint, the difference in final scores for the top ten teams could not have been closer. The difference between 2nd and 3rd; ½ point, between 4th and 5th; 1 point, between 6th and 7th; 1.5 points, between 7th and 8th; 7 points, between 8th and 9th; 4 points, between 9th and 10th; 3 points making this one of the most closely contested editions of the tournament to date. Seven finals matches featured two returning state qualifiers and/or place winners while six semifinal bouts saw returning qualifiers go head to head.
**Weight class results**:
**102**: Newfane’s Brayden Kellison-Neglia was the lone Panthers finalist and individual champion. Top seeded Kellison-Neglia was a 7-1 winner by decision over Starpoint’s 2-seeded Jaron Barrientos in title match, getting revenge for an 8-0 major decision loss at this same tournament in the 5th place bout last year to Barrientos, at the same weight. Other place winners were (3rd pl.) Trevor DellaPenta (Hamburg/Eden), (4) Dylan Newman (Falconer), (5) Gavin Burchanowski (Chautauqua Lake), (6) Adrian Torres (Southwestern), (7) Kole Haseley (Starpoint), and (8) Gabriella Barone (Niagara Wheatfield). Barone made history as the first female wrestler to place at this tournament, even back to when it was the Niagara Frontier Wrestling Officials invitational.
**110**: Southwestern’s returning NYS tournament qualifier Kenji Walters was a winner by medical forfeit for the 110-pound title. Medina senior and returning NYS placer Dominick Callara was declared the runner-up. A contested match between the two could’ve been a possible preview to the small school sectional title match later this season. Amherst’s 6-seed Payton Mack wrestled to a 3rd place finish in the weight class, first earning two pins before gutting out three decisions. Other place winners were (4) Karsen Lundgren (Falconer), (5) Ryder Reichert (Alexander), (6) Sean McDonald (Starpoint), (7) Jakob Lucinski (Newfane), and (8) Evan Azbell (Niagara Wheatfield).
**118**: Starpoint’s JR Leuer and Hamburg’s Kenny Schmitz renewed their rivalry for the final chapter in 2022-2023 in the 118-pound title match. The pair of seniors met a number of times last year including a crucial sectional semifinal match that ultimately kept Leuer out of the NYS tournament. Leuer earned a 4-3 title match decision victory this weekend to win the latest head to head while also defending his Knuutila Tournament title from 110-pounds where the pair met last season. Returning Section VI small school champion and state placer Carmine Calimeri from Southwestern fell in the semis to Schmitz but wrestled back to a 3rd place finish. Clearly, the top three placers here (perhaps more) have the potential of not only competing at but placing at the NYS tournament this season. Other placers were (4) Adan Harris (Newfane), (5) Eian Peterson (Niagara Falls), (6) Brady Heckman (Alexander), (7) Christian Garver (Lyndonville), and (8) Mason Evarts (North Tonawanda).
**126**: One of the high light matches of the weekend saw Niagara Falls senior and returning NYS finalist Jaden Crumpler earn an 11-8 decision over Chautauqua Lake junior and returning qualifier Jordan Joslyn in the 126-pound title bout. Joslyn challenged Crumpler to his closest margin of victory so far this season, and the Wolverines star was award tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler for his efforts. The semifinals for this weight provided plenty of talent as well as Starpoint’s Caden Barrientos, a three-time sectional place winner already, challenged Crumpler to an 8-3 decision. Meanwhile, Hamburg/Eden’s returning sectional champion Bryce DellaPenta met CL’s Joslyn but the Thunderbirds junior was a winner by pin. Barrientos was a winner by pin over the Eden freshman in the 3rd place match. This bracket saw a number of results that could be very important especially for large school class and sectional seeding later this season. Other placers were (5) Tyler Zwald (Jamestown), (6) Alex Monile (Lancaster), (7) Sean Gordon (St. Francis), and (8) Hunter Paulisick (Falconer).
**132**: The only finals matchup between two returning NYS placers saw returning large school sectional champion Amarfio Reynolds, Jr take on returning small school champion Aidan Gillings in the title bout. ‘Junior’ Reynolds was a 5-3 winner over the Panthers’ star sophomore to claim his first Knuutila title. In the semifinal, Reynolds earned a crucial victory by injury default over NW’s four-time Section VI champion Collin Coughenour that might set up some big showdowns between the two later this season. Meanwhile, Gillings edged out Newfane classmate Ayden Buttery, 1-0, in the top side semifinal. Buttery was one match away from the state tournament last season and is a hopeful to make there in February 2023. Falls senior Grady Peterson did push Buttery but fell in overtime, 8-6, in the quarterfinal round. Peterson ultimately earned 3rd place in the bracket. Other placers were (4) Buttery, (5) Chase Richards (NW), (6) Coughenour, (7) Jimmy Gordon (St. Francis), and (8) Riley Kirst (Amherst).
**138**: Another matchup of returning NYS qualifiers had state place winner Griffin LaPlante edging NW’s Tremell Mathews, 3-1, for the Knuutila Tournament title. Going back to the spring 2021 season, the pair split two head to matches with Mathews winning the later for the large school sectional title in the spring. Last season, LaPlante won all three head to heads by an exact three point margin and both wrestlers represented WNY at the NYS tournament. On the way to the Saturday final, LaPlante avenged a 2021-2022 Knuutila Tournament loss to Pioneer’s Xander Kirsch in the semifinal, 7-2, while Mathews earned a big 3-2 decision over Chautauqua Lake’s Martin Ohlsson, a 2020 state tournament place winner. Kirsch earned a quality win over Ohlsson in the 3rd place bout, 2-0, but only after both wrestlers were pushed in the consolation semifinals. Five of the top eight placers in this bracket are seniors. Clarence’s AJ Didas is the next oldest as only a sophomore, and LaPlante and Kenmore’s Sawyer Dickinson are freshman. Places in order: (1) LaPlante (Starpoint), (2) Mathews, (3) Kirsch, (4) Ohlsson, (5) Didas, (6) Miguel Salas (Newfane), (7) Kaleb Rang (Grand Island), and (8) Dickinson.
**145**: Returning Section VI finalist and NYS tournament qualifier Te’Shaun Mathews from Niagara Wheatfield defended his Knuutila Tournament title from a season ago with a commanding major decision, 9-1, over Falconer’s Austin Chase in the final. ‘Juicy’ dominated the field as the top seed in the bracket with four pins on the way to the championship match. The 2-seed Chase defended his seed with three pins and a major on the way to the final, including a pin over the 3-seed in the semifinal. That 3-seed – Iroquois sophomore Brady Wilkinson – dominated in the wrestle backs with two major decisions to secure 3rd place. Falconer 10th grader Charlie Reichenbach was the first unseeded wrestler of the tournament (and only one of two) to reach the semifinals. Reichenbach majored and pinned the 5 and 4 seeds, respectively, in the championship side of the bracket before landing in 4th place overall. Other placers were (5) Rory White (St. Francis), (6) Lane Dzienkonski (Pioneer), (7) Ben Gombos (Frontier), and (8) Tyler Marino (Alexander).
**152**: Top seeded Starpoint senior CJ Uptegrove captured the 152-pound title with a commanding performance at NCCC. Uptegrove pinned three of his first four opponents and earned a major decision in the semifinal, 11-0. In the final, Uptegrove met Chautauqua Lake junior 3-seed John Watson who took down the 2-seed, 6-3, in the semi. Uptegrove conceded zero points for the second match in a row with an impressive 7-0 decision for 1st place in another very interesting inter-divisional matchup. Watson gutted out three decisions by three points or less to reach the title match. Lancaster senior Carter Tadusz claimed 3rd overall in the bracket and joined Uptegrove in each athlete earning their 100th career victories over the course of the tournament. Other placers were (4) Jacob Clark (Falconer), (5) Brad Smith (CL), (6) Dylan Gagnon (North Tonawanda), (7) Quinn Brown (Barker/Royalton-Hartland), (8) Mason Bump (Alexander).
**160**: An all-Starpoint final saw defending tournament champion, section finalist, and state place winner Gage LaPlante take on teammate Zach Caldwell in the title match. LaPlante cruised to the title behind two pins and a major in the championship rounds before a 1st period pin in the title match. The 6-seed Caldwell upset the 2-seeded returning NYS tournament qualifier Cam Millender from Sweet Home, 10-8 in overtime, to secure an appearance in Saturday’s final. Caldwell also took down the 3-seed in the bracket in the quarterfinal round, a small school sectional 3rd place winner from a year ago. Millender secured two close decisions in the consolations, including a 3-2 decision over Southwestern’s 3-seed Neves Hoose in the bronze match. Other placers (5) Brodie Little (Falconer), (6) Sebastian Temich (Lyndonville), (7) Joe Cicco (NW), and (8) Bryant Morrison (Falconer).
**172**: The three top seeds in the bracket all featured wrestlers with NYS tournament experience, including two athletes with individual sectional titles on their resumes. Top seeded Niagara Falls senior Mike Syposs reached the final with three pins and a 10-5 decision over the 4-seed in the semifinal. 2-seed Brady Heckathorn from Pioneer, a returning sectional finalist, dominated his first three opponents with a 13-0 major and two pins. Heckathorn advanced to the final by way of a medical forfeit in the semifinal. However, in the title match, Heckathorn continued to impress with a convincing 12-4 major decision over Syposs to capture the 172-pound title. After falling in the quarterfinal round by a close 6-4 decision to the 3-seed, 6-seed Chautauqua Lake junior Jayden Malecki put together an excellent consolation performance in which he took down the 7, 4, and 5 seeds to capture 3rd overall in the bracket. Other placers were (4) Dalton Caldwell (Falconer), (5) Luke Smeader (Hamburg/Eden), (6) Michael Schaefer (Lancaster), (7) Phil Pirinelli (Starpoint), (8) Ian O’Donnell (NW).
**189**: Outstanding Southwestern freshman and returning Section VI champion Tavio Hoose cruised to the tournament title taking down all juniors and seniors on the way. Hoose earned three straight pins before a semifinal victory over McQuaid’s returning Section V 5th place winner Harrison Aquirre, 11-6, in the semifinal match. In the final, Hoose was an impressive winner by major decision, 15-3, over returning large school sectional finalist and state qualifier Jack MacDonald from Orchard Park. The 3-seed MacDonad earned four straight pins on the way to final match including a late 3rd period fall over Lancaster’s 2-seed and also returning finalist and state qualifier Evan Stencel in the semifinal. After falling to Aquirre in the first round, unseeded St. Francis junior Connor Miller won six consecutive matches including over the 2-seed to finish in 4th place after meeting Aquirre for the second time in the tournament. Other placers were (5) Stencel, (6) Mason Maring (Chautauqua Lake), (7) Payton Grabowski (Lyndonville), and (8) Josh Knobloch (Amherst).
**215**: Starpoint senior Matt Caldwell claimed gold in the bracket with an ultimate tiebreaker victory over Wheatfield’s Casey Robinson, 2-1. Last season, Robinson was able to get past Caldwell in the true second place match at the sectional tournament to earn a trip to Albany, so the rivalry is very much alive already for the two Niagara County stars. Caldwell earned two pins in the first two rounds before claiming a 9-4 decision victory over Chautauqua Lake’s Ison Shirley in the semifinal. Shirley wrestled back to 3rd overall in the weight class earning a tight 2-1 victory over Pioneer’s 5-seed Luke Matheis in the bronze match. This result could certainly make an impact on postseason considerations in February. Other placers were (5) Devyn Morrison (Falconer), (6) Mateo Rodriguez (Pioneer), (7) George Thompson (Starpoint), (8) Dan Moore (Barker/Royalton-Hartland).
**285**: Lancaster senior Tommy Carlsen pinned his way through the field at NCCC as the 4-seed in the bracket. Carlsen pinned all three of his championship rounds opponents including a first period pin against top seeded state qualifier and fellow Trench Trophy finalist Ryan Carpenter from Randolph. 6-seeded Clarence junior Bryce Hawes pinned all three of his first opponents as well, including one over the 3-seed in the quarters and over unseeded Herman Wooten, who had taken down the 2-seed previously, in the semifinal. Hawes was the lowest seeded wrestler in the tournament to reach the Saturday title match. Carlsen earned the fall in the final with only eight seconds to spare in the second period of the bout. Carpenter did wrestle back to a quality 3rd place finish in the bracket, edging out Sweet Home’s Wooten 5-4 in the consolation final. Other placers were (5) Sam Doolan (Lyndonville), (6) Atreal Mayfield (Niagara Falls), (7) Kaleb McKenzie (Canisius), and (8) Gavin Segovia (Chautauqua Lake).
**2nd Annual Linda Knuutila Memorial Girls Wrestling Tournament** @ NCCC
The second edition of the girls’ tournament that runs in parallel with the boys’ event saw incredible participation from the area’s female grapplers. Chautauqua Lake entered a tournament high 15 wrestlers in the competition, placing eleven and crowning a pair of individual champions to claim the team title. Lockport was second overall in the team standings led by a trio of champions followed by North Tonawanda with two champions. West Seneca junior Christina Evans captured 1st place at 145-pounds and continued her unbeaten record amongst female competition, earning honors as the Ilio DiPaolo Outstanding Wrestler at the conclusion of the tournament.
102: Anabelle Wessel (Alexander) dec. Alyssa Earsing (Alexander), 5-4
100: Kennedy Lear (Alexander) p. Meyah Aponte (Fredonia), 1:44
107: Brenna McCarley (North Tonawanda) p. Leah Waite (Fredonia), 0:28
114: Maleah McKinney-Updegraph (Lockport) p. Hannah McCarley (NT), 0:53
120: Madison Szymanowski (Chautauqua Lake) p. Alex Siliano (CL), 1:24
126: Gabriella Testa (CL) p. Emma Schindler (Gowanda), 1:23
132: Alexa Doxey (Newfane) p. Victoria Lesh (Orchard Park), 1:08
138: Navaeh Scenik (Niagara Wheatfield) p. Avery White (Frontier), 2:47
145: Christina Evans (WS) p. Caelyn Jordan (OP), 5:00
152: Meghan Edwards (Lewiston-Porter) dflt. Michaela Thomas (Iroquois), 1:26
165: Ava Bragg (Lockport) p. Kailynn Pryor (NW), 0:44
185: Doris Baker (NT) p. Ryann Berner (Clarence), 1:27
235: J’Maxwell Khamya (Lockport) p. Rylie Redmond (Lyndonville), 1:38
#6 small school Wilson went 4-0 on the day to capture the team title at Springville, and in doing so matched the program record for wins in a season at 10, set in 2018. During the course of the tournament, the Lakemen took down the host #10 Griffins, 54-16, winning six of the nine contested matches, all by way of pin. The Griffins finished 3-1 overall with wins over Lackawanna, Maryvale, and Olean. The Huskies put out a full lineup but the Griffins made up ground where they conceded forfeits, earning seven pins to narrowly edge Olean 40-36.
**Rambler Duals** @ Cathedral Prep HS, Erie, PA
St. Joe’s made the annual trip over state lines into northwestern Pennsylvania for the Rambler Duals against an all PA and Ohio lineup of teams, including an alternate varsity squad of the national powerhouse, St. Edwards (Ohio). The Marauders went 1-4 in the dual tournament with an eleven point victory over Bradford Area HS (PA) on Saturday. Juniors Austin Zimmerman, Nik Massaro, and Nathaniel Lopez all went 4-1 on the day for St. Joe’s.
**Saturday 12/17 – Sunday 12/18**
**2022 Beast of the East** @ Univ. of Delaware
Williamsville North junior Cam Catrabone made the journey to the elite Beast of the East tournament as the lone representative from WNY in Delaware. Catrabone was the 6-seed in the weight class and started the tournament with three second period pins to reach the quarterfinal round. Cam fell to 3-seeded Colin Dupill from Greenville, TN in the quarters in overtime, 5-1, to drop into the consolation bracket. Cam landed a sudden overtime victory over Delbarton’s (NJ) Joseph Davi, who upset the top seed at 144-pounds in the first round of the tournament. Cam then earned a 3-0 decision and then another early second period pin in the consolation semifinal to advance to the 3rd place match. In the bronze match, Cam got revenge on Dupill with a 4-3 decision for huge top three placement at Beast of the East.
Leave a Reply