It’s been a perfect start to the season so far for Kenmore West. The Blue Devils’ 7-0 start includes a win over Spencerport at the Cheektowaga duals. Bill Hineman, two years as JV coach, replaced Kevin Day as varsity coach. Day took 11 wrestlers to states in his 19 seasons.
“In our first tournament we showed we’re going to be competitive in most weight classes. My guys are going to wrestle tough,” said Hineman. “Kevin Day set that in motion. Even when I coached against Ken West, you knew if you got a Ken West kid it was going to be a tough match, win or lose.”
Kenmore West is the defending Section VI Division I tournament champion. This year’s Blue Devils look to 113-pound sectional runner-up Ron Duguay back at 113, Christian Bauman (106), Anthony Argentieri (106), Paul Bavisotto (120) and Mark Stucke (152). The upperweights boast Shane Currey (170) and Jon Szurczynski (285).
At last year’s states, Duguay eliminated the No. 1 seed, 5-3, to cap a 39-5 season.
Last year Kenmore West won the Niagara Frontier League for the first time in 31 years.
Clarence is 8-0 and won the Jon Vesper Duals against Lockport, Starpoint and Brockport.
The Red Devils return seven wrestlers who finished in the top six at sectionals led by Jake Weber, who earned a wildcard to states. He’s joined by Nate Schwab (152), Ryan Burns (106), Nate Ward (285), Brandan Glauber (126), Austin Czaja (138) and Austin Krawczyk (126).
Burns was 40-5 last season as a freshman. Schwab was 38-9 with seven of the losses to seniors.
“I feel like we have a lot of veteran guys who are pretty hungry to take it to the next level, a lot of guys who want to take a trip to Albany,” said coach Jason Chase. “That core group of guys who were sectional place finishers are great leaders and pushing the team to keep getting better.”
Clarence will host ECIC I rival Lancaster in the Border Brawl on Jan. 25. The Red Devils have won the division the last two years.
Lockport has three sectional finalists on its roster, led by two-time state place finisher and two-time Section VI champion, sophomore Anthony Orefice. He moves up to 113 from 106. He’s finished in the top five in the state the last two years. Section runner-up senior Brad Feeney graduates to 132 and senior Jose Pagan returns at 145. In the upperweights, junior Marshall Taylor (third at 195 last year) and Marcellus Hinton (fifth at 285) look to do some damage.
Taylor will be among the favorites at 220. “He’s grown into being a very strong 220, he’s one of those guys who lives in the gym,” said coach Joe Scapelliti. “He walks around at about 213, there’s still a lot of room for him. He’s going to be tough to beat at 220.”
The Niagara Frontier League title could be decided on Jan. 23 when the Lions visit Kenmore West in the last match of the season. Unless, of course, Lew-Port has it sewn up by then.
Lancaster senior Eric Lewandowski recently recorded his 150th victory. He looks to make his fourth trip to states. He was sixth last year, didn’t place as a sophomore and was runner-up as a freshman.
Last season he was 43-10 at 132. Look for him at 138 or 145 this season.
Also looking to return to states is 113-pounder Tyler Hartinger, who went 36-9 as a freshman at 99 pounds. He had a tough draw at states opening with two-time state champion Kyle Kelly of Chenango Forks, but he won his next match.
Senior Steven Michel was sixth last year at states. He’s a three-time Section VI champion and a four-time state rep. His freshman brother, Tom, was fifth in the section last year at 99 pounds and will be a big contributor this year.
“This is the first year in three years that everyone in our lineup has varsity experience,” said coach Ron Lorenz, whose team is off to a 4-0 start. “In previous years we had trouble in the heavier weights, along with Tyler, Steven and Eric, our heavyweights are the strength of our lineup.”
Lorenz cited senior Jeff Kuciel (170), junior James Empfield (195), junior Mike Ziolo (220) and senior Chris Jordan (Hwt.) as difference makers. “We’re a pretty solid team from top-to-bottom, we landed on couple lucky ones,” he said.
Iroquois, winners of the Class A and the ECIC Tournaments a year ago, boasts a balance of light and middleweights. Returning placers Jacob Slade (third), Austin Acquard (fourth), Matt Kloc (third) and Eric McEvoy (fourth) are the team’s nucleus. Acquard has state tournament experience. Kloc is the younger brother of two-time state champion, Jimmy, now at UB. Matt is coming off a 33-10 campaign.
After coming within one point of making the All-State team a year ago, the goals are clear for Anthony Liberatore of Williamsville South. He won 40 matches with just five losses last season at 170 pounds.
Rocco Russo of Frontier, 43-3 in 2011-12, looks to make his third trip to states.
Brothers Hector and Tito Colom look to have breakout seasons for Dunkirk.
Division II rewind
Fredonia returns six Section VI medalists, including champions Dakota Gardner (120), senior Jude Gardner (138) and Zach Buckley (160). In addition, Pat McCarthy, Tyler Cassidy and Christian Saden return for their senior years. Undefeated so far are Dakota (14-0), Jude (16-0), Buckley (12-0) and Saden (15-0). Buckley and McCarthy each won over 40 matches last year.
Those wrestlers were also an integral part of the Hillbillies’ team two years ago when they were ranked No. 1 in the state. Fredonia has the talent and versatility to be a good tournament and dual meet team.
Fredonia placed second at the Webster Tournament behind Mount Anthony’s, a powerhouse from Bennington, Vt. They won the Maple Grove Tournament and have won their three dual meets by an average of 40 points.
Lew-Port won the Section VI, Division II title last season by a mere 1.5 points over Fredonia. They’ll be in the thick of the NFL race again. The Lancers won the St. Francis duals.
The Lancers look to continue their success with All-State wrestler Dan Reagan (45-6), 113-pound sectional champ, Ryan Kromer, DJ Marshall and Garrett Rath. A trip to states this year would be Kromer’s third. Andrew Shomers, a transfer from Niagara Falls, is the returning section runner-up at 106. Twenty-one of his 29 victories were by pin.
The undeniable leader of Roy-Hart, third in Division II, is Drew Hull. Hull was state runner-up a year ago at 145, losing a one-point decision in the final. Zach Bickle would like to cap his senior year with a third trip to Albany.
Falconer, which beat Fredonia last season, returns a solid lineup that could match up with anyone in a dual meet. The Falcons’ Kyle Blake was section runner-up at 99 pounds, losing by one point.
Matt Montesanti of Medina won his first two bouts as a heavyweight a year ago before settling for sixth at states.
Drew Marra of Olean was fourth in the state at 106.
Cody McGregor of Tonawanda placed fifth in the state last year at 113 and fourth in 2011 at 96.
Freshman Kellen Devlin of Amherst outscored opponents, 18-1, on his way to winning the Division I sectional title last season at 113. He’s moved up to 120.
“He’s got a great blend of talent, drive and commitment,” says coach Dennis Bauer. “He’s the whole package, and he stays hungry. He really loves the sport. Sometimes kids get trapped into things because they’re good at it, but he loves what he’s doing.”
Alden junior Eddie Hutschenreuter is a two-time state qualifier before being slowed by injury last season.
Alex Smythe of Eden looks to return to states after placing fifth in 2011 at 125.
Austin Lynn of Frewsburg looks to better his second-place finish in the section.
Philip Calandra is a top lightweight for Depew.
Always-tough Ripley has merged with Westfield and Chautauqua Lake and is sure to contend for section titles.
Travis Berube of defending All-Catholic champion St. Joe’s looks to break the school record for most wins in a career with 116. The record has been held by Mike Rozborski since 2005.
Berube is a three-time All-Catholic champion along with Angel Leon. They are the leaders of a team who live by the words on the training room wall to “train harder, dig deeper.”
Berube is 10-2, sophomore Richie Jones is 11-1. Freshman Garrett Baugher is 10-0 and currently ranked No. 1 in WNY at 106.
The schedule includes the Spencerport Tournament. a trip to rival Canisius on Jan. 15 and a home match against St. Francis on Jan. 30. St. Francis won last year’s dual meet, 42-33, while the Marauders bounced back to win the All-Catholics.