Not only will wrestling’s best compete for Section VI titles this weekend, they will do so under the same roof.
After several years of the Division I and Division II championships being held in different venues, this year the place to be is the University at Buffalo.
Wrestling begins at 10 a.m. Sunday in Alumni Arena with matches continuing on all day on eight mats. The finals are expected to start about 5 p.m.
The winners of each weight class, along with a few select wild cards, will advance to the New York State Championships. There are 10 wrestlers per weight class in Division I while the small schools, which has more teams, has 12 per class.
The last time UB hosted the Sectionals was 2000. Section VI co-chairman Mike DeBarbieri is happy to be returning. He was able to work with current wrestling coach Jim Beichner and other UB personnel to keep costs manageable. The section also sold $100 sponsorships for each weight class which was a big help.
“It was just nice having them all together,” said DeBarbieri. “UB is centrally located, there are a lot of hotels, it’s easy to get to. When you’re separate I don’t think you get as many people. It will be fun.”
99: Sophomore Donny McCoy of Niagara Falls gets the nod as the favorite. Keep an eye on seventh-grader Hector Colom of Dunkirk/Silver Creek, who surprised No. 1 seed freshman Tristan Almeter of Iroquois in the Class A Tournament, 5-4. Giving this class depth is Troy Keller of North Tonawanda and Connor Day of Iroquois.
106: Ryan Burns of Clarence doesn’t need incentive to wrestle hard, but he’ll have it after bowing to sophomore Anthony Argentieri of Kenmore West, 5-3 in the Class AA final. Tito Colom of Dunkirk/Silver Creek will be in the mix.
113: This class is wide open. Brendan Arena of Clarence, ranked fourth in WNY at 106, moved up and won Class AA title, 4-3, over Shane Helbig of Niagara-Wheatfield. Capable of having a big day and winning the title are: Nick Schuster of Grand Island, Lawrence Jenkins of Lake Shore and Mike Hearon of Iroquois. Don’t count out Dan Gacek of Orchard Park, Dillon Knoll of Hamburg or Cody Risley of Jamestown.
120: Senior Steve Michel of Lancaster (38-3), last year’s section runner-up, is the clear favorite. He was named Most Outstanding of the Class AA tournament after pinning Anthony Orefice of Lockport. Michel looks to reach states for a fourth consecutive year. Wrestlers with an outside chance are Freddy Eckles of Lake Shore, who defeated Austin Acquard of Iroquois in the Class A final.
126: No. 1 Rocco Russo of Frontier, last year’s section champion at 120, is the favorite. Looking for the major upset are Vince Eberhart of Lockport, and Pat Welling of Iroquois.
132: There’s no clear favorite in this class. Marcus Popp of Niagara-Wheatfield won a 7-6 decision over Brandon Glauber of Clarence in Class AA final. Matt Kloc of Iroquois is coming off a 3-0 win over Anthony Cooper of Williamsville South in the Class A final.
138: Danny Graham of West Seneca East proved he was ready to move up to by winning the Class A final, 4-0. Look for Kirk Feeney of Lockport to reach the final, coming off his Class AA title. Austin Krawczyk of Clarence got pinned by Feeney in the final, but has the potential for the upset. He scored a memorable win over senior Eric Lewandowski of Lancaster in the annual Border Brawl.
145: Lewandowski (37-6) is the favorite as he was dominant in winning the Class AA title. He’s won two section titles and made three trips to states, his best finish second as a freshman. Class A winner sophomore Kurt McGowan of Kenmore East looks for the upset.
152: Clarence sophomore Nate Schwab won Class AA. T.J. Acker of Grand Island won decisively by pin in Class A.
160: Clarence’s Jake Weber is 40-1 with the only loss out of the section. He’s the favorite and is coming off winning the Class AA title by pin. Weber has been ranked No. 1 locally all year. Junior Preston Smith of Kenmore East, the Class A champ, looks for the upset.
170: This class is pretty wide open. Shane Curry of Kenmore West picked up a nice win over top seed senior Jeff Kuciel (35-9) of Lancaster in the Class AA final. Andrew Paulsen of Iroquois, up from 160, won Class A.
182: Anthony Liberatore (33-1) of Williamsville South missed the class tournament because of illness, but did get a medical wild card to participate in sectionals. Zach Eklum of Jamestown might be peaking at the right time as he defeated No. 1 seed Ryan Schlager of Clarence, 11-2, to win Class AA. Chris Connors of Grand Island and Dillon Thomas of Starpoint look to contend.
195: This is a balanced weight class. Lancaster’s James Empfield (25-0 in Section VI) beat senior No. 1 seed Dequan Ralands of Niagara Falls, up from 182, 8-6 in the Class AA final. Other major players are Colby Durinka of Williamsville South, Brendon Knoll of Hamburg.
220: The No. 1 seeds won in both Class AA and A. Senior Marshall Taylor of Lockport gets the nod after he won by pin in Class AA while Bill Brady of Williamsville East was a 10-5 winner.
285: Nate Ward of Clarence pinned three opponents to win Class AA. Class A champion Luke Catalano of Lake Shore looks forward to meeting Ward in what would be his second section final in as many years. It would mark a rematch from the ECIC final won by Ward in overtime.
99: Southwestern freshman Ryan Hetrick’s (40-1) only loss was to Donny McCoy of large school Niagara Falls. Hetrick won the Class C title. Senior Kyle Blake (25-5) of Falconer is the Class D champion and placed last year at sectionals. He’s lost to Hetrick twice this year. Blake’s teammate, sophomore Ricky Griffith (31-6) has a shot at the section title. A lot of Griffith’s losses are at 106 or to ranked opponents. Phil Calandra (28-5) looks to bring a title home to Depew.
106: This weight class has some depth, but is wide open. Freshman Cameron Swick of Roy-Hart and eighth-grader Brad Bihler of Maple Grove look strong. Swick won Class C. Jacob Peru of Falconer reached the Class D final, but lost to Bihler.
113: In a shocker coming out of the Class C meet, senior Pat McCarthy (31-1) of Fredonia, ranked No. 1 in the Section, didn’t make weight. He was runner-up last year at 113. Suddenly the path to states is a lot easier for Lew-Port sophomore Andrew Shomers and Drew Marra of Olean. Shomers’ (41-1) only loss is to a Section V opponent. Marra (34-3) has lost twice to McCarthy and once to Shomers in OT. Marra won sectionals last year at 106. Don’t overlook junior Ryan Thierman (30-4) of Portville and sophomore Nick Hudson (26-4) of Westfield/Ripley/Chautauqua Lake.
120: Freshman Kellen Devlin (38-2) of Amherst is the favorite. He lost two matches to Michel of Lancaster by one point, 3-2 and 2-1. Abdul-Fatah Alshawai of Lackawanna, who wrestled most of the season at 113, is tough and physical. He won the Class C title, 4-1, beating Dylan Lundmark. Lundmark won sectionals at 99 last year. Nate Lazickas of East Aurora has 34 wins against nine losses. Several of his losses are by one point. Freshman Zack Bierfedt (21-4) of Allegany-Limestone is a gamer and this year’s Class D champ.
126: Freshman Dakota Gardner (41-0) of Fredonia is the favorite. He won the Sectionals last year at 120. Senior Majed Mohommad (28-3) of Lackawanna could surprise. He placed fourth two years ago at states. Senior Brandon Muntz of Falconer has a loss to Gardner. Senior Andrew Lazickas, who went to states last year as a wildcard at 120, will be in the mix.
132: It would be a monumental upset if nationally-ranked Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (37-0) of Cheektowaga doesn’t defend his sectional title. His closest match locally was a 6-1 win against Niagara-Wheatfield. Rodriguez-Spencer placed second in the state last year.
With Rodriguez-Spencer the runaway favorite, chasing the wild-card route will be senior Tyler Cassidy (34-4) of Fredonia. Two of his losses are at 138. Cody McGregor of Tonawanda is dangerous and has been to states twice, his highest finish being fourth. Ryan Kromer of Lew-Port won sectionals last year at 113.
138: Senior Dan Regan (40-1) of Lew-Port went to states last year and has been ranked No. 1 at 138 all season. His loss is to senior Drew Hall (33-0) of Roy-Hart, 6-0, in a 145 match. Youngsters looking to break in are sophomores Lucas McKeever of Gowanda, sophomore Brian Westerdahl of Southwestern and junior Kyle Ross of Falconer.
145: Drew Hall (35-0) of Olean was state runner-up last year at 145. He will be challenged by senior Jude Gardner (41-2) of Fredonia. Both of Gardner’s losses are to Hall, a pin at the Lockport Tournament and 1-0 in the Class C final.
152: Junior Alex Smythe of Eden, on the varsity since seventh grade, was fourth in the section last year. Senior James McLean of Pioneer, who wrestled most of the season at 145, moved up to enhance his chances to get to states. Other ranked wrestlers looking for a title are Jake Choate of Tonawanda and Class D champion Chris Doubek of Randolph.
160: Senior Gunnar Van Curen of Portville is slick and tough and was named Most Outstanding in Class D. Miguel Rodriguez-Spencer of Cheektowaga could also win it. Two juniors who could figure into the decision are Garrett Schultz of Akron and Chase Wheeler of Wilson.
170: Zach Buckley’s 39-0 record for Fredonia includes three wins over three of Section V’s best. He looks to be tested at this point of the season and beyond. The much-improved Ryan Vondell of Eden (41-6) suffered a 16-3 loss to Buckley in the Class C finals.
182: Senior Austin Lynn of Frewsburg likely will be the No. 1 seed this weekend after decisioning Portville senior Tyler Veno, 2-0. Lynn was denied a trip to states last year when he lost to eventual state champion Tony Lock of Pioneer in sectional finals. Nick Nocek of Fredonia is your Class C winner.
195: This is anyone’s match. It’s shaping up to be a three-man race between Dusty Lewis of Salamanca, Trevor Spicer of Frewsburg and Matt Booth of Cattaraugus Little Valley/Pine Valley. All three have shared time at the No. 1 spot and have taken turns beating each other. Lewis is 2-1 against Spicer this season and 1-0 vs. Booth.
220: This is a deep weight class. Among the favorites is Class C Most Outstanding Steve Warthling (34-3) of Tonawanda. Senior Chris Saden (40-1) of Fredonia was on the fast track to the sectional title before suffering his first loss of the season on Saturday to Warthling. Alden’s Erik Feitshans has a win over Warthling. In the mix are Senior Brian Kerwin of Wilson and senior Alex Jensen of Roy-Hart in mix.
285: Senior Matt Montesanti (28-0) of Medina should win his second sectional title in a row. He’s smart and uses his body well. Clayton Smith of Roy-Hart will challenge. Keep an eye on Lukas Hanssen of Barker, Garrett Rath of Lew-Port, Dustin Provorse of Olean and Class C champion Javen Newman of Falconer.