At every championship meet it has competed in this season, Clarence has left a significant mark.
The Red Devils did so again during the Section VI championships, almost from the very start on Sunday evening.
In the 106-pound Division I final, sophomore Ryan Burns won after the fourth overtime – called the “ultimate” overtime – to beat top-seeded Kenmore West freshman Anthony Argentieri, 3-2. Burns, the No. 2 seed, was one of four champions from Clarence at the meet before an estimated 1,200 at the University at Buffalo’s Alumni Arena.
Three top seeds — Nate Schwab at 152, Jake Weber at 160 and Nate Ward at 285. — also won for the Red Devils, who have been ranked first among Western New York large schools all season.
Burns took a 2-0 lead with a first-period takedown, but Argentieri evened it at 2-2 with a reversal in the second. Burns nearly escaped near the end of regulation but time expired, sending the match first to a one-minute sudden-victory overtime, in which Burns nearly scored a takedown. Then the match went to a pair of 30-second periods, which remained scoreless as a crowd of wrestlers gathered around the last mat with competition in the weight class to watch.
In the fourth overtime period, Burns chose on top. If he held on for the 30-second period, he’d win. He did, by barely holding on to Argentieri’s foot for the final 10 seconds as time ran out.
“I was just trying to hold on,” Burns said. “It was the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever done in my life. He was so close to kicking away. I grabbed his foot and just held on. It was awesome. It was definitely the craziest match I’ve ever been in. Hard work pays off.”
At 152, Schwab scored an escape in the second period and a takedown in the third to beat second-seeded senior Terrence Acker of Grand Island, 3-1. At 160, Weber pinned second-seeded senior Desha Duckworth of Niagara Falls in 3:04. At 285, Ward won by pin in 2:56 over Starpoint’s Rion Elson.
Lancaster’s Steve Michel, who earned his fourth trip to the state tournament and his third championship with an 11-2 win over Lockport’s Anthony Orefice at 120, was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler in Division I (large schools).
In Division II, the award went to second-seeded Branden Muntz of Falconer, a senior who beat top-seeded Dakota Gardner of Fredonia, 2-0, at 126.
Winning by pin in Division I were top-seeded senior Anthony Liberatore of Williamsville South (in 1:12 in 182) and top-seeded senior Eric Lewandowski of Lancaster (in 3:08 at 145). At 113, fifth-seeded freshman Shane Helbig of Niagara-Wheatfield won, 5-3, in overtime, over third-seeded senior Dan Gacek of Orchard Park.
Other Division I top seeds to win were: Niagara Falls sophomore Donny McCoy (99), Frontier junior Rocco Russo (126), N-W senior Marcus Popp (132), West Seneca West junior Danny Graham (138), Iroquois junior Andrew Paulsen (170), Lancaster junior James Empfield (195) and Lockport junior Marshall Taylor (220).
Senior Austin Lynn of Frewsburg, the second seed at 182 in Division II, scored an overtime win with a takedown 21 seconds in to beat top-seeded senior Tyler Veno of Portville, 4-2. Another No. 2 seed to knock off a No. 1 was senior Matt Booth of Cattaraugus/Little Valley-Pine Valley (15-3 over senior Dustin Lewis of Salamanca at 195).
At 220, third-seeded senior Chris Saden of Fredonia pinned fifth-seeded senior Brian Kerwin of Wilson with 25 seconds left in the third period.
Among the top seeds to win in Division II: freshman Ryan Hetrick of Southwestern (99), freshman Brad Bihler of Maple Grove (106), sophomore Andrew Shomers of Lew-Port (113), freshman Kellen Devlin of Amherst (120), junior Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer of Cheektowaga (132), senior Daniel Reagan of Lew-Port (138), Roy-Hart senior Drew Hull (145), junior Alex Smythe of Eden (152), senior Gunnar Van Curen of Portville (160), senior Zach Buckley of Fredonia (170) and senior Matt Montesanti of Medina ( 285).
The champions along with select at-large wild-card picks advance to the state championships Feb. 22-23 in Albany. Also headed to the states will be winners of the Catholic state championships, which will be held Saturday at St. Francis.
At the beginning of Sunday’s meet, the Niagara Frontier Wrestling Officials Association honored coach Kevin Day of Kenmore West, while longtime official Pete Roetzer received its contributor award.