Having four boys with a passion to wrestle opponents as well as each other, Steve and Justine McGregor knew they’d have to take drastic steps to protect the fragile items in their Tonawanda home.
So five years ago when a garage was being built, a second floor wrestling room was drawn into the plans. Tonawanda was throwing out an old wrestling mat and soon the McGregors’ Wrestling Room was born.
“They couldn’t walk by each other without wanting to wrestle, so now they have no excuse. We just tell them to go to the wrestling room,” said Steve.
It’s an investment that has been paying off ever since as brothers Scott, Kyle, Jordan and Cody have combined for more than 500 wins in their careers.
Scott started the family’s winning ways, taking 109 matches before he graduated in 2009. Kyle not only contributed 111 wins, he won the New York State title at 112 pounds as a junior in 2010. Jordan’s resume includes 136 wins, along with a pair of state tournament appearances before his 2012 graduation. He’s now the Warriors’ modified coach and a varsity assistant.
Cody may be only a junior, but he’s already got 164 wins against 32 losses. Cody won his weight class at Saturday’s Niagara Frontier Officials Tournament to improve to 21-0, with an impressive 17 first-period pins.
“I just go out there and look to destroy people,” said Cody. “All the practice helps me prepare and I have confidence in my ability of winning.”
Cody added that the quick victories take stress off his body, he’s less likely to get injured and he’s conserving energy in tournaments. He’s currently ranked No. 1 in Western New York at 132 pounds and No. 7 in New York State. He has won the Akron and Portville tournaments this year and won aggregate pin award at Akron.
“He’s just explosive and aggressive. As soon as whistle blows, he’s on ya,” said Tonawanda coach Jeff Hess. “He’s just been dominating and goes out there to win. He can take people down at will. He’s good on his feet, good on the mat. He kinda good all over.”
Tim Barnard (17-0) is another Tonawanda wrestler making a name for himself. He was the Most Outstanding at the Joe Shifflet at Sweet Home and the Akron Tournament. Earlier in the season he won his 150th match. He holds the school record for most career pins with 88.
Renaldo Rodriquez-Spencer wrestles in the ECIC, but in many ways he’s in a league of his own. The Cheektowaga senior has accepted two by-invitational-only chances to work out at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. He has signed a national letter of intent with NCAA powerhouse Iowa State.
In March he’ll wrestle at the Dapper Dan in Pennsylvania, where the best in the country compete against the Pennsylvania state champions.
Rodriguez-Spencer has a 31-0 record and is tied with Clay Reeb for most career wins at Cheektowaga with 181. He goes for the record on Thursday at home against West Seneca East.
On Saturday he was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the Niagara Frontier Officials Tournament, winning the 145 title. He went undefeated for the Vesper Duals, Pal-Mac Duals and Warrior Duals. He earned his 4th Teike/Bernabi championship at Spencerport.
Last year he won the state title in the Division II 132 pound class to cap a 47-0 season. A trip to states in March will be his fourth.
UB signs two locals
Alex Smythe of Eden and Rocco Russo of Frontier will be teammates next year as both have signed with the University at Buffalo and coach John Stutzman. Both played football at their respective high schools.
Smythe is a two-time state qualifier with third and fifth place finishes in Division II.
“I am excited to add Alex to our program,” said Stutzman. “When I was hired one of my main objectives was to keep the best kids home and Alex is clearly one of those guys. Alex is a local standout, and has a great work ethic. We expect him to come in right away and push for the starting job.”
Smythe sports a 16-1 record and recently surpassed 200 career victories. He is two wins away from breaking the Eden career wins record of 202 held by Tom Page from 2012.
Russo not only holds the school record for most wins, he’s currently has 206, but a win at sectionals would be his fourth in a row. He’ll be considered among the favorites to win a state title if he makes it there for the fourth time. Stutzman said Russo is a strong student and is committed to winning the right way.
Around the mats
Clarence returns three Section VI champs. At 170, Jake Weber is eying a third trip to states. He’s 23-0 with 15 pins and is chasing the school record for career wins at 150. Ryan Burns is looking to repeat at 113 and Nate Schwab was last year’s champ at 160. Clarence has captured the Jon Vesper duals and finished second at the Webster and the Spencerport tournaments.
Lancaster senior James Empfield is 20-4, with a win at 195 at Niagara Frontier Officials Meet and a fourth at Spencerport. Sophomore Tommy Michel, younger brother of four-time Section VI champ Steve, is showing promise at 106. Junior Mitch Lattuca was runner-up at NCCC in the Officials tournament at 220.
The 10th Border Brawl between Lancaster and Clarence moves this year to the home of the Redskins on Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. Lancaster won the first six years only to have Clarence take the last three. Last year the Red Devils put a 57-18 hurt on their neighbors.
Lockport had four individual champions on its way to winning the Niagara Frontier Officials Tournament at NCCC. The Aggregate Pin Award went to the Lions’ Anthony Orefice who had five pins in a combined 12:59. Orefice is the Lions only undefeated wrestler at 24-0.
Marcellus Hinton (285), Marshall Taylor (220), Kirk Feeney (145), Mitchell Seaver (99) and Vince Eberhardt (138) all have more than 20 wins.
The Lions also won the Churchville-Chili Duals, beating state-ranked Fulton in the final. Lockport hosts Lew-Port on Jan. 29 in what will likely decide the Nia. Frontier League title.
Seventh-grader Cory Day is 17-2 at 99 pounds in his first season for Iroquois. Connor Day (106) hit 40 wins last year as an eighth grader and is off to an 18-2 start. Sophomore Tristan Altmeter (120) recently surpassed 100 career wins thanks to a 22-2 start. After an injury-shortened sophomore year, Matt Kloc (132) is off to a 10-2 start as he nears 100 wins. Senior Andrew Paulsen (152) went to states last year after winning sectionals at 170. He’s off to a 17-4 start with only loss one loss to a Section VI opponent.
Senior Trevor Spicer of Frewsburg has a 20-0 record that includes a victory in the Maple Grove Tournament and going undefeated in the Dunkirk Duals. He’s coming off a 37-5 season in which four of the losses were to state place winners.
Two-time Section VI champion Kellen Devlin of Amherst placed third at states last year and went on to take second at freshman nationals. A captain this year, he has a career record of 134-9 and currently 12 wins from breaking school record for victories held since 1993 by Mark Keller.
Brad Rowe of Ripley is coaching the combined team made up from Westfield, Chautauqua Lake, Panama and Ripley (WRCL). Rowe won a state title for Ripley in 1996 and finished his career with 193 wins. His team is off to a 6-1 start, which includes winning the Byron-Bergen Tournament.
Nick Hudson (126) and Tyler Furlow (195) have only one loss so far. Kale Gilbert (138) has wrestled up a couple weights classes and is 11-4. Mark Ecklund (126) has 14 wins and victories at the Ripley Invitational and Cassadaga Duals.
Falconer has a 14-0 record including a 45-27 win over Lew-Port in the Dunkirk Duals. Kyle Ross (170) stands at 24-1 and was MOW at the Eisenhower Kick Off Classic. Freshman Jake Peru (126) is 24-3 and already has 83 victories in his young career.
At 132, the Springville sophomore duo of Jake Smith and Bryce Szudzik sport 10-2 and 9-3 records. They took 1-2 at Maple Grove and Pine Valley Tournaments.
Alex Kelly of Cattaraugus-Little Valley/Pine Valley is 16-1 with 10 pins. The only loss for the 170-pound junior is to Smythe of Eden. He has three first-places at tournaments and has 109 career wins.
St. Joe’s junior Dominic Caruso (113) won at the Byron-Bergen and Batavia tournament. He placed fourth at the Catholic states a year ago. Junior Richie Jones (170) was runner-up at Spencerport and was the Catholic state runner-up a year ago. Jones, along with junior Derek Penman (145) look to defend his All-Catholic title and place high at states.
Among the highlights to date for Williamsville East is the team title at the Depew Wildcat Duals. Junior Pat Faracca is the returning school record holder at 285. Pat is currently undefeated and won his bracket as the champion of the Sweet Home Tournament. East also boast class place finishers Ben Clark, Alex Vito, and Ben Geiger.
Williamsville South senior Erik Jacobs (285) is 16-1 this season with a win at Akron.
Anthony Cooper was a Class A finalist a year ago as a freshman and is 20-1 so far this season. Freshman Matt Genau is building off 15 wins.
Starpoint senior Tyler Mack is 11-0 with seven pins at 120. He was Most Outstanding at the Joe Shifflet and went undefeated at the Depew Duals. Senior Chris Willms is also 11-0 and won at 182 at the Shifflet.
Pioneer defeated No. 8 state-ranked Pal-Mac on Saturday at the Letchworth Duals. The Panthers are led by state qualifier Austin Acquard (18-1 at 132) and Brayden Denk (182).
Jamestown’s Kyle Liuzzo (132) is 20-5 and was second at the South Towns Officials Tournament. Dylan Lundmark (138) is 20-5 and is working toward a second straight berth to the state tournament.
Two-time defending ECIC II champion Lake Shore has been led by captains Briar Dils (18-4) and Luke Catalano (20-2). Catalano is looking to make a run for states since his runner-up finish as a sophomore.
A pair of sophomores, David Killian and Freddy Eckles, are each 19-1. Lake Shore’s Alumni Meet is Jan. 29 vs. Iroquois.
Hamburg’s sectional qualifiers from a year ago are: Jacob Smeader (120), Dante Mastrangelo (145), Dillon Knoll (138), Garrett Knoll (220) and James Fisk (285).
Holland lightweight Vince Tripi is 9-0, with a win at 99 pounds at Pine Valley. He holds the school record for single season reversals.