For this week's PrepTalkTV Weekly -- which you can see right here tonight at 9 -- we'll welcome in Western New York's No. 1 large school boys basketball team has they head into a super weekend of matchups.
Niagara Falls coach Sal Constantino and seniors Jermaine Crumpton (who has signed with Canisius College) and Jaleo Wilkins will be our in-studio guests for what will be another loaded show of highlights from boys and girls hoops as well as wrestling. We'll also have more highlights in PrepTalkTV Rewind, our weekly look at the boys basketball polls and a look ahead to this weekend and beyond.
At first glance, it's a dungeon, a poorly-lit basement, a
storage area for the school's old junk.
While the “Pit" at Iroquois High School is a place for
rusted school desks and athletic equipment from as far back as 1968, it is
also a place that has soaked up more than 40 years of wrestling tradition.
I can't even begin to count the hours I spent in that wrestling
room underneath the gymnasium, while I waited after my basketball practices
for my father, the coach then, and my three brothers to wrap up their
It's not an exactly comfortable place for a young girl; it's
dark and smells like sweat. But when you spend
that much time down there you would begin to notice less the smell and more
the spirit of such a place.
It's a pretty huge night in high school sports -- and it's a pretty huge night at Clarence. That's where Lauren Mariacher and I will be for two big events.
Wrestling's seventh "Border Brawl" takes place as the Red Devils, ranked first in Western New York, host No. 3 Lancaster at 6:30 p.m. Next door (in the divided gym) at 7:30, the No. 9 large school Clarence boys basketball team hosts ECIC I rival Jamestown, which is ranked third.
Among the other top matchups tonight include No. 1 girls basketball large school Sacred Heart vs. No. 7 Holy Angels at Villa Maria College at 6:30; the father-son matchup of boys basketball coaches Chris (Amherst) and Mark (Maryvale) Kensy in their ECIC III matchup at Maryvale at 7:30; and a high-quality Monsignor Martin small school showdown as No. 7 St. Mary's visits No. 4 Nichols at 7:30.
I'll have updates from games in the live blog below and I'll also be providing #preptalkscores updates on Twitter, which will also appear in the blog.
For this week's PrepTalkTV Weekly -- which you can see right here tonight at 9 -- we'll welcome in a Hall of Famer in what we think is a loaded episode.
Legendary Sacred Heart girls basketball coach Sister Maria Pares, along with senior standouts La'Trice Hall and Hannah Rehbaum, will be our in-studio guests (the Sharks are coming straight from their game tonight with St. Mary's).
Susan Grieser is in her second season taking over the struggling program at Holland. She is the first female head wrestling coach in Section VI history.
She has two male volunteer assistants, which she said make her job a lot easier.
"The other coaches have treated me as if I belonged, many have seen me in youth wrestling, or following my son over the years," she said.
"Holland is a small school so the boys already know me, and know of my passion for wrestling. Holland wrestled against Springville for the years my son was there so they saw me at those matches. The boys understand I will do everything I can to see them succeed on the mat, as well as succeed in school."
Last year's team won two dual meets, all but one wrestler won a match and two wrestlers qualified for sectionals. Those two wrestlers return as seniors, Axl Jakubowski at 152 and Richie Evans at 160, who have both moved up this year. The team's dual meet win over East Aurora was the program's first over EA in 18 years.
Here's a look at the sizable Section VI team headed to the state championships Friday and Saturday at the Times-Union Center in Albany.
The pictures were taken at Saturday's Section VI team practice, where coaches from throughout Western New York come together to prepare the wrestlers for the big meet.
Our thanks to Western New York Wrestling Coaches Association president and Williamsville North coach Brian Swatland for sending the pictures along (our apologies that we can't match up the names, those weren't sent along). The wrestlers are sporting sweatshirts provided by the WNYWCA.
96: x-Anthony Orefice (Lockport), Austin Acquard (Iroquois). 103: Rocco Russo (Frontier). 112: Steve Michel (Lancaster). 119: Eric Lewandowski (Lancaster). 125: x-Dylan Caruana (Kenmore West), Dylan Cohen (Wmsv. East). 130: x-Tim Schaefer (Lancaster), Dan Reagan (Lew-Port). 135: x-Patrick Mix (Lake Shore), Jason Kromer (Lew-Port). 140: x-Mike Feeney (Lockport), Luke Falzone (Wmsv. South). 145: x-James Kloc (Iroquois), Joe Difrancesco (Niagara Falls). 152: x-Irvin Buck (Niagara Falls), Jacob Gullo (Jamestown). 160: Tyler Bruce (North Tonawanda). 171: x-Joe Amoia (Kenmore West), Nicholas Bannister (Frontier). 189: x-Jake Kelly (Niagara-Wheatfield), Rodney Offhaus (Iroquois). 215: Adam Donner (Niagara-Wheatfield). 285: Max Antone (Niagara-Wheatfield).
96: x-Cody McGregor (Tonawanda), Ryan Kromer (Lew-Port). 103: x-Majed Mohamed (Lackawanna), Zach Bickle (Roy-Hart), Steve Seibert (Cassadaga Valley). 112: x-Abdulgawi Mohamed (Lackawanna), Eddie Hutschenreuter (Alden). 119: Tom Page (Eden). 125: x-Kevin Strong (Frewsburg), David Ciaramella (Newfane), Alex Smythe (Eden). 130: x-Matt McCauley (Roy-Hart), Jordan McGregor (Tonawanda). 135: x-Drew Hull (Roy-Hart), Justin Hunt (Ripley). 140: x-Dylan Duncanson (Medina), Jesse Anderson (Falconer), Brandon Hassenbohler (Alden). 145: x-Ben Haas (Salamanca), Phil Czapla (East Aurora), Azel Tapia (Albion). 152: x-Tristian Hammer (Medina), Frank Sterlace (Silver Creek), Ameen Harhara (Lackawanna). 160: x-Nick Mitchell (Frewsburg), Jerrold Roosa (Randolph), Ryan Baer (Depew). 171: x-Tony Lock (Pioneer), Marcus Dwaileebe (Olean), Kris Schimek (Pine Valley). 189: x-John Mistretta (Southwestern), Thomas Cornell (Randolph), Joe Hill (Lew-Port). 215: x-Greg Burroughs (Fredonia), Bashar Srouji (Lew-Port). 285: x-Pat Langworthy (Southwestern), Mike Kasprzak (Depew).
Poor weather pushed the Division II Wrestling Sectional Championships back considerably Saturday --- the finals started three hours late. But once the meets got rolling, in rapid-fire succession, the gym came alive. The meet didn't disappoint.
In addition to today's story, here are some leftover notes from an exciting day of wrestling at East Aurora High School.
--- In the heavyweight division, everything is unraveling just the way Pat Langworthy envisioned. If the Southwestern wrestler wanted to win a state championship this year, he needed to bump up a weight class. After falling short at states in the 215 class a year ago as a junior, he knew it'd be smart to move up to 285.
Last year’s 215 state champ is back — Nick Gwiazdowski of Duanesburg in Section II. So this year, his swan song at Southwestern, Langworthy opted to wrestle up. After all, Gwiazdowski is ranked in the top five nationally.
Saturday was a heck of a start for Langworthy, who won a convincing 5-3 decision over Depew’s Mike Kasprzak.
“Last year, I went to states and didn’t do as well as I wanted,” Langworthy said. “Fortunately, I had another year.”
--- Speaking of Gwiazdowski, the Section VI representative that will try to knock him off is Fredonia’s Greg Burroughs. In one of the day's best matches, Burroughs took down Fredonia’s Bashar Srouji, 5-4. After losing 3-1 in the sectional finals a year ago, winning Saturday meant a little something extra to Burroughs.
“I’m hoping to place (at states),” he said. “There will be a tough kid there.”
Fredonia finished second in the team scoring Saturday behind Lew-Port.
“He’s been the reason we have won as a team,” added Fredonia coach Alex Conti. “We were 13-0 last year and 24-0 this year. And it’s because he keeps everybody light and having fun. To see him win that was special.”
--- Without a doubt it was the right call to name Roy-Hart’s Matt McCauley the meet's Most Outstanding Wrestler. As a four seed, McCauley ran the table. As you'd expect, he was in shock after his win over Lew-Port's Dan Reagan. Not just for winning --- but how he won. All season, through meets and practices, the junior never tried a “mat mixer.”
Hello from Lake Shore, site of the Section VI Division I wrestling championships.
Consolation bouts are winding down, after which the five-mat layout will be changed to one for the championships.
Below is the lineup of the finals, which I'll be updating as we go.
As you can see, all top seeds have reached the finals with only three upsets making it to the finals: two No. 3 seeds and one No. 7.
5:28 p.m. The gym has been cleared and reopened and fans are filing in while one green mat has been set up in the middle.
5:49 p.m. We're starting with the 96-pound final.
96: 1-Anthony Orefice (Lockport-8, 38-1) vs. 2-Austin Acquard (Iroquois-9, 48-3)
First period: Takedown and three back points for Orefice just over halfway through the period. Acquard tried to escape but no sale. Orefice, 5-0.
Second period: Orefice starts on top, remains in control through the first minute. Out of bounds with :37 left. Remains in control through end of period.
Third period: Orefice picks down. Quickly escapes for 6-0 lead. Takedown for 8-0 lead. Out of bounds with :33 left; Orefice warned for stalling. Acquard apparently has hurt his knee; :27 left. Acquard back up. Orefice wins by decision, 8-1.
103: 1-Rocco Russo (Frontier-9) vs. 2-Kellen Devlin (Amherst-7)
First period: Two-point takedown to Russo after some early scrambling. Devlin is undefeated on the year. Stalemate with :53 left. Escape by Devlin; 2-1 Russo. Russo takedown in final seconds of the period to go up, 4-1.
Second period: Russo starts on top; 1:35 restart. Stalemate with :54 left. Russo remains in control; Deviln tries to back out of the hold but he can't as time expires.
Third period: Russo, up, 4-1, starts on top. Devlin jumps early at the start, his third caution, which costs him a point. Russo, 5-1. Stalemate with Russo in control with 1:16 left. Devlin jumps out early again; Russo, 6-1. Russo wins by decision, 6-1.
112: 1-Steve Michel (Lancaster, 34-5, two-time Section VI champion) vs. 2-Jake Zaleski (Williamsville North-10, 29-8)
First period: Quick takedown less than 30 seconds in by Michel after grabbing a leg; 2-0 Michel. Michel starts on top on a restart with about 1:32 left. Michel lets Zaleski go for an escape and a 2-1 lead. Close to a takedown for Michel but he's out of bounds. Another takedown by Michel, now a 4-1 lead. Lets Zaleski escape again; 4-2 lead. Blood time for Zaleski with :33 left. Out of bounds with :18 left. Clinical takedown again by Michel with about 10 seconds left. Michel leads, 6-2.
Second period: Michel selects down. Uses some great leg strength to stand up and nearly escape. Out of bounds with 1:44 left. Michel quickly up again. Potentially dangerous position with :57 left. Michael spins around and completes a reversal for an 8-2 lead; allows another escape for 8-3; another takedown followed by an escape, 10-4. Out of bounds with :19 to go. Another takedown Michel and he leads, 12-4, in final seconds.
Third period. Michel promptly is after Zaleski to start the third and he pins him with 1:37 left. Michel wins by fall, 4:23.
119: 1-Eric Lewandowski (Lancaster-10) vs. 2-Ron Duguay (Kenmore West, 42-5)
First period: Lewandowski beat Duguay in last week's Class AAAA championships. Lewandowski takedown with about :45 to go.
Second period: Lewandowski on bottom. With both standing, Lewandowski escapes for a 3-0 lead. Takedown by Lewandkowski; followed by a two-point reversal for Duguay, 5-2. Reversal came with about 40 seconds left. End second period with Duguay bleeding from the nose.
Third period: Lewandowski on top and with a 5-2 lead. Blood time Duguay with 1:16 left. Lewandowski two back points for a 7-2 lead and remains in control the rest of the way. Lewandowski wins by decision, 7-2.
First period: Out of bounds, 1:39 to go. Caruana looking to go low but they continue to feel each other out it seems. :30 left. Nearly a takedown for Caruana but Cohen spun to avoid it as the period ends.
Second period: Cohen on top. Caruana escapes for a 1-0 lead less than 10 seconds in. Blood time Cohen with 1:25 left in second. Caruana drives Cohen forward and gets a takedown just inside the out-of-bounds; 3-0 Caruana. Caruana maintains a hold of Cohen's leg. Cohen with a very nice reversal to make it 3-2; out of bounds with :15 left. Cohen holds on to end the period. Caruana leads, 3-2.
Third period: Caruana starts on top, drives Cohen to mat. Stalemate with 1:16 left. Caruana on top. Caruana wins by fall with :40 left. Great scene as crowd got louder and then roared with the pin. Caruana wins by fall, 5:20.
Here's the big finish:
130: 1-Timothy Schafer (Lancaster-10, 35-3) vs. 7-Terrance Acker (Grand Island-10)
The Western New York high school wrestling family got together for their annual reunion.
Ilio DiPaolo's Restaurant in Blasdell served as the site of this gathering also known as the Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Award dinner. The 15th annual event, which brought together 200, honored the best from the 2009-2010 wrestling season in the form of six awards and five college scholarships totaling $9,000.
Bob Koshinski of the Executive Committee made the case for the Class of 2010 being the most elite group in the award's history. The competition was so tough, two New York State Champions did not make the final list.
The winners combined for 836 career wins, 12 Section VI individual championships, nine place finishes at states and three state championships.
The distinguished group included: Ilio DiPaolo award: Dominic Montesanti, Medina Gary Castanza award: Kyle Colling, Pioneer Destroyer award: Angelo Malvestuto, Niagara-Wheatfield Bill Hein award: Joe Kalinka, Iroquois Cauiflower Alley Club: James Donner, Niagara-Wheatfield St. Francis football captain's award: Adam Pasnik
• Past winner of the Ilio DiPaolo scholarship, Kane Smith, was the guest speaker. The 2005 Salamanca graduate gave a polished delivery in which he talked about how revealing 6 minutes on a wrestling mat can be, and how the sacrifice, sweat and pain it takes to be a wrestler prepares you for everyday life.
• A DVD presentation prepared by the committee gave a look into the life of man who brought everyone together. The 1950s black and white footage showed DiPaolo in the ring displaying amazing athleticism for a man his size and he disposed of each opponent.
• Dennis DiPaolo, always a gracious host, did his best to recognize some of his guests: former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, former Buffalo Bills trainer Eddie Abramoski, retired Niagara-Wheatfield wrestling coach Ace Cacciatore, retired Roy-Hart/Newfane coach Dick Lange, Empire State Games local chairman Ralph Galanti, Preston Teague of the Buffalo Bills Community Relations department, Linda Knuutila of WNY Wrestling Review and his charming mother.
Here are the Division I and Division II stories from the Section VI wrestling championship. And here are plenty of extras from the Division II meet Saturday night at Niagara County Community College. But first, a couple observations.
1. This was the second straight year NCCC served as host for the event, and it's a great venue. There's plenty of parking, and NCCC coach Eric Knuutilla (one of the nicest men you could ever meet) does a great job having the gym ready. The support staff, including announcers and officials, also do a good job of keeping everything moving as close to on time as possible.
2. Another thank you to Ross Conti, an assistant coach at Fredonia and committee member of the Wrestling Review of Western New York, the group that does such a great job seeding and ranking area wrestlers. Conti is a walking encyclopedia of wrestling knowledge.
112-pound champion Tom Page, Eden: Page moved ahead with a takedown in the second period to defeat teammate eighth-grade teammate Alex Smythe. Here's Page's father, also Tom Page, on what it's like for two teammates to wrestle each other: "It's extremely difficult because they're so familiar with each other's style. It's unfair to both, but some coaches say it's a privilege. I'm proud of both of the athletes, because they've done a fantastic job."
The elder Page said he wrestled both at 112 because they were the best at that weight class and deserved a chance to showcase what they could do at the sectional level. Nothing wrong with that logic.
119-pound champion Kevin Strong, Frewsburg: It's the second trip to states for Strong, who improved to 43-2 on the season. Here he is on his game plan from Saturday: "I was working on holding him down and taking it slow. Once I got my points I was very careful." Strong beat Newfane's David Ciaramella, 9-0.
125-pound champion Emory Rowe, Ripley: The smallest wrestling school in Western New York had two finalists, including one champion in Rowe. He scored a late takedown to earn a 5-3 decision over Jake Baer of Olean, a raw talent in just his third year of wrestling. Here's Rowe on the end of the match: "I was just looking for an opening and I saw him loosen up, so I dove for it and got it."
140-pound champion Devin Kramer, Depew: The Most Outstanding Wrestler of the meet scored three late points to break a 2-2 tie with Ben Haas of Salamanca and win his second sectional title (he won at 130 last year). The 130- and 140-pound divisions are packed with talented wrestlers. Kramer, a senior who is a member of the Cobra Wrestling Academy, is 36-4 on the season.
145-pound champion: Dominic Montesanti, Medina: Montesanti put forth a dominant performance despite being hampered by a knee injury. He's wrestling on a torn meniscus in his right knee. Here he is on competing hurt: "It's been a real bother, but it's my senior so I couldn't get surgery. It would put me out for the rest of the year. I have one last chance to be a state champion, so I have to tough it out."
Montesanti took sixth at the state tournament last year after dislocating his elbow and having to injury forfeit two matches at 140.
171-pound champion John Mistretta, Southwestern: Mistretta beat Greg Burroughs of Fredonia for the third time this season, never the easiest thing to do. Mistretta has a unique style that could make him a tough out at the state tournament.
189-pound champion Colin Palmer, East Aurora: Palmer is unbeaten on the season (24-0) after missing time early due to injury.
215-pound champion Pat Langworthy, Southwestern: Langworthy (33-6), a junior, won a wild weight class. Consider: the seventh seed, Panama's Cody DiDomenico, beat No. 2 Bashar Srouji of Lew-Port in the quarterfinals. Langworthy, the third seed, then beat DiDomenico. On the other side of the bracket, top seed Justin Taylor of Portville was upset by fourth seed Jake Eddington of Gowanda in the semifinals.
285-pound champion Theo King, Roy-Hart: King and 96-pounder Zach Bickle won titles for the Rams. Here's King on what he hopes it means for the Niagara-Orleans League school: "I hope it can inspire more people to come out for the team next year and continue to build the tradition of the program."
That's it for now, although we may have some video later of a few matches (if I can figure out the technology).
Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.