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Monday morning point guard

It was an eventful past couple of days in high school sports. In case you missed it:

Canisius beat St. Joe's in basketball on Sunday afternoon. Check out a post previewing the game (including a poll in which 56.3 percent of 160 voters correctly backed Canisius), review my live blog from courtside and check out some perspectives on what is the final basketball season for Canisius' auditorium.

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Not a bad week for Canisius -- All-WNY football first-teamer John Urschel committed to Penn State, where Nittany Lions watchers are already talking about him.

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Lancaster wrestling had a busy week, which it capped off with the ECIC championship. Lockport posted a nice comeback win over St. Joe's.

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A busy Friday night had plenty of boys hoops and girls hoops covered in the paper while there was plenty more on the blog. Check out posts about big wins for Olean and Maryvale as well as plenty of other boys and girls hoops action.

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Riverside beat North Tonawanda in a nice nonleague boys hoops game Saturday. 

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In Tuesday's paper, the Scholastic Spotlight focuses on indoor track.

---Keith McShea

Lockport wrestling pins down comeback win

Lockport wrestling coach Joe Scapelliti knew his team would need two wins and a pin in its last two matches to beat St. Joe's.

And that's just what Sal Pagan and C.J. Ralyea did.

Pagan won with a pin with 40 seconds left in his 152-pounds bout and Ralyea, a junior, won a 5-2 decision at 160 to lift the Lions to a 28-27 victory over the Marauders.

"We were down eight in the last two weight classes, and they came through huge for us," said Scapelliti. "I thought we could do it … the big thing was the fall. That was the question mark … could we get the pin when we needed it. Sal was on his back, fought his way off of his back and finish off his opponent in the third period."

The Lions (5-2) got a boost from senior Ryan Tinkham's win at 140. "He got hurt during his match and was down 4-2. He rolled an ankle and he just battled through the whole way and pulled out a 9-6 decision. The momentum swung our way, our kids seized it and did a great job."

---Keith McShea

More on the 08-09 wrestling season

We've only got so much space in the paper, but we've got plenty of room out here in cyberspace. Here are some details about a sampling of Western New York wrestling programs.

Thanks to those coaches who took the time to respond to a mass email I sent out. A lot of the information below was culled from those emails.

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In addition to Matt Johnson and Irv Buck, Niagara Falls also boasts Kenny Hamiton at 189, where "if Angelo [Malvestuto] goes to 171, he has as good a shot as anyone," said Falls coach Israel Martinez.

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Some more Lancaster names we should be hearing all the way through sectionals are: Bill Ellis (140), Keith Stoerr (160), Justin Michel (125) and Adam Bertucci (171) as well as Bryan Hauser (145), Chris Giza (135), Dan Kubiak (189) and Sean Woods (152-160).

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Eden graduated six seniors from its ECIC III title team but returns sectional place-winners Ross Abram (119) and Eddie Sarcione (145). Other Raiders to watch include: Tom Page (96), Alex Smythe (103), Jeremy Lilga (125) and Derek Zittel (140).

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Frontier and third-year coach Dan Uhteg, a Clarence, NCCC and Ithaca College grad, had a big win over Hamburg (54-16) last week.

The Falcons returner is 100-win man Donny Heppner at 130 although he may drop to 125.  The young, underclassmen-dominated squad includes sophomore Collin Gleason (103), junior Marc Stanton (135), sophomore Mitchell Jamieson (140) and brothers Nick (145-pound sophomore) and Greg Bannister (152-pound junior). 

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Depew sophomore Ryan Baer, who was a Class AA runner-up last year, will build on his 87 career wins once he returns from a football injury in January. Coach C.J. Barth, a 2000 grad of Depew, is in his second year of coaching after taking over for his coach, Greg Witman. His team captains are three of his six seniors: Brad Barth (160), Steve Garbutt (171) and Andrew Jaskowiak (189).

Jan. 30-31 is a big weeked for the Wildcats as they host major meets on back-to-back nights. Depew hosts Springville at 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 30 in the program's alumni/senior night. The following day is the Wildcat Wrestling Invitiation, which includes programs from Section V.

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Sweet Home has a strong junior class, including Daiquann Burney (fourth at 103 in Division I last year) as well as captains Zach Fumerelle and Gage Bateman, both of whom started 9-0. Henry Fumerelle, who coached the last eight years at Williamsville East, has joined coach Jeffrey Hess as an assistant.

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At Williamsville South, former Canisius and Wilson coach Chris Heximer is in his first season and he's been pleased by increased roster numbers (27 wrestlers) and two sophomores in particular: Luke Falzone (125) started notched his 50th win during a 9-0 start while Spencer Biondo is also 9-0 after not letting any of his matches go beyond the first period. Eighth-grader Anthony Liberatore (130) is getting valuable experience while sophomore Curtis Byers has made some nice contributions at 189 and 215.

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Williamsville North might be able to crack the top 10 after doing well against Clarence and beating Niagara Falls.

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Lockport's top returning lettermen include junior Ivan Cruz (103), freshman Mike Feeney (130) and senior Chris Fuerschbach (145), all of whom qualified for last years sectional championships. The Lions impact newcomers include juniors C.J. Ralyea (160) and Zach Nuhn (171).

The Lions host the annual Lockport Wrestling Boosters/Sunrise Optimist Club Tournament on Jan. 16-17. The tournament features 23 teams, including some from Section V and the Monsignor Martin Association. This year's tournament will feature over 25 wrestlers who placed in the top four in last year's Section VI, Section V or state championships.

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A balanced St. Joe's squad not only includes Mark Emerson but senior Paul Incorvaia at 145 (sixth at Catholic states), junior Tyler Beresford at 189 (sixth at Catholic states and off to a 9-2 start) and senior R.J. Harper (last year's state Catholic runnerup at 215).

Fifth-year head coach Pete Kennedy has started a youth program for boys attending first grade through eighth grade in an effort to bolster its program.

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Canisius had back-to-back wins over Akron and Wilson last week -- freshman Andrew Berg's second-period pin gave the Crusaders a 39-36 win over Wilson. Coach Scott Gruenauer's top returner is Justin Ranallo, who was second at the Catholic states last year.

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Former Sweet Home coach Ron Tatar is at Gow as an assistant.

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Ripley's little team that always can includes top returners Logan Miller (96), Emory Rowe (119), Justin Hunt (130), Sajen Hunt (160 -- he needs nine wins to reach 100) and Ron Swan (171). The new faces who could make an impact are Dylan Mueller (112), Markus Meredith (125) and Dylan Enterline (285).

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Top returning wrestlers for Pine Valley are junior Kyle Reynolds (119), who placed third in the Section VI Division II Tournament at that class, and sophomore Kristopher Schimek (145), who was fourth in Class A at 125.

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I think it's a great move by Section VI to make it a championship weekend by splitting up its large- and small-school tournaments up, and to host them both at Niagara County Community College.

Having everyone in the same venue for the weekend makes it simple to promote and I would think wrestling fans would enjoy being able to watch more wrestling -- a four-ring circus is a lot easier to keep track of than an eight-ring, two-tournament situation.

From a selfish perspective, it certainly helps the media as well. One place, one day to spotlight each group of wrestlers. That works both ways, though -- it's better for us, but the coverage will be better for wrestling (it'll basically be doubled). That weekend I would think that we at The News would have a story and photos from NCCC on both days.

Contrast that to the past few years, where, like fans, the media was in a position where it was trying to digest two meets, a total of 30 champions, at one site, in one night. Not the easiest thing in the world to keep track of, and with only so much space (or on-air time) allowed, all those champions didn't really get the kind of coverage they deserved. 

The large school tournament is being held Friday because only one team will have to travel a major distance on a school day, and that's Jamestown -- no stranger to road trips as a member of ECIC I. On Saturday, many small schools will travel a ways from the Southern Tier, but NCCC is a WNY treasure of a wrestling school and venue which local wrestlers and fans should be interested to visit.

NCCC coach Eric Knuutila recently won his 356th dual meet of his 36-plus-year career, tying him for 15th on the all-time collegiate win list and moving him past 15-time NCAA champion Dan Gable of Iowa. Knuutila started the wrestling program at NCCC in 1973 and has produced 13 regional titles and four national champions.

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Just a reminder that we have the season schedule of tournaments posted on the high school home page high school home page.

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Any blog on wrestling would be incomplete without a mention of armdrag.com, matburn.com, nywrestling.com and newyorkwrestlingonline. Also, the state sportswriters have their first team rankings out. Feel free to add your favorite site below. 

---Keith McShea

Wrestling tournament schedule posted

We've posted the 2008-09 wrestling tournament schedule -- which includes participating teams -- at our high school home page.

Thanks to the outstanding Linda Knuutila of the Wrestling Review of Western New York for supplying it.

I'm working on a wrestling story for our upcoming Scholastic Spotlight on Tuesday. What are the top tournaments you're looking forward to this season, and what has impressed you so far during the early going?

---Keith McShea

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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

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.

@KeithMcSheaBN | [email protected]

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