Locally Grown

Section VI Continues Success At State Level

Chautauqua Lake/Westfield/Panama’s Bryce Rowe controls his opponent during Friday action at the NYSPHSAA wrestling championships at the Times Union Center in Albany. Photo by Joe Conti

ALBANY — Independent of the results from the weekend at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division I & II individual wrestling tournament, there is one thing that can be said for sure.

If your goal is to be successful in the wrestling community, whether that be as a participant, coach, parent or administrator, there is no better place to be than in Western New York.

More than 50 grapplers qualified to represent Section VI, with black-and-orange singlets as common as any other of the sectional colors on display.

Of all the factors that have contributed to the success of wrestling programs in the Southern Tier, Randolph coach Todd Conley suggested some of the biggest keys.

“You have a lot of parental support, you have a lot of school support, and you have a lot of coaching support in the area that encourages this type of commitment,” said Conley, who was in attendance to coach Matt Evans at 132 pounds and Nick Becker at 285. “I think we have a lot of dedicated coaches and a lot of schools that are committed to the sport.

“There are a lot of student athletes in our section who are willing to put the time and the hard work in to do this and that is clearly the case here. We have great representation and, especially from the Southern Tier, there are a lot of kids who have done this since they were little and this is the end result that you hope for.”

Sharing Conley’s sentiment about the upward trend of wrestling in the area was Chautauqua Lake/Westfield/Panama coach Brad Rowe.

“I think it just shows how talented our area is in the sport of wrestling, having 52 (wrestlers), I think is the number (for Section VI),” said Rowe, who spent his weekend coaching Brendon Ramsey at 120 pounds, Bryce Rowe at 160 and Ben Szymanowski at 220. “That says a lot about the type of programs that we have in the area and the quality of wrestling that we have in our area.”

And it is not just other schools and wrestlers from around New York state that have taken notice of the coaching and wrestling talent present in the region.

Some of the best teams from Pennsylvania now schedule their seasons around tournaments in the area, such as the Patrick J. Morales tournament that is hosted annually by the Falconer/Cassadaga Valley Golden Cougars.

“We’ve just got a good tradition of solid wrestling teams really,” said Falconer/Cassadaga Valley assistant coach Dan Morales. “Drew (Wilcox) having his connections in Ohio and Pennsylvania, him coming from Pennsylvania, he’s got a lot of connections with coaches and past teammates that have teams and what not. They know the tradition of the Southern Tier is having good, solid wrestling teams so our mentality at Falconer is to go ahead and get the best matchups because it’s going to prepare all of our kids for a stage like (this weekend).”

When all was said and done, Section VI finished fifth in Division I “team scoring” with 124.5 points. Niagara Falls’ Willie McDougald won at 132 pounds. Niagara-Wheatfield’s Justin McDougald (126 pounds) took second and teammate Warren McDougald took third at 145 pounds. Lancaster’s Joe Andreessen also took third at 220 pounds.

Section VI fared even better in Division II “team scoring” with a second-place finish and 180 points. Rowe and Starpoint’s Anthony Robinson (285 pounds) won titles while Falconer/Cassadaga Valley’s Corey Keefe (195 pounds) took second. Tonawanda’s Zach Braddell (126 pounds), Alden/Akron’s Jake Sarow (170 pounds) and Southwestern’s Giuseppe Hoose (182 pounds) took third.