By CRAIG HARVEY
OBSERVER Sports Editor
EDEN – After a one-year absence from the top spot in Section 6 Class C, the Fredonia Hillbillies used a complete team effort Saturday to reclaim the Section 6 team championship as they sent six wrestlers into the finals and received solid contributions from unlikely heroes.
Fredonia dominated the tournament with 236.5 points. Second place went to host Eden at 154.5, followed by Akron 153, Southwestern 137, Tonawanda 115, Roy-Hart 112, Cattaraugus-Little Valley-Pine Valley 107, Newfane 106.5, Gowanda 105 and Lackawanna 100. In 11th place was Medina with 90.5 points and Wilson finished last at 54.
“Obviously to do that, and have that kind of score in this tournament with very good teams, for us to do what we did, missing some people for one reason or another, to do it with a few JV guys in the lineup, we did great,” Fredonia assistant coach Ross Conti said. “It shows the kind of team we have. We are missing some key people and the young guys stepped up. The studs did the pinning they were supposed to and we are real pleased with this weekend.”
In all, 11 wrestlers from Chautauqua County, including CLV-PV, made the championship matches and eight walked away champions.
Fredonia’s Dakota Gardner put up a stellar performance Saturday at 126-pounds as his first two matches lasted a combined 48 seconds. After a 3:48 pin in the semifinals, he defeated Majed Mohamed, 2-1 to capture the title.
Gardner earned a takedown in the opening period and made the two points stand.
“That weight class was pretty tough,” Conti noted. “There are three guys who have been to states including Mohamed. That class was pretty good at the top. He had his hands full in the finals. That was quality wrestling on both guys’ parts.”
Teammate Tyler Cassidy followed that up with a 2-0 victory over Cody McGregor of Tonawanda.
Like Gardner, Cassidy also had an impressive first two matches as they lasted a combined 84 seconds. In the semifinals, he earned his 150th career win 1:22 pin over teammate Julius Woma.
“He has really stepped up,” Conti said. “Cassidy is establishing himself as the guy to beat in the weight class. There is a kid from Cheektowaga who has destroyed everyone and is heavily favored to win states. We want to make sure we get to the finals next weekend at the state qualifier with that guy and we will give it our best shot.”
Fredonia’s Nick Nocek took first place at 182 as he defeated Akron’s Joey Sarow, 14-9.
With a 7-4 lead after the first period, Nocek led 9-6 after two periods. In the final frame, Sarow earned three points.
“Nocek wrestled two extremely good periods and then went into coast mode in the third,” Conti noted. “He could have done more, but wrestled a good tournament. He was clearly the No. 1 guy and did what he had to do to win.”
At 170, Zach Buckley wrestled three matches to claim his No. 1 spot. Buckley had a fine day as he won his first match with a 41 second pin over Wilson’s Joe Stimm. In the next round, Buckley earned a 3:16 pin over teammate Steve Mignoli. In the finals, Buckley dominated Eden’s Ryan Vondell, 16-3.
“Zach Buckley does what Zach Buckley does,” Conti said. “He dominates and is non-stop action. He is fun to watch. As long as he keeps moving, he is very, very difficult to beat. He could win three different weight classes when he wrestles the way he can. The only one who can get in his way is himself. He has just been phenomenal this year.”
Unfortunately for Fredonia, Jude Gardner and Christian Saden were on the losing end of their respective championship match.
Jude Gardner lost at 145, 1-0, to Drew Hull of Roy-Hart.
Hull is an All-American wrestler and is attending the University of Virginia next year to continue his wrestling career.
“Jude wrestled a really good match,” Conti said. “He initiated the action. It was such a different match against him the last time which was not good. In that match, he let Hull dictate everything. He was tentative. I think he was overly nervous. This match, he came out the aggressor and almost had a couple takedowns. He kind of controlled the match. This is the point, if you’re going to lose, this is the week to lose close. He wrestled well. If he wrestles like that, he can beat that kid.”
Saden’s loss was his first of the year, as he fell to Steven Warthling, 9-6.
“Christian paused, looked at his coaches and stopped wrestling,” Conti said. “That’s something he hasn’t done in a couple years. He used to do that a lot when he was younger. He just has to wrestle the way he can. He has to initiate the action and he has to be more active on his feet.”
For Southwestern, the Trojans notched two, first-place finishes.
Conti noted the contributions the Hillbillies got from jayvee callups Ben McKelvey and Jesse Walker.
“Ben McKelvey was a fill-in and he did great,” he said. “He is a jayvee guy and has done an amazing job. Same thing at the other end with Jesse. He qualifies with a fourth-place finish. It was just a great job.”
At 99, Southwestern’s Ryan Hetrick won all three of his matches, including a 4-0 decision over Sawyer Overhoff of Eden.
“I thought he did a nice job,” Southwestern assistant coach Jon Lundmark said. “He dominated the match. The key is we didn’t want him to get frustrated. His opponent wasn’t doing a whole lot. I thought he did well. Hopefully build off that for next week. He’s definitely got some work to do, but we look forward to seeing what he can do next week and hopefully get a berth into the state tourney.”
Teammate Brian Westerdahl also took first place at 138.
Westerdahl was the No. 1 seed in the tournament in his weight class and knocked off No. 2 seed Nate Martin of Newfane, 3-2.
“Westerdahl looks good,” Lundmark said. “This tourney for him was big. He will get a higher seed next week now. There are a lot of kids in that weight class that are even. He will have to bring his ‘A’ game. He is in the position where we want him to be.”
Westerdahl sealed the victory with a takedown in the third period and held off a late comeback from Martin.
“The takedown midway though the third was huge,” Lundmark said. “That was definitely the difference in the match.”
Meanwhile, the Trojans’ Dylan Lundmark lost to Abdul-Fatah-Alshawai, 4-1, in the championship match to finish second.
“I thought he wrestled a good tourney,” Lundmark said. “He ran into a tough kid in the finals. We will go back to the drawing board and hope to come out on top next week. There is a high possibility we will see Fatah-Alshawai next week. There are some high quality kids next week.”
Overall, coach Lundmark was happy with his team’s performance.
“We wrestled surprisingly well,” he added. “We knew we had our top three who would place. But Tanner Hoose at 182 moved up and wrestled well. He took third place. Joey Lindberg wrestled extremely well. He took fourth and Howie Boutelle, at 195, took third. We are happy about that.”
Gowanda’s Jon Flynn took first place with a rare and impressive pin in the championship match of the 113-pound division.
Flynn’s run to first place began in the opening match as he was able to knock off top seed Matt Fiebelkorn, 9-6. In the next round, Flynn downed Wilson’s Jon Shaffer, 14-4. And in the finals, Flynn earned a 1:08 pin over No. 3 seed Ethan Pequeen of Akron.
“He was awesome,” Gowanda coach Mark Leous said. “He had a great day of wrestling. He put (Pequeen) in that cradle and locked him up. It was beautiful. I was hoping he would place, but after he beat the No. 1 guy in the first round, I thought there was a chance. He is a great kid and a hard worker.”
Finally, CLV-PV’s Matt Booth took first place with a 1:12 pin over Josh Seib of Newfane at 195.
With low numbers in the weight class, Booth wrestled just two matches – a semifinal match and a championship match.
“I was hoping for three matches instead of two, but there were only seven guys in the weight class,” CLV-PV coach Rex Brown said. “We wanted him to have another match just to make sure his record is enough and to give him enough points to make it to states. It has to be aggravating, but that’s the way it goes. His first match was around 2 p.m, and he got on the bus at 6 a.m.
“Five kids are going next week,” Brown noted. “Logan Martin at 126 took fourth. This is the fourth out of five years he has qualified. Gabe Gray at 132 is going. I think he is peaking at the right time. Billy Flemming placed third at 152. He did well for being only a second-year wrestler. He was seeded third coming in. He proved that was a worthy seed. He has knocked off some people before and wrestles to the lower ability kids. He maintained his higher level of ability today. Alex Kelly took third at 160. He wrestled a lot better in that last match. I am happy for those kids.”
In the Class A meet held at Starpoint on Saturday, Dunkirk-Silver Creek’s Hector Colom (99 pounds) and Tito Colom (106) both came away with titles, as the duo helped their team to a third-place finish.
Hector Colom beat Iroquois’ Tristan Almeter, 7-0, in the finals at 99 while Tito Colom defeated Hamburg’s Jacob Smeader, 15-3.
Dunkirk-Silver Creek finished with 148 points, behind winner Lake Shore (214.5) and Iroquois (203).
The Eagles’ Freddie Eckles (120) was named Most Outstanding Wrestler after Iroquois’ Austin Acquard, 11-3.
Meanwhile, Lake Shore’s Luke Catalano was the winner at 285. Catalano pinned Kenmore East’s Aaron Barraclough in 3:07. Dunkirk-Silver Creek’s Teddy Griewisch took third at 126 after defeating Lake Shore’s Michael Hontz, 9-0.