The Dunkirk wrestling program has been back for five years now and coach Joe McMurdy feels this is the year his team takes that next step in being a strong CCAA Division 1 opponent.
The Marauders showed Wednesday they are well on their way to reaching that goal as they defeated Gowanda, 46-27, for their first win over the Panthers since the program started.
"Going into this year, we had a lot more experience than we have had in the past," McMurdy said. "We have 31 kids and 27 of them are underclassmen. They are young and hard-working kids. We set out a goal. We are wresting 24 duals this year. Out of 24, we want to win 14. Fourteen or 15 wins would be incredible."
OBSERVER?Photo by Roger Coda
Dunkirk’s Hector Colom, rear, looks to make his move on Gowanda’s David Poff, during their match at 106 pounds Wednesday, during CCAA?Division 1 wrestling action at Dunkirk Senior High School.
Wednesday's win looked far from possible early on as the Panthers jumped out to a 27-3 lead, before the Marauders took the next nine matches for the victory.
With Gowanda ahead, 9-3, the Panthers' Lucas McKeever earned a pin over Tim Isles in 2:50. Teammate Cody Richter followed that up with a 4:59 pin over Phil Jones at 152 to give the visitors a 21-3 lead. Gowanda's Chris Hammond then won with an injury default for a 27-3 lead.
Then came Dunkirk's lightweight wrestlers.
"I am real comfortable with our lightweights," McMurdy said. "That's where a lot of our experience is. I knew our younger, smaller weights were going to be very successful. That's where we score our points. The bigger kids are getting better and have come a long way in four weeks. That just comes down to hard work."
"We were hoping to get a few wins in there," Gowanda coach Mark Leous said. "We have a few young kids. We are hoping to get better and better. Our goal is to improve. We have some solid starters."
Dunkirk recorded three straight pins as Kyle Perry kicked things off at 180 with a pin over Dalton Mils in 4:39. Adrien Alverado followed with a 2:45 pin over Vinny Thomson and at 220, Alex Jones pinned Gary Nephew at the 3:38 mark. Two forfeits and two decisions later, the Marauders were walking out of their home gym with a victory.
"They are really getting better," Leous said. "They really wrestled hard. They are taking the steps and getting better and better. We knew it was going to be a tough match."
Fredonia 64, Southwestern 12
The Fredonia Hillbillies walked away with an impressive 64-12 victory over Southwestern, on Wednesday.
The highlight match came at 120 pounds as Fredonia's Pat McCarthy and Southwestern's Dylan Lundmark faced off. Both were state qualifiers last season. McCarthy got the best of Lundmark with an 8-3 decision.
At 160, Fredonia's Steve Mignoli won with an 8-2 decision over Mason Hoose while at 182, Fredonia's Matt Stebbins pinned Ben Swanson at 1:19.
"Steve Mignoli and Matt Stebbins really had a solid performance," Fredonia coach Alex Conti said. "They just went out there and did exactly what they needed to do. They looked tough doing it."
At 132, Dakota Gardner pinned Michael Raynor in 1:19. Julius Woma earned a pin of his own as he downed Nick Mest in 3:16. At 170, Zach Buckley earned a pinfall over Tanner Hoose in 3:58.
Meanwhile, despite Fredonia's Steve St. George getting pinned by Ryan Hetrick at 106, Conti was pleased with St. George's performance.
"Although he was on the losing end, Ryan Hetrick is probably the premier 99-pounder in Section 6. To have Steve battle like he did, I was very pleased. He got pinned, but it was because he was trying some things to get away. Next thing you know, he got caught and flipped. He battled off his back. He did a heck of a job.
"On that same note, I was very pleased to see how hard the Southwestern guys were fighting," Conti concluded. "Mark Arnold is a former wrestler of ours, and I was real proud of the effort they gave him tonight. They were out there battling. He is doing a real nice job with the boys."