OBSERVER Staff Report
IRVING - The Falconer Golden Falcons lived up their billing as the top team in western New York by going 10-0 over the course of the two-day Fifth Annual Dunkirk Duals wrestling tournament to earn first-place honors.
In the championship matchup, Falconer faced second-ranked Lewiston-Porter in what many expected to be a premiere matchup of the top two teams in the area. The Golden Falcons were able to earn a hard-fought victory by finishing 5-0 on the day.
OBSERVER?Photo by Craig Harvey
Dunkirk’s Nick Jones, top, wrestles with Hamburg’s James Fisk on?Saturday, during the Dunkirk Duals, which were held at the Cattaraugus Community Center, in Irving.
OBSERVER?Photo Craig Harvey
Frontier’s Rocco Russo, bottom, gets ready to wrestle Gowanda’s Lucas McKeever during the Dunkirk Duals on Saturday. Russo won his 200th career match this weekend.
The Lake Shore Eagles took home second place with a 4-1 performance Saturday while Lewiston-Porter came in third at 3-2. Jamestown finished 5-0 on the day to take first place in the consolation round.
Sixteen teams competed at the Cattaraugus Community Center on Friday and Saturday. The tournament added four more teams this year, which made it too large to continue to be hosted at Dunkirk High School where the previous four tournaments had been held.
According to Dunkirk wrestling coach Joe McMurdy, the change of venue couldn't have gone any better.
"It's absolutely gorgeous and a great place to have an event," McMurdy said of the Cattaraugus Community Center. "(The tournament) moved quickly over the course of two days and it worked out well. There were top notch teams from around the state and western New York. There was a lot of good wrestling.
"This year we added four teams to get the tournament to 16, making it the biggest tournament in western New York and one of the biggest in the state," McMurdy continued. "There was a good mix of large schools and small schools as well as some first-timers."
On top of the closely-contested team matchups, there were some notable individual performances as well. Frontier's Rocco Russo picked up his 200th career win, which is a tremendous achievement in a sport where reaching 100 wins is the mark of an excellent career.
Five other wrestlers reached the 100-win mark over the course of the tournament. Kenmore West's Mark Stuke and Paul Bavisoto each reached the milestone.
Ryan Hetrick of Southwestern also hit the century mark as well as Maple Grove's Jed Micek and Howie Nolan.
In other wrestling action, Cattaraugus-Little Valley/Pine Valley had two wrestlers take first place in the Pine Valley tournament.
Alex Kelly claimed the top spot in the 182-pound division. Teammate Caleb Wares finished second behind Kelly. In the 195-pound division, Billy Flemming took first place.
Four other CLPV wrestlers claimed second-place finishes, including Sam Grey (99), Gabe Grey (138), Randy Grey (145) and Alex Stalker (160).
Chautauqua Lake/Panama/Westfield's Damian Raynor claimed first place in the 138 pound division while fellow CLPW wrestler Alex Swan took second at 220 pounds.
After a 1-4 Friday, the Fredonia Hillbillies rebounded to go 5-0 Saturday, which included wins over Southwestern, Frewsburg, Dunkirk-Silver Creek, Salamanca and East Aurora.
"That was a lot of wrestling for two days," Hillbillies' head coach Ross Conti said. "You just want to come away from it healthy and showing improvement."
The Hillbillies beat the Trojans 42-41, the Bears 72-6, the Marauders 35-33, the Warriors 60-27 and the Blue Devils 59-17.
Dakota Gardner had the best showing after going 9-1, including five pins and four wins by technical fall. His only loss came to Lewiston-Porter's Andrew Shomers, when he lost 6-5.
"They'll probably see each other three more times," Conti said. "They'll see each other at the Lockport Tournament, the Lewiston-Porter Tournament and probably the state qualifier. And I'm assuming they will be in the same weight class in all of them. Sometimes it's better to take that loss earlier to see what the other kid is doing, because you can see what you have to do differently."
Other wrestlers with winning records for Fredonia were Ben McKelvey (106, 8-2, three pins), Jovany Ruiz (120, 7-3, four pins), Roger DeJesus (145, 6-3), Nick Gloff (6-4, two pins), Steve Mignoli (170, 8-2, pin), Jake Rinus (183, 7-3, two pins) and Jeff Plaister (152, 6-4).
"Ben was tough all through the tournament," Conti said. "One loss he had was to a high-ranked kid from Lake Shore. For a second-year wrestler, he's been winning against some tough kids."
On Friday, the Hillbillies opened the day with a 45-36 win over Hamburg, before losing 38-33 to Lake Shore, 49-26 to Jamestown, Lewiston-Porter 66-12 and Gowanda 38-29.