The Lancaster wrestling team has won 26 straight meets, gone undefeated in two straight seasons and won four straight ECIC I championships.
But listen to this:
"We've tried to raise our sights," Redskins coach Dennis Beck said. "This year we're after some bigger targets."
Lancaster's new aim is to expand its already excellent resume with some tournament victories outside Section VI.
"We're trying to get out there with the big boys, get out there with the top competition," said Beck, who said his Redskins have their "eyes set" on making their mark at prestigious meets like the Spencerport Tournament (Dec. 28-29) and the Bradshaw Tournament in Canandaigua (Jan. 7-8). They're also the defending champions of local meets at Williamsville South and Sweet Home.
Lancaster's returning wrestlers include brothers Mike (130 pounds) and Brian (135) Sebaaly, who both went to the state tournament last year, as well as several wrestlers who placed at the sectional meet last year: sophomore Derek Ostrowski (140), senior Chris Colvin (145), junior Nick Kwiatek (152) and junior Joe Kuenzi (160).
"Those are my big guns," said Beck, who is in his 24th year as Lancaster's coach. "They can get after it with just about anybody."
The Redskins are also strong with eighth-grader Brandon Monin (103) and seniors Chris Terranova (125) and Kyle Haniszewski (171).
Lancaster's first outing this year resulted in a second-place finish to Section V power and host Attica in a 21-team tournament two weekends ago. The Redskins may not have won, but they certainly impressed onlookers.
"They were nip and tuck with Attica the whole time," said Newfane assistant coach Doug Ames, a member of the Section VI wrestling committee. "(Beck) has some awesome wrestlers. You name it, he's got it. If they avoid injuries, good things can happen for them this season."
Niagara Frontier League
Bill Morello of Lockport continues his pursuit of an elusive state championship as he racks up the individual honors. The senior lost by one point in the state semifinals last year at 135 after losing by a point in the 125-pound state final as a sophomore. Morello, ranked sixth in the nation at 135 pounds by the Amateur Wrestling News, became the all-time Lockport victory leader last week, surpassing Josh States' mark of 171, set in 1997. Morello now has won 175 bouts. . . . Four first-team all-leaguers graduated from a Niagara-Wheatfield team that finished atop the WNY coaches' large-school poll for the second straight season, but three return: senior Joel Printup, freshman Joshua Lange and junior Chris Schilling. . . . Dave Hockenberry is back at Lew-Port after winning the sectional title at 103.
Lancaster already administered a 63-9 dual-meet thumping to last year's second-place finisher, West Seneca West. The Indians return reliable Joe Tobin, a sectional finalist at 119 last year. . . . Chad DeJesus, a Class AAAA winner at 103 last year, is among a tough bunch at Jamestown. . . . Heavyweight Luke Goebel is back for Hamburg. . . . Orchard Park enters its 50th year of wrestling.
Defending champion Sweet Home -- the only team over .500 last season at 10-2 -- returns Brian Tatar, a sectional finalist at 171 and the son of coach Ron Tatar. . . . All-WNY football player Tim Hammer is back for a surging Clarence team, while gymnastics champion Steve Joyce returns along with Jeff Reinhart for Williamsville East. . . . Chris Purtell of Pioneer took silver in both the freestyle and Greco-Roman competitions at 192 during this past summer's Empire State Games.
Dan Faden of Amherst impressed by making it to the 103 finals at the Attica Tournament. . . . Defending champ Iroquois has lost a lot from last year's 12-0 team, but a crew including defending Class AAA 215-pound champ Matt Keem helped the Chiefs take fifth at Attica. . . . Keem fell to Tonawanda force J.R. Balling, another All-WNY football player, in the Attica finals at 215.
Both Cheektowaga and Eden lost a trio of senior leaders. The Warriors (7-5) and Raiders (6-5-1) finished 1-2 last year in a gritty division in which they were the only two teams with winning records. . . . Bill Funk of Holland, a sectional finalist at 103 last year, took fifth in the 115-pound Greco-Roman class at Empire Games.
Ryan Needle of Newfane was named the best freshman in the state by Wrestling U.S.A. magazine. Needle went 78-7 last year on his way to the state title at 96 pounds. A growth spurt has him at 119 this season, where he might not get the 36 pins he had a year ago but he's sure to challenge for a return trip to Syracuse for the state finals. A captain this year, Needle is joined by senior middleweights Brian Wise and Bill Jones and heavyweight Lee Drake. . . . Another returning Section VI champ is junior Dan Uderitz of Albion, who took the 112 title. Also back is Pat Fitzsimmons, a sectional finalist at 125. . . . An expected three-way league battle will include Medina, which features lightweight J.R. Roberts and middleweight J.J. Bujowski.
Msgr. Martin Assn.
Jack Turner, Ben Willis and Cole Bennett are senior stalwarts for defending champion Canisius. . . . Junior Mike Smith, the defending champ at 119, is back for St. Joe's. . . . St. Francis lost a quartet of All-Catholic champs but has junior 135 champion Brandon Booker back.
Southern Tier I
Sophomore lightweight twins John (119) and Justin Perry (125) are among a solid returning bunch for defending champion Fredonia. Also back are juniors Josh Seward (103) and Ryan Yerico (130) as well as sophomore Caleb Carnrite (152). . . . Vic Arena of Salamanca, the defending sectional champion at 125, was among Wrestling U.S.A. magazine's "Best High School Juniors." . . . Southwestern's graduating class included five 100-win wrestlers, including three who went to states. But feisty lightweights D.J. Greco and Kyle West are back. . . . Falconer returns middleweights Mike Thompson and Austin Faulkener and have coach Steve Penhollow's son Brad manning the 112 spot as an eighth-grader. . . . Allegany-Limestone could challenge with many returnees, including football star Robert Truman and Josh Crisafulli.
Southern Tier II
Perhaps the best in the section is defending state champion at 171 and three-time sectional champ Bill Prince of Frewsburg, who is ranked sixth in the nation at 171 by the Amateur Wrestling News and seventh by W.I.N. magazine. Prince, who started the season with a dominating performance in winning the Webster Warrior Invitational, leads the strongest trio in the Southern Tier with fellow seniors and Pat Dove (130) and Dave Walker (140). . . . Defending champion Cassadaga Valley welcomes back freshman Kevin Rosplock (112), who won more than 20 matches last year, and solid senior heavyweights Jeff Kelley (160), Tim LeRow (215) and Jason Beichner (171), the nephew of UB head coach and former Cougar Jim Beichner. . . . Perennially small but strong Ripley (enrollment: 93) has coach Marty Rowe's sons Aaron (140) -- who reached the 100-win mark at the Webster Tournament -- and Adam (189). . . . Franklinville will compete as an independent this season due to construction at its gym.