The Niagara-Wheatfield wrestling team continues to answer every challenge. The latest came Saturday when the Falcons captured 11 of 15 first places to win the Large School Team Championship at Cheektowaga. The win gave Niagara-Wheatfield the Section VI title for the fourth year in a row.
The Falcons beat Iroquois, West Seneca East, Niagara Falls and Cheektowaga on their way to the title. Finishing the meet with undefeated records were Ricky Schweickhard (96 pounds), Angelo Malvestuto (171), Chris Wiseman (189) and James Donner (285). Malvestuto improved his season record to 30-0. Wiseman had a big win upsetting No. 1 ranked Ken Hamilton of Niagara Falls, 8-7.
In the final match against Cheektowaga three wrestlers won their weight class by pin: Marcus Popp (96), Jason Vranic (103) and Ed Coyle (215).
"They impressed me," said coach Rick Sweney. "Our kids started off slow. Niagara Falls is a rival in the NFL, and we started running the wins up against them, and kept going through the Cheektowaga match."
The large school field included seven of the top 10 teams in Western New York. The Falcons are No. 1 in WNY and No. 21 in the state.
Cheektowaga's Clay Reeb won all four of his matches at 160 pounds giving him a school record 170 wins. The previous record of 168 had been held since 1992 by Jason Wartinger.
Jared Messina of Cheektowaga won his first match by pin to collect the 100th pin in his career.
Kyle McGregor of Tonawanda was named Most Outstanding Wrestler of the 21st Ken-Ton Tournament held at Kenmore West. MacGregor won three matches at 112 pounds to surpass 100 career wins. In the finals he decisioned Nick Lazarony of V-Batavia.
Lackawanna took the No. 1 ranked team in the state to within one point before losing to visiting Bishop-Kearney, 59-58, in a nonleaguer. The Steelers entered the fourth quarter trailing by 13 points at 54-41. They chipped away at the deficit and eventually took a couple short-lived two-point leads before missing two shots in the last 10 seconds that would have won it.
Lackawanna was missing starters Dwayne Bennett, Capone Smith and Jerrold Williams.
"Would that have made a difference? Maybe, maybe not. We still had a chance to win it and that's all you can ask," said coach Tim Foley. "We needed one more basket and didn't get it. It would have been a nice win. Hopefully, it's something to build on."
Darren Cleveland led the Steelers (11-6) with 24 points and Dondre Alexander added 12.
Elsewhere, Sweet Home was able to overcome 12 missed free throws in the fourth quarter to beat Canisius, 69-63. The Panthers were up 12 going into the fourth quarter before Canisius cut into the lead.
"We didn't close it out. We missed a lot of front ends of one-and-ones and had some foul trouble we were contending with," said coach Paul Schintzius. D.J. Nettles led Sweet Home with 24 points and Keron Briggs added 18. Sean Brady had 18 for Canisius.
East Aurora dropped in 15 three-pointers in an 80-51 win over Alden. Stan Wier (24 points) and Thad Wier combined for nine threes.
Alex Briand and John Brownschidle had two goals each as Canisius beat Niagara-Wheatfield, 6-3, in a Federation game at the Pepsi Center. Canisius led, 4-1, going into the third period, and got scoring from all three of its lines.
If the Crusaders (11-2-1) win their remaining two games against Clarence and Orchard Park, they will clinch first place in the large school division.
Defenseman Billy Gaffney scored on a slapshot from the point to give Williamsville East a 4-3 win over X-Thousand Island in the finals of the four-team Alexandria Bay Memorial Tournament. Gaffney's goal came 3:54 into the third period and was assisted by Peter Elliott. The Flames (8-10-2) landed Nick Bordonaro, James Faran and Max Fogel on the all-tournament team.
Defenseman Mike Kasprzak had two goals and two assists as Lancaster moved to 6-5-3 with a 7-2 win over Frontier.
Freshman T.J. Kaszubski scored the game-winning goal on the power play with 4:39 left in the third period as Amherst downed Sweet Home, 2-1. Alex May and David Rubach assisted on the goal.
The West Seneca East boys and the Frontier girls took home team titles at the 30th Roy Sommer Memorial at AMF Thruway Lanes. A total of 36 boys and 24 girls teams competed. Teams bowled three games each in the morning session and returned in the afternoon to bowl eight Baker games.
The East team of Nick Morrissey, Josh Broad, Brandon Simone, Derrick Geschwender and John Truslow combined for a total pinfall of 4,778 to beat runner-up North Tonawanda by a mere seven pins.
Frontier's girls won by a more comfortable margin as Shelby Harris, Chelsey Mee, Mel Willett, Amanda Klinger and Jamie Brooks rolled a 4,341, bettering Niagara Falls by 96 pins.
John Stopka of Kenmore West had the boys high game at 289. Krystal Gravelle of Niagara Falls took the honor for the girls with a 269.
Named to the boys all-tournament team were Ted Chojecki (St. Francis), Mike Grannis (Lew-Port), Cory Barber (West Irondequoit), Alex DiGenaro (Liverpool 695) and Jamison Neglia (Lockport) 695.
Making the girls team were: Megan Aurelio (Lancaster), Gravelle (Niagara Falls), Tara Noworyta (Frontier), Chelsie Larson (North Tonawanda), Willett (Frontier), Tricia Kent (Williamsville South).