Lancaster may not have beaten Niagara-Wheatfield in a head-to-head dual last month but that's OK. The Redskins' depth proved to be too much for the Falcons to handle where it mattered most -- in the Class AAAA wrestling tournament.
Lancaster won the team title Saturday night, amassing 239.5 points to edge Niagara-Wheatfield's second-place total of 224 at Williamsville North. The Redskins only had three champions, but will send 11 wrestlers to this Friday's Section VI Large Schools State Qualifying meet at Niagara County Community College.
Eighth grader Tim Schaefer won his second straight class title, capturing the 103-pound title by beating Lockport's Ivan Cruz, 3-2. Schaefer won the 96-pound title last year. Also winning titles for the Redskins were eighth grader Eric Lewandowski (96) and senior Clint Schaefer at 145. Schaefer won the 130-pound title last year.
The tweaking of the format, enabling schools to have multiple wrestlers in a class, produced a Lancaster vs. Lancaster final at 96 as Lewandowski defeated classmate Steven Michel, 3-0.
Niagara-Wheatfield crowned four champs and will send seven to the state qualifier, while Niagara Falls will send six as the Wolverines had three champions, highlighted by Irvin Buck's triumph at 140 pounds, as the sophomore defeated defending Section VI champion Nate Skiba of Kenmore West, 10-8.
The faces are starting to change at Cheektowaga but a few familiar ones made sure the Warriors defended their team championship. Jared Messina (130), Mike Kiripolski (152) and Clay Reeb (160) each won titles in carrying Cheektowaga to its third straight championship.
Messina wrestled up a class even though he's ranked No. 1 in the area at 125 because he figured it'd be smarter to be heavier with energy instead of sapping some strength while trying to make weight at 125. The decision proved to be a wise one as Messina improved to 35-1 in winning his fifth Class AAA title.
Kiripolski and Reeb also are past Section VI champions as Cheektowaga won the team title with a crew that featured eight first-year varsity wrestlers. The Warriors edged rival and ECIC II champion Williamsville East, 189-180. Cheektowaga will send six wrestlers to sectionals.
Kenny Betts isn't the prettiest wrestler out there but that's OK. The best way to look good on the mat is to win, and Western New York's all-time leader in wins did just that. Betts was one of three champions for Fredonia, which won its fourth straight Class AA team title.
Betts (262-33 career record) won his fifth straight class title in dramatic triple overtime fashion as the senior scored via escape and takedown in the final 30 seconds to earn a 5-2 win over Southwestern's John Mistretta. Betts trailed 2-1 after the first but tied his match with a quick escape to start the second.
Eden freshman Tom Page earned MOW honors after winning the 96-pound title by beating defending Section VI champ Carlene Sluberski of Fredonia, 3-1.