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Wrestling preview: Lancaster’s Mastrangelo bears a heavy burden

Mason Mastrangelo has been a lightweight by super heavyweight standards throughout his career at Lancaster. The third-year wrestler is planning to get away from his comfort zone this weekend.

Mastrangelo is a 230-pound junior who has opened the season with a nearly perfect record in the 285-pound weight class. Facing wrestlers usually 30 to 40 pounds heavier than him, Mastrangelo has posted a 17-1 record with his only loss coming last week in the championship bout of the prestigious Spencerport Tournament to the state’s second-ranked wrestler at 285.

Mastrangelo won nine of his first 10 matches via pinfall but will experiment at another top tournament, the Niagara Frontier Officials Tournament at Niagara County Community College, by dropping down to 220 for the first time in his scholastic career. The tournament begins Friday and runs all day Saturday and attracts top teams from within and outside Western New York.

The reason? To see which weight class gives him a better chance at making a run at a Section VI championship next month.

“We just want to try it out,” said Legends coach Ron Lorenz. “He’s succeeding as an undersized 285 pounder and he’s so close to 220. We’re going to go to what we think is the best tournament in our area and see how he feels versus wrestling kids who aren’t 260 or 270.”

Mastrangelo is currently ranked among the honorable mention at 285 by the Wrestling Review of Western New York website. He has had success at 285, as last year he lost in the Section VI final to Starpoint’s Rich Duermeyer.

There are tough kids in either weight class, Lorenz notes, but Mastrangelo could be on the path toward more success regardless of weight because the coach said he has become more mature as an athlete.

“Mason is a little more serious about making this his primary sport,” Lorenz said. “He’s just committed to winning both mentally and physically. He does everything we ask him inside the room and outside the room with diet and getting extra workouts in.”

So far, Mastrangelo has helped Lancaster get off to a 8-0 start in dual meets, including a 4-0 mark in the ever competitive ECIC I.

Legends to watch: Lancaster senior Tommy Michel, who has a chance at reaching 150 career wins, enters his sixth season looking to capture that elusive Section VI title. He placed second last year at 106. He is ranked third in his weight class in the area but doesn’t have to look too far to find a fellow contender. Heck, all he has to do is look over his shoulder as sophomore and fellow 106-pounder Parker Rozler has started emerging from Michel’s shadow. Rozler, who is ranked among the honorable mentions, took third last week at the Spencerport Tournament and is a past Section VI Tournament qualifier.

“He’s wrestling really, really good right now,” Lorenz said.

Another Legend to keep an eye on is fourth-year man and 160-pound sophomore Joe Andreessen, who took third in his weight class at Spencerport, losing a close one to the eventual tournament champion in the semifinals. He too has sectional tournament experience.

Are Lions king of WNY? Wrestling Review of Western New York has No. 2 Lockport ranked behind league rival Niagara-Wheatfield in its poll, but the state rankings have the Lions ranked 12th – tops among area teams with N-W 14th.

Who to believe? The teams meet Jan. 27 at Lockport to settle the debate on the mat.

Lockport, the three-time defending Niagara Frontier League champions is off to a 3-0 start in the league, 9-0 overall. One of the nonleague wins serves as feather not only in the Lions’ cap but in Section VI’s as well. Lockport beat Section V’s top-ranked team, Hilton, 33-29, in an exciting dual just before Christmas. The Lions won two of the final three matches to pull out that win against a Hilton team with a lineup that includes two defending state champions and two others with state experience.

“We’re really hanging our hat on that win,” said Lockport coach Joe Scapelliti, whose club also won the Jon Vesper Duals at Clarence. “That’s a big win for our program and the whole section. … We’re really proud of that accomplishment.”

Another feat? The Lions placed fifth, highest among Western New York entrants, last week at the Spencerport Tournament.

Steven Kapuscinski, who took fourth at 132 last year at sectionals, returns and moves up to 152. He and 160-pounder Jeremy Regis earned the wins that helped Lockport stun Hilton.

“He’s one of the kids who make us tough to beat,” said Scapelliti, whose Lions won just two league titles prior to its current run of success. “He’s just solid. He’s going to win a lot more matches than he loses.”

Lockport does have a couple pillars in its lineup. Mitch Seaver took third at states last year and the junior is 18-0 in a higher weight class (106) this season. Senior Robert Jones is the top-ranked 195-pounder in the area, while junior Dontay Gill, a 113-pounder, has done well in building off last year’s third-place showing at sectionals.

Scapelliti on the team’s title reign in the NFL: “This is an unprecedented streak for us. To put three years in row like that is a big deal. It’s more than we’ve ever done before in school history.”

Niagara-Wheatfield historically has fielded strong teams and this year is no different with the McDougald brothers, Warren and Justin, leading the charge. Warren, a freshman, won the Section VI title at 106 last year, while eighth-grader Justin is ranked first at 99 pounds. Senior co-captains Vinny Falvo (126) and Matt Cicco (170) are also ranked first in their weight classes in the area.

Around ECIC: With Clarence and West Seneca West also unbeaten in ECIC I, the next four weeks should be the most interesting of the regular season, according to Red Devils coach Jason Chase.

Chase’s club took second in the Vesper Duals and Tonawanda Duals and has been sparked by first-year 99-pounder Aiden Rabibeau. The eighth-grader won his first 25 matches to start the season. Two veterans who hope to contend for sectional titles include past-champion senior Dylan Arena and junior Sean Kloss. Arena has been plagued by injuries since winning the 99-pound title two years ago but is off to a 6-1 start. Kloss, a 220-pounder, is 20-1 with his lone loss coming in Spencerport.

• Cheektowaga junior Eric Bartnik, who led the football team to the state semifinals last fall, became the fifth wrestler in program history to notch 100 career wins.

• Starpoint is young with just one senior and two juniors but that hasn’t stopped the Spartans from sprinting out of the gate with a 5-0 mark in ECIC II. One of the newcomers on Starpoint to keep an eye on is 220-pounder Anthony Robinson, who has wrestled only for six weeks but has already made an impact, according to coach Steve Hart. Others looking to build on solid 2014-15 seasons include junior Brian Ghiandoni (138), senior Fred Armagost (160) and Lucas Stover (152).

• Williamsville East is losing the numbers game as it only has a five-man squad, but one of the members, reigning Class A champion Brian Morreale as the 182-pounder, is off to a 14-1 start.

• Dan Bishop takes over Tonawanda and said the transition to head coach has been made easier by Tonawanda alum and fourth-year Warriors assistant Jordan McGregor. Bishop, 29, is from the Lake George area but served as an assistant at Iroquois (2014-15) and West Seneca East (2012-14) prior to earning the top job.

The Warriors top wrestlers include 99-pound senior Sam Sparicino (17-1) and Zach Braddell at 106. Braddell qualified for states at 99 pounds last year as an eighth-grader.

Catholic report: Defending Division II state champion St. Francis seemingly has the talent to make another run at a title with last year’s state Catholic 113-pound champion Tito Colom back in the fold. He’s moved up to 120, where he’s ranked first in WNY with a 19-1 record. He’s three wins shy of 150 for his career.

His brother Hector is off to a 20-0 start at 132, ranked second in the area and earned most outstanding wrestler at the Flo XCalibur Championship at Wyoming Seminary.

St. Francis has 10 wrestlers who could contend for All-Catholic titles, including Dominik Thomas (126), Jake Duggan (170) and Tom Arcuri (195).

St. Joe’s, which won the All-Catholic Tournament team title after finishing behind Frannies for the regular-season crown, returns junior Freddie Nixon at 220. He took third at state Catholic meet and recently took third at the Spencerport Tournament. Teammate Abraham Baker is off to an 11-1 start at 195.

Will Story (138) of St. Mary’s, Carson Wildrick (145) of Gow and TJ Glascott (182) of Canisius also are expected to be in the title hunt come tournament time.

Around WNY: Falconer 182-pounder Jake Peru not only is off to a 20-0 start and ranked second in his weight class, but he’s one win away from 150 for his career and three pins shy of 100. He’s not the only high-flying Falcon in the nest as sophomore teammate Dylan Ingrao, also 20-0 at 145, just won his 100th career match. No. 2-ranked 138-pounder Cameron Page is 10 wins shy of 100.

• Fredonia senior Dakota Gardner has won 236 career matches with just 27 losses. At states he has placed second twice, fourth and sixth.

•Barker/Roy-Hart 160-pounder Cameron Swick earned most outstanding wrestler at the Orchard Park and Akron tournaments.

2015 underclassmen state tournament place finishers: Division I – 99: 3. Mitch Seaver-10 (Lockport), 120: 6. Anthony Argentieri-11 (Kenmore West) 2-0. Division II – 106: 6. AJ Putt-10 (Maple Grove) 1-0; 126: 1. Kellen Devlin-11 (Amherst), 6. Brad Bihler-11 (Maple Grove); 152: 4. Dakota Gardner-11 (Fredonia); 195: 6. Mason Hoose-10 (Southwestern); 285: 4. Nick Jones-10 (Dunkirk).

2015 underclassmen Section VI tournament champions: Division I – 99: Seaver; 106: Warren McDougald-8 (Niagara-Wheatfield); 120: Argentieri; 126: Connor Day-10 (Iroquois); 132: Freddie Eckles-11 (Lake Shore); 138: Tristan Almeter-11 (Iroquois); 152: Dakota Gardner-11 (Fredonia); 195: Mason Hoose-10 (Southwesern).

Key dates: Clarence at Lancaster in the annual Border Brawl, 6 p.m. Jan. 20; ECIC Championships at TBA, Jan 22-23; Pete Rao Memorial Tournament at Lew-Port, Jan. 30; Niagara-Orleans League Meet, Jan. 30; Class Championships at various sites, Feb. 6; All-Catholic Tournament at TBA, Feb. 6; Section VI Division I state qualifier at Lake Shore, Feb. 13; Section VI Division II state qualifier at TBA, Feb. 13; State Catholic High School Athletic Association Championships at TBA, Feb. 13; State Tournament, Feb., 26-27 at Times Union Center in Albany.

email: mrodriguez@buffnews.com