Mother Nature scored the biggest and only takedowns of the Section VI Dual Meet Tournament last year, resulting in some scrambling by the section in order to send its representatives to the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association Dual Meet Tournament in Syracuse.
The weather won’t catch Section VI off guard this year, as there’s plenty of leeway between this year’s Section VI Dual Meet Tournament and the state event. The section’s dual meet tournament starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at Lancaster High School.
Eight large schools and eight small schools will participate in the event, in which the Division I and Division II championship matches are slated to start at 4 p.m. The two champions advance to the state tournament Feb. 1 at SRC Arena in Syracuse.
This is the third year of the state event. Niagara Wheatfield (Division I) and Falconer (Division II) each placed fourth in last year’s meet.
With no tournament to determine Section VI’s representatives last year, the points system used for seeding determined the representatives in each bracket. Olean (large school/Division I) and Falconer (small schools/Division II) were the No. 1 seeds last year for sectionals and earned trips to state. However, the section asked and received a wild-card entry for second-seeded Niagara Wheatfield.
This year, the wrestlers decide which large- and small-schools champions get to go to state.
“Ideally, we wrestle for it and that’s all a team can ask for,” Falconer coach Drew Wilcox said. “Eight teams, may the best team win.”
The top seeds in Division I are: Lancaster (11-0), Niagara Wheatfield (9-4), Clarence (13-2), Niagara Falls (10-5), Frontier (14-7), Grand Island (8-6), Hamburg (12-2) and Williamsville North/East (6-4).
The top seeds in Division II: Falconer (19-2), Iroquois (17-2), Fredonia (18-3), Newfane 14-3, Pioneer 10-4, Lake Shore 3-4, East Aurora (n/a) and Alden/Depew (4-8).
Prep Talk AOW
Amherst wrestler Ryan Bitka and Amherst basketball player Ella Wanzer have been named the boys and girls Athletes of the Week, sponsored by Sgroi Financial, in voting done by visitors to BuffaloNews.com.
Bitka was selected as Ilio Di Paolo Most Outstanding wrestler of the inaugural Linda C. Knuutila Memorial Tournament after winning the heavyweight title by pinning Section VI champion Jaden Heers of Newfane and reaching 100 career victories during a meet at Niagara County Community College. He received 91% of the vote.
Wanzer, a junior Binghamton commit, reached the 1,000-point milestone by scoring 24 in a win against Section II’s Bethlehem at the Amsterdam Showcase. She is averaging 23.2 points for the undefeated Tigers. She received 46.5% of the vote.
Voting is conducted on BuffaloNews.com, beginning each Monday. The voting concludes Thursdays at noon. To nominate an athlete for consideration, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Orugun leads Park
Park returned to Western New York as champions of the Blue Star High School Invitational in South Carolina to play Orchard Park on Thursday.
Park defeated the Quakers 71-64, led by a double-double from center John Orgun.
Park coach Rich Jacob’s plan was to get the ball down low to Orgun and let him get to work.
Orgun finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds, nine of which came off the offensive glass.
“John is playing more aggressive than he had,” Jacob said. “Now he has to continue develop those habits of making his prescence known and he’ll continue to improve.”
Orgun stands at an intimidating 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds.
Orchard Parks tallest player is Bradley Fowler, listed at 6-6. Fowler finished with 18 points.
Park is now 10-2 with a week off until its game against St. Joe’s.