FALCONER - The Falconer Golden Falcons have been wrestling a lot over the past two days. At the same time, they've been doing quite a bit of teaching.
The main lesson?
That the Patrick J. Morales Memorial Wrestling Tournament, now in it's 13th year, isn't simply a tournament that Falconer hosts each year. It's a tournament that Falconer - and Falconer alone - wins.
Clockwise from the top, Falconer’s Brandon Muntz is in control of Dustin Tomcho of Union City, Pa., in the 126-pound match at the Patrick J. Morales Memorial Wrestling Tournament at Falconer High School on Saturday; Randolph’s Chris Doubek, left, works on Maple Grove’s Howie Nolan a 152 pounds; and Southwestern’s Brian Westerdahl, left, battles with Falconer’s Kyle Ross at 138 pounds. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photos by Rob Tucker
For the third consecutive year, and for the fourth time in last five years, the Golden Falcons took home the top prize of the memorial wrestling tournament by besting 16 of some of the best squads throughout the western Southern Tier and Pennsylvania.
This win was the most convincing yet.
Falconer, which had built a hefty 30-point lead after the first day of competition, cruised to the title on Saturday evening with a whopping 61-point cushion, topping second-place finisher Jamestown, 245-184.
Rounding out the top five were Union City (Pa.) with 177 points, Maple Grove with 118 and Southwestern with 107.
"That's pretty cool," Falconer coach Drew Wilcox said of the tournament winning streak. "It's great for the kids because they work really hard and always get up for this tournament. I'm very proud of them."
The Golden Falcons had 14 place finishers, four more than Jamestown, its next closest competitor. They included champions Brandon Muntz (126 pounds) and Jacob Youngberg (145); runners-up Kyle Blake (99), Zak Mata (132) and Kyle Ross (138); and consolation winners Javen Newman (285) and Jacob Peru (106).
The five Golden Falcons in the finals was the highest total in at least five years.
"We thought we could possibly get eight (in the finals)," Wilcox said, "and ended up with five. You're never going to get as many as you think you can, though, so we were definitely happy with five. That's the most we've had in quite a while."
Youngberg reached the 145-pound title bout thanks to a trio of victories by fall. His easiest match of the tournament, as it would turn out, was the championship. He won by forfeit when Maple Grove's Jed Micek was unable to compete due to injury.
Muntz, Falconer's only other champion, had recorded a technical fall, a fall and a 14-8 decision to reach his finals bout with Union City's Dustin Tomcho. The 126-pounder, who was 30-1 entering the match, quickly recorded a two-point takedown in the first period and then flattened Tomcho to the mat with 14 seconds remaining to secure the victory.
"Brandon looked good," Wilcox said. "He wrestled really well and is coming on at the right time. He is working hard and keeps doing the little things right, and it's those little things that pay off for him in the end."
The three other finalists, meanwhile, suffered hard-fought losses, especially Blake and Ross.
Both were looking for redemption for dual meet defeats they had suffered against Southwestern wrestlers Ryan Hetrick and Brian Westerdahl earlier this season.
Unfortunately for them, that wasn't in the cards.
After a scoreless first period, Hetrick trailed 1-0 after Blake escaped from a defensive start midway through the second period. The score remained the same until just 15 seconds remained in the match as Hetrick completed the furious comeback by bringing Blake down to the mat for two points then being awarded three more points for a five-second near fall as the final buzzer sound.
"That third period against Blake was great," Southwestern coach Mark Arnold said. "We just told Ryan not to get frustrated, to keep hitting the move and that it'll come through eventually. And then, just in time, he was able to hit it and land right into a pinning combination."
Westerdahl, on the other hand, never trailed, building a 2-0 at the end of the first period before expanding it to 4-1, and then 6-3, with a pair of takedowns over the battle's final two minutes.
Westerdahl and Hetrick were Southwestern's lone champions.
"Our goal coming in was fifth place and I think the finals locked it up for us," Arnold said. "Overall, I thought we did very well."
Freshman Tito Colom, at 106 pounds, help short-handed Dunkirk finish in 13th place with 71 points. His brother, Hector, took third at 99.
Tito, whose career record, 24-5, matches his season record, decisioned Maple Grove's Brad Bihler, 5-2.
"I didn't bring as many (wrestlers) as I would have liked, but Tito was really solid this weekend," Dunkirk coach Joe McMurdy said. "Last week he won the Ripley Tournament, now he's won this one and I think that the fact that he is down to 106 has made him very tough. He's a hard-working, great kid whose really helped our program."
Other winners included Falconer's Trevor Spicer, who delivered a last-second pin of Jamestown's Zach Eklum at 182 pounds, Trevor Enterline and Nick Hudson of Westfield-Ripley-Chautauqua Lake, Randolph's Chris Doubek and Cattaraugus-Little Valley/Pine Valley's Gabe Grey.
Enterline, who topped Cassadaga Valley's Tyson Gugino, 6-2, at 220 pounds, and Hudson, who made easy work of Jamestown's Cody Risley when he won by technical fall, 18-3, were WRCL's only place finishers. Doubek pinned Maple Grove's Howie Nolan at 152 pounds in 3:34 and Grey won by fall in 1:55 over Falconer's Zak Mata at 132.
"There were good matches all the way from the quarters to the finals to the fifth- and sixth-place matches," Wilcox said. "It seemed like they were all close, so I know that the kids got some good matches this weekend."
NOTES: Union City's Tim Vargo was the Most Outstanding Wrestler. Vargo, competing at 170 pounds, went 4-0 with three pins and a technical fall. He defeated Jamestown's Nate Somerton in the finals with a pin in 1:26.
195: Dusty Lewis (Sal) by technical violation.
220: Trevor Enterline (WRCL) d. Tyson Gugino (CV), 6-2.
285: Jeff Burger (UC) p. Jack Karsten (CC), 2:55.
99: Ryan Hetrick (SW) d. Kyle Blake (Fal), 5-1.
106: Tito Colom (D) d. Brad Bihler (MG), 5-2.
113: Nick Hudson (WRCL) tf. Cody Risley (J), 18-3.
120: Jeb Fedorchuk (E) d. Dylan Lundmark (SW), 7-5.
126: Brandon Muntz (Fal) p. Dustin Tomcho (UC), 1:46.
132: Gabe Grey (CLV/PV) p. Zak Mata (Fal), 1:55.
138: Brian Westerdahl (SW) d. Kyle Ross (Fal), 6-3.
145: Jake Youngberg (Fal) by forfeit.
152: Chris Doubek (R) p. Howie Nolan (MG), 3:34.
160: Josh Reinke (UC) d. Tage Reuther (CV), 3-1.
170: Tim Vargo (UC) p. Nate Somerton (J), 1:26.
182: Trevor Spicer (Fal) p. Zach Eklum (J), 5:55.
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1. Falconer 245, 2. Jamestown 184, 3. Union City 177, 4. Maple Grove 118, 5. Southwestern 107, 6. Eisenhower 106, 7. Randolph 105, 8. Frewsburg 102, 9. Cameron County 91, 10. Cassadaga Valley 77, 10. Salamanca 77, 12. Cattaraugus-Little Valley/Pine Valley 76, 13. Dunkirk 71, 14. Westfield-Ripley-Chautauqua Lake 63, 15. Harbor Creek 59, Panama 30, 17. Falconer B 29.