PORTVILLE - Another tournament, another victory.
In other words, it was business as usual for Western New York's top-ranked small school on Saturday.
"Yeah, we're kind of on a roll right now, " Falconer coach Drew Wilcox said with a smile. "(A lot) of our guys are going on to wrestle for a sectional championship next week. In a tournament like this, with really good competition, that's hard to do."
Frewsburg’s Zach Haller, right, battles with Salamanca’s Brad Cunningham in the 220-pound title match at the Class D Tournament on Saturday. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
Difficult indeed, though the Golden Falcons didn't make it seem that way during grueling, all-day competition of the Section 6 Class D Championships at Portville Central School.
In all, Falconer wrestlers captured four titles - two times as many as any other squad - to go along with six runners-up - three times as many the next closest team - and a combined three third- or fourth-place finishes, allowing them to win the class championship with ease behind 264 points.
Rounding out the top five was Maple Grove with 168 points, Randolph with 131, host Portville with 117 and Frewsburg with 110.
A top-four finish was required to move on to the Division II State Qualifier next Sunday at the University at Buffalo, and 14 of a possible 15 Falconer wrestlers earned a chance to compete for that ultimate goal: a berth to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament.
Among those wrestlers were Kyle Blake, who kicked off the championship round at 99 pounds with a 3-1 decision over teammate Ricky Griffith; Brandon Muntz, who flattened Franklinville's Devin Wesolek in 4:14; Kyle Ross, who decisioned Cassadaga Valley's Billy Sischo, 2-1, at 138 pounds; and Javen Newman, who capped off the tournament action with a victory by fall in 2:32 over a talented heavyweight from Barker, Lukas Hanssen.
"That was a big win for (Javen)," Wilcox said. "(Hanssen) is ranked in Section 6, and to be able to pin him was great. We had a game plan going in to wear him down on his feet because Javen is pretty tough on the mat, so we thought if we could wear him down and stay heavy on his head we'd have a good chance.
"And Javen executed perfectly."
Falconer wasn't the only squad, however, to leave the tournament feeling pretty good about its performance.
Maple Grove, for instance, had a pair of champions - Jed Micek at 145 pounds and Brad Bihler at 106 - in addition to six others who placed in the top four and earned a place in the state qualifier.
"Everyone has been wrestling great (of late) and a lot of kids stepped up," Maple Grove coach Trevor Delahoy said. "I think that (eight qualifiers) is the most we've taken in a while. It's definitely the most we've had since I've been (head coach). We took only five last year, so it's definitely an improvement."
In the finals, Micek blanked Falconer's Cody Dustin, who was making his first-ever appearance in a tournament finals, 13-0, while Bihler handled another Golden Falcon, Jacob Peru, 7-0.
Eight qualifiers was the second-best total of the tournament.
Trailing Maple Grove was rival Frewsburg, which finished in fifth place as a team, but qualified six wrestlers, the third-highest total of the tournament.
Frewsburg's 220-pound sophomore Zach Haller notched the most impressive victory of the evening for the Bears. Squaring off against Salamanca's Brad Cunningham, the pair traded takedowns over three periods, which sent the bout into overtime tied at six. It was Haller's aggressiveness that won him the match in the end, and as he rushed Cunningham to go for another takedown, the Salamanca sophomore intentionally stepped out of bounds to avoid the attack, a violation that awarded Haller a point and the victory.
Along with Haller, teammate Austin Lynn won the 182-pound title, 2-0, over Portville's Tyler Veno.
Randolph, meanwhile, will be sending four to the state qualifier after picking up a pair of championships and a pair of consolation victories.
According to coach Todd Conley, it was as good a result as he could have hoped for.
"As a team, to take third behind our division champions Maple Grove and Falconer, which moved down (to Class D), I'm happy. I'm very happy," he said. "And we had four qualify for next week. Anytime you get guys to the next level you've got to be excited."
The Cardinals' two champions were Chris Doubek, who defeated Howie Nolan of Maple Grove, 7-0, and Jimmy Carr, who edged Falconer's Jimmy Schwab in a hard-fought battle at 170 pounds.
"They came back and worked hard," Conley said. "Chris and Jimmy both wrestled well; they wrestled hard."
Cassadaga Valley was eighth with 81 points, Salamanca ninth with 74 and, rounding out the area squads, Panama was 11th with 48.
The Cougars' top-finishers were Tage Reuther and Sischo. Reuther fell to tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler Gunnar Van Curen of Portville by major decision, 12-3, at 160 pounds.
Now, with the first postseason tournament in the books, the last few remaining area wrestlers turn their focus to Feb. 10 and the Division II state qualifier.
"It's going to be a lot different next week with Fredonia and Southwestern and all those other schools in the other classes," Delahoy said. "It'll be a challenge."
99: Kyle Blake (Fal) d. Ricky Griffith (Fal), 3-1.
106: Brad Bihler (MG) d. Jacob Peru (Fal), 7-0.
113: Ryan Theiman (P) p. Devin Wesolek (Frank), 1:34.
120: Zach Bierfeldt (AL) d. Tim Franzen (Fal), 8-0.
126: Brandon Muntz (Fal) p. Nick Winter (Frank), 4:14.
132: Jordan Kayes (AL) d. Zak Mata (Fal), 4-2.
138: Kyle Ross (Fal) d. Billy Sischo (CV), 2-1.
145: Jed Micek (MG) md. Cody Dustin (Fal), 13-0.
152: Chris Doubek (Rand) d. Howie Nolan (MG), 7-0.
160: Gunnar Van Curen (P) md. Tage Reuther (CV), 12-3.
170: Jimmy Carr (Rand) d. Jimmy Schwab (Fal), 3-2.
182: Austin Lynn (Frew) d. Tyler Veno (P), 2-0.
195: Dustin Lewis (Sal) d. Trevor Spicer (Frew), 5-4.
220: Zach Haller (Frew) d. Brad Cunningham (Sal), 7-6 OT.
285: Javen Newman (Fal) p. Lukas Hanssen (Bar), 2:32.
99: Brent Bachman (Bar) d. Vince Tripi (Hol), 6-0.
106: Dakota Parkhurst (Rand) won by default over Zak Trim (MG)
113: Tristan Holdridge (Rand) d. Hayden Hathaway (Bar), 6-2.
120: Matt Bacher (Frank) p. Brian Radka (Pan), 2:24.
126: Mark Ecklund (Pan) won by default over Dom Bleier (AL)
132: Jayce Freeborne (P) won by default over Steele Rajski (P)
138: Sean Greene (Sal) d. Troy Franklin (Pan), 3-1.
145: Devone Adelgren (Frew) p. Daniel Gardner (Bar), :25.
152: Brandon Teboe (Fal) p. James Haick (Frew), 2:40.
160: Nick Peterson (CV) p. Brody Nolan (MG), 1:39.
170: Cody Haller (Frew) md. T.J. Bihler (MG), 12-2.
182: Derek Johnson (MG) d. Brandon Alt (Bar), 10-6.
195: Jake Penhollow (Fal) d. Dan Williamson (Fal), 1-0.
220: Tyson Gugino (CV) d. Dean Cole (Frank), 8-2.
285: Jared Hallberg (MG) p. James Brady (Bar), :45.
- - -
1. Falconer 264, 2. Maple Grove 168, 3. Randolph 131, 4. Portville 117, 5. Frewsburg 110, 6. Franklinville, 7. Barker 105, 8. Cassadaga Valley 81, 9. Salamanca 74, 10. Allegany-Limestone 74, 11. Panama 48, 12. Holland 30.