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Lockport wrestler Orrefice look to face best to beat best

The better you are, the bigger the target becomes. It’s as simple as that.

In his fourth season of varsity wrestling, Anthony Orefice knows all too well what it’s like to be a marked competitor.

Orefice, a Lockport High School sophomore, has amassed an impressive list of accomplishments in his young career.

Orefice, whose 143 career wins is good enough for fifth place on the Lions’ all-time list, is ranked No. 1 in Section VI and No. 3 in the state at 113 pounds.

Small wonder why every opponent views knocking Orefice off as something to tweet about.

But to his credit, Orefice doesn’t waver under pressure. If anything, he thrives under it. He learns from every test life throws at him.

“He’s a gamer and pressure doesn’t phase him at all,” Lockport wrestling coach Joe Scappaletti said.

“Actually, I think, in a lot of ways it kind of makes him better. What we’ve found in Anthony is the bigger the match, the better he tends to wrestle.”

Without question the most versatile wrestler on the Lions roster, Orefice also wrestles at 120 and 130 pounds when needed.

Scappaletti said he feels Orefice welcomes the challenge of competing at three different weights. Knowing his coach has the faith to slot him in at three different classes fuels Orefice’s confidence even more.

“It helps me a lot knowing that my coaches believe in me and know that I can basically go where our team needs me,” he said.

Scappaletti added that Orefice’s versatility also benefits his wrestler in the long run as it gets him on the mat against older competitors with even more experience.

“Each time I get a tough match I feel like I need to work harder and try to improve my conditioning,” Orefice said. “I feel like if I go up against the heavier guys it will just help everything in general.”

Rolling off 25 consecutive wins to start the season, Orefice experienced his first loss at the Niagara Frontier Officials Tournament at NCCC on Jan.4.

Grappling at 120 pounds Orefice fell to Steven Michel of Lancaster, the No.1 wrestler in WNY at that weight, in the semifinals by a 4-2 decision.

“I thought it was good because he’s the top wrestler at 120,” Orefice said. “So knowing I could hang in there with the top 120 guy made me feel good. I thought it was a positive because he’s older and way stronger than me.”

Orefice won his wrestle back match and finished third at NCCC.

A true student of the game, Orefice knows that even in defeat there are positives to take away that will make him better down the road. A

It’s a road that he hopes will take him back to the Times-Union Center in Albany for the 2013 state tournament.

He’s already made a name for himself at states placing fourth at 96-pounds as an eighth grader and fifth last year wrestling at 106.

Interestingly enough, this year the 113-pound bracket will feature a pair of 2012 state champions, including Steve Picciano of Ward Melville High School (L.I), who eliminated Orefice from last year’s state tournament.

“I’ve been looking forward to it and preparing myself better for the state champ (Picciano) that I actually lost to last year,” Orefice said. “I’ve just been looking forward to seeing him and going back (at it) with him.”

Knowing that the competition at states will be tougher than ever, Scappaletti said he and the coaching staff are doing their best to prime Orefice by throwing the toughest regular season matchups at him that they can find.

“That’s one thing that we have to do; we have to seek out the best competition possible, all the time.” Scappaletti said. “It doesn’t do him any good to go out and pin a kid in a minute. We want him to be challenged and we know that his parents feel the same way. They want him to be challenged. Everybody understands that’s what is going to ultimately prepare him for the state tournament and make him successful.”

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