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Redskins’ Kuciel makes up for lost time in senior season

Jeff Kuciel didn’t wrestle as a junior. He’s making up for lost time as a senior.

The Lancaster High School standout has emerged as one of the best wrestlers in his weight class and seems to be getting better and better every time he steps out on the mat.

“Kuciel was our secret and I guess the secret’s out now,” Lancaster coach Ron Lorenz said. “He didn’t wrestle last year at all but he came out this year and he’s having a phenomenal year. He’s putting things together.”

Kuciel holds a record of 22-7 for his senior season. That might not seem overwhelming but the best part for the Redskins is that he’s starting to avenge some of those losses.

The latest example came at the ECIC Championships last weekend at Clarence High School.

In the finals against Eden’s Ryan Vondell, the second-seeded Kuciel scored an exciting 5-4 decision, picking up the winning takedown in the final seconds of the tightly-contested match.

“I used an optional start for the first time in my wrestling career and it worked out,” he said after collecting his first-place patch. “I was just able to hold him off from scoring enough to win.”

Vondell, who was the top seed for the tournament and remains in the honorable mention in the latest WNY rankings, had defeated Kuciel at the NFWOA Tournament earlier in the season.

The Lancaster senior was didn’t let it happen again.

“He’s making a splash,” Lorenz said. “He’s hitting stride right now; he’s beating kids that he lost to before.”

Kuciel was ranked second at 170 pounds in the latest rankings by Wrestling Review of Western New York. With the postseason looming, he’s not likely to sneak up on anyone anymore.

“It’s been a pretty good season,” he said. “I’m making good progress and hopefully I can just keep going. I’m just working on not stopping on the bottom and chain wrestling on top - that’s pretty much it.”

Kuciel was one of four ECIC champions for the Redskins, who finished second at the tournament. It has been yet another strong season for one of Western New York’s elite programs.

“The team’s wrestling pretty well,” Kuciel said. “Hopefully we can keep it up.”

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