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Bulldog Youth Wrestling Club takes its talents to the state championship

HAMBURG WRESTLING CLUB — The New York Wrestling Association for Youth State Tournament qualifiers from the Hamburg Wrestling Club include, from left, first row: Coach Ken Schmitz, Owen Weller, Kenny Schmitz, Brady Wilkinson and Coach Harry Forrest. Second row: Luke Smeader, Devon Collins, Ryan Forrest, Will Smeader. Third row: Coach Mike Weller, Ryan Hornstrom, Dillon Knoll, Shane Failey, Gabe Masterangelo, Jake Smeader, and Coach Thurnherr.
HAMBURG — This past weekend, March 15 and 16, the Bulldog Youth Wrestling Club traveled to Syracuse to participate in the New York Wrestling Association for Youth State Championships.

The local youth wrestling club, composed of school aged children from area school districts, sent 14 wrestlers from their 80-plus member club to the SRC Arena & Events Center on the campus of Onodaga Community College for the tournament. Seven of the 14 state qualifiers placed in the top five in their age/weight group, with two earning NYWAY state titles.

First place New York state championships were won by 12-year-old Gabriel Masterangelo and 14-year-old Jake Smeader. Masterangelo fought through an elbow injury he suffered during the semifinal round, to eventually win the title. He is a seventh grader at Hamburg Middle School.

Smeader jumped out to a 2 – 0 lead in his 139# finals match, and was able to hang on for the win. He attends Hamburg High School, where is a freshman.

Will Smeader and Dillon Knoll were runner-ups and finished second in the state. Both boys lost in their final’s matches by 1 point. Will is a 10-year-old who has been a member of the club since he was 4. He also finished second in the state two years ago, during the same tournament.

Knoll, a freshman student at HHS, is following in his older brothers’ footsteps. The two older Knolls are also wrestlers at the varsity level.

Also placing at the state tournament in the top five was Logan Lauck in the 11/12-year-old division, Shane Failey in the 13-15-year-old bracket, and Luke Smeader. Logan has been wrestling since he was involved with the club’s “Puppy” Program beginning at age 5. He continues to be a consistent contributor to the club. Newcomer freshman Shane Failey gained valuable experience that will help him at the varsity level.

Other state qualifiers who placed in the top four locally to get the opportunity to compete in Syracuse were Owen Weller, Ryan Forrest, Ryan Hornstrom, Ken Schmitz, Brady Wilkinson and Devon Collins.

The Bulldog Youth Wrestling Club celebrated its success with a pizza party on March 20. Wrestlers were recognized for their contributions to the team. The best first0year wrestler designation went to Brady Wilkinson. The best tournament wrestler, with the best record of the season, was Owen Weller. Devon Collins was the most improved wrestler; he went from wrestling in the “novice,” or beginner division, at the start of the season. By the end, he was competing with the best in the state, in Syracuse.

The “Bulldog Award,” which recognizes the wrestler who exhibits the dedication and discipline that the club was founded upon, was given to Kenny Schmidtz.

The “Tom Page Sr. Memorial Award” was won by Ryan Forest. The last award, was named for outgoing coach Keith Thurnherr, will be an annual award to keep his legacy remembered. The inaugural Coach’s Award was won by Logan Lauck from Frontier Middle School.

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