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Frontier reaches new wins mark; Eden takes division title

CONTRIBUTOR TO BIG SEASON — Josh Cuillo and Frontier recorded a program-best 15 dual-meet wins this season. Photo by David Eckhardt.
In addition to finishing in the top 10 in all but one tournament this season, the Frontier wrestling team also put together its best dual-meet season in more than a decade.

The Falcons won three of their final four Erie County Interscholastic Conference I meets to finish 4 – 4, good for fifth in the eight-team division. And the matches they lost – to Western New York powers Clarence and Lancaster, along with Jamestown and West Seneca West – were also examples of how far this team came along. Frontier also won a program-best 15 dual matches during the regular season.

“It’s a great way to finish the regular season. The entire team is wrestling at a high level and this is the time of the year you want to be peaking,” Frontier head coach Joe Russo said. “We were a few matches away from making the Lancaster match more competitive and we got closer to Clarence than we have in years.”

Frontier ran away from Orchard Park 64 – 21 on Jan. 15 and then had what Russo called its best match in beating Williamsville North 56 – 10 on Jan. 24. A week later, the Falcons finished the division season with a 39 – 36 win against Sweet Home.

Kyle Genovese capped off Frontier, winning three of the match’s last four bouts, as the senior earned a pin at 126 pounds, with his team down 36 – 33. Jackson Cummins won by a 7 – 3 decision and Paul Hendra took a forfeit at 120 in that span. An injury to 160-pounder Seth Jones made the match even closer than anticipated. Russo also noted that several other wrestlers also stepped up to avoid pins.

In the team’s last tournament, the Falcons finished eighth of 22 teams at Ken-Ton. Rocco Russo, the school’s all-time most winning wrestler, won the tournament for a fifth time, pinning three of four opponents to take 138. Jesse Harrison (126) and Adam Gibson (285) added third-place finishes. In the JV ranks, Cummins and Josh Cuillo (182) finished first; Jake Dickey (113) and Andrew Heppner (132) were second and Jake Fiorello (126) and Dylan Shanley (195) were third.

Joe Russo said he was appreciative of the cooperation between local teams and their coaches to set-up practices and scrimmages at their schools when others were closed due to weather and scheduling conflicts. He applauded the efforts of St. Francis and Mike Messore; Eden and Tom Page; Hamburg and Ken Meyer and Lake Shore and Bill Sills.

Eden also won a divisional title, despite going through some rebuilding and being unable to fill open weight classes. The Raiders finished off an unbeaten 8 – 0 ECIC IV season by defeating Alden 42 – 34 on Jan. 30. Among Eden winners were Jacob Page (113), Sawyer Overhoff (120), Mitch Laing (132), Jesse Vondell (138), Jonah Baldwin (160), Alex Smythe (170), Luke Podyma (182) and Gustavo Bautista-Gomez (220).

Eden will also be one of five hosts this weekend for the Section VI Class Championships, a qualifier for the Division I and II sectionals the following week. The Class C Tournament will be held Feb. 8 at Eden. Also that day, Class AA will be at Lockport, Class A at Starpoint, Class B at Cheektowaga and Class D at Portville. Lake Shore is the defending Class A champion.

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