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St. Francis wrestling contenders, Miller reaches milestone win

The Saint Francis wrestling team enters the second half of the season with veteran wrestlers reaching new heights and a solid group of youngsters contributing. The Red Raiders opened the league season with a 61-12 win over Canisius and after going 5-3 over the weekend at a two-day CHSAA event in Long Island, are 13-11 on the season.

Captains Mike Miller and Jacob Braunscheidel are ranked by The Wrestling Review of Western New York. Miller, a two-time All-Catholic champion, became the 10th wrestler in program history to reach 100 career wins over the weekend and improved to 24-8 at 132 pounds on the season. Braunscheidel, a 2013 All-Catholic champion, is out to a 26-3 start at 182, having pinned 12 of his first 20 opponents.

“They’ve been models of excellence and leadership on a team full of young talent,” St. Francis coach Mike Messore said.

Junior 160-pounder James Canterbury continues to make improvements throughout the season, as he won seven of eight matches over the weekend to better his record to 24-8. Ranked second in the CHSAA, Canterbury finished fourth at the state level during a 29-win season in 2012-13.

Returning All-Catholic champions Travis Bittner and Matt Muffoletto are attempting to round into shape for the postseason. Muffoletto (138) is 16-15 after setting a record last season freshman with 30 victories. Bittner (120) helped his team to the win over Canisius with a pin.

Among the youngsters stepping up to make an impact is sophomore 152-pounder Jacob Duggan, who’s out to a 20-6 start and had 12 pins going into the weekend. After taking second at All-Catholics last season, Duggan finished as an all-tournament selection, pinning all eight opponents, at the St. Francis Duals.

Senior Marco Gangarossa has become one of the most improved wrestlers on the team, according to Messore, during a 15-9 season, at 170. Senior Dan Torres has also contributed at 220, with seven wins. Messore will look to sophomores Tom Arcuri (8 wins) and Michael Gruttolori to help during the league season. Arcuri can wrestle anywhere from 182 to 220 pounds. Senior Justin Darling just returned from an injury and is already 8-2 wrestling in the upper weights.

A strong freshman group fills the lightweights. Competing at 106, Kyrill Calkins amassed a 13-6 record going into the weekend. Nick Ralph has picked up 10 wins starting at 113, while Matt Heywood has nine wins at 99. Jaylen Estabrook, Jacey Jakuczak and Charlie Roth have also helped provide an identity for this freshman class, Messore said.

Senior international students Constantine Yang, James Jiang and Wade Fan have also become contributors, according to Messore.

St. Francis, which next wrestles at home against Fredonia and St. Mary’s on Jan. 24, will again host the All-Catholic Championships on Sunday, Feb. 9.

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