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Frontier bests Hamburg in early-season match

Hamburg versus Frontier is always a rivalry. Whenever the two schools match up in a sporting event, especially now with the Challenge Trophy back on the line, emotions are high, energy is up and bragging rights hang in the balance.

Both schools’ wrestling programs met in a season-opening match on Dec. 4, as the two look to remain healthy and capitalize off of strides taken last season.

“Hamburg and Frontier is huge,” Frontier head coach Joe Russo said. “It’s just nice to have the kids compete in a rivalry match.”

And this one didn’t disappoint. Frontier outlasted Hamburg 42 – 34 inside the Hamburg gymnasium and used six pin fall victories and a 36-point run to do so.

“Anytime you’re coming out in a combating sport like wrestling, with crosstown rivals, there’s a little bad blood,” said Hamburg head coach Ken Meyer. “Most of the kids know each other, but it’s friendly competition. When they go out there, they wrestle hard.”

Hamburg jumped out to an early 9 – 0 lead with victories in the 99- and 106-pound divisions. Ryan Hornstrom picked up a pin-fall victory to open the match, and Ryan Smolinski won by decision.

Frontier scored the next 36 points of the match as Jacob Dickey (113), Kyle Genovese (120), Paul Hendra (126) and Jesse Harrison (132) all picked up pin-fall victories in four consecutive matches.

Andrew Heppner (138) and Joe Aronica (145) won by decision in the next two matches, before recent State University of New York at Buffalo-commit Rocco Russo scored a pin-fall victory, to complete the 36 – 0 run.

Eric Sheffield (160) of Hamburg stopped the run with a decision victory, before another Frontier victory – Roy Cuthbert at 170 – and a few forfeit wins for Hamburg closed out the match.

“We got some guys out, that are dinged up,” Joe Russo said. “We had other guys really step it up. We have a lot of seniors on this team and I’m very proud of the way they went out there.”

Frontier will rely on its senior leadership, through the season. In the opening match, the Falcons had two eighth graders and other young wrestlers start, which the coach said will help the team as the underclassmen progress.

“We had the older guys talking to the younger guys, giving them advice,” Russo said. “We have a great group of kids here and a lot of leadership.”

Both coaches, who wrestled together in college and are still friends, said getting and staying healthy is a priority early in the season. While each team was rusty in spurts, there were still positives to take, from different individuals.

Meyer said he was impressed with the level of wrestling displayed in the opening matches from Hornstrom and Smolinski, and an even an eighth-grader, Gabe Mastrangelo, who wrestled at 127 pounds.

“We put one senior out on the mat today, and everyone else is an underclassmen,” Meyer said. “You can only go up from there. I’m hoping for improvements and that the kids develop and get better.”


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