Pictured from the left are Cheektowaga wrestlers' Miguel Rodriguez-Spencer, Edwin Le, Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer and Matt Bartnik.
The season just keeps getting better for Cheektowaga Warriors wrestling, and this may just be the tip of the iceberg.
Cheektowaga competed in the ECIC Tournament at Clarence High School on Saturday, Jan. 19, placing seventh out of 27 schools with 104.5 points.
Their standing came behind the strength of four wrestlers who were able to place at the tournament. Three of them finished fourth in their weight classes and the other took first.
Junior Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (132) went 5-0 with four pins at Clarence to win a title and earn him his third Most Outstanding Wrestler award.
“I wanted to go into the tournament and dominate everybody,” said Rodriquez-Spencer, who also earned ECIC II First Team All-Star honors and All-ECIC honors. “I feel happy with the performance I put on.”
Domination sounds right on par with a student-athlete who once said, “I will wreck everybody this year.”
“And he’s not being cocky about it. He’s not being arrogant,” said coach Matt Haberl. “He lost in the state finals. The highest level you can get in New York State. His goal this year is to be a New York State champion. If that doesn’t happen, then it won‘t be a success for him because he‘s already placed second.”
Coming into the tournament having won the last two MOWs, Rodriguez-Spencer still did not feel as if he had to win it again to continue at his level of wrestling supremacy in Western New York.
“I wasn’t really concerned with getting MOW,” said Rodriguez-Spencer. “I just wanted to go out there and make my coaches proud, my family proud and keep my journey going.”
The other three Warriors believed they underachieved and could have placed even better than they did.
Senior Miguel Rodriguez-Spencer (145) went 4-2 with four pins last weekend, also earning ECIC II First-Team all-star honors.
“I lost a match for third or fourth that I should’ve won,” said Miguel Rodriguez-Spencer, who lost a close match in the semi-finals. “I just went ahead with the ride. I really wasn’t feeling the match, ended up losing and ended up taking fourth because of that.”
Senior Edwin Le (126) went 4-2 with three pins at Clarence, and left as a ECIC II First Teamer, as well.
“I thought I was going to place pretty high,” said Le. “I had a tough match in my semis, but I pinned all of my matches up to that point.”
Junior Matt Bartnik (160) finished in fourth place, as well, going 4-2 in the ECIC Tournament.
“I thought I was going to place higher than I did,” said Bartnik. “In my last match for third and fourth, I beat the guy earlier in the tournament, and I feel like I should’ve beat him again…but I didn’t.”
With these wrestlers leading the program, the Warriors hope to groom enough of the younger guys so they can be a local force for a long time.
“They really set the bar for the younger kids,” said Haberl. “They’ve been great role models. Hopefully the legacy that they leave behind will rub off on these other guys.”