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Red Raiders keep wrestling titles close to home

CHAMPION — Junior Jake Braunscheidel earned most outstanding wrestler designation with a finals pin helping Saint Francis repeat as All-Cartholics wrestling champions. Photos by Michael Petro.

Mike Messore and his Saint Francis wrestlers hardly left the mat during Sunday’s championship round at the All-Catholic Tournament inside the gym of their home school.

The Red Raiders got 11 wrestlers, among 15 weight classes, to the final, and eight of them won All-Catholic titles as St. Francis repeated as event champions, scoring 225 points. St. Joe’s was next among the five-team field with 182 points and four champions.

“Guys did a good job getting into the finals, and then, with eight champions, the guys finished off really well,” said Messore, whose team was also fresh off repeating as Monsignor Martin regular season champs, with a 48-24 win over St. Joe’s on Feb. 6.

Jake Braunscheidel earned the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the meet after recording a late-match pin over James Thomas of Canisius, the same opponent he beat by only an 8-6 mark during the regular season. The junior also made the jump up from 182 pounds and still separated himself from his opponent.

“It’s really nice to know that other coaches see the talent I have, as well as our coaches,” said Braunscheidel, who shared the honor with St. Joe’s Eessaa Abdur-Rahman, who won at 160. “It’s nice to share it with one of the Joe’s kids who will also be going downstate to compete.”
EIGHT WITH TITLES — St. Francis’ eight All-Catholic wrestling champions pose with their coaches after the Red Raiders won the overall title.

Winners qualified for next weekend’s Catholic High Schools Athletic Association State Championships at Chaminade High School in Mineola.

“We’re always looking forward to the future so it will be nice to go down to the Catholic State Championships and do our best,” Braunscheidel added.

Messore was also impressed with Marco Gangarossa toughing out a one-point win at 182 pounds over St. Joe’s John Taber. Gangarossa also moved up a weight class. Jake Duggan did the same and still pulled off a title, at 152, with a first period pin.

Travis Bittner remained one of the hottest St. Francis wrestlers, in winning a title at 120. Bittner’s gone from an 8-9 mark to 23-11 on the season. Mike Miller, who recently won his 100th career match, earned a quick pin to win at 132 and Matt Muffoletto pinned in the second period to take 138.

Matt Heywood (99) and Kyrill Calkins (106) won titles as freshmen, while classmate Jasey Jakubczak fell short in the championship match at 126. Also losing in the finals were Justin Darling at 170 and Dan Torres (220).

“It’s always nice winning both of the championships in a season,” Miller said. “It’s a great accomplishment and reflects all of the hard work we’ve done all year. Everyone here works hard and everyone who made the finals definitely deserved it.”


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