Weekly Feature



2017-12-07 / Sports

Wrestling team membership explodes

by TAYLOR NIGRELLI
Reporter


Orchard Park’s Matt Keane holds down his opponent while wrestling in the 126-pound class at the Southtowns Duals at St. Francis High School Saturday. 
Photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Orchard Park’s Matt Keane holds down his opponent while wrestling in the 126-pound class at the Southtowns Duals at St. Francis High School Saturday. Photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com The Orchard Park wrestling team has already almost matched its win total from last season. The team went 5-10 overall last season, and is already 4-5 this season after a solid weekend at Southtowns Duals. The Quakers went 4-4 in the tournament, which was held at St. Francis High School.

“Three of our four losses came down to one or two critical matches that could have gone either way,” Orchard Park coach Jared Teal said. “With only five returning starters from last year’s team, it was nice to have some younger wrestlers step up and fill critical roles.”

Mike Pataky had quite a day wrestling in the 195-pound class. He finished 7-1 on the day and came away with all-tournament honors. Six others (Jason Omar, Mike Koziol, Blake Harlock, John Lockwood, Brody Banks and Matt Wagner) all finished 6-2 on the day. Several freshmen – Brett Santarelli, Eddie Irizarry and Matt Keane - all won multiple matches and put forth solid performances.

The tournament was a solid start to what could be a breakout season for the program. The team is returning 16 athletes from last year’s team. The program is also adding 30 new wrestlers, making for a total of 46.

“We have incredible numbers this year, especially freshman and sophomores,” Teal said. “Although we are young and relatively inexperienced, we have demonstrated an innate ability to learn on the fly and rally around one another as teammates. It’s been a fun group to coach so far, and I’m really looking forward to what the season has in store for us.”

The Quakers have a solid corps of guys who have shown dedication in the offseason and will be among the top guys on this year’s team. That includes sophomore Caleb Potter (106 pounds), sophomore Brody Banks (120), senior captain Jason Omar (145), junior captain Harlock and senior Koziol (170), Pataky (182) and Wagner (195).

“Many of these guys put in a tremendous amount of work throughout the off-season between clubs, camps and weight training,” Teal said. “Now that the season is in session, they’ve continued that dedication by their efforts in the wrestling room as well as weight room.”

With so many new additions to the varsity team, there will be new faces everywhere. Every weight class from 99 to 160 pounds, aside from 120 and 145, will have a new wrestler. The team will also have a new face in the coaching ranks. Teal and assistant coach Josh Taylor are returning for their second season and are joined by Tim Higgins.

“Orchard Park is also thrilled to have added volunteer assistant Tim Higgins on board to the program as well,” Teal said. “Coach Higgins will help to bring along and develop many of the underclassmen as they work towards becoming varsity starters.”

The program is still building and working its way up the ranks among the best teams in ECIC I. Clarence, Lancaster and others will be tough, but the goal is to be competitive with those teams.

“ECIC Division I is certainly one of the toughest in Section VI. We lost in a hard-fought match to defending champion Clarence last week (58-24) and are tested again this week as we host Jamestown on Wednesday night,” Teal said. “I expect several teams to be vying for a league title, including Lancaster and our goal is to continue to improve and stand toe to toe with the best of them.”

email: tnigrelli@beenews.com

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