Section Six Wrestling Teams of the Decade Announced
Niagara Wheatfield and Fredonia Picked Teams of the 2000’s
Niagara Wheatfield High School and Fredonia High School have been selected as the varsity wrestling “Team’s of the Decade” in their respective divisions by a committee formed by long-time wrestling Coach Dick Lange and Niagara County Community College Coach Eric Knuutila.
The committee created to research and select the teams included former coaches Dick Lange (Roy-Hart & Newfane) and Walt Thurnau (Southwestern), both being inducted this March into the Section Six WNY wrestling Hall of Fame. It also included Bob Koshinski, associated with amateur wrestling over the past thirty years as both a member of the media and DiPaolo Wrestling Scholarship Committee Chairman, and NCCC Coach Eric Knuutila, a member of several wrestling Halls of Fame on the local, state and national level.
The committee’s task will be to designate the top teams of the past six decades, starting with the 2000’s. “Every other sport has a Team of the Decade so it is time for us to be part of it,” said Knuutila. “It was time for wrestling to honor the great teams of the past 60 years.”
Using a wrestling tournament style scoring system, in which points are awarded for finishing in first place, second, third, etc, the committee reviewed the final top ten ranking from the 2000-2001 season to the current 2009-2010 season.
Finishing with the top point total over the past ten years in division one was Niagara Wheatfield with five consecutive first place finishes, two seconds, two fourths and a tenth place finish.
Niagara Wheatfield, currently coached by Rick Sweney and Vince Schiffert has also had coaches Tim Lukasik, Bill Dixon and Bill Dixon Jr. contribute to their success over the past decade. Some of Niagara Wheatfield’s outstanding wrestlers over that time were Eric Wiseman, Bill Hetherington, Kyle Schmelzle, Josh and Zech Lange, Matt Daniels, Rob and Jake Koshinski, Jeff Mitchell, Malvestuto brothers Joe, Bob and Angelo, Jehad Ali, Antonio Ventry and Jim Donner.
The top five Div I teams in order are Niagara Wheatfield, Lancaster, Iroquois, Niagara Falls and Cheektowaga.
In Division two the top team over the past ten seasons was Fredonia high school coached by Alex Conti. The Hillbillies have been ranked number one in division two six times since 2000 with one second place finish and three thirds.
Conti has been assisted by Greg Betts, Ross Conti, Dan Morales and Wayne Vollentine over the past decade. Some of the outstanding wrestlers who contributed to Fredonia’s success over that time were the late William Sidey, Frank Zielinski, Rob Dahn, Brandon Strandburg, Brad Bichelberger, Flolite Padua, Ryan Yerico, Justin Perry, Chris Conti, Carlene Sluberski and Kenny Betts.
The top five Div II teams in order are Fredonia, Falconer, Southwestern, Newfane and East Aurora.
Niagara Wheatfield and Fredonia will be honored prior to the Div I and Div II finals at the Section Six state qualifier tournament at 4 pm on February 12th & 13th at Niagara County Community College and again at the Section Six Coaches Banquet in March.
The committee will announce the teams of the 90’s just prior to the start of the 2010-2011 season.
Niagara Wheatfield Named Team of the 1990’s
Niagara Wheatfield and Newfane high schools have been selected as the varsity wrestling “Team’s of the 1990’s” in their respective divisions by the “Teams of the Decades” Committee.
The committee was created in 2009 to research and select the teams of the past six decades and members include Section Six Wrestling Hall of Fame coaches Walt Thurnau (Southwestern), and Dick Lange (Roy-Hart & Newfane). Members also include Niagara County Community College coach Eric Knuutila, an inductee of several national, state and local wrestling Halls of Fame and Bob Koshinski, Chairman of the Ilio DiPaolo Wrestling Scholarship Committee.
Using a wrestling tournament style scoring system, in which points are awarded for finishing in first place, second, third, etc, the committee reviewed the final top ten rankings from the 1990-91 season to the 1999-2000 season. Total points were then added up and the teams from the respective divisions were revealed
Finishing with the top point total in division one over the decade of the 1990’s was Niagara Wheatfield. The Falcons had five number one finishes and twice were ranked number two among large schools. The Falcons finished with 146 total points, 63 ahead of second place Lancaster, which finished with 83 points. Rounding out the top ten respectively were Pioneer (73), Jamestown (60), Lockport (58), Orchard Park (53), Iroquois (41), Clarence and Tonawanda (40) and Lew-Port (33).
Niagara Wheatfield was coached in the 90’s by legendary wrestling coach Armand Cacciatore, a member of several wrestling Halls of Fame at the national, state and local levels, as well as the late Bill Dixon and Dennis Matteson. Some of Niagara Wheatfield’s outstanding wrestlers in the 1990’s were the Dixon brothers, Bill, Dan and Dave, Mike Luick, Jon Hoover, Dave Brewer, Mike Ambrosia, Kris Proietti, Paul Garver, Joel Griffith, Mike Grimmer, Jason Herman, Jim Valentic, Rashad Evans, Marty Valery and Cleyton Smith.
In Division two the top team in the 1990’s was Newfane high school. The Panthers claimed five number one rankings and two number two rankings, edging out Falconer, also with five number one rankings and one number two. The point totals for the top ten were Newfane (155), Falconer (153), Southwestern (76), Ripley (70), Franklinville (53), Portville (43), Fredonia (40), Medina (31), Eden (24) and Allegheny Limestone (15).
Newfane was coached by Dick Lange, a member of the Section Six wrestling Hall of Fame and Doug Ames. Outstanding wrestlers for the Panthers in the 1990’s were Matt Dawson, Allen Gerhardt, Keith Jones, Dan Rafferty, State Champion Ryan Needle, Jason Ethridge, Tim Lukasik, Tom McCabe, Jeff Kingsbury, Mike Brown, Mike Adinolfe and Ray Needle.
Niagara Wheatfield and Newfane will be honored prior to the finals at the Niagara Frontier Wrestling Officials Association tournament to be held at Niagara County Community College on January 7th & 8th, 2011and again at the Section Six Coaches Banquet in March.
The committee will announce the teams of the 1980’s just prior to Section Six State Qualifier tournament in February of 2011. In February of 2010 Niagara Wheatfield and Fredonia were named the two respective teams of the 2000’s by the “Teams of the Decades” committee.
NW Coach Armand Cacciatore and Newfane Coach Dick Lange stand with "Team of the Decades" committee members Bob Koshinski and Eric Knuutila
Niagara Wheatfield Honored Prior To NFWOA Finals as D-1 Team of the 1990's
Accepting on behalf of the NW teams of the 1990's were Mike Luick, Jeff Mitchell, Vince Schiffert, Jon Hoover and Rick Sweney. Presenting the trophy is NCCC Coach Eric Knuutila