It was a bit of deja vu for the Superior Wrestling Academy team at the 1000 Islands Duals – in a very good way.
A year after winning the Junior High title at the summer event, Superior did it again, capturing first place with a 4-0 record on the opening day of competition in Clayton, New York.
The team began with a pair of dominant performances – topping Lockport and Midlakes. The semifinals round was a bit of a different story, as Nazareth, Pennsylvania pushed the squad to the limit in a 31-28 battle.
According to Gary Ferro, who coached the team along with Ed Schafer, Superior trailed going into the last three weights. However, back-to-back falls by David Crow and Brandon Cousino at 155 and 165 pounds provided an insurmountable lead going into heavyweight. (Superior forfeited at the unlimited class throughout the event).
“We faced Nazareth last year too and both times it was definitely our toughest match,” Ferro said. “They have an excellent team and it went back and forth, but our guys came through at the end. Those two pins were huge. [David Crow] was losing 4-0 but came back to get the pin. Then [Brandon Cousino] followed with another one. It was a great win to get us to the finals.”
The championship bout was less suspenseful, with Superior putting together a double-digit victory over Delaware Valley to finish first.
“The kids enjoyed coming back and taking a second championship and it was definitely exciting for us coaches too,” Ferro said. “Ultimately, for us, it’s about putting the kids on the mat in the summer and seeing them continue to get better. 1000 Islands Duals is the place to go to do that. It’s amazing to see the wrestlers dedicating their time at this time of year. That’s something we get excited about.”
Leading the way for Superior were undefeated wrestlers Ethan Ferro (75), Brian Courtney (105) and Mike Venosa (119) as well as Michael Gonyea (82) and David Crow (155), who both finished with one loss.
“We really enjoyed the tournament,” Ferro said. “We’ll be ready for next year and we’ll be looking to three-peat.”
(It was a good weekend overall for Superior, as the High School squad went 4-1 with the lone loss coming in a 32-31 match versus Northeast Elite, a top 8 placer. The squad, coached by Ferro and Mark Friske, won the Blue Bracket).
Buffalo Wrestling Club in the Finals Again
In the High School action, another New York team made the finals – Buffalo Wrestling Club. According to coach Keith Maute, the squad just missed out on the title for the second consecutive year at the 1000 Islands Duals.
“We were second last year too,” Maute said. “Last year against Bound Brook (NJ), it came down to the last match. This year, it came down to criteria.”
Indeed, the championship dual between Buffalo Wrestling Club and Doughboy ended in a 27-27 deadlock. However, the Massachusetts team was declared the winner using the tiebreakers.
The Buffalo WC squad, which Maute said was made up of wrestlers from the Cobra Wrestling Academy, cruised through the first three meets of the event, losing just a handful of matches along the way.
In the semifinals, however, things got more difficult in an eight-point triumph over Northeast Elite.
According to Maute, his group jumped ahead in the lightweights, but the opposition fought back to within five heading into 195 pounds. A victory by James Empfield at that weight in the ultimate tiebreaker was crucial, as was another win at 220 by Tyler Hall to clinch a spot in the title match.
That championship dual followed a similar pattern initially. Once again, the Buffalo WC built up an early advantage. In fact, the squad led 27-4 going into 160 pounds, fueled by a number of grapplers who went undefeated throughout the tournament – Dane Heberlein (100), Kellen Devlin (130), Cody McGregor (137) and Dakota Gardner (145/152). In addition, Troy Keller (107), Tito Colom (115), Danny Graham (145/152) and the previously mentioned Empfield (195) each lost only one bout during the weekend, according to Maute.
However, Doughboy responded to 23-point deficit by capturing the remainder of the matches, resulting in the 27-27 score.
“Doughboy was a tough team,” Maute said. “We were winning big, but then we got beaten up top where they were very strong. It was tough, but the guys wrestled well and it was a good tournament overall.”