SANBORN - For the first time in 25 years, the Dunkirk Marauders will be represented in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association wrestling championships.
Not since Joe Pagan reached the championships in 1989 has Dunkirk sent a wrestler to the tournament.
On Saturday at Niagara County Community College, the Marauders had three champions crowned at the Division II championships.
OBSERVER?Photo by?Craig Harvey
Dunkirk’s Marquis Buchanan, left, wrestles Southwestern’s Tanner Hoose, right, for the title at 182 pounds, during the Section 6 Division II wrestling championships, held Saturday at Niagara County Community College. Buchanan won the match 5-4 to earn a trip to the NYSPHSAA?Division II tournament, which will be held in two weeks at the?Times Union Center, in Albany.
Hector Colom, Tito Colom and Marquis Buchanan put together solid efforts to win their respective weight classes, while Nick Jones fell in the championship match, but is hoping for a wild-card berth.
"Six years ago, our kids had never seen a wrestling mat or a match," Dunkirk coach Joe McMurdy said. "Each and every one of the kids, whether they are here wrestling or got beat last week, we get great effort and good numbers. The kids work hard. It's a great group of kids to work with and (it's) a lot of fun to work with (them). This is a fun group. It's been a long, grueling season."
At 106 pounds, Hector Colom put together a dominating performance as he defeated Falconer's Cameron Page, 16-3, for a technical-fall victory.
"He is amazing," McMurdy said of the eighth grader. "The amount of knowledge he has is amazing. He wrestles year round. He is always in a good mood. He is having fun again and that's what's important. He is a young kid, but dominated the whole tournament."
Meanwhile, Hector's brother Tito Colom edged out Southwestern's Ryan Hetrick, 3-2, at 113. It's the fourth time the two have met and they are now 2-2 against each other with every match being decided by a point.
"Tito has had some great battles with Ryan," McMurdy said. "We felt coming in, the big key was Tito getting the first takedown and controlling the match and he did. I thought he wrestled well. Him getting that takedown right away was big and he stayed aggressive."
Despite the loss, Hetrick may be able to get a wild card as he placed third at the state tournament last year.
"Ryan is an athlete," Southwestern wrestling coach Joe Hoose said. "The tough part is he wrestled Colom four times. They figured each out and it's hard to keep things fresh. Ryan was third in state last year. That weight class at 113, the top three kids here (Saturday), there is a 90 percent chance they will get an at-large bid."
At 182, Buchanan held off Southwestern's Tanner Hoose, 5-4.
With a 3-1 lead heading into the final period, Hoose earned an escape to cut the deficit to one. With less than a minute remaining, Buchanan picked up a takedown for a 5-2 lead. Hoose picked up an escape point and Buchanan was charged with stalling to give Hoose another point. However, from there, Hoose could not get a takedown as Buchanan clinched his ticket to Albany.
"We have been looking for that from Marquis all year long," McMurdy said. "He was very aggressive and took it to him."
Also from Northern Chautauqua County, Fredonia's Dakota Gardner won his third straight state qualifier title as he defeated the same wrestler he beat last weekend at the Sectional qualifier at Eden High School, Tonawanda's Tim Barnard.
Last week, Gardner won, 8-3. This time around, Gardner put on a clinic as he won with a 16-1 technical fall.
"He looked relaxed," Fredonia coach Joe Santilli said. "He is focused and looked like he was having fun. He was solid. He was finishing on his shoots and setting him up. I'm extremely pleased for him. His hard work and dedication to the sport, the expectations are always there. We need to not lose sight of what the mission is. It is one day at a time and not get too far ahead. Wrestlers can do that and not look at the small things. He needs to be focused on those small things.
"The state is deep at 138," Santilli added. "It's a difficult weight class. I'm proud of him."
Westfield-Ripley-Chautauqua Lake's Nick Hudson fell in his title bid at 126, 16-0, to Amherst's Kellen Devlin.