Many people around the area know Smokin' Joe Pagan for his accomplishments in Muay Thai kickboxing.
What many may not know is Pagan was a New York State Public High School Athletic Association place finisher for the Dunkirk Marauders in 1989.
Pagan was the first wrestler from Dunkirk to advance to the tournament and then placed sixth.
Dunkirk’s Marquis Buchanan, left, will wrestle at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division II Wrestling Championships, in Albany, next weekend.
Up until last weekend, Pagan was still the only Dunkirk wrestler to ever make it to states.
Then, last weekend at Eden High School, three Marauders - Tito Colom, Hector Colom and Marquis Buchanan - took first place at the state qualifying meet to make it to this coming week's state tournament at the Times Union Center in Albany.
In 1989, the event was held in Syracuse. And 25 years later, Pagan remembers everything like it was yesterday.
"I remember when I first got there, there were so many people," Pagan said in a phone interview from Pensacola, Fla., where he is a Staff Sergeant for the Air Force. "I only knew someone from Olean and one other guy. We hung out together. I placed sixth.
"It was nice the way they did the whole show," Pagan continued. "They played 'We Are The Champions' and all lights were on us. They had us all come out to the middle and recognized us. It was such a good feeling. It was a real nice event."
For the Colom brothers, this is familiar territory as they have wrestled in National Tournaments all over the country.
"They have wrestled in some big tournaments," Dunkirk coach Joe McMurdy said. "They have wrestled in front of thousands before."
Tito Colom has had a flawless second half to the season as his last loss came during the first week of January to Southwestern's Ryan Hetrick. Since that time, he has won four tournaments.
"Tito is very, very quiet in the way he approaches," McMurdy said. "He is always looking ahead. He lost to Hetrick in overtime and from that point on, he said, 'I'm going to work on this to beat him when it counts.' He is very focused and a very, very smart kid. He prepares and nothing fazes him on or off the mat. His goal for the whole season was to win Sectionals. We talked (Wednesday) and said the only reason he is going is to win it. That's his goal."
Eighth-grader Hector Colom, is the exact opposite, according to McMurdy. But his goal is still the same, as he wants to win a title.
"They are brothers, but completely opposite." McMurdy laughed. "Hector is more excitable. Being an eighth grader, a lot of things excite him. He is always smiling. On the mat, he is serious. He is there for reason. He is another one who has put in a lot of time. He said it will be disappointing if he doesn't win it. He is high energy and a likeable kid. For an eighth grader, he is setting himself up for quite a few more opportunities."
For Buchanan, this is his chance to end his senior year with a bang.
"For Marquis, this is a new experience for him," McMurdy said. "This is only his second year of wrestling. That was a big stage for him at the qualifier. He hasn't been around it much. He is mature. He will be fine. He earned the right to be there and belongs there. He will do fine."
McMurdy has made the trip to the Times Union Center the past couple years and sat in the stands, envisioning the day he could be down on the mats coaching a Marauder wrestler on the state's biggest stage. Never did he think the first time down there would be with three wrestlers.
"As a coach, you set that as your goal," he said. "We knew at some point we would have somebody. We didn't expect three, but as the season went on, we liked our chances to get a couple guys through. Program wise, we watch these kids put in so much time and effort, and when you step back and see them achieve it, it was the most satisfying thing. We know the effort and time they put in. A lot of times, you leave the state qualifier and it's the end of the season. This time, there was a lot of excitement leaving there."
Pagan noted the biggest aspect of the weekend tournament is mental preparation. During his first match in Syracuse, he remembered he was not mentally focused.
"One thing threw me off was my parents were supposed to be there, but they weren't there yet," Pagan recalled. "I was worried and my coach told me they were fine. Sure enough, the car broke down somewhere and they made it late. They had to get a taxi. It was a whole big ordeal I had to mentally deal with. That mental part is such a big thing. For (Tito, Hector and Marquis), being their first time, I hope they will be prepared."
As for final advice, Pagan again pointed to the mental aspect of the weekend.
"Just make sure they are mentally prepared and not to get psyched out," he concluded. "The other kids got there the same way they got there. It doesn't mean they are any better. They have to say they are just as better. For (Marquis), it's do or die. Give it your best shot. Tito and Hector can get a feel for the tournament and maybe place. If not, they have another shot. I wish I was around to work out with them. Good luck to them."
Rob Duquette had 21 points for the Bears, whose season also ended Saturday. They were 5-20 overall and 3-15 in the SUNYAC.
Clark finished the season with 528 points as a senior, the fourth highest total by a Blue Devil. Only Chris Hughey (582 in 1985-86, and 556 in 1984-85) and Ryan Smock (535 in 1991-92) scored more points in a season.
In addition, Clark's 21.1 scoring average this season is also No. 4 on the Blue Devil list, behind Hughey (23.3 and 22.2) and Giulio Colangelo (also 22.2).
Indoor Track & Field
Dambacher wins at RIT with new team mark
ROCHESTER - Fredonia State sophomore Anna Dambacher won the 200-meter dash Friday at the RIT Orange & Brown Invitational, the final regular-season meet of the 2013-14 season.
Her winning time of 25.83 seconds also broke her own team indoor record. In addition, it qualified her for the ECAC indoor championship meet next month.
Also in the 200 dash, freshman Devinne Arnold finished 11th in 27.41 seconds and added her name to Fredonia State's Top 10 performance list - at No. 10. Two-hundredths of second back is sophomore Laura Morrison, whose 27.43 seconds was the 13th fastest time Friday. Blue Devil senior Alexis Perez was 15th fastest at 27.61 seconds in the field of 56 women.
In the mile run, senior Kim Foltz finished fourth and sophomore Lauren Kotas was eighth. Foltz qualfied for the ECAC meet with a time of 5:13.46. Kotas's personal-best 5:23.28 is now No. 10 on the Blue Devil indoor mile performance list.
In other running events, junior Amanda Cocchiara finished fifth in the 3,000 with a personal-best 10:52.43 and moved to No. 8 on the team Top 10 list. Blue Devil freshman Bonnie Binggeli was sixth in the 800 in 2:26.37.
Fredonia State had two top-five finishers in field events. Sophomore pole vaulter Olivia Kurbs tied for third after clearing 3.15 meters (10' 4"). Senior jumper Emily Cummiskey was fifth in the triple jump with 10.63 meters (34' 10").
Post-season competition commences next Saturday with the SUNYAC indoor championship meet at The College of Brockport. For those who qualify, the ECAC meet is March 7-8 at Boston, Mass. and the NCAA Division III meet March 14-15 at Lincoln, Neb.
In the men's events, Fredonia State sophomore Eric Williams finished first in one event and second in another Friday.
Williams won the 60 hurdles in 8.36 seconds and was second in the 200 in 22.76 seconds inside the Gordon Fieldhouse & Activities Center. Both are qualifying times for the ECAC Division III meet next month at Boston, Mass.
Williams will enter next Saturday's SUNYAC indoor championship meet at the College at Brockport among the favorites in the sprint events. Friday marked the third time this winter he has won a 60-meter hurdles race, and the third time he has finished second in another sprint - twice in the 200 and once in the 60.
Another potential SUNYAC favorite will be Blue Devil junior Zakk Hess, off his second-place finish Friday in the mile run. Hess's 4:21.07 was also an ECAC-qualifying time. Fellow junior Jed Kovalovsky was seventh Friday with a 4:31.92 mile.
Sophomore thrower Hsin Chin was Fredonia State's other ECAC qualifier to come out of the Orange & Brown meet. Chin finished second in the 35-pound weight throw with a personal-best 16.02 meters. It also moved him up to No. 7 on the Fredonia State Top 10 performance list for the event.
In other field events, senior Ben Goebel was eighth in the pole vault by clearing 4.25 meters and senior Alex Brennan eighth in the long jump at 6.45 meters.
Meanwhile, junior Jonmichael Knapp finished fifth in the 400-meter run with a time of 51.31 seconds - just above the ECAC-qualifying standard of 51 seconds flat. The ECAC meet is March 7-8 at the Reggie Lewis Center, while the NCAA D-III meet, also limited to qualifiers only, is March 14-15 at the University of Nebraska's Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln, Neb.
Slow start dooms Devils at Geneseo
GENESEO - Fredonia State started slowly and was unable to recover for the second straight night while losing Saturday 6-3 to Geneseo in SUNYAC men's hockey.
The loss dropped the Blue Devils to 7-12-6 overall and 4-7-5 in the SUNYAC, which earned them the No. 6 seed in the SUNYAC Tournament. They will visit Oswego for a first-round game 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Lakers enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed.
Three different players scored goals for the Blue Devils while Garry Childerhose and Tyler Brickler had two goals each for Geneseo (20-5 overall, 14-2 SUNYAC). The Blue Knights finished as SUNYAC's regular-season champs.
Fredonia State's first period was a repeat of the first period in Friday's 4-1 loss at Brockport. The Blue Devils fell behind 3-0 in the period, including two Geneseo goals in a matter of seconds.
Brickler opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 13:40. Twenty-five seconds later, Childerhose made it 2-0 Geneseo. The Blue Devils yielded two goals in a span of 45 seconds Friday at Brockport.
Childerhose scored his second goal at 18:23 of the first period, which saw the Blue Knights scored on three of their 11 shots.
The Blue Devils cut the margin to 3-1 on the first collegiate goal by freshman forward Mac McAvoy, assisted by Andrew Christ and Brian Doust, at the 3:29 mark of the second period.
Zach Martin gave Geneseo a 4-1 lead before Brickler made it 5-1 with his second goal of the game late in the second period.
The Blue Devils made things interesting with goals by Stephen Castriota and Jared Wynia, the latter on a power-play at 10:34 of the third period. It was Castriota's 10th goal and Wynia's 11th of the season.
Matt Owczarczak picked up an assist on Castriota's goal. Hunter Long and Alex Perkins set up Wynia.
David Ripple put the icing on the cake with a goal for Geneseo with 4:50 remaining.