Fredonia comes up just short against undefeated Olean, 39-37

Fredonia’s Ceric Kristan (right) grapples with his opponent during his match at 170.

After the way the Fredonia Hillbillies wrestling team has started the season, you knew they were ready to face a significant test.

That test turned out to be undefeated, perennial wrestling powerhouse Olean.

Fredonia battled, scrapped and clawed their way through the match, but in the end, Olean was able to hang on to a 39-37 win in the CCAA Division 1 contest on Wednesday at Fredonia High School.

“It was a great match to watch,” said Fredonia head coach Joe Santilli. “I knew there were about five matches that would be toss ups. We had some opportunities.”

The match started on a sour note at 152 when Olean’s Galvin Kulp pinned Fredonia’s Hunter Larson right out of the gate to give the Huskies the 6-0 lead.

From there, Fredonia’s Cole Golembieski stepped up to change momentum.

After a 0-0 draw through the first period, Golembieski chose to go down and escaped to start the second period, leading 1-0 heading into the final period.

“Cole got some redemption,” said Santilli. “He lost to that guy twice last year and he wrestled well. He wanted to rebound from the Ripley Tournament last weekend and he did. That’s what I was looking to see.”

Olean wrestler Jeremiah Crivelli then chose to stay neutral to start the third period, but was unable to score on Golembieski, giving him the decision and narrowing the Olean lead to 6-3.

The next match at 170 featured last year’s sectional runner-up in Olean’s Icar Simon. But Fredonia’s Ceric Kristan wasn’t fazed.

After Kristan pulled through a takedown late in the first period, he escaped to start the second period, giving him a 3-0 lead.

Simon then finally got on the board with a takedown, but almost immediately Kristan countered with a reversal, pushing his lead to 5-2. Simon would escape to finish the match down 5-3, giving Kristan the win, and igniting the Fredonia crowd.

“Ceric has lost to Icar every time they’ve wrestled up until tonight,” said Santilli. “He’s been getting closer and closer and he was able to break through tonight with that win. I’m happy for him.”

After tying it up 6-6, the Hillbillies started to struggle towards the heavy weights.

Olean picked up pins at 182 and 195 to get back in front by taking an 18-6 lead.

That set up 220 wrestler Jake Skinner against Olean’s Connor Walsh. Skinner fought aggressively but fell behind early and wasn’t able to come back, dropping the decision 7-3.

After losing three straight matches, Fredonia needed a pick-me-up.

Yanny Acevedo provided that.

Acevedo picked up a couple of takedowns before pinning his man, Olean’s Tanner Hulse, at 285, sparking the Fredonia bench and bringing the score to 21-12 in favor of Olean.

“Yanny had lost to Hulse the last two times they had wrestled,” said Santilli. “So Yanny got a little redemption as well.”

From there Fredonia started to fall behind even more. After winning the forfeit at 106, Fredonia suffered a forfeit at 99, and pins at 113 and 120, falling back down, 39-18.

“We just need to continue to develop and battle hard every night out,” said Santilli. “These guys know that there’s still some work to do. We’re always trying to grow. A lot of teams start to plateau at this time of year, but we’re looking to elevate.”

After the two straight losses, Fredonia started their comeback. Antonio Pagan almost was able to pick up a pin at 126, but settled for the decision at 9-1, cutting into the Olean lead. At 132, Fredonia’s Brandon Wallace was up against another sectional runner-up from a year ago in Nick Bierfeldt. Wallace came out on top, winning 5-3.

“Nick Bierfeldt wrestled at the state tournament last year,” said Santilli. “Brandon has been battling the whole season with some injuries and has been trying to get himself right for the end of the year. It was good to see him get that one.”

Following the Wallace win, Fredonia picked up two forfeit wins, finalizing the score at 39-37 in favor of Olean.

“Four people [Wallace, Golembieski, Kristan, Acevedo] turned things around tonight — you can’t be disappointed,” said Santilli. “You would’ve liked to find three points somewhere, but you have to go with what you have.”

Fredonia will travel this weekend to the Lockport Invitational to participate in the JV and Varsity tournaments.

“We fought tough,” said Santilli. “We were extremely pleased with the guys’ effort. Everybody battled and nobody quit. You can’t lose if you give your best effort every night.”