Hillbillies place in top 10

OBSERVER File Photo Fredonia’s Hunter Larson (top) is shown during a match earlier this season.

OBSERVER Staff Report

LOCKPORT — After hosting Olean on Wednesday, the Fredonia Hillbillies wrestling team faced even more challenging opposition at a tournament at Lockport High School over the weekend. Fredonia represented admirably, with a fifth place finish out of 20 schools. The Hillbillies, who were one point out of fourth and eight points out of third, were the only small school to crack the top 10.

Fredonia’s Gio Russo was the tournament champion at the 132-pound weight class, after an injury-riddled early portion to the season. He did not allow a point in all four matches, and won the final 15-0.

“Gio wrestled really strong,” said Fredonia coach Joe Santilli. “He’s had a really frustrating season because of injury, so it was nice to see him back out there and competing.”

Dalton Gardner was the runner-up at the 138-pound weight class, falling to a large school place finisher in the state tournament. Santilli said Gardner “wrestled a really strong tournament.”

The Hillbillies had a pair of third place finishers in Ceric Kristan at 170 and Alex Christy at 195. Hunter Larson finished fifth at 145, who Santilli said “competed hard through the whole tournament.”

Fredonia’s Jake Skinner finished fourth in 220, while Yanni Acevedo finished sixth at 285. Santilli called both weight classes very competitive.

The Hillbillies also brought the JV team along for the tournament and had very impressive results. Antonio Pagan, Cedric Howard and Jamison Horch all won their respective weight classes at the JV level, while Dawson Russo was a runner up.

As challenging as the past week was for Fredonia, the Hillbillies will face possibly its toughest test of the year on Wednesday when Fredonia hosts Falconer/Cassadaga Valley, who comes in ranked as the top team in the county. Look for coverage of Wednesday’s match in Thursday’s OBSERVER.