Golden Falcons get second at Patrick J. Morales Tournament
FALCONER – For the 20th year in a row the best wrestlers from around Western New York and beyond made the trip to Falconer Central School for the annual Patrick J. Morales Memorial Tournament, which concluded on Saturday evening.
Representatives from Pennsylvania once again put on a great show, as Corry finished with 258.5 points to edge out the host Golden Falcons (239) for the team title.
Following behind the two leaders were Kane (Pa.) (207), Eisenhower (Pa.) (189.5), Southwestern (169), Chautauqua Lake/Westfield/Panama/Clymer (166.5) and Maple Grove (102).
Despite falling in the team standings, Falconer/Cassadaga Valley would walk away with three individual titles, trailing only Eisenhower with four first-place medals.
In one of the first finals matches of the day, Joey Pillittieri was able to rouse the home crowd with a 7-1 win over Harley Morris of Kane to claim the 126-pound title.
That performance followed wins over Mohamed Alshawai of Lackawanna and Sammy Esaleh of Sweet Home, and would earn Pillittieri Most Outstanding Wrestler honors.
“He had to battle all weekend,” said Golden Falcons head coach Drew Wilcox. “I think that is why he won the award. Right from the quarters on, he was in some tight matches, so I was super proud of the way that he competed.”
In the finals, Pillittieri and Morris would be caught in some early positional battles, with the former taking a 2-0 lead after the first period was over. Pillittieri would pick up another takedown early in the second and stretch that into a 5-1 lead with an escape before earning another two points before the final bell.
Not long after that victory, Bryce Baglia picked up another win for the hosts at 152 pounds with a pin of Devin Jeffery of Lake Shore in 3:44.
Jeffery would own a 2-0 lead in that match after an early takedown, with Baglia clawing his way back into contention thanks to an escape and a takedown of his own.
Holding a 6-2 lead after some nice work in the second period, Baglia would muscle his way to a strong position after a crossface to set up the win via fall.
“He was down 2-0 and was able to fight his way back and was able to hit one of the techniques he’s been working on for the fall. It was good to see,” Wilcox said.
Not to be outdone by a comeback win and an MOW performance, Brayden Newman may have given the Golden Falcons their most impressive win of the evening on his way to the 106-pound title.
Facing off against Lucas Munsee of Corry, the bout was an offensive showcase from the opening whistle.
Munsee would grab a 2-0 lead with a big throw, but Newman would collect himself after that slam and rattle off six straight points with some strong work from the top.
An escape by Munsee early in the second would make it 6-6, and the visitor would take an 8-6 lead after another takedown. A couple of escapes by Newman would bring things back to even, and the defending champion would seal up his second title in a row after turning his last takedown into a quick pin.
“That is one of the best high school matches you will ever watch,” Wilcox said. “Both kids were attacking and scoring points. It was a lot of fun as a fan just to sit there and watch that match. Brayden is really turning the corner and he’s finding a way to win matches like that now.”
Falconer/Cassadaga Valley would claim three third-place medals and two fourths, with Austin Chase (113), Hudson Johnson (182) and Collin Beichner (220) all fighting their way back to the top through consolation brackets.
As they have been all year, Chautauqua Lake/Westfield/Panama/Clymer was once again a leader at the lower weight classes.
Trent Burchanowski ended his weekend with a 113-pound title via an 8-4 decision over Nagi Fadel of Lackawanna.
A takedown in the first period would give Burchanowski a 2-0 lead, and he would continue to stay out in front behind a pair of escapes and another takedown.
“For being a freshman, he wrestles like a senior,” said Thunderbirds oach Ken Rowe. “He makes very few mistakes. Really his biggest issue is just the fact that he is so young and not quite mature yet. To have a kid like that, it’s great for our program, it’s also great for Clymer who is fairly new to wrestling. To have a kid like that at that school doing so well so young is huge. Not only for that school but for our program. I’m pumped to see how he is going to continue over the next few years.”
Chautauqua Lake/Westfield/Panama/Clymer has also had plenty of success thus far at 99 pounds with Martin Ohlsson and Jordan Joslyn.
Both would do their best against Gage LaPlante of Starpoint, with Joslyn falling via 6-1 decision in the semifinals while Ohlsson came up on the wrong end of a 9-1 decision with the title on the line.
As is often the case at the lowest weight division, there could be some surprises when it gets down to state qualifying.
“That 99-pound weight class, including Jordan Joslyn on our team, there are about six or seven of them where whoever has that good day at the right time is going to be the one going to Albany,” said Rowe.
Leading the way for Maple Grove was Luke Tomlinson at 132 pounds. After facing a difficult test in the quarterfinals, Tomlinson was able to avenge a previous loss in the semis against Easton Hedman of Eisenhower.
“We had a lot of sectional people who we have to beat at the end of the year here, and we had a couple of (Pennsylvania) guys that were very tough,” said Maple Grove coach Steve Matteson. “The quarterfinal match we knew we had a Section Six kid we had to beat this morning, right off the bat. In the semifinals he had the kid he lost to at STWOA (Southern Tier Wrestling Officials Association) in the finals, (so) we knew that was a big match. We game planned for what we did wrong a couple of weeks ago and he came out and wrestled very well in the semifinals.”
Making his way to the finals, Tomlinson would show some creativity with a pin of Julian Martin out of Lake Shore, despite starting the second period in the down position.
“He just stepped over at the right time and caught him, it was a very good win for him,” Matteson said.
Jake Tomlinson would take home third place at 195 with an 8-6 decision over Brock Johnson of Falconer/Cassadaga Valley, while Zack Padd put together a strong tournament for the Red Dragons with a sixth-place finish at 220.
“Jake Tomlinson came back hard after losing in the semis and took fourth. It is hard sometimes when you lost a heartbreaking match in the semis to give everything you’ve got to come back in the consolation bracket, so I was proud of him for that,” said Matteson.
Southwestern would grab two second-, two third- and two fourth-place medals to complete a strong weekend.
Michael Carnes would be forced to forfeit his final match after battling his way to the finals at 120 pounds.
At 195, Hayden Linkerhof of Corry was an 8-2 winner over Dontae Hoose of Southwestern. The Trojans would get a pair of third-place finishes from Gavin Dewey (152) and Tate Bryant (170).
With 20 years of Morales tournaments now in the books, there is no doubt that it has become one of the highlights on the high school wrestling calendar.
“I really thought it was the best tournament we’ve had in the last five or ten years. We had 21 teams which is up by about five and the wrestling showed. Those finals matches were great,” Wilcox said.