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Published: February 20, 2009 11:19 pm   

HS WRESTLING: Malvestutos define toughness at sectionals

By Nate Beutel
Niagara Gazette

SANBORN — When you want to define toughness, one name says it all around these parts: Malvestuto.

Friday, it was Bob Malvestuto’s turn to shine. The Niagara-Wheatfield senior avenged a pair of earlier losses to Cheektowaga’s Mike Kiripolsky to take the 152-pound championship at the Section VI Division I State Qualifying Tournament at Niagara County Community College.

“It feels really good to win this one, especially after losing twice to him,” a normally quiet Malvestuto said. “I worked on a lot of new stuff, slowed everything down and it worked.”

Malvestuto, who is wrestling with a broken bone in his hand, used a two-point takedown midway through the second period to earn the narrow 2-1 victory over his rival. This will be his second consecutive trip to states.

“This one meant a lot because he’s a senior,” N-W coach Rick Sweney said. “He was really focused on what he had to do. And the best thing about Bobby is that he’s such a hard worker, an old-fashioned grappler, tough and hard-nosed.”

Younger brother Angelo also earned a trip to states, his third in as many years, after topping Clarence’s Zach Ward, 9-3 in the 171-pound finals.

“I did all right and a win is a win, but I’ve been training my whole life for a state title and that’s what I’m going for next weekend,” the junior said.

Teammate James Donner will make his first trip to states after outlasting Niagara Frontier League rival Mike Fraterrigo of Kenmore East, 9-3 in the 285-pound finals.

“The plan was to try to wear him down by the third period, which made it easier to score,” the junior said. “For me, this is great because I just started wrestling a couple years ago.”

N-W’s Bob Limina dropped a 13-9 decision to Cheektowaga’s Clay Reeb at 160 pounds to round out the Falcons’ finalists.

“We choked up last week at the AAAAs against Lancaster, but we did a little better today,” Sweney said. “I’m proud of the guys.”

Niagara Falls also had a big day, bringing home a pair of championships to the Cataract City. Senior big boys Ken Hamilton (189) and Matt Johnson (215) picked up back-to-back pins to punch their first ever ticket to states.

“We did it,” an emotional Hamilton said after pinning Albion’s Mike Blank in 1:57. “We wanted to go together and now it’s going to happen.”

“Four years ago when we started together, we never thought this would happen,” Johnson added after dropping Hamburg’s Zack Tobias in 2:39. “It’s just amazing.”

NFHS’ Irvin Buck lost his rubber match with Kenmore West’s Nathan Skiba at 140 pounds. The Blue Devils senior will be making his third trip to states after pinning Buck in 3:51.

“After I lost to him last week a lot of people were talking and saying he was better, so I wanted to prove them wrong,” said Skiba, who was named the event’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.

Grand Island senior Lee Schuster improved to 34-2 on the season after downing Daiquinn Burney, 8-2 in the 119-pound final. This will be Schuster’s first trip to states.

“I keep trying not to smile, but you’ve just got to,” Schuster said. “I didn’t realize how long and tall he was, but I just kept going the whole time. I think my motor was better than his in the end.”

At 103 pounds, Lockport junior Ivan Cruz put up a strong fight against Lancaster’s Tim Schaefer before dropping a 4-2 decision.

“We were right there with him last week and right there again this week,” Lions coach Joe Scapelliti said. “That said, you can’t put yourself in a hole 10 seconds into the match. We’ll use it as motivation to get better.”

North Tonawanda sophomore Ryan Drass also suffered a tough defeat in the 119-pound championship bout. He dropped a tight 6-4 decision to defending Section VI champion Matt Waldmiller of Lancaster.

“I thought I made a pretty good run, but next year I’m striving to be the best because I want to win it all,” Drass said.

Local third-place finishers included Dan Regan (112, Lewiston-Porter), Wally Maziarz (130, North Tonawanda), Joe DiFrancesco (135, Niagara Falls) and Azeal Tapia (145, Albion).

Local fourth-place finishers included Brad Feeney (96, Lockport), Zak Flores (103, Lockport), Joe Malvestuto (119, Niagara-Wheatfield), Matt Allinson (145, Starpoint), Joe Amoia (171, Kenmore West) and Ed Coyle (215, Niagara-Wheatfield).

There will be a number of at-large berths handed out for the state tournament for those that fell short of a Section VI title. Those berths are determined by previous sectional finishes, wins minus losses for the current season and the section’s power points.

Lancaster won the team scoring with 140.5 points, followed by Niagara-Wheatfield and Niagara Falls.

The Division II championships are slated for 10 a.m. today at NCCC. Finals are to begin at 5:30 p.m.