Scapelliti's team features some of section's top grapplers
By John D'Onofrio Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Loaded with talent, strength and confidence, the Lockport wrestling Lions are looking to make a lot of noise throughout Western New York gyms this winter.
Head coach Joe Scapelliti returns for his 10th season — 16th overall — boasting a career mark of 89-49. His Lions will wrestle at Williamsville East today in their second straight non-league match, then open their Niagara Frontier League slate at 6 p.m. Wednesday, hosting Kenmore East.
Among the returning starters for Lockport is two time Section VI champion and state place finisher Anthony Orefice. The super sophomore will grapple at the 113-pound slot this season. Orefice’s 118 career wins already places him sixth all-time in school history.
“With his sights on a state championship, Orefice will not sneak up on anyone,” Scapelliti said. “As he gets heavier, he’ll be challenged by older kids. It will be a great test for him.”
Orefice and Lions junior Marshall Taylor (220) earned pins in Thursday’s season-opening, non-league 37-31 loss at Hilton.
“Coming off a great sophomore campaign, Marshall is one of the favorites to win the section at 220,” Scapelliti said. “Physically, it’s very hard to match Marshall’s strength. His wrestling continues to improve daily. Look for a lot of wins by fall.”
Lions senior co-captains this season are starters Brad Feeney (132) and Jose Pagan (145).
Feeney’s coming off a second-place finish in last year’s sectionals and opened his season Thursday with a victory. “He’s never been more focused and determined that what we’ve seen thus far this season,” Scapelliti said. “Barring injury, Brad should reach 100 career wins this season (he currently sits at 87). One hundred wins and a sectional championship would be a super culmination to a six-year carsity career.”
Pagan is also coming off a second-place finish in Section VI last season and is hungry to add a championship to his resume. Described by his coach as, “an extremely dedicated and responsible team leader,” Jose should reach 100 career wins this season.
Rounding out Lockport’s senior starters are Josh Steinman (152), Seth Anderson (160), Doug Blazier (170) and Matt Simpson (195).
Steinman returns as a three-year varsity starter and two-time sectional qualifier. “Josh has the skills to be very good. Having the experience now under his belt, he looks to put it all together for a strong senior year,” Scapelliti said.
Anderson is coming off a superb football season and has looked very strong thus far in season, earning a decision victory in his match against Hilton on Thursday. “Seth’s working to hone his skills in the neutral position, which should be the missing piece to a super season. He’s a three-year starter and a great leader in the room. “
Blazier, who also won by decision on Thursday, steps into a role as a first-year full-time starter. “He’s come into the season in great shape physically and is looking forward to being a solid contributor,” Scapelliti said.
Simpson saw time as a varsity starter last year, mostly at 220, and is wrestling this year at his natural weight of 195. “He’s strong and athletic,” Scapelliti said.
Heading the list of expected junior starters is three-year varsity starter Chris Clay (120). “He’s strong and athletic and furthermore, he should definitely see the benefits of summer wrestling, which he participated in. This year could prove to be a breakout year for Chris,” Scapelliti said.
At 285 pounds is Lions junior Marcelus Hinton, who returns off of a fifth-place finish in Section VI last year.
“He’s a very athletic big-man,” Scapelliti said of his heavyweight. “He should contend for a title this season as his wrestling has improved greatly. The sky’s the limit.”
A part-time starter-turned sectional qualifier a year ago, junior Dylan Nuhn will start at 182 pounds.
“This year as a full-time starter, he should be able to use the valuable experience gained last year to build a winning year,” Scapelliti said.
Sophomores Vince Eberhart (126) and Kirk Feeney (138) return with experience and strong work ethics.
Eberhart, who posted a season-opening decision win on Thursday, had his season cut short last year by a concussion, but has been looking fully recovered and very physically fit thus far.
“He truly loves the sport and has a passion for working to improve. He should have a great season,” Scapelliti said.
Feeney steps in to fill the weight vacated by big brother Mike’s graduation. Another tireless worker in the off-season, Kirk has bulked up physically to take on the challenge. “Twenty-five-plus wins for Kirk is a reasonable expectation for the season,” his coach said.
Rounding out Lockport’s expected starters are former Lockport Kids Wrestling Club eighth graders Mitchell Seaver (99) and Steven Kapuscinski (106).
“There will be a learning curve as Mitchell adjusts to the high school level — especially considering Mitch is undersized, weighing about 91 pounds,” Scapelliti said, “but look for him to win his fair share of matches.”
“After getting his first full year of experience as a varsity starter last season, Kapuscinski returns to likely wrestle 106 in duals, but go 99 at tournaments and in the postseason.