First solo league championship in 17 years for Lockport.
By John D'Onofrio Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
It's not always how you win that counts in wrestling. How you lose can also help your team claim an ultimate victory.
The Lockport Lions got pins from their big guns on Thursday, but also got several unsung performances in defeat in their league championship-clinching 40-28 victory over visiting Lewiston-Porter. It's Lockport's first solo Niagara Frontier League championship since 1997 and second straight championship overall, having shared the title with Lew-Port last year.
With the win, veteran head coach Joe Scapelliti's Lions finished their 2013-14 Niagara Frontier League slate 14-0 and have several promising wrestlers set to compete in next weekend's NFL Class Championships at LHS. Lockport and Clarence are among the favorites to compete for the VI league title there.
“It was one of our major goals coming into this year to win the NFL championship,” Scapelliti said. “It was a total team effort from November to now. We knew it would come down to Lew-Port in the last week and our kids stepped up and did a great job and wrestled very well.”
The match started with the heavyweights and Lockport seniors Marshall Taylor (29-2 this season) and Marcelus Hinton came through yet again. At 220 pounds, Taylor pinned pinned Jon Bondi in a swift 1:10, while at 285 pounds, in perhaps the most important match of the evening, Hinton out-lasted Garrett Rath of the Lancers, 6-2.
“We tustled a bit in the first and I ended up with two points. It was 3-1 and he chose neutral, so we just battled it from there and I came out with the win,” Hinton said. “We practiced very hard this week to accomplish the goal of winning a championship and I'm glad we accomplished it, being a senior on this team.”
Lockport won the next three out four matches by technical fall with victories by steady Mitchell Seaver at 99 pounds, Dontay Gill at 106 and Mark Cye at 120. Anthony Orefice's pin at 126 pounds gave the Lions a commanding 30-3 lead. Orefice pinned Ty Slaugenhoupt in 37 seconds.
The Lancers responded with wins at 132 and 138, but Kirk Feeney put a stop to the Lew-Port surge with a pin at 145, as veteran official Tom Cinelli counted out Dylan Pryce in 1:43.
“It was a very important pin and a change of momentum,” said Feeney (23-3 this year), “which was exactly what we needed at that point.”
The Lancers responded with pins by Andrew Shomers (152) and Ryan Kromer (160) and two straight decision wins by Eric Cerminara (170) and Cole Davey (182), but strong performances in defeat by Lockport's Robert Jones (170) and Michael Daskavitz (182) helped give Lockport the winning points margin.
“I went out there and just did the best that I could,” Daskavitz said. “I knew it would be close.”
Dylan Nuhn (195) of the Lions closed out the match with a major decision victory over Lew-Port's Chet Bondi, 9-1.
“The NFL is a tough league. You have to have your A game every single night,” said Lancers coach Jon Hoover. “Our guys battled hard. Hats off to Lockport and coach Scapelliti. They deserve it. I'm proud of them for what they've done. They got the key victory at 285 pounds and that set the tone early and we just couldn't get over that.”
Scapelliti said he was proud of everyone's effort on his team.
“Everyone understands their job — and it isn't always to go out there and win. Sometimes it's to battle hard,” Scapelliti said. “We do a very good job of explaining to our kids our game plan and everyone did a good job of executing it. Our coaching staff did a great job of preparing a line-up, knowing the adjustments we had to make, and our kids dod a great job of going out and executing.”
Lockport will host the sectional tournament on Saturday, Feb. 8. The finals are slated to begin at 4:30 p.m.