AKRON — It's just another winter in the life of Newfane wrestling.
The Panthers clinched their seventh consecutive Niagara-Orleans League title Wednesday night, taking down Akron, 66-19, in a split dual at Akron High School that also featured Royalton-Hartland and Wilson. Newfane (5-0 N-O) also won its 35th straight league dual and clinched seven straight undefeated N-O seasons.
Head coach Matt Lingle believes he is seeing a high focus level from this year's group, with his grapplers knowing what their responsibilities are and able to take care of business without needing to be told to do so. With an accomplished roster of wrestlers like Andy Lucinski, Jaden Heers, Aidan Gillings, Adam Huntington, Ryan Nugent, Nik Voelker and many more, Lingle knows this group is adding to the program's historic legacy.
"It just kind of adds to the legacy of what we have accomplished in the league. Prior to this, I think that's kind of what we're all looking at is continuing tradition and keeping the kids moving forward," Lingle said. "Personally being a part of it, it's kind of special that way too, to continue to have that success for the kids."
Lingle is "shooting for the stars" with his goal of having all of his kids placing in the Section VI Class B tournament on Feb. 8. Ultimately he has a goal of having 10 to 12 placing though, which could include Phil Stevenson, Ayden Buttery, Miguel Salas, Tim Hackney and Lingle's son, Simon, as well as the group mentioned above.
Also of note, Roy-Hart (2-2) placed third in the league with its 45-26 win over Wilson. The 54th annual Niagara-Orleans All-League Wrestling Championships take place at 8 a.m. Saturday at Albion High School.
There was a lot that went down this week so here's our top notes heading into the weekend:
• Niagara Wheatfield is currently third in the Niagara Frontier League standings, but Wednesday was a historic night for one of the school's all-time best. Justin McDougald secured a pinfall win over North Tonawanda's Joseph Pasiak to help the Falcons earn a 58-27 win over the Lumberjacks.
The win was historic because it was McDougald's 222nd of his career, tying NW's all-time program record. His next crack at becoming the sole leader will be next Wednesday night, when Grand Island travels to NW for a pivotal dual that could greatly impact the NFL standings.
• With GI and Niagara Falls both getting to 5-0 in the NFL with respective dual wins over the CSAT and Kenmore's combined program, the next two weeks will decide the latest NFL champion. The Vikings and Wolverines have the upper hand in the race heading into their Jan. 29 battle, but NW has a shot of unseating both with wins over GI and L-P, along with a GI win over the Falls, to close the season.
The formula is much simpler for both GI and Niagara Falls — win out and take home the NFL title. The Wolverines match up with Lew-Port next week prior to the finale with GI.
• Starpoint brought forth another statement win Wednesday night, handling Lake Shore, 54-26, to sit at 5-0 in the ECIC II division. This means that the Spartans are now tied with Section VI powerhouse Pioneer on top of the league standings.
It sets up a winner-takes-all ECIC dual at 6 p.m. Wednesday, when the Spartans visit the Panthers.
Pioneer is considered to be the favorite as it aims for its seventh straight ECIC title. The Panthers are currently the No. 4-ranked small school in WNY Athletics' most recent poll, while the Spartans are slotted at No. 10 among the large school programs.
Starpoint coach Steve Hart will need guys like Gage LaPlante, Jacob Eckler, Justice Back and CJ Uptegrove to perform well to pull off the upset.
Follow sports reporter Khari Demos on Twitter @riri_demos. Also, tune in to Khari at 10 a.m. on Saturdays on WGR 550's 'Inside High School Sports,' as well as the 'Greater WNY Sports Connection' podcast, a collaboration with Jon Simon and WNY Athletics.