Teams of the Decades

The “Teams of the Decades” committee was created in 2009 to research and select the teams of the past six decades and members include Section Six Wrestling Hall of Fame coaches Walt Thurnau (Southwestern), and Dick Lange (Roy-Hart & Newfane). Members also include Niagara County Community College coach Eric Knuutila, an inductee of several national, state and local wrestling Halls of Fame and Bob Koshinski, Chairman of the Ilio DiPaolo Wrestling Scholarship Committee.

Decades

Left to Right – Bob Koshinski, Armand Cacciatore, Richard Lang, Eric Knuutila

 

Click the tabs to see teams for each decade:

[tabs tab1=”1970’s” tab2=”1980’s” tab3=”1990’s” tab4=”2000’s”]

Pioneer Picked Team of the 1970’s

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Since Section Six wrestling teams were not ranked in the 1970’s the committee assigned a tournament style point system to Sectional champions and place finishers. Points were then totaled to come up with a list of overall team point leaders from one to ten. As in the case of the 1980’s there is no distinction between divisions one and division two schools in the final rankings.

The top point total overall for the decade of the 1970’s was the Pioneer Central Panthers. The Panthers had a total of 126 points based on twenty-two Section Six individual weight champions. Included in that group are two-time New York State Champion Kyle Grunwald in 1976 & 77 and Keith Stearns who won a State Title in 1975. In 1974 Pioneer also had an unprecedented three State finalists in Mike Arnold (112 lbs.), Bill Fuller (119 lbs.) and Phil Roblee (132 lbs.). Other Sectional Champions for the Panthers in the 1970’s were Ed Keenan, Tom Lloyd Jones, Doug Keenan, Dale Rogers, Doug Tingue, Steve Arnold, Keith Floyd, Tom Bennett, Les Friend, Dan Mason and Daryl Rogers. Pioneer was coached in the 1970’s by Hall of Famer Dick Post and assistant Ron Brunner.

The second ranked team of the 1970’s was Olean High School. The Huskies had 106 points based on nineteen Sectional Champions including two-time State Champion Clar Anderson in 1979 & 80 and Chris Leichtweis in 1978.

The third ranked team with 86 points was Niagara Wheatfield with ten Sectional Champions including State Champions Bob Sloand and Paul Cianchetti. Fourth was Sweet Home (56.5 points), fifth Maryvale (46), sixth Portville (35), seventh Medina (32.5), eighth Tonawanda (30.5), ninth West Seneca East (26) and tenth was Iroquois (25.5).

The “Teams of the Decades” committee was created in 2009 to research and select the teams of the past six decades and members include Section Six Wrestling Hall of Fame coaches Walt Thurnau (Southwestern), and Dick Lange (Roy-Hart & Newfane). Members also include retired Niagara County Community College coach Eric Knuutila, a member of several national, state and local wrestling Halls of Fame and Bob Koshinski, Chairman of the Ilio DiPaolo Wrestling Scholarship Committee.

Falconer Picked Team of the 1980’s

The Falconer Golden Falcons have been selected as the varsity wrestling “Team of the 1980’s” by the “Teams of the Decades” Committee.

Using a wrestling tournament style scoring system, in which points are awarded for finishing in first place, second, third, etc, the committee reviewed the final top ten rankings from the 1980-81 season to the 1989-1990 seasons. Total points were then added up to come up with a list of overall points leaders from one to ten. Unique to the 1980’s team selection was the fact there was no distinction between division one and division two schools in the Section Six rankings until 1988.

The top point total overall for the decade of the 1980’s was Falconer high school. The Golden Falcons had three number one finishes and twice were ranked number two among Section Six schools.Falconer finished with 124 total points followed by Niagara Wheatfield, the Div 1 team of the 1990’s and 2000’s, with 68. Rounding out the remainder of the top ten had Pioneer and Sweet Homefinished in a third place tie with 64 points, Clarence and Orchard Park were tied for fifth with 62 points, Iroquois was seventh with 50 points, Tonawanda eighth with 48 points, Maple Groveninth with 40 points and Roy-Hart tenth with 38 points.

Falconer was coached in the 80’s by the legendary Bill Davenport, a member of the Western New York Coaches Hall of Fame. Plenty of brother acts among Falconer’s outstanding wrestlers of the 1980’s beginning with the Waddington brothers Jeff and Rob, Al and Dan Lindquist, Mark and Dan Baglia and Jim and Marty Schwab. Other outstanding grapplers on the great Falconer teams of the 1980’s were Lynn Jose, Joe Sopak, Troy Lefford, Ray Norton, Tony Milliner, Todd Carson and Brad Spencer.

 

 

Niagara Wheatfield and Newfane Picked Teams of the 1990’s

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Niagara Wheatfield and Newfane high schools have been selected as the varsity wrestling “Team’s of the 1990’s” in their respective divisions by the “Teams of the Decades” Committee.

The committee was created in 2009 to research and select the teams of the past six decades and members include Section Six Wrestling Hall of Fame coaches Walt Thurnau (Southwestern), and Dick Lange (Roy-Hart & Newfane). Members also include Niagara County Community College coach Eric Knuutila, an inductee of several national, state and local wrestling Halls of Fame and Bob Koshinski, Chairman of the Ilio DiPaolo Wrestling Scholarship Committee.

Using a wrestling tournament style scoring system, in which points are awarded for finishing in first place, second, third, etc, the committee reviewed the final top ten rankings from the 1990-91 season to the 1999-2000 season. Total points were then added up and the teams from the respective divisions were revealed

Finishing with the top point total in division one over the decade of the 1990’s was Niagara Wheatfield. The Falcons had five number one finishes and twice were ranked number two among large schools. The Falcons finished with 146 total points, 63 ahead of second place Lancaster, which finished with 83 points. Rounding out the top ten respectively were Pioneer (73), Jamestown (60), Lockport (58), Orchard Park (53), Iroquois (41), Clarence and Tonawanda (40) and Lew-Port (33).

Niagara Wheatfield was coached in the 90’s by legendary wrestling coach Armand Cacciatore, a member of several wrestling Halls of Fame at the national, state and local levels, as well as the late Bill Dixon and Dennis Matteson. Some of Niagara Wheatfield’s outstanding wrestlers in the 1990’s were the Dixon brothers, Bill, Dan and Dave, Mike Luick, Jon Hoover, Dave Brewer, Mike Ambrosia, Kris Proietti, Paul Garver, Joel Griffith, Mike Grimmer, Jason Herman, Jim Valentic, Rashad Evans, Marty Valery and Cleyton Smith.

In Division two the top team in the 1990’s was Newfane high school. The Panthers claimed five number one rankings and two number two rankings, edging out Falconer, also with five number one rankings and one number two. The point totals for the top ten were Newfane (155), Falconer (153), Southwestern (76), Ripley (70), Franklinville (53), Portville (43), Fredonia (40), Medina (31), Eden (24) and Allegheny Limestone (15).

Newfane was coached by Dick Lange, a member of the Section Six wrestling Hall of Fame and Doug Ames. Outstanding wrestlers for the Panthers in the 1990’s were Matt Dawson, Allen Gerhardt, Keith Jones, Dan Rafferty, State Champion Ryan Needle, Jason Ethridge, Tim Lukasik, Tom McCabe, Jeff Kingsbury, Mike Brown, Mike Adinolfe and Ray Needle.

Niagara Wheatfield and Newfane will be honored prior to the finals at the Niagara Frontier Wrestling Officials Association tournament to be held at Niagara County Community College on January 7th & 8th, 2011and again at the Section Six Coaches Banquet in March.

The committee will announce the teams of the 1980’s just prior to Section Six State Qualifier tournament in February of 2011. In February of 2010Niagara Wheatfield and Fredonia were named the two respective teams of the 2000’s by the “Teams of the Decades” committee.

 

The 2000-2010 Teams

Photos by Bob Koshinski

Division I – Niagara Wheatfield

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Presented by Eric Knuutila to Niagara Wheatfield High School
(L-R) Tim Lukasik, AD Mark DeFillippo, Rick Sweney,Sr, Jeff Mitchell, Eric Knuutila, Bill Dixon, Jr, Vince Schiffert, Josh Eagan
 

Division II – Fredonia

 Fredonia Decade

Presented to Fredonia Coaches and Wrestlers by Richard Lang
 
 

Niagara Wheatfield High School and Fredonia High School have been selected as the varsity wrestling “Team’s of the Decade” in their respective divisions by a committee formed by long-time wrestling Coach Dick Lange and Niagara County Community College Coach Eric Knuutila.

The committee created to research and select the teams included former coaches Dick Lange (Roy-Hart & Newfane) and Walt Thurnau (Southwestern), both being inducted this March into the Section Six WNY wrestling Hall of Fame. It also included Bob Koshinski, associated with amateur wrestling over the past thirty years as both a member of the media and DiPaolo Wrestling Scholarship Committee Chairman, and NCCC Coach Eric Knuutila, a member of several wrestling Halls of Fame on the local, state and national level.

The committee’s task will be to designate the top teams of the past six decades, starting with the 2000’s. “Every other sport has a Team of the Decade so it is time for us to be part of it,” said Knuutila. “It was time for wrestling to honor the great teams of the past 60 years.”

Using a wrestling tournament style scoring system, in which points are awarded for finishing in first place, second, third, etc, the committee reviewed the final top ten ranking from the 2000-2001 season to the current 2009-2010 season.

Finishing with the top point total over the past ten years in division one was Niagara Wheatfield with five consecutive first place finishes, two seconds, two fourths and a tenth place finish.

Niagara Wheatfield, currently coached by Rick Sweney and Vince Schiffert has also had coaches Tim Lukasik, Bill Dixon and Bill Dixon Jr. contribute to their success over the past decade. Some of Niagara Wheatfield’s outstanding wrestlers over that time were Eric Wiseman, Bill Hetherington, Kyle Schmelzle, Josh and Zech Lange, Matt Daniels, Rob and Jake Koshinski, Jeff Mitchell, Malvestuto brothers Joe, Bob and Angelo, Jehad Ali, Antonio Ventry and Jim Donner.

The top five Div I teams in order are Niagara Wheatfield, Lancaster, Iroquois, Niagara Falls and Cheektowaga.

In Division two the top team over the past ten seasons was Fredonia high school coached by Alex Conti. The Hillbillies have been ranked number one in division two six times since 2000 with one second place finish and three thirds.

Conti has been assisted by Greg Betts, Ross Conti, Dan Morales and Wayne Vollentine over the past decade. Some of the outstanding wrestlers who contributed to Fredonia’s success over that time were the late William Sidey, Frank Zielinski, Rob Dahn, Brandon Strandburg, Brad Bichelberger, Flolite Padua, Ryan Yerico, Justin Perry, Chris Conti, Carlene Sluberski and Kenny Betts.

The top five Div II teams in order are Fredonia, Falconer, Southwestern, Newfane and East Aurora.

Niagara Wheatfield and Fredonia will be honored prior to the Div I and Div II finals at the Section Six state qualifier tournament at 4 pm on February 12th & 13th at Niagara County Community College and again at the Section Six Coaches Banquet in March.

The committee will announce the teams of the 90’s just prior to the start of the 2010-2011 season.

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