SYRACUSE — We were the first.
Regardless of the outcomes in the individual matches, that is how the girls from Niagara County who made the trek Friday afternoon toward SRC Arena as they participated in the inaugural NYSPHSAA girls wrestling state invitational.
For those like Lewiston-Porter head coach Bill Edwards, this is only the beginning for girls wrestling in Section VI.
“I think in Section VI, we’re like right on the edge of really blowing this thing up,” said Edwards, the father of seniors Meghan and Gwyneth “It’s getting a lot of people involved. So, all of these girls who are here that are ready to come back and do something and bring a lot more people into their schools when they get back there.”
The theme from those who represented Niagara County Friday is the youth movement coming through the respective programs, specifically from those still attending classes in middle school.
In the 100-pound bracket, Niagara Wheatfield seventh-grader Gabriella Barone recorded four pins overall, eventually defeating Honeoye Falls-Lima’s Jasmine Brucato in the finals to bring the inaugural title back to Sanborn.
“It feels great,” said Barone after the victory. “Especially since I am so young (in) seventh grade. I’m really proud of myself this year… and just like accomplishing this. It makes me feel so good about myself.”
“Every time she stepped on the mat, she felt like she was going to win and expected to win,” added Niagara Wheatfield head coach Bill Ploetz. “She’s a young girl, she still had nerves going out there. But when she goes out to wrestle, she expects to win. and I think that goes a long way with her confidence and stuff.”
Meanwhile, Newfane seventh-grader Alexa Doxey came up short in the 126 bracket, falling to Rocky Point’s Alexandra Viera in the final. Still, head coach Newfane head coach Matt Lingel said Friday “was a great day.”
“She doesn’t get frazzled by much,” Lingel said. “She has expectations and she goes and tries to deliver on them and she doesn’t let the outside distractions influence how she does. Doesn’t matter what grade you’re in, doesn’t matter if (you’re a) boy or girl. She’s gonna go out there and try and beat you every time. Try to get a pin — that’s her mindset.”
For Lockport, freshman Ava Bragg finished third in the 145 bracket and sophomore Khayme J’Maxwell finished fifth in the 185 bracket while senior Maleah McKinney-Updegraph finished early in the 114 wrestle-backs due to an injury.
“Overall, all our girls wrestled really well today,” Lockport assistant head coach Bill Morello Jr. said. “… Ava had battled back to win five matches just to take third place. So she’s had six matches all day today. The New York State boys can’t wrestle more than five matches in a day. and because of this girls tournament, they let that rule go for today. So some of these girls did wrestle six matches, which is an accomplishment in itself.”
And at North Tonawanda, junior Hannah McCarley finished fourth in the 107 state bracket while her sister Breanna finished sixth.
“This is what they work hard for,” NT coach Tony Fire said. “Neither one of them did what they wanted to do. But still, Hannah ended up fourth in the state. Got it. She’s got to be able to hang your hat on that is always next year, they’re gonna come back even better. They’re looking to go far again. Come back and hopefully win it next year.”