By Alicia Dziak

It’s been a busy winter for SGI’s wrestling team, whose athletes were recently spread out throughout WNY attending various tournaments. Wrestlers compete in 15 weight classes, ranging from 99 lbs. to 285 lbs.

“We plan accordingly to get our athletes to the tournaments that are best suited for their abilities,” said coach Mark Vogel. “Our ultimate goal is always to get our athletes quality matches.  We can drill and condition and wrestle live in practice all day long, but there is no replacement for actual matches against opponents from other schools.  Because of this, we’ll may send several athletes to a JV tournament where they’re more likely to get 4-5 meaningful matches against athletes of their own caliber, while another group of wrestlers may go to a Varsity tournament elsewhere.”

The first weekend of January brought much success to the Griffins. In JV action, Nick Brown and Aaron Keyser took first place at the Franklinville tournament, while Rhett Butzer and Devin Hitchcock took third place.  Hayden Taylor, Nate Weber and Sam Weber each took fourth place.

At the Ripley tournament, Quenten Leicht took second place, Shilo Rogers took fourth place and Jared Hecht wrestled excellently, finishing with a record of 3-2.

Lastly, at one of the biggest tournaments in the state, Mikey Evans placed second at the Officials tournament at Niagara County Community College.

“In New York State, the number of athletic competitions are based on a point system, and wrestlers are able to earn 20 points over the course of a season,” Vogel explained. “Individual dual meets count as one point and tournaments count as two points.  Teams will typically have eight dual meets, leaving athletes 12 points for tournaments.  As a result, the maximum number of tournaments athletes may participate in is six.  Those athletes looking to wrestle in the postseason benefit from maxing out their points and therefore benefit from wrestling in all six tournaments.”

As Vogel and the team look ahead to the remainder of the season, he noted, “We have a decent mix of veteran wrestlers looking to advance deep into the postseason and newer wrestlers still learning the sport and working towards that ‘next level.’”

According to Vogel, freshman wrestler Mikey Evans won the Division II 99-lb. weight class in section 6 last year and will look to build upon his success heading into the postseason.

“We’ve had some great wrestling coming out of the 120 and 126-lb. weight classes from Jared Hecht, Nate Cottom, Hayden Taylor and Nick Brown,” Vogel added. “We can enter two athletes per weight class for the post season so we will continue to see how things shake out and have those discussions as a team when we get closer to that point.”

Vogel also said that Shilo Rogers has been a crucial wrestler for the team at the 106 and 113-lb. weight classes, and that Quenten Leicht has come on strong at 182 lbs. and has been a positive influence in the practice room since starting.  “He started late in the season for us, but we’re thrilled he’s there, and as a sophomore, he’ll be an integral part of the team for the foreseeable future,” Vogel said of Leicht.

Come cheer on the Griffins wrestlers on Friday, Jan. 26 when they take on Depew/Cleve Hill at home.