BY CHRIS BROOKS, managing editor, wellsvillesports.com
WELLSVILLE — Tuesday night marked the final time that the Wellsville grapplers took to the stage in front of their home crowd. Hoping to make a ton of noise going into this weekend’s Sectional Tournament, the Lions would close things out by honoring all five of their seniors — the wrestlers who have been around since the beginning of their time with the wrestling program.
Jayden Acker, Brayden Riley, Grady Ball, Evin Rought and Shane Davidson — five guys who have helped completely transform the landscape of the program’s future. Alongside their families, head coach Tyler Carman before the match, along with his assistant Trent Robbins, handed out warm embraces to each one of them on their way out to the mat for the very last time.
Carman says that the legacy his leaders will leave behind, will resonate on for time to come.
“These guys are great. You can tell that they’ve been around for five years. Look at our numbers from back then, to now, and the work ethic that came with it,” he said. “They’ve learned right from the start of this what it takes to become successful, and what it all looks like. They’ve instilled that into each one of their teammates, and it’s going to keep growing. We have a lot of freshmen that are learning what those seniors have gone through.”
The Lions looked to build a full head of steam onward into this weekend’s Sectional Tournament, where they will look to make some noise. A ton of it.
Their final home match of the season against Fillmore/Keshequa provided a precursor for the big dance, and much more. For all the Lions involved, it was a night of dominance on the mat, as they compiled 11 total victories, seven of them in competition on the circled square to complete a magnificent regular-season ending night in the Lion’s Den with a 64-6 win.
“I’m proud of them. We’re working hard in practices, we’re being accountable in school, we’re getting to school on time. It allows us to take care of all the stuff going on in the background,” Carman said. “It was a great effort, and after all these hard practices, it’s nice to see it all finally pay off. We’re heading in the right direction and at the right time of the season.”
After both teams shared a double forfeit at 285 pounds to begin the night, Wellsville would kick the tires on a brilliant start from the top of the weight classes, scoring six of the first seven wins on the mat, with Blake Geffers pinning Jules Cotton in just 17 seconds to give Wellsville the early advantage.
Jayden Acker followed through with the first of two technical fall decisions for Wellsville at 110 pounds, collecting three consecutive sequences featuring a takedown and near fall to record a 15-0 win over Graham Howe. Adam Iantorno would rally from behind at 118 pounds for his victory over Alivia Cartwright, overcoming a 5-0 deficit in the third period with a phenomenal reversal to roll Cartwright up into a pin, collecting the win at 4:01.
Jack Cicirello added to Wellsville’s cause with the second technical fall win, taking a dominant 16-0 decision over Gavin Bush at 132 pounds, while Brayden Riley (138 pounds) and Landon Stratton (145 pounds) went back-to-back with pin-fall victories, with Riley starting with an 11-1 lead and ending with a pinfall just over three minutes into the match, while Stratton provided an incredible five-point swing in the last period of his bout with Eli Strickland.
At the start of the third, Stratton fought for his points, grabbing an early takedown to inch closer to within three before a near-fall a short time later conducted the point swing to tie the match at six on each side. But the deadlock was short lived, as Strickland fought back with 43 seconds left with a five-point swing of his own behind a reversal and near-fall to go up, 11-6.
After Strickland’s reversal, Stratton responded with the final reversal the match would witness, garnering the positioning he needed to record the pin with 20 seconds left in regulation.
“Being able to count on a young eighth grader like Landon, and moving up a weight class to do it, that dude is really, really working hard,” said Carman on Stratton. “I couldn’t be more proud of him, and that’s why he’s in our starting lineup. He’s a tough kid, he works hard, his grades are good. It’s not an easy task to go out into the middleweights as an eighth grader, but to get a win here, it was amazing.”
Carman added on Iantorno’s comeback win, saying that “We are so proud of Adam for his awesome win tonight. He’s been working just as hard as anyone else, and it shows. His heart for this shows, and he’s in great shape to come back from being headlocked.”
In between the victories for the Lions, was Fillmore/Keshequa’s lone win from Ryan Vedder at 126 pounds, as he pinned Hayden Cunningham in 56 seconds to record the win.
Wellsville would go on to record four forfeits in the last five matches, with Matt Ritter (152 pounds), Xander Outman (160 pounds), Noah Black (172 pounds) and Gabe Black (215 pounds) all tallying the decisions.
In between them all was the last win for the Lions, recorded by Shane Davidson who finished off his regular season career on the brightest notes by recording a 1:42 pin-fall win over Gage Hartman at 189 pounds.
The victory was witnessed by his older sister Morgan, who was watching live via FaceTime and cheering her younger brother on from the hospital in Ohio. Morgan was involved in a serious car accident in Ohio late last week, which has resulted in multiple injuries requiring surgery. She is now in very high spirits and is resting comfortably. She is set to have her final surgery this morning in Toledo, where her family will rejoin her.
As for Shane, Carman hopes for big things from his senior come this postseason, while Davidson himself looks to fulfill a promise he made with his sister — winning a Sectional title.
“We’re thinking of his sister, and I think Morgan would want him to scrap hard just like he did tonight for us. She wants him to go after that Sectional title. It’s a family focus any way you look at it. That kid is all the way around, a great kid. I love him to death, and I’m so proud of the work that he has put in this year, and in year’s past. He has some really big goals, and hopefully, everything begins to start paying off for him.”– Wellsville Varsity Wrestling coach Tyler Carman on Shane Davidson and his sister, Morgan
We at WellsvilleSports.com would like to extend our continued best wishes, thoughts and prayers to the Davidson family, as Morgan continues to remain in high spirits during her recovery. If you would like to help the family with any donations towards her road to recovery, you can visit the GoFundMe page the family has set up, here.
The regular season is over, and the Lions will now begin preparations to take Section V’s big stage over the road at Canisteo-Greenwood on Saturday, as they enter the 14-team field, alongside Bolivar-Richburg, in the Class B2 Championships.
As for what to expect? Carman says quite simply: “We’re going to have some fun, wrestle hard, and hopefully bring some hardware home with some champs.”
102 – Blake Geffers (WLSV) def. Jules Cotton (F/K) by pin, :17.
110 – Jayden Acker (WLSV) def. Graham Howe (F/K) by tech fall, 15-0.
118 – Adam Iantorno (WLSV) def. Alivia Cartwight (F/K) by pin, 4:01.
126 – Ryan Vedder (F/K) def. Hayden Cunningham (WLSV) by pin, :56.
132 – Jack Cicirello (WLSV) def. Gavin Bush (F/K) by tech fall, 16-0.
138 – Brayden Riley (WLSV) def. Kalen Beardsley (F/K) by pin, 3:01.
145 – Landon Stratton (WLSV) def. Eli Strickland (F/K) by pin, 5:36.
152 – Matt Ritter (WLSV) by for.
160 – Xander Outman (WLSV) by for.
172 – Noah Black (WLSV) by for.
189 – Shane Davidson (WLSV) def. Gage Hartman (F/K) by pin, 1:42.
215 – Gabe Black (WLSV) by for.
*285 – Double for.