FRANKLINVILLE — What Portville coach Matt Milne called a team effort allowed his Panthers to win the Franklinville Wrestling Tournament on Saturday for the first time in more than 20 years.
Portville had 17 wrestlers compete in the 49th annual tournament, and each recorded a top-six finish, led by champions Bryan Randolph (99 pounds), Mario Pascucci (106) and Dakota Mascho (152). The Panthers’ depth allowed them to easily top the 13-team field and beat out runner-up Olean, 255.5-194. The Huskies — the Big 30’s No. 1-ranked team — were short-handed but still placed seven in the championship finals, including winners Nate Gabler (113), Icar Simon (160) and Connor Walsh (195).
Portville last won the tournament in the 1997-98 season.
“Our goal has been to get to a tournament and win,” fourth-year Panthers coach Matt Milne said. “It’s been quite a while since we’ve won one, I’ve never won one since I started coaching. It means a lot to the point that it shows us kind of where we’re at. Our goal is improve this year from last year, and I think that shows that we have. I’m proud of how the kids are working. That maturing process and that growing process is starting to show up, and I couldn’t be happier how they wrestled.”
Portville’s top performers also included runners-up Roland Thompson (160), Jayden Lassiter (170) and Julian Morales (182).
Olean had Nick Bierfeldt (132), Kyle Liguori (145), Gavin Kulp (152) and Tanner Hulse (220) take second.
Two finals pitted Portville and Olean, with Mascho decisioning Kulp 4-1 in a matchup of honorable mentions in the Western New York rankings, and WNY’s third-ranked 160-pounder Simon pinning Thompson in 3:56.
“Olean had some guys out of the lineup, but Portville wrestled great,” said Franklinville assistant coach and tournament director Ryan Jordan.
Said Milne: “Olean, they’re the team in the area. They had some key people missing today, but I don’t take anything away from our kids. They wrestled awesome and deserve all the credit they got.”
He added: “It was nice to see Bryan Randolph, a little eighth-grader, come in and win that 99 bracket, we had a couple of seventh-graders in the lineup that are scoring points. The core for our team is those three in the middle — our 152, our 160 and 170. Those three are key, but I’ve got to say it’s a team effort.
“Those kids came in and had the attitude it’s a team effort, and they wrestled like a team effort. When we were in the consolations, they all knew that each match mattered in the end. Olean was going into the finals with seven wrestlers in the finals and knowing that they had the capability of scoring lots of points with those seven wrestlers ... because all seven of them are quality wrestlers. Our young kids knew that, and they wrestled well.”
Avoca 132-pounder Kade Slayton was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler after decisioning Bierfeldt in his title bout. Avoca also received the team sportsmanship award.
Host Franklinville had three champions and made some tourney history. Nolan Palmatier (126), Cleon Lawton (170) and Kyle Wittenrich (182) won their weight classes. Palmatier became the first third-generation Franklinville Tournament champion, following titles by his maternal grandfather Dave Moranski Sr. in 1969 and uncle Dave Moranski Jr. in 1988.
“That’s pretty amazing,” Jordan said. “We’ve got a lot of father-and-son champions, and stuff like that we keep track of.”
The tournament also honored retiring Franklinville scorekeeper Nancy Weigel, who has held the role since the early 1970s.
Third-place Wellsville boasted the 145-pound champion, Blake Beckwith, as well as a pair of second-place finishers in Eagan Enke (195) and Mekha Dorrough (285).
Fillmore was led by runners-up Matt Hatch (99) and Colton Rosier (126). Salamanca’s Trevor Ellis was the second-place 120-pounder, while Franklinville also had Cayden Hatch (106) and Skylar Coleman (138) take second.