Ward one of three Clarence wrestlers to win titles, team wins championship at ECICs
In double-overtime of a grueling first-place match, the Red Devils heavyweight had just enough left in the tank to score a late takedown in a 4-2 decision over Lake Shore’s Luke Catalano in the 285-pound championship bout.
“I definitely knew conditioning would be an important part of this match,” Ward said after collecting his first-place patch. “So I was working all week, just working as hard as possible to get this victory.
“I knew it was going to be a tough match; I knew it was going to go down to the wire,” he added. “Definitely, the extra conditioning played a big role.”
It was also some sweet revenge for Ward. A year ago, the same two met for the ECIC championship and it was Catalano that scored a 3-1 overtime victory.
“To be able to get that one was nice,” Clarence coach Jason Chase said. “He’s been wanting to get that one back for a year now. A year in the making, he finally got the upper hand. That was a good win for Nate.”
His title was one of three championships for the host Red Devils, who won the team title for a second straight year. Clarence put eight competitors in the finals and had 10 place winners.
“Our guys wrestled real well,” Chase said. “To place in a tournament of this caliber is pretty good and to have eight in the finals is even more impressive. Three champions coming out of here, it was a great tournament for us.”
The Red Devils, who have been the dominant team in Western New York this season, enjoyed another great showing at a recent tournament.
Clarence showed it can battle with anyone in the state, taking fifth at the 30th annual Union-Endicott duals in early January, the best showing ever by a Section VI team at that event.
“I’m extremely happy with the team, we’ve been a great success,” Ward said. “Great accomplishments from this team, I’m so proud of all my teammates.”
Clarence has a number of wrestlers with a legitimate chance at making some serious noise in the postseason.
When the Red Devils head to the Times Union Center in Albany for the Feb. 22-23 for the state tournament, Ward plans on being among them.
“I’m really excited,” Ward said. “I hope to do really well this postseason. I’m hoping to make it to states this season, that’s definitely my goal.”