Tag Archives: Coach Gene Mills

Mat-ter Of Fact: December 22, 2012

by Dan Farfaglia

Coach Gene Mills has built the Phoenix Firebirds wrestling program into a premier powerhouse in Section 3 wrestling.

That was obvious this past Wednesday.

Before a packed gym at G. Ray Bodley High School and live television coverage once again provided by Time Warner Cable, history was made on a few different fronts.

The defending Division Two state champions defeated the Fulton Red Raiders by a score of 61-16. It was the first time that Fulton lost on its own turf since 2002 and the first by a Section 3 Team since 1987.

Also, in regards to the lopsided score at the end, 40 or more years may have passed since an opposing team won by such a large margin.

History also repeated itself with new Fulton coach Chris Stalker making his debut at home with a loss. Former coach Mike Conners suffered a similar fate back in the 1987-1988 school year.

It was anticipated that it was going to be a difficult night for the host school due to the fact that three key starters were out of the lineup. Mitch Woodworth (112 pounds), Tom Hill (120 pounds) and Austin Whitney (126 pounds) weren’t available due to injuries and other issues.

The action began at 152 pounds with Phoenix state champion Nick Tighe winning by technical fall over senior captain Mike DeMauro.

At 160 pounds, Rowdy Prior pinned Fulton’s Sam Rios in the second period. Phoenix kept its momentum going with three more pins provided by Justin Rhodes (170 pounds), William Hillard (182 pounds) and Mike Mironti (195 pounds) over Ryan Hall, Todd Oakes, and Matt Marshall, respectively.

Phoenix had acquired 29 points before Fulton finally got on the board. At 220 pounds, senior captain Derek Owen won by a takedown in over time. At 285 pounds, the Red Raiders’ Brennan Roberge got the only pin of the night for his team, pinning Derrick Button in 27 seconds.

At 99 pounds, the Firebirds` Jason Nipper pinned Joey Albelgore in the second period. Fulton was able to get four team points when Kirby LaBeef won by a major decision 8-0 over Alex Brutcher at 106 pounds.

To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

Mat-ter Of Fact: December 19, 2012

by Dan Farfaglia

Tonight’s match between Fulton and Phoenix marks the 12th “showdown” between these two teams in their short but very intense rivalry.

The Firebirds never came close to beating Fulton until the 2006 Section III Duals quarterfinals when Fulton’s Matt Bogardus won a major decision in the final bout to give Fulton a 30-29 win.

Including that dual, these two teams have met a total of 11 times since with Fulton holding an edge on the series six to five. This intense and exciting rivalry has come down to the last bout of the dual determining the winner seven out of 11 meetings.

Last season, the Raiders emerged from the Birds nest with a 36-34 win but lost to the Firebirds in the finals of the Section III Duals 33-32.

Tonight’s match at G. Ray Bodley High School is expected to be every bit as exciting as the last eleven.

Both schools have been hit hard by graduation. The Firebirds graduated state champion Tyler Button and three-time sectional champ Austyn Hayes. Both are now wrestling for Edinboro University.

Fulton graduated state tournament place-finisher Adam Wallace and two sectional champions in Nick Woodworth and Tony Torrese.

The Firebirds are led this year by Rowdy Prior (152 pounds) and New York State Champion Nick Tighe (138 pounds).

Other standouts for Phoenix include Nate Dietz (145 pounds), Justin Rhodes (160 pounds), Brad Dietz (120 pounds) and Mike Mironti (145 pounds).

Fulton is lead by two-time Section III Champion Tommy Hill (120 pounds) and Section III Tournament finalist Mitch Woodworth (113 pounds).

Other Fulton standouts are Joey Abelgore (99 pounds), Austin Whitney (126 pounds), Brandon Hill (132 pounds) and Brennan Roberge 285 (pounds).

This is the first “showdown” dual for the Raiders’ new head coach, Chris Stalker. He replaced Hall of Fame Coach Mike Conners a few months ago as the Fulton program’s leader.

Veteran Coach Gene Mills has turned Phoenix into a wrestling powerhouse since his arrival a decade ago. His teams have been consistent contenders for league, sectional and state recognition.

Phoenix has been ranked in the state rankings for the Small School Division for the past eight seasons winning a state title in 2008 and 2012.

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397