Niagara Gazette — Niagara Falls wrestlers DeQuan Ralands and Donny McCoy couldn't be much more different off the mat.
Ralands, clean cut and built, wants to be a marine when he completes his senior season and looks like he'll play the role well. McCoy, skinny and shaggy-haired, is a sophomore with no pressing need to ponder his future.
On the mat, though, the two become very similar, fueled by a fierce competitiveness and a desire to be great.
Those traits have led to both having great success this season. Both rank near the top of New York State in wins and wins by pin fall, leading to a friendly rivalry that helps fuel the competitive fire.
Ralands wrestles at 182 pounds and leads the state and ranks 12th in the country with 34 pins this season, which broke the school record of 31 set by Matt Johnson in 2010. After going roughly .500 last season and finishing fourth in Section VI, he's compiled a record of 43-3, also best in the state. He's earned tournament victories at Webster, where he went 9-0 with eight pins, and Barker, and went 10-0 at the Dunkirk Duals.
Niagara Falls head coach D.J. Giancola has coached Ralands for his entire career. Giancola got his start with the Niagara Falls modified team in 2007 — the same year Ralands first started wrestling as a seventh grader.
"I've been able to watch him grow into the young man he is today, and it's been a pleasure," Giancola said. "Throughout his career, he's always been middle of the road. To get to the point he's at right now, it's been all about hard work and dedication and the love of the sport."
Ralands credits his turnaround to the work he did this summer with the Niagara Falls Powercats, a local wrestling club where he trained all offseason.
"I kind of noticed I was getting fat, and I was like, 'Oh no, this isn't going to happen,'" he said. "I wanted to get in top shape."
McCoy, meanwhile, has been wrestling since he was seven years old, when he started with those same Powercats.
He trails Ralands by only four pins with 30, good for second in the state. His record stands at 40-4 this season, and he's amassed over 90 wins in his short career. His tournament record includes first-place finishes at NCCC, Maple Grove and Barker, and like Ralands he earned a 10-0 record at the Dunkirk Duals.
"All the work Donny did growing up with the Powercats that made him the wrester he is today," Giancola said. "I'm just here to help him expand on that and keep going down the path he's already in."
Despite all his accomplishments, Giancola said McCoy has managed to maintain a level head.
"There's always room to grow. Every day, every match, there's always something he can take away from it," the coach said. "He doesn't settle to just win."
The duo will look to lead the Wolverines in a big dual meet at 5 p.m. tonight, when Niagara Falls (5-1 NFL) travels to Lew-Port (5-1) for the final league match of the season. The winner of the meet will claim at least a share of the Niagara Frontier League regular season title, pending how Lockport (5-1) fares against Ken West (3-3, but coming off an upset of previously-undefeated Lew-Port).Follow high school sports reporter Mike Meiler on Twitter @mikemeiler for updates on your local teams.