Last year, in its first season, NYWAY held a state championship tournament on the campus of Cornell University featuring over 650 wrestlers. The event featured some of the Empire State’s top talent, including recently crowned state champions Yianni Diakomihalis and William Koll, silver medalists Vincent DePrez and Connor Lapresi as well as several other placers such as Ryan Hetrick (third at 99), Kellen Devlin (third at 120), Tanner Lapiene (fourth at 99), Ryan O’Rourke (fourth at 106) and Kelan McKenna (sixth at 99).
However, despite the turnout and the talent on display, NYWAY President Clint Wattenberg highlighted a few things he wanted to focus on for the 2013 event.
“Moving into next year, we need to expand our reach downstate,” Wattenberg said following the tournament in 2012. “Ultimately, we’re working toward a true New York State championship, unifying the state for New York developmental wrestling from youth through high school.”
The first steps toward that goal will come to fruition in the next two weeks as two areas that didn’t heavily participate last year – Long Island and the Hudson Valley – will hold their first Regional Qualifiers.
Long Island will take the mat first. On Sunday, March 3 action will begin at Eastport South Manor High School in Suffolk County at 8 a.m. for Divisions 1-3 (ranging from birth years 2002-2006). Then, a second session will commence at 12 (for wrestlers born from 1994-2001). Weigh-ins for the event will take place on Thursday night.
MSG Varsity/Fox Sports wrestling analyst Nick Garone, who is also the Tournament Director, is ready for the first NYWAY endeavor on Long Island.
“We’re really excited for the weekend,” he said. “It’s a busy weekend, but at the end of the day anything that gives kids a chance to see more competition is a good thing. Long Island may be a small part of the state, but it’s a huge region for wrestling and getting more involvement will be a benefit. NYWAY has done a nice job investing in growing the sport and giving kids great opportunities to travel and see new competition. It will be exciting to introduce Long Island to the organization.”
Similarly, Jeff Jones, The Tournament Director for the Hudson Valley event, is pleased to be hosting the first Regional at Pine Bush High School on March 10. Action should get underway at 9:30 a.m.
“This year, we’re taking the temperature in this area and so far there’s been a really good response,” Jones said. “I think one of the appealing things is that it’s a K-12 tournament so it gives high school kids another chance, especially if they weren’t happy with the way their season ended. It’s another chance to wrestle great competition around the state and another chance at a state title. For wrestlers of all ages, it’s all about getting kids more quality competition and more mat time and I think NYWAY is helping get the sport to another level in New York by providing that.”
Jones was enthusiastic about bringing the Regional to the Hudson Valley area after his son competed in several NYWAY events last year, including the State Championships in Ithaca.
“The tournament at Cornell was amazing,” he said. “Rather than wrestling in a high school, it was in an incredible college venue with very good competition. It makes it a really neat experience for the kids. I think the venue for this year in the rink will be great too.”
The venue Jones is referring to is the First Arena in Elmira on March 16-17 for the second annual NYWAY State Championships. Wrestlers in Division 6 (born 1993-1996) as well as any varsity wrestler that qualified for their NYSPHAA Sectional championships are pre-qualified for the NYWAY States. All others must qualify at their local regional championship (there are eight regional qualifiers). For more information or to register, please visit here.
For information on the many upcoming youth events in New York State, check out the calendars on the following links:
To report tournament information and results, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.