When the New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced cutbacks to scheduling sporting events, some wrestling teams got creative to increase the number of matches for their athletes.
One team, Colonie, decided to change the format of its annual Linda Stuart Memorial Tournament. Instead of a one-day ladder competition for individuals, it became a two-day, 12-team dual meet tournament.
Colonie coach Matt Stein said the decision came down to giving his wrestlers 10 guaranteed bouts in a dual meet format, rather than as few as two bouts in a ladder competition.
My philosophy has kind of shifted to this early in the season, I favor the dual meet to get more mat time to my kids, especially our younger kids," said Stein. "The second half of the year, we're doing individual tournaments."
Gaining mat time became slightly more difficult when NYSPHSAA trimmed the number of points a wrestler could accumulate during the regular season from 22 to 20 points. Wrestlers are given one point for each dual match and two points for each tournament they participate in.
Sensing that the reduction would mean fewer opportunities to wrestle, Stein said the decision to switch the format was an easy one.
"When the state made the cuts, we said, 'Well, let's get more matches,'" said Stein. "Besides, this is becoming a more popular [tournament] format around the state."
The decision turned out to be a good one for Stein. Besides landing several teams that had come to the Stuart Memorial Tournament in the past " Hudson Falls, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, Minisink Valley, Monroe-Woodbury and Scotia-Glenville " he also got commitments from Long Island powers such as Rocky Point and Division.
"This is, by far, the toughest tournament that we'll come to this year as a dual meet," said R-C-S coach Henry Mormile Jr.