Dunkirk Duals wrestling tourney finds positives in downsizing
By CRAIG HARVEY
OBSERVER Sports Editor
The annual Dunkirk Duals wrestling tournament kicked off Tuesday at Dunkirk High School and will continue today, beginning at 9 a.m.
With the tournament reaching nearly 20 teams in the past, Dunkirk coach Joe McMurdy decided to downsize a bit, as only seven teams competed — Dunkirk, Fredonia, Southwestern, Gowanda, Lackawanna, East Aurora and Lake Shore.
“The last couple years we have gone to smaller groups,” McMurdy said. “The same teams have stuck with us, but we have gone smaller. Overall, you have limited help, so it is easier to set up for seven team than 18-20 teams. The competition when you have 18-20 teams together is outrageous, but we still see some good battles. I enjoy the smaller tournament, you get to watch a lot more and get out of here at a reasonable hour.”
Competition concluded around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, much to the delight of coaches, who said it was a welcome change, considering some tournaments do not end until 10:30 p.m.
Fredonia had a stellar day on the mats with a 4-0 record.
The Hillbillies defeated Southwestern, 63-21, Gowanda, 59-24, Dunkirk, 44-28, and East Aurora/Holland, 70-10.
Six wrestlers went 4-0 for Fredonia, headed by Dalton Gardner. Also having a perfect record were Brandon Wallace, Jin Kim, Lucas Green, Hector Colom and Jordan Stebbins. Meanwhile, Antonio Pagan, Giovanni Russo and Jamieson Horch went 3-1.
Tyler Winchell, Ceric Kristan and Jack Storm finished the day with two wins for Fredonia.
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“All in all, it was a good day,” Fredonia coach Joe Santilli said. “We have some work to do (today). The youngsters are finding their way and getting some confidence. This is a good test for them. Let’s see how they work through this. I hope they learn from their mistakes. With a young team, it’s exciting to watch them develop.”
The Marauders finished the day 1-2 with the other loss coming to Lake Shore. Dunkirk’s win came against East Aurora.
“We just need mat time,” McMurdy said. “Some of our kids have only had one match while others have had 16 or 17. For us, it’s finding a groove. For the first three rounds (of this tournament), I thought we did well. It’s a good early season match for us.”
Gowanda went 2-1 on Day 1 with Chuck Valone being the big bright spot. Valone went 3-0 Tuesday.
Despite the tournament being held during the week, McMurdy was pleased with the fan support.
“I was shocked we had a nice turnout,” he admitted. “I didn’t know what to expect on a Tuesday, but it was good. It’s nice when you have local teams. We don’t see Lake Shore, East Aurora or Lackawanna until the Class tourney, so it’s nice to get them in here. It’s fun when you get a nice turnout.”
McMurdy noted some strong wrestling will take place today, with Lake Shore and Fredonia squaring off. Both teams are predicted to finish in the top two for the tournament.
Admission to today’s action is $5.