It hasn’t been 100 calendar days since the end of the high school wrestling season in New York, and already area athletes are practicing and competing in offseason events in preparation for the 2019-2020 season.
The 3rd Annual Ilio DiPaolo Nickel City Duals put on by the Western New York Wrestling Coaches Association (WNYWCA) with the support of the DiPaolo Family and numerous volunteers and contributors was hosted on Saturday at Buffalo Riverworks. The outdoor venue at Riverworks affords a fun and exciting opportunity for wrestling to be experienced in a setting completely different from the long days in gymnasiums from early November through the last weekend of February each winter.
“The venue sells itself…its awesome, there’s nothing like it, anywhere,” said WNYWCA chairman and former Lockport head coach Joe Scapelliti. “I think we are in a good place right now. We continue to get bigger and better each year.”
The Duals have grown in size and popularity in the three editions of the tournament so far since 2017 which started with twenty-four teams. On Saturday, twenty-eight club teams consisting of athletes from across western New York and Rochester competed at Riverworks, showcasing some of the area’s top wrestlers that are graduating seniors and underclassmen.
“Our goal for next year is thirty-two teams,” said Scapelliti. “Thirty-two is our goal and would allow us to stay in one day and everybody will get their five duals. One of our goals is to attract teams from northern Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio as well.”
Superior Wrestling Club based around Palmyra-Macedon HS (Section V) took down the two-time defending champion Team X which is based around Warsaw HS (V) to win the 2019 Nickel City Duals title on Saturday.
Buffalo area clubs with athletes from Starpoint, Canisius, Lewiston-Porter, Frontier, Lancaster, St. Francis, Falconer, Lockport, Alden, East Aurora, St. Joe’s, Lackawanna, Hamburg, Niagara Wheatfield, Franklinville, Sweet Home, St. Mary’s, Niagara Falls, Grand Island, Newfane, Tonawanda, Pioneer, Akron, Iroquois, Amherst, Springville, Clarence, Chautauqua Lake, Orchard Park, Williamsville North and South, etc, all participated as well.
The tournament itself was an idea developed by area coaches that were brainstorming ways to help strengthen and grow high school wrestling in western New York. Riverworks was identified as a venue that would serve as a fun and engaging environment with plenty of space, great views, and a fresh breeze; very different from the usual gymnasium wrestling environment.
“Our mission is to grow the sport and make it better for the kids competing,” said Scapelliti. “When we came up with the idea, it was an opportunity for kids to compete, an opportunity to get better, and an opportunity for us (WNYWCA) to raise a little bit of money to provide some of the things that the Section can’t really do.”
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