State wrestling to explore new format

By Mike Zummo
Posted 10/28/20

ut of selecting at-large bids to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship tournament, as the Executive Committee approved a two-year pilot program to fill out the …

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State wrestling to explore new format

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ut of selecting at-large bids to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship tournament, as the Executive Committee approved a two-year pilot program to fill out the brackets with automatic bids, beginning with the 2020-21 season.

The current procedure for determining at-large entries, which was designed by Section 9 coordinator and former Newburgh and Wallkill coach Jeff Cuilty, chose the entries based on points.

Cuilty said Section 9 was in favor of exploring the change.

The current system was said to be very cumbersome and time consuming and was based on wrestlers obtaining championship points to they can be invited to states if they didn’t win a sectional title.

“There was a lot of pressure among the section chairmen to get the names to me,” Cuilty said. “Sometimes there would be mistakes where we’d get into the calculations. We’d tell a kid in the morning he was going to states, and then find a calculation error and then have to tell the kid he’s not going.”

Under the new system, only wrestlers that finish first, second or third in their sectional championships will be invited to the states. All sections will send their champion.

For the at-large bids the sections will be ranked based on power points earned over the past three state championships by the section champion, which ensures all sections have an equal opportunity to earn power points. If the section champion is not participating, then the highest-ranking wrestler from the section’s points will be accumulated.

Cuilty said the new system will mean that there will be more kids per weight class at the state championships. Division I used to have 16 and Division II 17 under the old system. Under the new system, Division I will have 21 entries and Division II will have 22.

“More kids at the tournament is generally a good thing,” Cuilty said. “And then more kids mean it’s watered down a little bit.”

The top 2 sections will qualify three wrestlers (1 champion and 2 at-large), while the next five sections will send two qualifiers (champion and at-large entry).

Section 9 will get two Division I entries in 2020-21 and one Division II entry. Under the old system, Section 9 usually averaged about 4-6 wild card entries. This year, with 13 weight classes, the area will have 2 in each weight class.

The at-large entries would be the second-place finisher, which means Section 9 would have to decide.

Would they take the loser of the championship match or would they have the second- and third-place wrestlers wrestle off to a true second?

“The question becomes is the kid who lost the championship match the second-best wrestler,” Cuilty said.

“I’m going to poll the coaches on what they want to do,” Cuilty said. “The choices are we can take the kids who faced each other. If a match were required, when would you do it? We could do it 45 minutes after the championships, but that could interfere with awards. My recommendation is to have the kids come back the next day during the Division II tournament because we can just slip those matches in.”

If they don’t want to have the wrestle off, there could be tiebreaking criteria such as head-to-head matches or other criteria.

“I don’t have a horse in the race,” Cuilty said. “It’s whatever the coaches want to do.”

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