This one is for the high school wrestling community. If you don’t follow the sport then much of what you’re about to read would not be of interest, but if you enjoy “grappling” then read on.

new york wrestling statesThis coming weekend the New York State Public High School Athletic Association wrestling championships take place at the Times Union Center in Albany. Wrestlers from both the Div 1 (large school) and Div II (small school) classification will compete for individual state championships at the various weight classes. The format and location has changed over the past fifty-two years, but the “States” as they have always been known are still the focal point for every high school wrestler.

When the “States” began in 1963 at Cornell University the number of competitors and participating schools was much less than the two division format held today. Many of the schools competing had only introduced wrestling as a sport a few years earlier.

Today there are 480 competitors in the two divisions, fifteen weights and sixteen wrestlers per weight. With the two classifications of school sizes and the “at large” bids awarded after the various Sectional Championships there has never been more competition for the coveted State title.

Single Elimination

For anyone who wrestled in New York in the 1960’s and early 70’s you wouldn’t recognize the tournament format. Back in the day the tournament was single elimination meaning if you were to lose your opening match your weekend was over. Today the tournament is like most high school tournaments in that it is a double elimination event.

Legendary University at Buffalo Coach Ed Michaels told me that he would “mine” the tournament losers back during the single elimination years, looking for outstanding wrestlers from the top Sections who stumbled in the one match. Countless wrestlers, who in today’s format would go on to place as high as 3rd in the weight class, instead took a shower and watched inferior wrestlers advance on the other side of the bracket.

Morning Weigh-Ins

Another change that took place in 2007 was the institution of the second day morning weigh-in. Prior to 2007 a wrestler would “weigh out” at the conclusion of Friday’s competition, allowed one pound over his morning scratch weight. That enabled the wrestler to eat and drink Friday evening, returning Saturday morning, sometimes more than ten pounds heavier than the designated weight. The change to a Saturday morning weigh-in forced wrestlers to maintain their weight through the night, not bulking up for the second day of competition.


The location of the “States” moved from year to year in the 1960’s and early 70’s, but settled on Syracuse in 1974. The central location of Syracuse worked and the tournament remained there until 2004 when it moved west to Buffalo for a year.

The move from Syracuse was in part because the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena in Syracuse was not able to accommodate the larger tournament format of Div 1 and Div II divisions.

The “States” have been located at the Times Union Center in Albany for the past six years and that city has done a fine job of hosting the event. Still, many miss that yearly drive to downtown Syracuse and viewing the tournament from the cozy wooden seats in the War Memorial.

Two State Champs

Since 2004 the two separate divisions means there are two New York State Champions at the same weight. This is the format used by many other states for years and New York was a bit late to the table. However, with the decrease in population in New York over the past ten years there has been talk that New York could be returning to the single division format as it had done for forty-four years.

If you are a fan of the sport of amateur wrestling then the two days in Albany is a banquet of fine grappling. Young men and yes, sometimes women, give it their all for two days on the eight mats in the Times Union Center. Careers are made and sometimes tainted by the performance over those two days, but the memories rarely fade.

Check out for live brackets and permanent photo galleries over the course of the weekend.




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