The 2015 New York State high school wrestling tournament is in Albany this weekend, or as the wrestlers call it, “The States”. It’s a long journey for the wrestlers involved and I don’t mean the drive there.

The StatesThese young men and sometimes women, sacrifice for most of the year in one way or another to get this far. Many have sacrificed for many years to qualify for this trip to Albany and most will go home disappointed. Yet, a select few will know what it’s like to stand on the top of the award steps accepting the title as State Champion.

Old school wrestlers will tell you just getting to the State tournament was a major accomplishment. That is because before place finishers at the Class tournaments were allowed to advance to the qualifier and before wildcard berths at the State tournament, only one wrestler advanced each step of the way. That meant each wrestler usually had to win a minimum of six single elimination matches to earn a trip to the States. One slip along the way and a full high school career of goals was dashed.

Then at the State tournament there was no form of seeding other than keeping returning State champions in opposite brackets. Only those who advanced to the semi-finals placed in the top four and in some cases the second best wrestler in the weight class could have been eliminated in their very first match of the tournament.

So much has changed for the better in the sport since those days. Wrestlers have the freedom to lose a match at the Class tournament and the Qualifier and still win a State crown. Today, the best wrestler over a three week period is the one who usually comes out on top.

Another change in the trip to the States is the fact today many of the wrestlers have already faced each other before arriving in Albany. Today with so many big regional tournaments in season like the Eastern States and the out of season national tournaments, the top wrestlers have already met.

Years ago wrestlers didn’t travel beyond their own Section, sometimes their own league. A wrestler could have a favorite move and his opponent not be totally aware of it or his style. Certainly there was no video scouting available or internet results to review to see who beat who.

So, this weekend the two grapplers who make it to the finals will stand facing each other on the mat and will have already wrestled that match over and over again in their heads. Some are able to raise their skill to meet the challenge, some can have it altered by the pressure of the moment.

Heartbreak is part of the two day event, for wrestlers and family alike. Mom and Dad sit in the stands praying for success and anxiously awaiting the moment when their son is called. A victory means the dream stays alive while an early loss quickly lowers expectations. With two losses this season comes to an end and for some, the career.

To be the eventual winner in Albany means the accomplishment of a dream. A very select few will expect to win and add it to a resume that will mean success in college as well. To the rest it will still be a weekend etched in their memory for the rest of the their lives.

Yes, the State tournament is many things, depending on the individual wrestler. Yet to me and everyone else it’s still simply known as “The States”.



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