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Section VI Duals Reexamined; NYSPHSAA Dual Meet Championships Next Weekend

The cancellation of the Section VI Dual Meet Championships on Saturday was unexpected and highly impactful not just on the sixteen teams that qualified for it but on the rest of the state as well. Alleged concern of incoming winter weather led to the cancellation of the tournament which was supposed to be held at Lancaster HS. Saturday, January 19th was the last possible day as specified by the NYS wrestling committee to determine sectional representatives across the the eleven NYSPHSAA administrative districts. Seeding for the state Dual Meet Tournament took place on Sunday.

This weekend’s ‘Duals’ would’ve been the third of its kind in WNY. While some other sections throughout the state have had their own Dual Meet Championships for as long as over thirty years, the Section VI Duals has been growing in popularity each year since the first event in the 2016-2017 season. The event has been a showcase of the area’s best large and small school teams and programs battling one another to become Section VI Champions and have a shot at the overall NYS championship. Likewise, the Duals has also served as a measuring tool for up and coming programs looking to assert themselves as an elite regional scholastic wrestling program.

With the creation of the NYS Dual Meet Championships last season, each of the eleven NYSPHSAA sections are afforded the opportunity to host a bonafide ‘tournament’ or designate a representative team to the NYS Duals. Each section has the opportunity to send their division one (large school) and division two (small school) champion and potentially a ‘wildcard’ team in each division that is compared to other sectional runners-up and selected based on a predetermined criteria. Sections that choose to elect a representative rather than host a tournament are then ineligible to send a ‘wildcard’ team to the state Duals.

Out of the sixteen qualified teams that were awarded entries for the 2018-2019 Section VI Duals, four would have made their program’s first appearance.

In the large schools, Niagara Falls led by head coach DJ Giancola was selected to the tournament for the first time as the 4th seeded team. Orchard Park, led by head coach Jared Teal, became the first Quaker team to qualify for the Duals.

In the small schools, Portville led by head coach Matt Milne qualified for the Panther’s first Duals and received the 4th seed. Finally, East Aurora led by head coach Jeff Michel was the first Blue Devils team to receive an invitation to the Section VI Duals and were seeded 7th.

Since the Section VI Duals was officially cancelled on Friday, the #1 seeded teams in each division automatically earned a spot at next Saturday’s state championships. Olean in Division I and Falconer in Division II will represent the Section in Syracuse. Both teams hail from the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Div. I league. This will be Olean’s first trip to the state Duals and Falconer’s second as the Golden Falcons won the Section VI Div. II title last season.

The NYS committee has spent the better part of the weekend determining whether or not to allow an appeal by the Section VI staff to be approved in order to consider the Section VI Dual’s #2 seeded teams eligible for wildcards. Since the Section didn’t technically hold a championship tournament, the #2 seeded teams were originally thought to be ineligible.

On Saturday afternoon it was announced that the state would approve the appeal by Section VI thus making the #2 seeded teams eligible for wildcard selection to the state championships.

Clarence was the #2 seed for the Section VI Div. I Duals and denied the seed making the #3 seed, Niagara Wheatfield, the #2. Pioneer was the #2 seeded team in Division II.

On Sunday morning it was announced that Niagara Wheatfield had not only earned a wildcard to Syracuse but also the #2 seed in the Division I tournament behind only Section VIII (Nassau County) champion Massapequa. Pioneer, unfortunately, was not selected for the Division II wildcard.

The NYSPHSAA Dual Meet Championship kicks off at 9am on Saturday, January 26th on the campus on Onondaga Community College in Syracuse. The large and small school fields each feature twelve teams from across the eleven NYSPHSAA administrative regions.

Olean kicks off the tournament unseeded and is in a pool with Section V (Rochester/Genesee Valley) runner-up Spencerport and Section III (Central New York) champion Fulton.

Niagara Wheatfield is the second seed in Division I and will wrestle Section IV (Binghamton region) champion Chenango Forks and Section I (Hudson Valley region) champion Fox Lane in pool action.

Falconer is unseeded in Division II and will wrestle Section VII (Lake Champlain region) champion Saranac and Section II (Capital region) champion Warrensburg in pool action.

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