BY TIM TAYLOR
Valley Sports Report
ALBANY — The New York State High School Athletic Association Central Committee voted Wednesday to reduce the number of weight classes from 15 to 13 for the next two seasons.
The majority of the schools in Tioga County will not feel the affect of the change, but one which probably will is Tioga, known for its success at the lower weights classes. The previous weights of 99, 106 and 113 are now condensed to 102 and 110.
The Tigers' Gianni Silvestri won a NYSPHSAA Division II championship at 99 pounds while teammate Caden Bellis was fourth at 106. Given potential growth, both grapplers would most likely move up to 102 and 110, respectively, this season.
Depending on growth, the changes could have an impact on Owego's Cam Bundy, who placed third at states at 170 last season.
There are several changes which will not impose a major affect on teams. The 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160 and 170 weights will now be 118, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160 and 172 — posing only slight weight variations at the upper and lower ends.
However, the four upper weights will now be three — 189, 215, 285. Previously, the weights were 182, 195, 220 and 285.
"What they asked us to vote on was the 99-pound weight class and the 285-pound weight class," said SVEC coach Jesse Buck.
Buck comes from Pennsylvania where the lower weights were not as much of an issue because 7th- and 8th-graders were not allowed to compete at the high school level.
"The 99-pound weight class, I get why they would cut that," he said, noting the fact Pennsylvania's junior high programs basically mirror the high school programs.
"Ninety-nine pounds, at the varsity level, I agree with, because it's mostly made up of 7th- and 8th-graders. If you have a situation where you have a senior, it's almost always them who make it to the end. Of course, you have exceptions, like Gianni Silvestri. He just went on a tear. He has been going on a tear, so you have some kids like that."
Buck was also concerned about the 285-pound class, but the heavyweight division is here to stay. Essentially, the upper weights were condensed to eliminate one weight. Previously, the upper weights included 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285. Now, they've been restructured to 172, 189, 215 and 285.
Upper weights will be a consideration at Newark Valley, where the Cardinals' strength lies in their upper weights. Connor Jacobson (160), Collin McCall (170), Cam Carrier (170), Joey Woodmansee (195), Josh Duke (220) and a couple of others accounted for nearly half the team's victories.
"I'm willing to go any of the top three weights," said Duke, who placed third in the Section IV Division II tournament at 220 last season. "If I can make it down to 189, I will go 189. If I have to go 215, I'll get to 215. If I have to go 285, I'll bump up."
Duke is working to get down to 215 and noted that Carrier and Woodmansee have gained weight as well. Carrier was No. 2 on the team with 36 wins, trailing only state placer Josh Post (37). Duke won 31 bouts, Woodmansee won 75 percent of his matches in an abbreviated season due to injury, and Jacobson picked up 26 wins.
The state wrestling committee, citing the failure of numerous small school programs to fill lower weights, as well as some at the upper weights, had previously approved the change. The central committee voted 28-13 in favor of it.
102, 110, 118, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 172, 189, 215, 285
99, 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220, 285
IN PHOTO: Tioga's Gianni Silvestri. ... VSR STOCK PHOTO.
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