Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ideas for making this week more exciting

February 12. 2014 8:00AM
By Dave Rosengrant

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All of District 2, especially the Wyoming Valley Conference, has done wonderful things with wrestling over the last several years.

From the inception of the WVC Tournament in 2010 to moving the district events to the Kingston Armory, it seems like every situation is ideal.

Truth is, there could always be some tweaking.

Take a look at this week of activities as a perfect example. There are eight duals on the schedule involving WVC teams with absolutely no meaning. Why is there no meaning? Because coaches would prefer to rest their wrestlers for the individual postseason rather than risk injury to a star.

This week in District 2 generally consists of meets against teams from other divisions or other conferences. With district duals and division championships decided in all four divisions (two each in WVC and LL), there really is no need for duals to be held this week.

Sure, there is the possibility for good matchups once in a while.

But then I am reminded of last year at this time when Lake-Lehman was traveling to Wyoming Valley West in a battle of WVC division champs. There was a chance of seeing two past state qualifiers squaring off.

Well, that turned into a disappointing act when there were eight combined forfeits, including the potential state qualifier match. (By the way, the two teams meet tonight at Lehman in the same scenarios).

I’m not just calling out one or two teams here, because many teams do things like this at one point or another throughout the season.

Don’t worry. There are remedies to fix this.

Make crossover meets optional

I remember a few years back at a seeding meeting where one coach said that he would prefer not to wrestle teams from other divisions or leagues because it’s more productive using those competition points at a duals or individual tournament. Competing against teams from other divisions or leagues is not always beneficial to both teams due to level of competition.

Sure, there’s likely more expenses involved, since going to tournaments requires travel. But it cuts down on blowout duals.

All 14 WVC teams had at least two interdivisional duals scheduled this season. Prior to Tuesday’s action, only twice did Division II teams win, and both were over Crestwood, which is having a down season.

Those matches are good for senior, alumni and Hall of Fame nights, but they can be scheduled at many times throughout the season. Let’s remember that the teams in in their respective divisions for a reason.

Move the WVC Tournament

If the crossover duals are eliminated, that frees up space to move the WVC Tournament to this weekend because there wouldn’t be any meaningless duals occurring.

When the league event was created, the main reasoning for holding it in January was that the district’s junior high tournament is held this weekend. Well, that tourney has been extinct for three years now. There has been a Lake-Lehman junior high event in the past — attempting to take the place of a district event — but that is not held anymore either. The Lackawanna League conference tournament is held Saturday, so a move seems logical.

Moving the WVC event to this weekend gives a weekend in January for teams to go to another tournament if they wish or to schedule those crossover divisional or league meets. It also builds drama, which is what the sport needs.

To make things more interesting, make it relevant to the postseason. Everyone will still participate at districts, but make it count for seeding purposes. And if you don’t wrestle, or come down with an injury or illness, you need a special exemption to participate in the next round and will get a lower seed.

Imagine the excitement of Valley West’s Travis Roper and Lake-Lehman’s Austin Harry, now both at 132 pounds and state qualifiers from last season in Class 3A and 2A, bringing the down the house in a final before embarking on what both hope is a long run in the PIAA Championships. That’s better than having a dual and a potential match between the two. This way, the whole valley can see it and you know a few days before whether or not it’s going to happen.

Just about every other district in the state has sectional tournaments this weekend. They are qualifiers for the respective district events. D2 doesn’t need qualifiers, but it gets the area on track with the rest of the state.

Create a duals tourney

Now, filling that void in January in a team’s schedule vacated by moving the WVC event. If teams don’t want to travel to Erie or Allentown or somewhere else out of D2 and don’t want to schedule crossover meets, how about a coach or a few coaches take the initiative to create a duals tournament and invite many WVC or District 2 teams?

Instead of the chance of getting one match for a grappler, it creates the possibility for numerous, while making up for competition points. There are hardly any tournaments in Luzerne County on a yearly basis. Having more creates a buzz, getting more fans, parents and other student bodies involved.

This ‘n’ That

• Wyoming Seminary is so focused on knocking off national power Blair Academy in a few weeks at Prep Nationals, wrestlers, administrators and many others were involved in making a video about the subject. To see it, go to YouTube and search for “Wyoming Seminary Wrestling: A Day in the life.”

Warning … it is very comical, but shows how seriously frustrating the team is about taking second to its nemesis six out of the last seven years. Oh yeah, there’s a rap song at the end, too.

•As mentioned above, the Lackawanna League Tournament is this weekend. All 13 teams will compete on Saturday at Scranton High School. If district duals was an indication of what to expect, the team race should be a dogfight between West Scranton and Delaware Valley, while Western Wayne isn’t too far behind.

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