The 4th Annual Dunkirk Marauder Invitational Dual Meet Wrestling Tournament is proving to be the biggest and best yet.
The event, which started Friday morning and will continue on through this afternoon, includes 12 teams and hundreds of wrestlers making use of two gymnasiums and six mats at Dunkirk High School.
"This year we decided to go up to 12 teams," Dunkirk coach Joe McMurdy said. "Every year it's gotten a little bit bigger. It's a dual meet so every kid will get 10 matches over the two days."
OBSERVER?Photo by Sean Pecuch
Dunkirk’s Billy Seiders, back, goes to work on Jamestown’s Dakota Lewis, front, during Friday’s 4th Annual Dunkirk Marauder Invitational Dual Meet Wrestling Tournament.
Dunkirk’s Nick Jones, back, wrestles Jamestown’s Jacis Blake.
This year, four news teams - Niagara Falls, Frontier, Southwestern and Grand Island - join eight returning teams from Jamestown, Eden, Gowanda, Lackawana, Newark, Lewiston-Porter, Lake Shore and Dunkirk.
The depth creates some fantastic competition.
"We come here to see what Section 6 has got," Newark coach Ryan Phelps said. "We get to wrestle some of the big schools and small schools."
Phelps is no stranger to the invitational as he brought his Newark squad back after a great experience last year.
"We really enjoyed ourselves last year," he said, "We're really enjoying ourselves this year. We just took a close, hard loss to Lew-Port. They're a real tough team. That's why we're here."
Dunkirk's event is garnering quite a reputation in the wrestling community. A well-run tournament with top-notch competition is sure to attract more teams.
"We've always heard there's some really tough competition here," Southwestern coach Mark Arnold added. "There's been years when some of the top-ranked teams in the state have been here. There was an opening this year and we jumped on it."
This year is no exception as some of the best wrestlers and teams in Western New York gather at Marauder Drive to battle it out.
"The last couple years we've had several kids who ranked in the state," McMurdy continued. "This year I think we have 20, maybe 21 kids who are ranked in Western New York. We try to keep it good competition. We want them to get quality matches and get as many matches as we can get them."
"This is the most matches you can get in two days," Arnold added. "There are some stud teams here like Lew-Port and Newark. There's some very solid teams. This will show us where our guys are at this point in the season. This is a good test."
"It's absolutely a good test," Phelps agreed. "At this point, we've taught quite a bit of stuff. When you start getting up against some good competition, you makes mistakes that you can learn more from. We're just glad to be out here. We want to see where we're at."
The layout of the tournament is across two separate gymnasiums, a fact that could throw a monkey wrench into the planning process, but coaches were quick to praise Dunkirk and McMurdy for the tournament's efficiency.
"I've seen it cause problems at meets before," Phelps said of the layout. "I think (McMurdy) does a great job of keeping it running smooth. He runs a nice tournament."
"I think the way Coach McMurdy has this running right now is a great setup," Arnold agreed. "It keeps things rolling and keeps everyone moving."
As successful as the tournament has been, 12 teams is probably the most it can accommodate.
"We don't want teams just sitting around," McMurdy explained. "We want teams continually wrestling. We don't want any teams to get byes. I think this would be it. We wouldn't want to go any bigger than 12."
The tournament will continue until late this afternoon and spectators are encouraged to attend. The event uses both the main gymnasium and the auxiliary gymnasium. Entrance is on the Marauder Drive side of the school.