Event con­tin­ues to grow

Schools use tour­ney to face top com­pe­ti­tion

Albany Times Union - - SPORTS - By Ja­son Franchuk

Utah Val­ley Univer­sity wrestling coach Greg Wil­liams has sunk a sub­stan­tial chunk of his pro­gram’s travel bud­get to make it to up­state New York this week­end.

He didn’t get every­thing he wanted for 20-grand — maybe a lit­tle more, in fact — to par­tic­i­pate in the 16th an­nual Journeymen North­east Duals and Col­le­giate Clas­sic.

The two-day tour­na­ment at Hud­son Val­ley Com­mu­nity Col­lege again pits some of the best wrestling teams from around the coun­try, in­clud­ing a first-time visit from the Divi­sion I Wolver­ines — who hail from about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, and have shipped out 16 par­tic­i­pants.

“Well, we wanted one eas­ier

dual match, be­cause we didn’t wres­tle our starters last week­end,” Wil­liams said af­ter a train­ing ses­sion at Sch­enec­tady High School. “So in that way, it didn’t hap­pen as we would’ve liked for Satur­day. But on Sun­day, we’ll be re­turn­ing all of our guys to the ‘A’ brack­ets. Frank prob­a­bly can’t make ev­ery­body per­fectly happy, but he does a good job try­ing to ap­pease ev­ery­body.”

This is Frank Popolizio Jr.’s baby. It’s turned into a grown, suc­cess­ful tour­na­ment — one that even has the NCA A’s bless­ing to op­er­ate as an “open” tour­na­ment now. That means red­shirt­ing wrestlers can com­pete in it with sup­port from their re­spec­tive teams.

A bound­less-en­ergy wrestling pro­moter that also raises tur­keys and other farm an­i­mals, and also op­er­ates a strong off­sea­son wrestling pro­gram along with work­ing as a Shenen­de­howa High as­sis­tant, Popolizio has a tour­na­ment that is worked on in some ca­pac­ity “365 days a year, ab­so­lutely” and will this year fea­ture 24 pro­grams.

The ma­jor­ity will have three dual matches on Satur­day then par­tic­i­pate in Sun­day’s round-robin tour­na­ment. Both facets pro­duce a lot of cater­ing from Popolizio in terms of gear­ing teams into the level of nu­anced com­pe­ti­tion they’re seek­ing.

Again, the tour­na­ment will fea­ture North Carolina State — coached by Popolizio’s brother, Pat.

“Pat re­minds me often that this is his most ex­pen­sive trip, too,” Popolizio said with a laugh. “I don’t take it for granted.”

Frank’s re­but­tal would be that f lour­ish­ing N.C. State has also wran­gled a bunch of tal­ented re­cruits re­cently from New York and Con­necti­cut, who have par­tic­i­pated in this event be­fore.

Popolizio’s motto is “if they see it, they’ll as­pire to be it,” re­gard­ing the promi­nence of the event in an area which doesn’t have a Divi­sion I pro­gram closer than Bing­ham­ton.

Popolizio is ex­cited to

Skip Dick­stein / Times Union

Frank Popolizio Jr., shown last year over­see­ing work­outs, has as­sem­bled a large ros­ter of tal­ented col­lege teams from around the coun­try for his an­nual wrestling tour­na­ment at Hud­son Val­ley Com­mu­nity Col­lege this week­end.

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