Making a case for wild cards

Patrick Newell

The New York State Wrestling Tournament Committee will announce its wild card entries to round out the tournament field on Wednesday. From where we sit – behind my soft-touch keyboard – at least two Chenango County wrestlers should be shoo-ins to appear in the field, and perhaps one or two others deserve an opportunity.
At the top of the wild-card list should be Unadilla Valley senior Tyler Peet. His only losses this season came to the best of the best. Already a two-time Section IV champion, Peet dropped two tight decisions to defending “state champion” Derek Heyman of Tioga. Moving up a weight class, he lost another one-point decision to Section IV champion Josh Manuel of Tioga. “He should get the wild card, but I hate the waiting,” said UV coach Jim DuVall.
Number two on our list is Sherburne-Earlville junior Greg DuVall. DuVall has just one loss on the mat this season, and that came in last weekend’s Section III finals to three-time sectional champion Derek Pfluger. Pfulger also placed third in the state tournament the past two seasons as well. DuVall has two state tournament appearances already under his belt in 2007 and 2008, and multiple tournament victories this past season.
Our sentimental longshot bid at a wild card is Norwich seventh-grader Frankie Garcia at 103 pounds. On paper, Garcia has ample credentials, however; he is a seventh-grader, so any upperclassmen with previous state tournament experience might have the upper hand. Maybe the committee will consider Garcia’s three wins over the Section IV Division II champion, his two wins over the Section IV Division I champion, and his two wins over the Section III, D-2 champion. Not to mention a STAC championship and Class B title. Garcia’s teammate, Tanner Cummings, actually has more criteria points based on past years’ place finishes. His second-place finish to a returning sectional champion was more than respectable. We’d love to see those two Tornado grapplers join teammate Tristan Rifanburg at the state meet.