BENNINGTON -- While the Hoosick Falls Central School wrestling team finished at the top on Sunday at the Section II, Division II tournament for the first time in school history, it came at the end of a very long day.
The tournament, scheduled to run Friday and Saturday at the Glens Falls Civic Center, was postponed because of Winter Storm Nemo hitting the area.
Section II wrestling committee chairman George Chickanis made the decision to move the tournament to Sunday and to Queensbury High School as the Civic Center was booked with an Adirondack Phantoms hockey game.
For as good as Queensbury did in hosting this massive tournament on such short notice, there needs to be a better contigency plan in place for the next time if for no other reason then not having your finals matches taking place at almost midnight on a Sunday.
Splitting the two divisions would be a good plan as would moving from the Civic Center to another big venue in the area -- RPI, Union, UAlbany, Hudson Valley CC -- somewhere where people who pay good money to attend tournaments aren't stuck cramped together in a hot gym for more than 10 hours.
A third plan could even be to reserve the Civic Center for all three weekend days. One Phantom home game isn't going to make or break the franchise, in fact, the money generated from the sectional tournament is probably more than the Phantoms take in on a game-by-game basis.
Despite the switch, the people at Queensbury are well-versed in hosting tournaments and things went as swimmingly as possible. But with 288 wrestlers -- 144 in each division -- there's a good reason sectionals is split over two days.
"It wasn't the location, it's just about the space," said Hoosick Falls coach Landon Nelson. "I think the best option would have been the large schools one place and the small school in another place, but pulling something together on the fly is a tough call to make. [Chickanis] flat-out said things wouldn't be perfect."
Weigh-ins were scheduled to start at 7:30 a.m. and the tournament started nearly 45 minutes late, just before 10 a.m. The Panthers got to Queensbury at 7 a.m. Out of each 12-man bracket, the top four wrestlers got byes and the first-round losers were totally out of the tournament, a tough break in the team competition.
The tournament ended up getting an hour behind, with the finals, scheduled for 8 p.m., not starting until 9:15 p.m on two mats. With most matches going the full six minutes and others having blood or injury time, the final match didn't finish until 11:35 p.m.
After a nearly 16-hour day full of tension and joy for the Panthers, school seemed to be optional on Monday morning. 152-pound senior Bryan Sherman, who was a runner-up to Duanesburg's Connor Lawrence, said on Twitter that school was a "no go."
"I didn't even go to school," wrote Sherman, who said he got home from Queensbury at 1:15 a.m. "I would [have] went in at 10 [a.m.] but I was still too tired to move."
Garrett Wright, the Panthers' 160-pounder and a fifth-place finisher, wrote that he "became sick this morning [Monday] and slept all day."
182-pounder Brad Burns, a senior who won his third straight sectional crown, went to school but definitely felt the effects of the day. He "fell asleep in [Advanced Placement] bio."
I think it's safe to assume this was the scene throughout Section II on Monday morning.
"It doesn't matter what sport you're talking about, a 16-hour day and competing all day will wear you down," Nelson said.