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Skaneateles wrestlers host annual competition at SHS

The gymnasium at Skaneateles High School saw a flurry of activity Saturday morning as kids from kindergarten through sixth grade got down to business.

It was the scene of the first Annual Youth Wrestling Mini-Tournament and children came to the school from Marcellus, West Genesee and Port Byron to compete.

West Genesee coach Dave Wheeler said it was the first time Skaneateles has hosted a tournament and all schools were well represented.

"It's been great," Wheeler said. "Wrestling is pretty much a dying sport."

Skaneateles coach Chris Rourke agreed that the interest in wrestling has diminished since he was in school. A lot of the reasons is the sport is difficult to recruit for, particularly in schools that have other popular sports such as basketball and ice hockey.

"After we graduated from high school back in the 80s it disappeared," Rourke said. "It's a great sport for kids."

Since youth programs started popping up across the region, the sport has once again begun growing in popularity.

The Central New York Youth Wrestling League was formed about 10 years ago, and since then the number of schools as members has increased to 13 teams, Wheeler said.

"We're showing great progress," he said.

Rourke said many of the moves the kids are taught are basic, which also is helpful for parents who are interested in helping on the coaching side but don't have wrestling experience.

Wheeler said the experience his team is gaining is starting to shine as the wrestlers are showing the results of their practice.

The sport isn't just about beating the opponent though -- it's also about camaraderie. With wrestling, Rourke said after each match you can see the team console each its members if there's a loss.

"It teaches them that they can go out there and lose or have something bad happen and shake it off," Rourke said.

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