Tourney finds a new home

The Dunkirk Dual wrestling tournament is starting to become one of the elite high school tournaments in western New York.

And in its fifth year, it is reaching new heights. The tournament kicks off today at 9 a.m. with 16 teams set to compete. The event has become so big, it will take place at the Cattaraugus Community Center on Route 438.

“We started off with six or seven teams and now we are up to 16 and we have a good balance of large schools and small schools,” Dunkirk coach Joe McMurdy said. “Each year we try to make it bigger and better.”

And this year is shaping up to be one of the best yet as the top two ranked teams from both the large school and small school division will be in attendance.

“Lewiston-Porter won our tournament last year and are No. 1 in western New York,” McMurdy continued. “Falconer, who last year was undefeated in dual meets and won our league, they are undefeated in our league and are ranked No. 2. Add in Kenmore West and Lake Shore, who are large schools and also ranked in western New York. Out of the 16 teams, I think those four definitely will be in the bracket. They are very, very tough up and down the lineup.”

The Dunkirk Duals had its fair share of hiccups the first year, according to McMurdy. Since then, it has grown. Though McMurdy knew Dunkirk High School couldn’t hold a tournament for 16 teams, he wanted to make it bigger. That’s when Gowanda assistant coach Ray Logan told McMurdy about the Cattaraugus Community Center.

“He said, ‘If you’re talking about making it that big, take a look at the Cattaraugus Community Center,'” McMurdy said. “They hold a ton of mats up there. He gave me a contact number and they were more than willing to listen to what we had to offer and it went from there.”

Each team will compete in 10 matches over the two-day tournament with the championship match slated for 5 p.m. Saturday.

“We have had interest from coaches year round,” McMurdy noted. “I always get calls asking if there are openings. The interest is there now. We just had to make it into a bigger venue. We are very happy with where we are at so far. There is plenty of room to grow.”

The tournament starts at 9 a.m. both Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $7 for both days or $5 a day. Kids will have a discount ticket price.