League wrestling tournament switched from Riverhead to Smithtown

Riverhead's Justin Hansel wrestles against Cameron Byrne of Hills East in a dual meet Jan. 9. (Credit: Bill Landon)
Riverhead’s Justin Hansel wrestles against Cameron Byrne of Hills East in a dual meet Jan. 9. (Credit: Bill Landon)

Riverhead High School will no longer host the League III wrestling tournament scheduled for Feb. 7, according to Section XI.

The tournament was switched this week to Smithtown East High School, a spokeswoman for Section XI, the governing body for high school sports in Suffolk County, said.

Riverhead coach Wade Davey said “a bunch of different things” contributed to the switch.

“It wasn’t working out good for here and [Smithtown] wanted to have it, so I said let them have it,” Davey said.

Bob Panariello, the wrestling chairman for Suffolk County, said he didn’t know the reason behind the change.

“They weren’t able to host it and we moved it to Smithtown,” said Panariello, who’s also the athletic director at Islip High School.

Riverhead athletic director Bill Groth didn’t provide any details into the switch.

“First they bring it to the head coaches and they see if you can accomodate it and so forth,” Groth said. “Every year you can put in for it. … Regardless of what sport it is, they put it up for schools and people put in or don’t put in, move it around, find something better. Different things come up.”

Panariello said the location for a league tournament is typically set by mid-November. There are six Division I leagues in the county, plus one Division II league. The schools in each Division I league typically rotate as the host. The Division II tournament has been held at Center Moriches High School in recent years.

Panariello said tournaments occasionally get changed from their original locations.

“Sometimes there are conflicts, but I’m not sure what the conflict was [for Riverhead],” he said.

Riverhead has not hosted a league tournament in at least 10 years, according to archive results on the Long Island Wrestling Association’s website.

In an interview Jan. 9 after a dual meet, Davey said the team was excited about hosting the tournament.

“It’s definitely a pleasure to have the tournament in your own gym,” he said.

On Friday, Davey said the kids were “somewhat” disappointed at the change. But it also means a lot less work for the wrestlers on the day of the tournament in terms of setting up and cleaning up afterward, he said.

“It’s almost better for the kids not to have it here,” Davey said.

The top three wrestlers in each weight class from the league tournament advance to the county tournament, which will be held Feb. 14-15 at Hofstra University.

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