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Cortland/Ithaca

South Jefferson wrestling team fights for first

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: South Jefferson wrestling team fights for first
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A North Country wrestling team has had a gold medal season. The undefeated South Jefferson Spartans are now sending two of their key players to states. While the team might be going for the gold, the sport is not. YNN's Carmella Mataloni explains how an Olympic committee decision is affecting the sport and its biggest fans.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, N.Y.-- For senior Jon Crast, it's been one memorable wrestling season.

"I can always look back and say I was on both teams that won sectionals and we are state number one ranked in the team, so it's awesome," said Crast.

Crast, along with junior teammate Daniel Smith, led their team to the Section III title last weekend at the SRC Arena in Syracuse. The team was undefeated, earning the right to be called Section III Class B champions. But it doesn't end there.

Both boys received their first individual titles, giving them a spot in the state championships.

"I'm pretty excited. It's what I wanted to do my whole career," said Smith.

Since the beginning of the season, Coach Pat Connors had a sense that this year was going to be one for the books.

"The kids have been really focused, great senior leadership and the fact that each week, we seem to get better and better is something that makes this year really special for us," said Connors.

For these guys, going to states is a dream come true. But looking beyond high school, the crowning achievement in their sport has always been the Olympics. Soon that will cease to exist.

The International Olympic Committee has cut the wrestling games for the 2020 Olympics. Those wrestlers at South Jefferson High School say with its long standing tradition, they can't understand why it's happening.

"There are many good wrestlers still in college who have wanted to do this since they were kids and now they aren't going to get the chance to, so I think it's wrong," said Smith.

"As someone who loves the sport of wrestling, I sincerely hope they reconsider the fact that they are taking away the world's oldest sport from the Olympic Games," said Connors.

But the dismissal isn't going down without a fight. Petitions have been made gaining thousands of signatures, in hopes to save the sport that's been around for centuries.

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