USA Greco

No, No New York: ’22 Farrell Memorial Moved to Iowa

alex sancho, bill farrell memorial
'20 Olympian Alex Sancho -- Photo: Larry Slater

The United States’ only East Coast tournament featuring Senior international-style wrestling has been moved to the Midwest for 2022.

On Tuesday, USA Wrestling made the transition official by posting the Bill Farrell Memorial (formerly known as the New York Athletic Club International) on its event webpage with the location designated as Cedar Falls, Iowa. The tournament will accompany USAW’s Folkstyle National High School Recruiting Showcase (April 1-2), which had already been booked for quite some time.

The delay in formalizing the ’22 Farrell started to become a cause for concern among many Greco-Roman athletes in recent weeks, primarily due to the tournament’s procedural implications. Unlike men and women’s freestyle, the Greco-Roman program is using the Bill Farrell Memorial as their selection process for the Pan-American Championships in May. The highest US placewinner in each weight category receives a spot on that roster; in addition, those who earn medals at the Pan-Ams will garner top seeds at the Senior World Team Trials.

As for the reasoning behind the decision to move what is widely considered a cornerstone event for the US away from its home on Central Park South, reportedly the catalyst was New York City’s indoor vaccine mandate that includes fitness centers, restaurants, businesses, and entertainment venues. Given that the vaccine requirement would have been in place for all attendees at the New York Athletic Club — and heavy resistance to that edict on the part of some wrestlers — a site change was apparently deemed necessary in order to bypass a potentially controversial situation that might have also resulted in legal jockeying. Athletes for Medical Freedom, an organization that boasts several well-known wrestlers among its members, was contacted by this platform for further clarification but could not be reached for comment.

However — NYC mayor Eric Adams said last week that the indoor vaccine mandate could be lifted as early as March 7. On Monday, an inquiry to USAW was made by NYAC Wrestling Chairman Dave Foxen, who desired to keep the Farrell in New York. Foxen was then informed that the decision to move the tournament to Iowa had been finalized, and that the event would be listed today.

The language chosen by USA Wrestling to describe the change as presently depicted on the Farrell’s event page, in part, is found below.

“For over 60 years, the New York Athletic Club has hosted the annual NYAC Holiday International Wrestling Championships, now known as the Bill Farrell Memorial International Open, is named in honor of the late Bill Farrell, former NYAC Wrestling Chairman and 1972 Olympic coach. This year’s tournament will take place in Cedar Falls, Iowa alongside the High School Folkstyle Nationals and we are expecting the best wrestling competition in the world at the 2022 Bill Farrell Memorial International Open.”

The ’22 Pan-American Championships, which itself was moved last month from Santiago, Chile to Acapulco, Mexico, runs from May 5-8 (Greco-Roman is scheduled to be contested May 5-6).

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