It doesn’t end in the regular season

Published 6:23 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2005

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES-If you think wrestling ends when the high school season ends, think again.
While most wrestlers play other sports when their regualr season is over, some wrestle year round, entering different camps and freestlye tournaments.
Each spring, numerous off-season wrestling programs are formed at clubs throughout the U.S. These clubs are primarily freestyle oriented, but occasionally a spring club will maintain a traditional folkstyle program. Beginning around March, and often extending through early summer or year round, the clubs are intended to offer wrestlers a chance to practice or compete in a much less intense and also more weight relaxed environment.
There are five wrestling styles practiced in the United States. Folkstyle is the traditional U.S. style practiced in schools and universities. Of the five styles, Judo, Sombo, Freestyle, and Greco-Roman are competed internationally. Judo, the oriental style of wrestling, Freestyle, and Greco-Roman are also Olympic sports. While Judo is a year around sport and Sombo is primarily a spring, summer, and early fall sport, Freestyle and Greco-Roman are historically spring sports.
In this area there are three styles to choose from; Folkstyle, which is High School and Collegiate style wrestling with a two second pin. Freestyle, which is Olympic Style (one of two styles) wrestling where the pins are one second and wrestler's concentrate heavily on takedown's and Greco/Roman, which is the other Olympic Style where all moves executed are from the waist up.
There are no leg wrestlers here and throws are common.
Jake Glueckert, who wrestles in the Freestyle and Greco/Roman, Derek Purcell, Folkstyle, Todd Scansen and Aaron Johnson, all from Niles High School, wrestle in these off-season clubs and tournaments.
Nick Wheetley, AJ Long and Todd Taylor from Buchanan High School are also a few of the wrestlers who participate in their own clubs through their high school..
There are two major associations that conduct these spring tournaments The USAW (USAwrestling) and AAU (Amateur Athletic Union). There are also some tournaments that are independents, with no affiliation to any league.
The independents where some wrestling Clubs have annual tournaments every spring where you aren't required to be affiliated with any organization.
Of the two organizations the USAW has the most concentration of tournaments in this area. Most tournaments have an additional entry fee of $10-$15 and give medals for at least first through third place (along with team trophies).
The nice thing about these tournaments is that they group the kids together by age and by weight, so your not wrestling someone who is your weight, but four years older than you.
And for the die hard wrestler's they have a "Veterans" category where you can wrestle in one of five age brackets up to 56 years and older!
The kids that show up for these tournaments are serious competitors. The "not so serious" wrestler's don't get up a 5 a.m. on Sunday morning, drive for two hours to Chicago, to wrestle for four to five hours and drive home again.
Because of this, many of these tournaments will have tougher competition than anything they might see at a regular season tournament (excluding districts, regional and state competition).
Another added plus to the off season is that if you qualify for them, there are national events.
Last year Scansen qualified for the Cadet Folkstyle Nationals in Cedar Falls, Iowa and the Border Wars Nationals while Glueckert qualified for the Cadet Nationals in Fargo, North Dakota and Placed third at the Border War Nationals this past fall.
"They have a saying you will see on T-shirts that says, Summer Tournaments make Winter Champions! and there is a lot of truth to that," Page added.
Niles wrestlers started their off season this past weekend at the Jimtown Folkstyle Open.
Glueckert and Scansen both won two and dropped out of the fourth round because the officials had no idea when they would wrestle again.
Purcell and Johnson both won one and lost two and were eliminated in the fourth round.
For Buchanan, its season also starts the week after the Individual high school Tournaments. Coach Fank Mucha said about 40 percent of his kids are involved in the USAW.
Though a lot of the wrestlers are involved in other sports, Mucha said they continue to lift weights most of the year to stay in shape.
Buchanan's wrestling club also works with younger kids who are involved in wrestling or want to be wrestlers.
The ages range from preschool to eighth grade and run two days a week.
Brandywine is also starting their freestlye wrestling club next week (see briefs for more information).
Pat VanLeare is one of many wrestlers from Brandywine who is involved in off season wrestling.
If you would likemore information on these wrestling clubs, you may contact the wrestling coaches at their high schools or visit the websites. USAW's is AAU's website is