One week to go.
Well it is only a dual meet, how much work could there be to getting it done? I think that is a question I asked and others asked about the potential of hosting the NWCA All-Star Classic. As it turns out it is a bit more complicated than it may appear on the surface.
There are several groups of people and organizations working hard to pull off a great event (the National Wrestling Coaches Association, the Greater Washington Wrestlers Business Network, the Patriot Center staff, George Mason University Athletic staff, Patriot Elite Wrestling Club and a host of volunteers that include former coaches, alumni, parents, boosters, wrestling fans, and wrestlers from George Mason University and American University). Heck, even with putting the list together, I am sure I missed some of the people working on the event. It is quite an amazing endeavor to watch so many people band together for the 48th Annual NWCA All-Star Classic. We are hopeful we can succeed in our goal of putting on a great event.
The All-Star Classic has a great history. I have had the privilege of watching the event on several occasions. The athletes make the event special. I am honored so many great wrestlers have agreed to compete this year. We had 7 NCAA Champions and 9 of the 10 top ranked wrestlers agree to compete in the event. Of course I wanted all of the top wrestlers in the event, but the assembled group is tough to beat.
We did recently lose one of the committed wrestlers – Ed Ruth. I love watching him wrestle. He scores points and can pin. I was bummed when Cael Sanderson told me he would not be able to compete after all. I have been asked by several people why Ed Ruth had to pull out of the event. My answer is I do not know. I did not ask. I trust Coach Sanderson. I know Ed Ruth and Coach Sanderson did not take the commitment lightly to compete. If he cannot compete, it is for a legitimate reason.
I was happy we were able to quickly find a replacement for Ed Ruth to wrestle Jimmy Sheptock. Jake Swartz from Boise State University has accepted an invitation to compete. The Boise State University wrestling room is the first college wrestling room I ever saw. Probably before I could walk, my Dad took me into the Boise State wrestling room. At the time my Dad was training with Mike Young the longtime head coach at Boise State. The current head coach at Boise State was one of my college coaches at the University of Minnesota.
It is great to have Boise State University and Oregon State University in the All-Star Classic. We have lost far too many wrestling programs out west. We need the remaining programs to stay strong. We need to support them. I am confident the wrestling community out west is working hard to build the programs they have and trying to revive programs we have lost. I follow one such group via their website and via email (www.saveoregonwrestling.org).
It is going to be a busy week for all involved with the NWCA All-Star Classic. The George Mason staff and wrestlers will be putting in lots of hours. It is a great problem to have the focus of the college wrestling world on our program this week.
When I was interviewing for the job at George Mason, Jay Marsh gave me a campus tour. He showed me the Patriot Center. I remember thinking, if I get this job; we will one day fill this arena with people to watch a wrestling match. My hope is that dream will become a reality on November 2, 2013. We will need to sell lots of tickets this week to make it happen, but I am confident we will give it our best effort.
Some of the events we have planned for the All-Star Weekend:
Friday, November 1, at 730pm there will be a middle school All-Star dual held at the Field House (where our offices and wrestling room are housed).
Noon – 5pm there will be a wrestling clinic held in the Field House (we anticipate over 300 youth wrestlers to participate in the clinic)
5pm-630pm there will be a VIP social at the Patriot Center. Michael Novogratz will be the guest speaker at the social.
645pm-715pm we will have 4 feature matches at the Patriot Center. We will have two Freestyle matches to celebrate wrestling’s inclusion in the next 3 Olympic Games. We will also use this platform to help with the fight to return wrestling to being one of the core sports for future Olympic Games. After the two Olympic style bouts we will have a bout between an American University wrestler and a NCAA Division III opponent. Lastly, George Mason University will be represented by Sahid Kargbo in a match against an opponent representing the National Collegiate Wrestling Association.
The main event will start with great fanfare around 715pm. The Mason pep band and the Marine Corp color guard will set the tone for 10 exciting bouts. I am excited to watch college wrestling at its finest in the Patriot Center.
After the All-Star Classic is in the books, we will host a social for Mason Alums at the Mason Inn. My hope is all of them will be able to look at the event with pride. Because of the sacrifices they made for the program, we are able to have the 48th annual NWCA All-Star Classic on the George Mason University Campus.
Let the 2013-14 College Wrestling Season begin.