Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Springfield Wrestling: The Comeback Kid

It was wall-to-wall wrestling at Riverside Middle School on Saturday, March 5th, as 350+ wrestlers of all grades descended upon the building to grapple the day away.  (Photo by Jessica Beebe)

They came from Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York. It was wall-to-wall wrestling at Riverside Middle School on Saturday, March 5th. The parking lot was full, as was the gym and the cafeteria as 350+ wrestlers of all grades descended upon the building to grapple the day away.

The Springfield Wrestling Team hosts two annual tournaments, the Schweitzer Memorial Youth for boys and girls in grades K-8 and the Precision Valley Classic Girls Championships females in grades K-12. While the two events were held back-to-back on a Saturday and a Sunday in 2015, this year they were combined on Saturday and occasionally overlapped.

Some 300 spectators filed in throughout the day to watch the action, enjoy a full concession stand, and browse the tables piled high with tee shirts, hoodies, and other wrestling gear, courtesy of Competitive Edge Wrestling. Two large wrestling mats were divided into 5 scoring areas, staffed by volunteers from the team and from the community. Referees travelled from as far as two hours away to work the event; local high school students donated some 147 hours of community service between Friday night's set-up and the 12-hour day on Saturday.

Wrestling is a growing sport at all levels, and the attention it gets at the Olympic and college levels are having a trickle-down effect through high school, middle school, and the elementary grades, right down to Kindergarten and pre-K.

The Team is excited to learn that the tournament brought business to town beyond the competition: Holiday Inn Express booked at least 38 rooms for visitors staying overnight for the tournaments; The Sub-Way provided 50 pizzas for the tournaments, plus got additional business after the events were over as wrestlers were leaving town at dinner-time. team co-manager Kelly Stettner noted that "it feels great to be able to support some of our supporters!"

Among that list of supporters, Black River Produce provided a variety of fruits for fruit salad at the concession stand, HB Energy Solutions donated $250 toward hot dogs and buns. JH Dunning provided a large box truck for moving wrestling mats between Park St School (where the team practices) and Riverside.

After expenses are tallied, the team expects to have netted close to $5,000 in proceeds from the events, which will be used to keep the local program going - new uniforms and headgear for the upcoming season, funding team trips to wrestling camps and long-distance meets, and tournament fees throughout the six-month-long season.

The team wishes to express our sincere thanks to everyone who donated food, time, and energy to the success of these tournaments, and to the Springfield Police Department for stopping by periodically to check in.

For more information on the full-spectrum Springfield wrestling program, email co-manager Kelly Stettner at k.stettner101@gmail.com or leave a message at (802) 738-0456.

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