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|ASICS/USA WRESTLING FOLKSTYLE NATIONALS NOTES: Wrestlers hope long bus ride from New York to Iowa pays off|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
Kids, Cadet, Junior Folkstyle Special Section
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - Coach Carl Floor Sr. and his 50-plus wrestlers are committed to competing against the best competition they can find.
Even if it means loading up a bus and traveling 20 hours from upstate New York to the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
A team from New York brought 56 wrestlers by bus to compete in the ASICS/USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals this weekend. The competition is set for Friday through Sunday.
The trip began early Thursday morning near Albany, N.Y. and concluded nearly a full day later in northeast Iowa.
"This is absolutely a great event," said Floor, who has two sons competing this weekend. "The competition is some of the best in the country, no doubt about it. We brought close to 60 kids last year and had 14 place finishers. We brought kids here from first graders all the way up to seniors in high school. We were treated real well last year and made a lot of friends here, so we're back. We enjoy coming out here."
The bus trip started in Amsterdam, N.Y, about a half-hour drive west of Albany. Floor said they picked up another group of kids about two hours into the drive in New York and had about 70 people total on the bus trip.
Floor said they watched a handful of movies, including the new Rocky movie, and watched a couple hours of Bugs Bunny cartoons for the young kids on the trip.
They drove through a rain storm and also had to keep an eye on their groggy bus driver.
"Our driver was getting tired and started falling asleep," Floor said. "We had to keep waking him up and we finally made it here."
Floor said many of the kids on this trip will travel to Fargo, N.D., this summer for Cadet and Junior Nationals.
"We'll take the bus to Fargo," Floor said with a smile. "We're gluttons for punishment, I guess."
Folkstyle event attracts biggest field ever
The ASICS/USA Wrestling Folkstyle National Championships traditionally has been a massive event.
But this year's event will be the biggest ever as some of the country's best young wrestlers - from Bantams to Juniors - flooded the floor of the UNI-Dome for the start of the three-day event on Friday night.
There were a total of 2,145 wrestlers who registered and weighed in for the event on Friday afternoon. The previous record was 1,646 in 2004.
The addition of Junior (wrestlers born after Sept. 1, 1987 and in grades 9-12) and Bantam (kids born in 1999 or 2000) divisions this year has helped push the numbers to an all-time high. There were 406 Juniors who registered for the event and another 112 wrestlers in the Bantam division.
The remainder of the entrants on Friday included 486 wrestlers in Cadets, 516 in Schoolboy, 329 in Novice and 250 in Midget. Wrestlers are competing on 20 mats in the UNI-Dome.
This event is the finale of USA Wrestling's Ultimate Challenge Series of Folkstyle Wrestling. It also is the first of three events in USA Wrestling's prestigious Triple Crown Series.
Competition started at 6 p.m. Friday for Juniors and Cadets and was expected to run through approximately 10:30 p.m. Central Time.
Coming Up: Everybody takes the mats on Saturday
The tournament action heats up on Saturday when everyone takes the mats at the UNI-Dome. Session I for Kids (Bantam, Midget, Novice and Schoolboy) is set for 8:30 a.m. Session II for Cadets is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. with Juniors beginning at 2 p.m. The Veterans competition is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Saturday. Session II for Kids will begin at 5:30 p.m.
The tournament concludes Sunday with Session III for Kids from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Event attracts wrestlers from all over the country
There are plenty of states represented in the event, with 39 of the 50 states having at least one wrestler entered.
Wrestlers traveled to northeast Iowa from states as far away as New York, California, Louisiana, Wyoming, Florida Oregon, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Ohio, New Jersey, Texas, Oklahoma, Montana and South Carolina.
Top coaches on hand for event
Among the top coaches spotted roaming around on the UNI-Dome floor on Friday afternoon were a number of the best prep coaches in Iowa.
Iowa City West's Mark Reiland, Iowa City High's Brad Smith and Columbus (Iowa) High School's Bill Plein were among the coaches on hand. Each has coached a number of team and individual state champions in Iowa. Reiland's West High team won its second straight state tournament title in February.
Long-time Iowa prep coach Wes Boehm also was on hand. Boehm was the long-time coach at Urbandale before taking over at Omaha Burke High School this past season. Boehm coached a Nebraska individual state champion in Alex Bridgeford in February. Bridgeford is competing in Cadets this weekend at 125 pounds.
A few weeks later, Boehm's son, Austin, placed second in the NCAA Division II tournament. Austin Boehm is a true freshman for Nebraska-Omaha.
Mark Chiri, who runs a top program at New London (Iowa) High School, also was on hand Friday. Chiri coached a state champion this past season in Johnny Siegel, son of past Morning Sun coach and New London assistant John Siegel. Chiri's son, Jeret, a state placewinner in Iowa, is competing in Juniors this weekend at the UNI-Dome.
Dan Gable Museum has increased traffic with event in town
The new Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum was reaping the benefits of having the big wrestling tournament in town.
On Friday morning, a number of groups of young wrestlers and their families who are here for the Folkstyle Natoinals toured the beautiful new museum that is located in downtown Waterloo. A number of exhibits and memorabilia, that chronicle the history of the world's oldest sport, are on display at the museum.
The museum will be open Friday and Saturday for fans wanting to visit. The museum, located only a short drive from the UNI-Dome, is open until 8 p.m. Friday and will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Past NCAA champion, Olympic and world medalist Lincoln McIravy to appear
Lincoln McIlravy, a three-time NCAA champion for Iowa, a 2000 Olympic bronze medalist and a two-time World medalist, will be USA Wrestling's special guest on Sunday at the Folkstyle National Championships.
McIlravy will appear in the All-American parade, pose with award winners and sign autographs during the final day of the competition.
McIlravy, a past Freestyle Resident Coach with USA Wrestling, now owns and operates a hotel near Iowa City in Coralville, Iowa. McIlravy and his wife, Lisa, have four children - Streeter 9, Sterling 8, Sayler 5 and Stetson 4.