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You better be ready to wrestle in round-robin format

January 2, 2008
By Todd Irwin,
If you were a wrestler who was competing in either the Zeigler Chevrolet Tournament at the Altoona Fieldhouse or the Big Dog Tournament at Brockway High School this weekend or in the Mountaineer Tournament at Philipsburg-Osceola at the beginning of the season, you better have been in shape.

All of those tournaments tested the wrestlers not only physically but also mentally.

The Ziegler Tournament again had a round-robin format, where wrestlers could have five bouts in the course of a day.

It’s not uncommon for wrestlers in a one-day, multi-team tournament to have five bouts in one day. But those guys are the ones who when they drop down into the loser’s bracket will continue to win enough to get to the medal round.

In those tournaments, though, if wrestlers lose two bouts before getting to the medal round, their day is done. They just have to hang around watching their teammates continue to wrestle.

In a round-robin format, you can lose two, three, four and even five bouts. You better like wrestling if you’re in a tournament like that, especially when every period in regulation is two minutes. In a regular tournament, usually once you lose, the consolation bouts are 1-2-2.

Otherwise, it’s going to be a very long and arduous day.

As a reporter and a fan of wrestling, I like the old bracket-style format, where only the best survive.

The round-robin tournaments usually eventually do get the best together at the end to wrestle. Records in the tournament put the wrestlers in the championship finals, third-place finals, fifth-place finals, seventh-place finals and even ninth-place finals.

Do we really need a ninth-place final? Anyway, while tournaments like that might not light up fans or the media, coaches support the format because of the experience all of the wrestlers get — not just the ones who keep winning.

“I love it because of the amount of wrestling that the kids get,” Claysburg-Kimmel coach Dave Marko said. “The downside is how exhausting it is on the kids. Even in a regular tournament, a kid goes into the lower’s bracket and he’s wrestling 1-2-2, instead of 2-2-2.

“It doesn’t sound like that much of a difference, but when you add it up in the course of a day, that wear and tear adds up a little bit on the kids. I’m glad that we’re off here for a few days.”

“They’re a long day,” Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said, “but the kids do get matches. That’s nice for the kids. We also got the jayvees three or four matches. It gives the kids an opportunity to wrestle out in front of the big spotlight, so it’s good.”

The Big Dog Tournament is a two-day tournament, where wrestlers compete in a pool-play format on the first day that gives them three or four bouts. On the second day, it changes back to a regular-style format in which you have to keep winning to keep wrestling.

So, that could give guys eight or nine bouts possibly over two days. Penn Cambria, which competes in the Big Dog and the Mountaineer Tournament, wrestles a lot, especially early in the year. The Big Dog gives the Panthers mat time, for sure.

Penn Cambria, of course, is used to wrestling a lot. Last year, the Panthers had four guys — Shawn McMahon, Ryan Link, state runner-up Nathan Link and Paul Myers — wrestle 48 or more bouts.

When you do wrestle a lot, though, you open yourself to injury. By the end of the regular season and into the postseason, the Panthers were a little banged up.

Nathan Link found out after the season that he was wrestling some of the postseason with a broken thumb.

Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or a

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