College Update for June 14 Beach Wrestling in Virginia and a few more signingsBy Jason Bryant
The past week was pretty slow in terms of news on the collegiate wrestling scene. Recruiting wise, a handful of top-ranked kids committed, but for the most part, it was a week for many wrestling fans to just sit back and vegetate.
That is, unless you made a trip to Virginia Beach for the Virginia Challenge/USA Wrestling North American Beach Wrestling Championships.
The event was a first in Virginia and one of the start-up Beach Wrestling events that USA Wrestling is sanctioning across the country. Nestled onto a strip on the beach at 28th Street, Saturday's action was more fun than it was tactical.
With hundreds of people passing by each hour, people stopped and watched, wondering what was going on in the six sand pits, complete with scoring tables, officials and buckets of water.
The buckets, were for sponging off sandy-faced competitors. The event was running side-by-side with the North American Sand Soccer Championships, an event that's taken place on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront for the last 23 years. With over 7,000 athletes competing in the sand soccer side of things … wrestling sure got its share of spectators.
The style is obviously new, but instead of taking vacations and spending hours inside of cavernous arenas or sticky high school gyms, Beach Wrestling is giving travelers a potential option when picking out a destination.
Virginia Beach has long been a hot-spot for tourists on the East Coast, now factor in a fun wrestling event that allows you to "hose off" by taking a dip in the Atlantic Ocean and you have something that is likely to catch on.
Even skeptical wrestling fans couldn't help but grin with some of the action that went on at 28th street.
"We see this event growing and growing," said Virginia Challenge Executive Director Frank Lipoli.
Lipoli, the master of the catchphrase, threw several quotables at the media. The event, despite its small numbers compared to the soccer going on just over the berms to the left and the right, stole the show in the local media. WAVY-10, an NBC affiliate, aired Beach Wrestling footage three times on Saturday night, while The Virginian-Pilot ran a story with both events featured, but wrestling dominated most of the article.
One of the more innovative things the event brought in was the dual meet aspect. With a handful of local high school competitors coming out for another day at the beach, teams were picked like a backyard football game and names chosen and pairings set.
The winning team, known as the Hungry Hungry Hippos, bested the Sand Bullies, Sand Devils, Sand Storm and Sandmen for the inaugural title.
"What's that name that won again?" Lipoli asked. "The Happy Happy Hippos?"
The open tournament on Saturday featured some local coaches and officials trying to relive some past glory. Although one competitor, Matthew Hall of Troutville, Va., had people turning their heads.
Hall was born without a full set of legs, as his legs end just below his knees. A Virginia Group AA state qualifier several times while competing for Lord Botetourt High School in the Roanoke Valley.
"That's the strongest guy I've ever wrestled," said Dennis Cannon, a former collegiate heavyweight with two sons wrestling in the younger divisions.
Looks like this Beach Wrestling thing might actually take off - for everyone.
Iowa Central was the busiest program last week, picking up some of the top talent in the nation regardless of class to the Triton's storied junior college program.
Among the notable signings by coach Luke Moffitt: Jeremy McCoy and Victor Weidman (Neb.), Terrance Young (Minn.), Timmy Peskar (Ohio), Colby Covington (Ore.), and Gordon Johnson (Iowa). Bryson Gutches comes in from Oregon State.
Ohio State also announced officially that Mike Pucillo will transfer from Hofstra, following coach Tom Ryan from Long Island to Columbus and Will Livingston, a New Jersey state champion, will also head to Columbus.
Livingston's been busy this signing period. After an initial verbal commitment to Bloomsburg, Livingston signed early with Hofstra. He was then released from his NLI and signed in the spring with Ohio State.
Oregon State also signed Alaska Junior National All-American Clark Buffington from Skyview.