Time to hit the mat at MWWORTHINGTON — Death and taxes are presumably the only certainties in life, but with a Worthington January comes another certainty: a giant wrestling open at Minnesota West for college freshmen and sophomore wrestlers in the area.
WORTHINGTON — Death and taxes are presumably the only certainties in life, but with a Worthington January comes another certainty: a giant wrestling open at Minnesota West for college freshmen and sophomore wrestlers in the area.
For the last 21 years, MW has hosted the Worthington Open, which has brought the likes of Tolly Thompson, Damion Hahn, Luke Becker, Jayson Ness, Jake Dietchler, Justin Ruiz and Brock Lesnar to its mats in past years just to name a few. Before these names were names at all, they wrestled at the Worthington Open.
Saturday will be no different. In its 22nd straight year, from 9 a.m. until around 5 p.m., four mats will hold battles between future national champions, all-Americans and Olympians at the Worthington Open at Minnesota West.
“I could list many, many names (of big-name wrestlers who have wrestled in past Worthington Opens),” Bob Purcell, who is in his 15th year of organizing the open, said. “This is the biggest event for us at the school.
“It’s such an exciting tournament for us. You can’t ask for better wrestling. It’s a big boost for our program, our community and our school. It’s going to be a full day.”
According to Purcell, the University of Minnesota will be sending 19 wrestlers, so the competition goes beyond D-II.
“We have the Golden Gophers back this year, so it’s going to be tough competition,” Purcell said. “If any wrestler wants to win our tournament, they’re going to have to be pretty good.”
The Golden Gophers don‘t just send competition with the 19 wrestlers, but respect for the tournament as well.
“You read the bios of (the University of Minnesota’s) wrestlers and it’ll say, ‘Was 3-1 at the Worthington Open,’ because they even respect it as a tournament.
“When they are sending 19, we know they are sending the whole kitchen table. They’re 19 are going to be solid wrestlers.”
The solid wrestling doesn’t stop at D-I.
“(St. Cloud State University) is the No. 1-ranked D-II program and they are sending wrestlers,” Purcell said. “You’re talking about the top of the competition at D-II.”
Regardless if they’re D-I or D-II, bringing back hardware from the Worthington Open is no walk in the park.
“They have to place in the top four to even be recognized,” Purcell said. “Some kids have to wrestle six or seven matches in a day just to be able to place.
“If you love wrestling, it’s just fantastic.”
According to Purcell, between 80 and 130 wrestlers are expected to compete. For Purcell, it’s still worth every hour of work, even after 15 years.
“It is so rewarding just watching the matches,” Purcell said.
Purcell wants as many people as possible to see some of the best wrestling in southwest Minnesota.
“Hopefully we can get a break for our table workers because our table workers are saying, ‘We need a break, so we can watch wrestling,’” Purcell said.
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