MW WRESTLING: Wrestlers coming from all around for Worthington OpenWORTHINGTON — Even heading into its 23rd year, the Worthington Open is still going strong and the meet still boasts some of the best competition in the region, if not the country.
By: Jordan Willi, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Even heading into its 23rd year, the Worthington Open is still going strong and the meet still boasts some of the best competition in the region, if not the country.
“The competition every year is tough,” MW wrestling coach Bob Purcell said about the tournament which will start at 9 a.m. today. “If you want to win our tournament, you have to be a tough wrestler. We’ve had kids in our tournament who have eventually become Division I national champions and Olympic gold medalists.
“It is not a sometimes thing; it is a consistent thing for us to have that type of competition here.”
With the tournament open to freshmen, sophomores and non-varsity starters, Purcell is expecting anywhere from 150 to 180 competitors to step onto the mat today. Teams from all across the region, including St. Cloud State, South Dakota State, Minnesota State-Mankato and Augustana, have already registered their wrestlers for the Worthington Open along with Minnesota West.
“We are one of the few tournaments left for the younger kids to wrestle in,” Purcell said. “It is starting to get into tournament time and they want their kids to get as much competition as they can before the tournament.”
Given the quality of the Open, competitors find it hard to not to return as many years as they can in an attempt to claim the title.
“We usually get freshman and sophomores, but if they haven’t won the tournament yet, they keep sending them,” Purcell said. “Cody Lensing, out of Augustana, was the 125 Division II national champion last year and he came back for three years just so he could win the tournament.
“Ours is a prestigious tournament and they realize that if they win our tournament that they are a good wrestler because it is not easy to win our tournament.”
Every weight class will feature 16 to 32 man brackets, meaning competitors could wrestle between five to eight duels throughout the day. And with the level of competition Purcell feels will once again be present at the Open, every match will be a must see.
“When we have people who don’t really know much about wrestling come to watch this tournament and they become wrestling fans afterward,” Purcell said. “When you see that good of competition, you go ‘Wow, those are good athletes.’
“In our tournament, you better be ready to go in the first round or you are not going to place.”
Despite the high level of competition, Purcell expects that his Bluejay wrestlers will be able to compete, if not place in the Open.
“I feel really good if our team has one or two place winners,” Purcell said. “There are times we haven’t had place winners, but if we get one or two top guys I’m real happy with that. On occasion we’ve had champions, second-place finishers, but on a consistent basis our guys are competing against wrestlers who are scholarshipped at the Division I level.”
But placing isn’t all Purcell is concerned with when it comes to his team this weekend.
“I just want my guys to give 100 percent of what they got that day and good things will happen if they do,” Purcell said. “When they don’t give 100 percent is when things don’t go well for them.”
As big the tournament is, Purcell knows that without the help of the community the Worthington Open would not be in its twenty-third year.
“If it was not for the community support, this tournament would not go forward,” Purcell said. “It is just a great community effort. It surprises me year after year who is willing to help in the community.”
The Worthington Open begins this morning at 9 a.m.
Daily Globe Reporter Jordan Willi
may be reached at 376-7335.