I remember it like it was yesterday.
About a year ago, I was still settling into my role as the sports editor position and the Minnesota West beat. Having worked under former editor Kevin Kyle for a year, I knew that January meant the Worthington Wrestling Open.
I had heard the stories of the Open, and having done some research before last year’s tournament, I knew I was in for a treat.
It didn’t disappoint.
I watched as a pair of University of Minnesota wrestlers worked their opponents thoroughly. I remember watching as Ryland Geiger breezed through his 197-pound class. Atticus Disney was doing the same at heavyweight, and I couldn’t help but think, were we watching future NCAA, World or Olympic champions?
I watched last year as Geiger won his matches, 20-6, 14-5, and dismantled his final opponent, 20-5. The 197-pounder didn’t want to earn falls; instead, he would give up the escape point only to earn three more for a near fall.
Disney didn’t win by the same margin. Instead, he chose to pin his opponents. He earned two falls on his way to the Open title.
It is again time for the Worthington Open.
Saturday will mark the 21st year of the Open, and again, promises to bring some of the most talented wrestlers from the Midwest.
The Gophers plan to bring a strong contingent of grapplers again this year. Northern Sun conference teams, including Augustana, St. Cloud State, Minnesota State University, Mankato, and Southwest Minnesota State also plan to bring wrestlers on Saturday. Minnesota West will have a good number of competitors as well.
Due to weather and other conflicts, I haven’t had the opportunity to watch the Bluejays yet this season. But with a dual on Friday and the tournament on Saturday, I am looking forward to seeing this year’s MW team take the mat.
Saturday should provide a real treat. Heavyweight Seth McGregor, who is redshirting this season for the Bluejays, will wrestle in the Open against some of the best heavyweights in the region. McGregor has experienced his share of success so far this season at various opens — including a championship at Dakota Wesleyan — and I can’t wait to see him in action.
But while McGregor will be a draw for the hometown team, don’t overlook the rest of the competition. Talking with MW head wrestling coach Bob Purcell, the list of past NCAA champions and Olympians who have wrestled at the Open is lengthy.
Olympians Tully Thompson and Daniel Cormier have wrestled at the Open. Brock Lesnar, who is a star on the Ultimate Fighting Championship circuit, also competed in Worthington.
With more than 100 wrestlers taking the mat Saturday, a future star may make a splash.
Wednesday, coach Purcell and I sat and talked about years past.
Years from now, people may very well talk about the 2010 Worthington Open. And on Saturday, I’ll be right there, taking in the tradition and the exceptional wrestling this weekend will offer.