Last year, for the first time ever, the annual NCAA All Star Classic was an absolute sell out; complete with the names of several thousand anxious wrestling fans on a waiting list. Needless to say the sponsor, the Greater Washington Wrestling Business Network (GWWBN) was more than ecstatic.
The featured bout of the evening was Kyle Dake and David Taylor; which might have had something to do with the events success. But a lot of the credit has to be shared between the GWWBN who administrated the affair and the NWCA who handed their flagship event, for the first time ever, to a non-institutional business group.
Seeing a need to sidestep some old traditions in favor of newer ones, the GWWBN lobbied hard to make changes in the programming by combining out of the box thinking with traditional marketing.
As an illustration, there were many who didn’t want hundreds of young athletes sitting on the floor around the mat, others felt a clinic before the event was a waste of time and universally the group was told that pitting athletes against one another from different weight classes was something close to heresy. But in each instance those ideas turned out to make the evening the most successful one ever. Regarding the featured bout, the GWWBN took the idea of a lighter Dake against a heavier Taylor to the coaches who in turn talked to their athletes and the rest is history.
This November I’m pleased to announce the GWWBN has once again been awarded the 2013 All Star Classic. But instead of American University hosting the event, it will be held at George Mason University’s Patriot Center in Fairfax, VA.
As with last year, our organization plans to think creatively regarding the event and is even more emboldened from last year’s successes; and we want your opinions.
Since this is an All Star event our position has been why not take the name literally and pit All-Stars against All-Stars? Line up the talent, NCAA Champion against NCAA Champion, NCAA Runner-Up against NCAA Runner-Up and so on. If anything will guarantee spectator attendance, participating coach’s acceptance of the event and even greater media interest, creative match-ups are critical. Our goal is to make this a showcase event to attract people to the sport, not a pre-season match that ‘counts’.
How about pitting the two best Runner’s-Up from last year against one another – Nico Megaludis/Penn St. and Tony Ramos/Iowa? What a scrap that would be! The Junior Hulk versus Plastic Man with weigh-ins at 133. The benefit to this and other proposed match-ups is in each instance none of these wrestlers will run into one another again this year. That means four things:
- As in previous years, the results of these matches are not “official” and don’t count toward national rankings or tournament seeding; a reduction in anxiety.
- There isn’t a future NCAA title threat hanging on the outcome of the match from things learned.
- Given that the outcome of these match-ups won’t hinder NCAA tournament scoring or individual placement, coaches of each athlete should have far fewer attendance issues.
- Now that wrestlers are competing against their ranked equals, the matches should shift athlete focus from the fear of losing to the rewards of success. This equates to greater spectator viewing.
How about pairing up future mega-star Logan Steiber/Ohio St. against probably the smoothest wrestler at last year’s NCAA tournament, Kendric Maple/Oklahoma? Both are moving up a weight class this year so we’d weigh both of them in at 149. That match-up alone would be worth the price of admission. What do you think guys; are you game?
I want to remind everyone that the GWWBN’s primary goal in all this is the safety of every athlete. Given these suggested proposals, no wrestler would compete against another athlete who is more than one weight class away. If that troubles anyone I would remind them that every day, all season long, each one of these athletes wrestle opponents in their wrestling room up to two weight classes larger than they are and on many occasions three weights classes higher.
At 174 the GWWBN would like to pair David Taylor/Penn St. against Andrew Howe/Wisconsin. We think Andrew would love another shot at David after this summer’s loss at the World Team Trials and if I’m not mistaken, this would be the third bout between the two with each having a victory.
How about the excitement of Penn State’s Ed Ruth/Penn St. going against Oklahoma State’s Chris Perry? Both are thoroughbreds, current NCAA Champions and more than likely will never see one another ever again so let’s pair them up.
I’ve saved two of the more exciting and certainly the most creative match-ups for last.
How about making the Steiber-Maple match-up the first bout of the evening and come back 90 minutes later to end the evening with a Maple-Derek St. John/Iowa scrap? What do you think Kendric; sound like fun? Are you up for two matches in one night and immortality when you’re done?
Remember, coaches make their squads wrestle back to back to back matches every day without a break, if anyone is worried about safety here. This is done routinely, nothing different than what athletes see at events like the Las Vegas Open, the Southern Scuffle, the Midlands and the NCAA’s where the competition is equally as stiff and the NCAA only requires athletes to be given 45 minutes between bouts.
Our last Dream Team match-up is just that . . . probably a dream but why not dream, isn’t that exactly what made Thomas Edison, Bill Gates and Louis Pasture great?
Let’s pit Minnesota’s Tony Nelson against the second and third best heavyweights in America in a tag-team match. As I see it, there isn’t anyone who can stay with Tony this year so why not challenge his grit and skill at the All Star Classic?
Put the second guy in first for three minutes and then replace him with the third best guy for the last three minutes with cumulative scoring. I doubt if you’d see anyone leaving the gym before the heavyweights wrestle using this format.
So folks, what do you think? Are we heading in a direction you’d be motivated to buy a ticket to watch? Would you drive 2-hours to see this All Star Classic?
Please tell us what you think. Post a comment below and let us know what match-ups we haven’t thought of that are on your bucket list?