Written by Mary Mallis

DajunJohnson(red) 11th_163lb1,400 wrestlers from 32 states in mens’ and womens’ divisions ranging from Kindergarten to 12th grade all grappling for the title of National Champion in historic Independence, MO on April 5-7th, 2019.

Great competition from these 32 states highlighted the 3-day event. Whether you wrestled for your place to be a National Champion, coached, anxiously cheered from the stands or viewed the Flo Wrestling’s live feed, the intensity and tenacity of these student athletes was incredible to watch. With 14 mats and 15 divisions happening in one weekend, it’s exciting to see this full-scale production come to life. This event is more than just a weekend of stellar wrestling… there’s free clinics, fantastic awards, adidas giveaways, Mohawk and Braid contests, amazing volunteers and top referees from various states. The list goes on…

If you can’t get enough wrestling in the main arena, wrestlers were encouraged to check out the challenge match opportunities throughout the weekend in an adjoining ice rink which allows more match experience for kids who have been eliminated from medal contention or for those just wanting more mat time against other wrestlers from around the country. Kids can come to this ancillary value-added event to find out if they can compete with the best and know where they stand as a wrestler. It’s family oriented and coaching friendly but it’s tough competition.

Darian Cruz, NCAA Champion from Lehigh University and adidas Athlete was a huge hit as he led instructional clinics and autograph signings on both Friday and Saturday night after weigh-ins. I was thoroughly impressed with how Darian took the mat with these kids before, during and after his clinics. He’s got a natural ability to motivate and inspire others.

This event couldn’t go off without a great team of leaders. Walt Fisk, Executive Director for Reaches and Tournament Director runs this high class event. Walt is a national and state hall of fame coach from the great state of Pennsylvania. He ensures money spent here is put back into wrestling. Nobody can come to this event and not know Jeff Bowyer. He answers all of your emails and many of your phone calls. Bowyer, former JMU wrestler and then head coach, currently teaches high school and coaches his wrestling team during the day while running customer service for the entire event with such enthusiasm and energy needed for such an event this size. Director of Officials, Doug Manley from Akron, IA hand selects officials based on experience, professionalism and their ability to officiate the highest level of high school and collegiate competition. Jennifer Goering, Director of Volunteers, continues to bring her solid team of repeat volunteers back year after year after year, which helps this event run incredibly smooth.

Supporting the adidas Wrestling Nationals is supporting wrestling. R.E.A.C.H.E.S., The non-profit that runs this event runs it for the kids. You’ll hear all the volunteers say they come back because of the people and cause. All profits from this event goes back into wrestling to provide athletic and educational opportunities to wrestlers of all ages and abilities. Over $450,000 has been donated back to wrestling since the 2007 inception of R.E.A.C.H.E.S. So, you can feel good that money spent here will go to support wrestling programs who need help. For more information on Reaches funding check out www.reachessports.org.

New to the event this year was the TEAM Championships. Coaches could enter up to 15 wrestlers per team. Wrestlers were awarded placement points. The top three team scores in each division won 1st, 2nd and 3rd place trophies for each division. Adidas Wrestling Nationals held three divisions this year which included: Boys K-8th grade, Mens’ 9-12th grade and Womens’ K-12th grade.

Congratulations to 1st place Champions “Braves Wrestling Club” from Florida in the 9-12th grade Men’s Division! Arkansas Wrestling Academy came in second and Great Plains Wrestling Club was a close third!

Congratulations to 1st place Champions “Rising Knights” from Iowa in the K-12th Grade Girls’ Division! Team Kansas came extremely close as the runner-up and Jackson County Wrestling placed third.

Congratulations to 1st place Champions “CIWC – Team Intensity” from Iowa in the Boys K-8th Grade Division! Second place was Oklahoma Wrestling Academy and third place goes to Choctaw Wresting Academy!

A special thanks to all the coaches who attended. These coaches commit countless hours to their wrestlers to encourage and watch them grow as wrestlers, athletes and into young adults. Over the weekend, many parents shared with me their appreciation to their coaches who have helped their kids from trials and tribulations into personal victories that helped mold them as individuals.

The Mohawk contest once again broke the record for the third year in a row with a whopping 26 entries! Congratulations to Christian West for defending his 2018 title as Fan favorite with his retro adidas themed mohawk. Evan Fox won the staff favorite with his very tall red, white and blue mohawk! Congrats to all the mohawk competitors who continue to impress year after year.

Congrats to our Braid winner Markee Gomez. She was there with her friend who had matching neon green braids that wowed the voters. Congrats to all the competitors in the braid contest. This contest is growing along with the women’s participation which more than doubled last year’s numbers. We love seeing the girls’ numbers growing nationwide! Looking forward to more women and girls competing in the next adidas Wrestling Nationals currently scheduled for April 9-11th, 2020.

Congratulations to the 2019 Adidas Nationals All-Americans, the 2019 National Champions and the winners of the new TEAM Champion awards. I respect every wrestler who competed, the multitude of staff members and volunteers who worked hard to bring this event to life, and the many other nameless participants who played a role. Thank you to anyone who speaks a word about this competition, and gives a second thought to why R.E.A.C.H.E.S. holds this event. To see specifics about the tournament regarding individual performances, you can check out adidaswrestlingnationals.com or find “Adidas Nationals Wrestling Championship” on Facebook. To learn more about R.E.A.C.H.E.S., browse the website and stay up to date with our news, funding, and events.
R.E.A.C.H.E.S. is always searching for new opportunities to reach wrestling programs in need. Check out www.reachessports.org if you have a need in your wrestling community.
R.E.A.C.H.E.S. (Rewarding Educational Athletic Choices Helping Each Sport) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2007 in an effort to promote, protect and preserve the integrity of amateur athletics by providing athletic and educational opportunities to all athletes of all ages and abilities. This unique experience will provide educational, technical, and lifelong lessons for athletes, coaches, parents and fans that seek to capture meaningful, compassionate, harmonious, interesting and active lives. All profits from R.E.A.C.H.E.S. will be used to support specific needs in each sport to ensure future generations of athletes, fans, parents and coaches will continue to learn from valuable lifelong athletic lessons.