Adidas Wrestling Nationals 2017

Written By Tonette Fisk

Whether you’ve been a follower of this tournament, formerly known as Brute Nationals, for the past 14 years or this year’s recent and newly named Adidas Nationals was your first, I trust you had the experience for which you were hoping.  This event puts Independence, Missouri on the map for wrestling and is known to deliver. You can relive the action here as we recount what unfolded between April 7 and April 9 at the familiar Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. When reduced to words, it may seem that it’s the same story with different athletes’ names year after year; but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Anyone in attendance knows this reality well. After all, the story isn’t in the technicalities of the tournament but rather the unscripted moments, the unpredictable interactions, and the defining decisions that lead to long-awaited conclusions. With that being said, reading this feature can’t replace being present at the event. The best I can offer you is a glimpse into the arena a few weeks back that will either make you reminisce of your time there or question your absence. Regardless, it’s a summary worth sharing, in honor of the time and talent that unite to create this annual affair.

Now, it’s not hard to figure out that for as much that happens on the mat, there is at least twice the amount of activity that has to happen off the mat, before, during, and after. It’s no secret, then, that numerous heads and hands come together to make this thing work. It’s also not hard to figure out why. It doesn’t matter if you’re a wrestler, parent, coach, official, volunteer, spectator, or something in between, you know what a tournament means to the contenders. More importantly, you know what the sport means to its people.

adidasNationalsSupporting Adidas Nationals is supporting a young athlete, and there were 1,350 of them this year. Boys and girls, grades one through 12, weighing in between 37 pounds and 288 pounds, came together under one roof to wrestle their hearts out across the 14 mats. The final brackets may highlight the tangible results, but they don’t begin to capture the essence of the true takeaways. In fact, many of the greatest impressions remain with the individuals to be cherished but not shared. These significant instances, that often go unnoticed by others, aren’t confined to the competitors alone. Likewise, some of the most memorable moments occur off the mat and off the clock. Whether it’s an athlete who fought harder than he knew he could to close the gap between himself and his greatest rival, a coach who had a front-row seat to his athlete’s first successful execution of a move they’ve been working on for months, a mom and dad who received a sincere thank you that moved them to tears, or a spectator who witnessed an exhausted and disappointed wrestler find comfort in a sibling’s presence, these happenings are what define careers, strengthen passion, spark a greater interest, and last but certainly not least, fuel the continuance of such tournaments.

One group of individuals who facilitate this preservation is the referees. What would Adidas Nationals be without them? What would wrestling be without them? An easy and discernible gauge for the feat of any competition, of course, is the competitor; but how about an assessment from a neutral perspective? Doug Manley presided as the head ref in Independence, and imparted his valuation:

I was in attendance and I would just like to give kudos to the 22 officials who worked their tails off to give the kids the best officiating in a grueling two-day tournament that they could. As the supervisor of the officials, I heard very few negative comments and quite a few positive comments, so from the officiating aspect, it went very well. Also, the challenge match officials provided a nice addition to the tournament for those kids who did not fare well in the main venue.

Wrestling officials are a key component to the sport, and embody a labor of love. It only makes sense to gather feedback from them, as they see the nitty gritty action up close and personal with an unbiased lens. Their experience of the tournament is set apart, yet they also have the privilege (and sometimes misfortune) of hearing about others’. Happily, in this case, the official word on the 2017 Adidas Nationals is a good one.

Strengthening the testimony and adding another layer to the representation is the voice of Bob Hartman, President of R.E.A.C.H.E.S. Hartman offers commentary on the event itself and why this organization continues to pour into it:

The 2017 Adidas Nationals was another clear success.  The level of wrestling, sportsmanship, and camaraderie speak volumes for what R.E.A.C.H.E.S. stands for.  R.E.A.C.H.E.S. is incredibly proud to be a part of such an outstanding event and looks forward to giving back to and helping the wrestling community across the United States.

You see, this competition isn’t just an end in itself; it’s also a means for carrying out support in various avenues and across diverse platforms, from providing new headgear to a high school wrestling team to awarding an athlete with an individual scholarship. Adidas Nationals is a fun and commendable yearly occurrence, as illustrated, through the famous Mohawk contest and the renowned clinicians who attend, but its powers to influence outlive the events schedule immeasurably.

R.E.A.C.H.E.S. operates with the big picture in mind. When it puts on a tournament, it imagines all of the high school teams it can support with the funds. When it provides funding for these wrestling teams, it imagines all of the student athletes it can better. When it betters these wrestlers, it sees the sport living on. This is the cycle that was kick started once again back in early April. The seeds were planted in Missouri, with growth spreading across the country through everyone who was present.

This brings to mind the recognition that’s in order. Congratulations to the 2017 Adidas Nationals All-Americans, as well as the winners of the outstanding wrestler awards. Hat’s off to every wrestler who competed, the innumerable staff members and volunteers who brought this event to existence, 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 what R.E.A.C.H.E.S. does. To see specifics about the tournament regarding individual performances, you can check out or find the official Facebook page. 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.

You won’t want to miss the announcement for the 2018 Adidas Wrestling Nationals. As for what you can expect from next year, (besides the possibility of seeing the newly approved two-piece wrestling uniform), executive director, Walt Fisk, is pleased with this year’s tournament, including the new title sponsor, but isn’t one to ever settle. “Bigger and better” is the goal, as the community deserves nothing less. For this reason, R.E.A.C.H.E.S. is always searching for new and improved ways to reach those who need a little help making the most of their place in the world of wrestling.