Brute-adidas Nationals thrives in new home

By Jason Bryant
Brute/adidas wrestling

After spending several years in Nebraska, either in Lincoln or Omaha, the Brute-adidas Nationals presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods packed up and shipped south in 2007.

The new home of the event became Kansas City, but one thing was certain, there needed to be more room.

As the event expanded from a four-grade competition when it was last hosted in Omaha, the BAN, as it is commonly called by tournament organizers, now crowns champions in all 12 scholastic grades and the need for space became a paramount desire.

Enter the historic Kansas City Municipal Auditorium, the next door neighbor and part-time co-host with the Kansas City Convention Center situated downtown.

Wrestling fans might know the setting, as the area hosted the 2003 NCAA Division I Championships. The bustling downtown area has grown since many fans last attended, but while K.C.’s attractions and barbeque are known throughout the land, the real attraction April 4-6 was the 14 mats of wrestling at “The Aud.”

“We really would like to thank the Kansas City Sports Commission and the Visitors and Conventions Bureau for all of their help in making the Municipal Auditorium the home for the Brute-adidas Nationals,” said Jeff Bowyer, Director of Sports Marketing for the Brute/adidas. “The staff at the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium were great to work with and they met our every need. We can’t wait for next year’s event.”

With over 1,400 wrestlers vying for individual championships, action was spread over three days to alleviate cramping of the venue and give each division a place on the floor.

“We were a lot more available to facilitate the needs of the wrestlers, teams and coaches this year and we had a lot of success in providing a quality national tournament that benefits not only the wrestlers, but a great cause as well,” said Bowyer.

That cause is the R.E.A.C.H.E.S. program. Rewarding Educational Athletic Choices Helping Each Sport is a non-profit organization founded in 2007 in an effort to promote, protect and preserve amateur athletics in its truest form.

The Brute-adidas Nationals proceeds will go directly back into wrestling via the R.E.A.C.H.E.S. program. This year, Brute and the NWCA donated proceeds from last year’s event to Greg Hatcher, an Arkansas businessman who has been instrumental in starting new high school wrestling programs.

“This year, we presented Greg Hatcher funds to purchase two mats for two new wrestling programs in Arkansas,” said Bowyer. “Next year, R.E.A.C.H.E.S.  will again present a check to a worthy cause in helping preserve wrestling, so the kids that wrestle in this tournament will have a place to wrestle in college one day.”

In terms of wrestling, the competition was fierce and fiery.

Six states were represented among the 12 outstanding wrestlers, with Kansas earning six of the honors.

Second-grader Jarret Jurgens was named the outstanding wrestler at 51 pounds, while third-grader Zack Eck earned the award after winning the 60-pound bracket. Other Kansas winners were: Tristian Starr (5th grade, 80 pounds), Nicholas Meck (7th grade, 133 pounds), Jared McComb (8th grade, 158 pounds) and Kendric Maple (11th grade, 133 pounds).

Two wrestlers from the East Coast claimed titles in sixth and tenth-grade divisions. New Jersey’s Tyler McBride won the sixth-grade title at 70 pounds, while Angelo Malvestuto of New York was the OW in the sophomore division. Malvestuto was busy in April; he also competed in the Brute Scholastic Showcase the next weekend in York, Pa., for one of the New York squads.

First-grader Brennan Smith of Nebraska won the championship at 49 pounds. Iowa’s Chase Shiltz was the OW at 92 pounds amongst fourth-graders.

Bishop Lynch High School freshman Trey Adamson was the ninth-grade OW at 138 pounds. It’s yet another age-group title for a family that has been collecting hardware all across the country for the last decade.

Senior Matt Maresh of Nebraska was the OW at 133 pounds.

“We really enjoyed the event this year in Kansas City,” said Bowyer. “Bill Gossett, who has done great work with national youth wrestling events all over the country, was a great asset along with pair-master extraordinaire, Gary Brownell. With everyone coming together on a united front to run a great event, the wrestlers and those that will benefit from the R.E.A.C.H.E.S. program in the future will have plenty to look forward to.”

Individually, there were several top matches amongst the tournament finals, but a few notables included: Kansas’ Nathan Furches knocking off Illinois state finalist Kent Williams in the finals at 115 pounds in 11th grade; Riley Adamson’s 4-2 win over Georgia’s Brandon Westerman in the 11th grade final at 128; Mitchell Means’ 10-second fall in the finals in the 11th grade final at 143 pounds; 10th-grader T.J. Mitchell of Georgia winning his second title in as many years; Hawaii’s Bryson Fukushima taking the senior crown at 115, and a great finale in the 10th grade with Alan Waters of Missouri edging Texas’ Joey Vogelsburg at 122.

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.