York County wrestling fans will have the opportunity to watch some of the best high school wrestlers in the country compete locally this Saturday at the York Expo Center.
And, unlike last year, some local wrestlers might even get a shot at facing off with some of them.
Dubbed the Final Four Festival and sponsored by the National High School Coaches Association, the 14th annual dual tournament moved from Easton Area High School to the Expo Center last year and attracted top-ranked teams such as Wyoming Seminary and Blair (N.J.) Academy. Both of those schools, currently ranked in the top seven in the country by intermatwrestle.com, are back this year. Joining them for the first time in the event this year will be local programs Dallastown, Spring Grove, West York and Bermudian Springs.
"We were looking for something different and came across this," Spring Grove coach Tony Miller said. "It's local. It's close. And it's a great opportunity to see some nationally ranked teams like Blair."
You might recall when Blair participated in the event last year and featured Dover native Brooks Black, who is currently redshirting this season at the University of Illinois. This year, Blair features grapplers who are committed to college programs Davidson, Stanford, Lehigh, North Carolina and Virginia, among others.
The tournament will feature 15 schools from Pennsylvania, three from New Jersey and one from Maryland. Beginning at 9 a.m., there will be action for most of the day on 10 mats, with seven of them featuring varsity competition and three others holding matches between junior varsity squads.
"It's always nice getting into these dual tournaments because then you get to see where your team stands," West York coach Brian Gross said. "Teams like Pen Argyl, we would never see them if we didn't go to something like this. Plus, there's a JV tournament, so everybody brings their whole team."
The tournament starts off with six pools made up of three teams each. Teams in those pools will go head-to-head, with the winner of each pool moving on to the Final Four championship tournament. All teams are guaranteed five duals. West York and Dallastown, both District 3-AAA schools, are in the same pool along with District 11-AA program Pen Argyl. Spring Grove, meanwhile, is in a pool with District 1-AAA member Neshaminy and Woodstown, a public school from New Jersey. The winner of those two pools will then face each other in the first round of the championship tournament, with the winner moving on to the semifinals, where it will likely meet Wyoming Seminary, which features wrestlers who are already committed to college programs Pitt, North Carolina State and Columbia.
"It's a good balance for the kids," Miller said. "At this point in the season you're wrestling team season right now and for the next month or so. It gives kids a good time to practice being in that format and that environment so they're prepared when it comes time for the post-season (team tournaments)."
The whole event should be over by around 6 p.m., with semifinal matches held at 3 p.m. and the championship match at 4:40 p.m. Tickets for the all-day event will be $10 for adults and $5 for students. For more information, visit nhsca.com.
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.