Cavalier wrestlers headed to Super 32

Published 10:40 pm Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The high school wrestling season is still more than a month away, but most of Lakeland’s varsity team is headed down to Greensboro, N.C. this weekend for what the Cavaliers’ head coach, John Bostwick says is, “the toughest preseason wrestling tournament in the country.”

The Super 32 Challenge is a double-elimination tournament that brings in 1,250 wrestlers to compete in the Greensboro Coliseum. Bostwick guesses wrestlers from more than 30 states will be coming for the outstanding matches and the chance to get notices by college coaches.

There’s a great trophy for the champion in each weight class, an actual pro-wrestling style belt.

“One of the main draws for the event, is the actual award itself,” said Bostwick.

More meaningful though, is that nine of his Cavalier wrestlers will be testing themselves versus elite opponents.

For example, Lakeland’s Alex Sari, who finished second in the 160-pound weight class in the Southeastern District last winter, enters a field in the Super 32 Challenge that includes 17 state champions.

“In order to be the best, you have to wrestle against the best,” said Bostwick. “If you don’t want to wrestle the best, you really don’t want to get any better.”

Part of the competition this year was simply getting into the tournament. The registration process is online and is simply first-come, first-serve until 1,250 wrestlers are in. Last year, it took 40 hours for 1,250 to be reached. This year, the registration was over in 30 minutes said Bostwick.

Fortunately, Bostwick and the Cavaliers had a good plan ahead of time to get everyone who wanted to go into the tournament. Bostwick had his nine wrestlers pay the registration fee to him in time for him to have everything set in a PayPal account. When registration opened on a Saturday night, Bostwick registered all of his wrestlers at once instead of leaving it up to each individual.

Even with the plan, Bostwick’s ninth wrestler was number 836, so for future reference, if he’s got more wrestlers wanting to go, Bostwick says he’ll need a co-registrar to help him.

“The biggest reason for going is exposure to competition at that level. For the upperclassmen, there’s also exposure to colleges. There’s expected to be about 35 college coaches there,” said Bostwick.

Lakeland moved well up the district and regional ladder last season. Three Cavaliers reached the Eastern Region meet and the regular season included victories such as Lakeland’s first-ever win over Western Branch.

“Even with (last year), we still have a lot of things to overcome. All three Suffolk schools all feel as though they’re the stepchild of Southeastern District wrestling,” said Bostwick.

The trip to the Super 32 Challenge is all about keeping that move toward the top going.

“If we win more than six matches as a team, I’ll be ecstatic, and that’s just because of the competition,” said Bostwick.