Toys 4 Tots tourney starts Tues. at LHS

Published 7:50 pm Saturday, December 19, 2009

Eighteen wrestling teams, including Lakeland, Nansemond River and King’s Fork, will be competing Tuesday and Wednesday in the Mike Duman “Toys 4 Tots” Wrestling Invitational at Lakeland.

On the mats, Lakeland head coach John Bostwick thinks this is a great tournament for wrestling fans, even those without an allegiance to any of the schools coming in, to check out.

“I think this is a field with a lot of parity between all of the teams,” said Bostwick.

“For people who just like good wrestling, this should be a good meet to watch. There’s no team like a Cox who’s just going to come in and dominate the field,” Bostwick said.

Bostwick, the Cavaliers and all the teams, including other teams from nearby such as Smithfield, Deep Creek, Churchland and Southampton, of course want more fans to come out for the tournament. Even people who couldn’t care less about wrestling are asked to come out too though.

On Tuesday, donations to Toys 4 Tots will be collected at the entrance. Marines will be at the gate to accept new toys. The idea to turn the wrestling meet, which last year was the Cavalier Invitational, into a charity event, came from assistant coach Scott Reed said Bostwick.

Lakeland has a school-wide Toys 4 Tots drive every December, so Reed suggested having the wrestling tournament add to the cause.

“We figured this was a good way to give back, especially with the economy being what it is right now, it was right to try to give back during the holidays,” Bostwick said.

Anyone is encouraged to come by Lakeland with a new toy. With a donation, a two-day pass to the tournament will be half-price, $6 instead of $12.

Other than good competition and preparation for the rest of the season, which still includes most of the district schedule and district, region and state tournaments, another motive for this tournament is to increase the popularity of the sport in Suffolk.

King’s Fork, Nansemond River and Lakeland have recently started youth wrestling clubs or programs. It’s all an effort to catch up to the traditional powers in Chesapeake, where youth wrestling and middle school wrestling teams are the norm.

“We’re trying to create awareness of wrestling in Suffolk,” Bostwick said.

“This kind of tournament, hopefully it can create some excitement with younger kids in the community,” Bostwick said.

When a program such as 18-time state-champion Great Bridge has a freshman wrestling in his first varsity season, said Bostwick, it’s common for him to already have 8-9 years of experience. For the Cavs, Bulldogs or Warriors, a freshman is lucky to have 1-2 years of experience.

The Mike Duman “Toys 4 Tots” Wrestling Invitational is meant to help make Suffolk’s wrestling programs a little stronger and make Christmas better for kids in the community.