All-American honors bestowed on local wrestlers
When the Leavenworth County Spartans arrived at University of Northern Iowa's UNI-Dome to register and weigh-in at the USA Wrestling Folkstyle National Championships, coaches Jeff Butler and Mike Flynn noticed that their wrestlers kept looking up at the huge dome, massive scoreboards, and the arena that seats over 24,000 spectators.
Some of the wrestlers had been here before. For others, it was the dream of a lifetime. After weigh-ins, Flynn noticed his wrestlers were still a bit awe-struck and called them to the center mat. Flynn instructed his wrestlers to look around the arena. Then he called them back to the center circle for a Hoosiers-style moment.
"Is this mat any different than the mat in our practice room? Are the circles bigger? Are the starting lines different. No!" Flynn told them. "What each of you need to focus on is yourself, your opponent, and this mat : the same kind of mat in our practice room."
There was every reason for even the seasoned wrestler to be a little wide-eyed standing in the middle of the UNI-Dome. This year the Folkstyle National Championships was the biggest in history with 2,145 contestants in seven different age divisions.
Local wrestlers from both the Spartans and the Slammer Wrestling clubs showed their mettle on the mat. In the Novice division at 130 pounds, Nathan Butler of the Spartans went 5-1 and earned a third-place finish. At 80 pounds in the Schoolboy division, Bo Pursel of the Spartans also took third. Both Butler and Pursel earned All-American status for their performances. Slammer Tyler Baughman, at 145 pounds in the Schoolboy division, earned All-American honors while taking forth place. Nick Flynn, in the high school division at 145 pounds, went 5-2 for the tournament, earning seventh place and All-American status.
Competing in the novice division at 100 pounds, Jared Johnston of the Slammers placed sixth and became the fifth local wrestler to earn All-American honors.
Other local participants included Cadets Dillon Davidson and Andre Moore of the Spartans.
The next event for both clubs is the Brute-Adidas Folkstyle Nationals on Friday and Saturday at the KCI Expo Center in Kansas City, Mo.