For the second straight year, the Midland Exhibition Series will signify the start to a new season of American Greco-Roman wrestling.
The inaugural event in 2017 saw age-groupers (along with a few Seniors) participate in over 100 matches on an October Saturday in Nebraska. There doesn’t appear to be any discernible deviations between Year 1 and Year 2, with one notable exception: last year, 2016 Olympian Jesse Thielke (63 kg, NYAC/LOG) and Cody Pack (77 kg, NYAC/LOG) used the Midland Series as their preseason warm-up event. That won’t be the case next weekend because Thielke is currently in Hungary preparing for the World Championships scheduled for later this month.
Midland Greco Exhibition Series organizers foresee just as healthy of a turnout. Age-groups range from Schoolboy through Junior, with a few U23/Senior athletes expected to show up, as well. MWC, Senior World Team coach Zac Dominguez’s club, will once again lead the charge both in terms of wrestler participation and the actual running of the event. But there will be plenty of others from various spots around the country throwing their hats into the proverbial ring.
“It will be pretty close but there may be a little more than last year,” says former Senior competitor and MWC assistant coach Zack Wilcox about the entry list for this year. “We’ll probably get a few more kids from other clubs. It will grow, our match numbers may be about the same for both Greco-Roman and freestyle.”
Returning teams/clubs include Combat (WI), Legends of Gold (SD), Sons of Thunder (CO), Powerhouse (IA) and Williams Baptist College (AR). In 2017, the Midland Series not only served as the first domestic Greco-Roman competition of the season, it was also Williams Baptist College’s first-ever event as a functioning program.
Another factor that makes the Midland Series important has to do with rules and officiating. The reinstitution of par terre with the updated passivity mechanism(s) did not appear internationally until January of 2018. But it was at this event a year ago when the added wrinkles were tested for the very first time. And just like ’17, three-man officiating mechanics will be available on all five mats — important to mention due to the developmental implications at stake for athletes and coaches.
“Last year when we did this it was after Worlds and there were new rules, so it was good to practice with those rules,” Wilcox says. “We wanted to implement some of those rules and see what we thought about them. With Zac Dominguez being there, he could give feedback to the higher up’s at USA Wrestling being on the Coaches Council. I know that they (United World Wrestling) just came out with other rules that will be in place for 2019 and we’re going to test those out. Whatever new rules there are, we want to test them out. We want to be the first event that tests out the new rules.”
But more than anything, the standout variable is centered around the timing. Fall in America traditionally means that wrestlers across the US are beginning to focus on folkstyle. Youths who are fond of Greco-Roman, by and large, are forced to wait until the spring before they can compete in the classical style again. The Midland Greco Exhibition Series obviously changes fixes that issue problem.
The format couldn’t be simpler: entry fees are $15 per wrestler and they can get in as many matches as they’d like (most athletes competed in at least five or seven bouts last year). Pairings are constructed according to weight/age division with the consent of coaches and parents (for age-groupers under Senior). In addition, a folkstyle open tournament is offered the following day at the same venue. This is encouraged for teams traveling from out of state interested in tacking on more competition — as well as a way to further demonstrate the usefulness and pliability Greco-Roman has to offer.
The Midland Exhibition Series takes place in conjunction with the Midland University Women’s College Freestyle Open in Fremont, Nebraska.
2018 Midland Exhibition Series
October 13th — Midland University-Fremont, Nebraska
Styles: Greco-Roman; freestyle
Age groups: Schoolboy, Cadet, Junior, & Senior
Cost: $15 per athlete