It wasn’t just a day at the beach for the dozens of competitors that made their way to South Shore’s Baldwin Beach last month for South Tahoe Wrestling’s beach wrestling championships.
The late-July tournament celebrated its third year this summer and had 117 participants take to the sand to grapple with the best. The tournament was also the culminating event for South Tahoe High’s summer wrestling camp. The tournament featured wrestlers from California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and Illinois.
One of the event coordinators, Ryan Wallace, also coaches the South Tahoe High wrestlers. He said the event has gained more participants each year and it’s a great way to keep his athletes on top of their game in preparation of wrestling season.
“We are a goal-oriented program; this week allowed us to check three goals off the list,” said Wallace. “Double the tournament size, increase the skill level of our athletes and strengthen the bonds of our wrestling family.”
According to Wallace, the 2016 tournament had 55 wrestlers competing. This year, due to higher water levels, the event was moved from its previous location at Lakeview Commons Beach to Baldwin Beach. The tournament brought in some accomplished instructors, including head instructor Jason Welch. Welch was a Big 10 champ at Northwestern University and an NCAA finalist.
The local talent was in full force at the tournament as well, having several athletes place in their respective divisions. There were 20 divisions based on age and weight class. The older athletes were placed in an 18-foot, regulation size circle to compete in, and the younger athletes were placed in two smaller circles.
South Tahoe High’s Jose Leon proved he can hang with anyone that steps into the ring with him — the STHS junior took gold in the 180-pound division. In the 85-pound division, South Tahoe local Patrick Webster pinned down first place.
Not far behind the top finishers, STHS wrestlers Kyle Leake, 265-pound division, Nate Singelyn, 140-pound, and Ben Miller, 110-pound, each earned a bronze medal. South Shore’s Toby Paul took silver in the 65-pound division.
There were some STHS alumni that were competing in the open division that proved they could still take on the biggest and best. Blair Binns managed a silver performance, and Miguel Leon won bronze to drop down Tyler Nesbitt to a fourth-place finish. Not to be outdone by any of the guys, local transplant Erin Locke fought her way to a gold medal in the women’s division.
Wallace said the event also serves to connect some of the younger athletes with older alumni that are still active in wrestling in some way.
“The venue and the competition level draw in the out-of-towners, but for us locals, the family reunion aspect has proven to be the best aspect,” said Wallace. “As a coach, having a fun way to keep the alumni involved is special.”
Wallace said now that the tournament has proven it can draw athletes in, he’s planning on trying to develop it to have more features and more competitors. For information on South Tahoe Wrestling, contact Wallace at SLTWrestling@yahoo.com or visit them on Facebook.