The annual Lee Wolf wrestling tournament takes place Saturday and will feature something new.
For the first time the tourney will feature six mats with boys and girls competing side by side at Golden Eagles Arena on Saturday.
Girls were added to the event last year, but because of Covid restrictions competed in the auxiliary gym.
“This year we want to highlight them as well,” said Central coach Donnie Bowden. “They need to wrestle right alongside the boys.”
Action starts at 9:30 a.m. and will be on a rolling schedule with finals expected to start late afternoon.
Boys teams competing include: Aberdeen Central, Bismarck Century, Bismarck Legacy, Canton, Chamberlain, Clark-Willow Lake, Huron, Iroquois-Doland, Jamestown, Mandan, Miller-Highmore-Harrold, Mobridge-Pollock, O’Gorman, Sioux Falls Jefferson, Sioux Falls Roosevelt, Watertown, Webster, Wessington Springs-Woonsocket-Wolsey-Wessington, Winner.
Girls teams are: Aberdeen Central, Bon Homme-Scotland-Avon, Canton, Chamberlain, Clark-Willow Lake, Huron, Iroquois-Doland, Jamestown, Mandan, Mobridge-Pollock, O’Gorman, Pierre, Sioux Falls Jefferson, Sioux Falls Roosevelt, Viborg-Hurley, Webster.
Bowden said the tourney is unique in the fact that it will feature will some of the best wrestlers in multiple classes from multiple states.
“It’s one of those tournaments that you don’t get every weekend,” he said.
Past participants include household wrestling names like Logan Storley of Webster and Nash Hutmacher of Chamberlain among many others.
“There’s always been a high quality of wrestling at this tournament,” Bowden said. “That was something that (former Central athletic director) Gene Brownell always wanted was a quality tournament. That’s what we’ve always been able to put on.”
Bowden can speak from experience, being among the past Lee Wolf champions. He recalled winning his weight class his junior year when he competed for Gettysburg. He said the tourney was a measuring stick.
“It was just kind of one of those tournaments that you looked forward to,” he said, “because you knew you were going to get tested pretty much every match in it.”
What makes the Lee Wolf such a challenge is that it not only features top-level wrestlers, all of the matches take place in a relatively short amount of time.
“It’s kind of one of those one-day tournaments. You know it’s going to be a meat grinder and if you’re there at the end, you know you belong,” Bowden said.
The Golden Eagles will definitely be busy with a demanding schedule in the next week. They host a triangular tonight with Harrisburg and Watertown, before heading into the Lee Wolf tourney.
“This is where the toughness aspect comes in that everyone talks about,” Bowden said. “You’re going to have to be tough mentally and physically.”
Bowden believes that his wrestlers will be up to the challenge.
“We don’t train for the short term,” Bowden said. “We train for the long term and we train to be in these moments.”
Because an earlier triangular with Brandon Valley and Yankton got moved to next Tuesday, it will mean Central will host four events in eight days, concluding next Thursday with a dual against Brookings.
“We have kind of a crazy week. We have four events at home in one week. We caught the schedule just right,” Bowden said. “We have six total home events, and by the rescheduling of the one triangular this is how it fell. If you’re an Aberdeen wrestling fan then you’re in for a treat for the next week.”
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