“Where are you going to wrestle in college?” 

    This is a phrase seldom heard at the state high school tournament in February. Much of the reason you do not hear that phrase is because South Carolina wrestlers are unknown, untested, and unproven. Simply put, there are not enough South Carolina high school wrestlers out there at national tournaments, regional tournaments, and summer wrestling camps. One of the best ways to get your name out for college coaches to notice, is to wrestle outside of high school and the great Palmetto State.
    Try going to the NHSCA Senior Nationals and look at some of the major states’ wrestling teams. States like Minnesota, California, and Pennsylvania who carry senior national teams of over 50 wrestlers each year. This is one national tournament that narrows the possible numbers of competitors because of age (only high school seniors) as well as state placements  (most states can only enter previous state finalist where some of the tougher states can petition to have the top 4 placers). In this one tournament, states are carrying twice as many wrestlers as South Carolina and college coaches can really take notice of how serious our kids, coaches, and the state as a whole are about the sport of wrestling by the lack of participation and lack of yearly success. Simply put, our state needs more wrestlers going to national tournaments, regional tournaments, and summer camps. It’s the only way to learn new skills, develop those skills, and grow into a successful wrestler.
    Another example would be to look at the Cadet and Junior Nationals out in Fargo, ND. Bigger and better states have pre-national camps preparing their wrestlers for the national tournament. South Carolina barely knows what 5 to 10 guys are going to show up for the plane ride the day or two before they leave. Speaking of our 5 to 10 guys going to nationals, the bigger states are taking an incredibly larger number of kids (some 30 to 40 wrestlers each style and age group) to Fargo and having tremendous success. South Carolina needs to go to Fargo for Greco and Freestyle Nationals and other national tournaments that took place last year in Delaware and Virginia. High school coaches need to start wrestling outside of South Carolina in close states like Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. If you cannot make it out of state, then invite these out of state teams to come to South Carolina and wrestle. More exposure to our state by getting these Regionally and Nationally ranked teams is only going to increase our wrestling competition, experience, and exposure.
    A few last things to keep in mind when it becomes time to pick a college that you would like to compete for. First off, one common misconception about wrestling is that there are a large number of scholarships available for high school wrestlers to receive. Wrestling is a non-revenue sport and for most of the roughly 300 programs we have left in the nation the money they do receive from the school is enough to get them from tournament to tournament, dual match to dual match, and help pay for some of their kid’s college education. A Division I wrestling team is only allowed 9.9 scholarships to split up between an average of 20 to 30 wrestlers on a team. To my knowledge schools like Iowa and Oklahoma State (two of the most storied programs in wrestling history) have never given out full wrestling scholarships and they get some of the best high school wrestlers in the country to come to their programs. Many coaches offer very little if any scholarship to kids coming out of high school and use that freshmen year as a warm-up season to see how hard you work, how much you improve, and then give you some more each year as an incentive to work harder and succeed. However, one of the most important parts about getting that scholarship and a place on the wrestling team goes back as far as college wrestling itself. After talking with many South Carolina high school coaches the past few years about why their kids did not go to wrestle in college, the common answer is “they were lacking the grades to qualify for a scholarship or to meet the standards to get into school.” It is so simple to just make good grades, keep them up, and make yourself eligible for that college wrestling team or scholarship. Many of our top wrestlers over the past few years could not pass the NCAA clearing house to get into school or become eligible to accept a scholarship. Students need to do well in school and I cannot stress that fact enough. All you freshmen out there need to start the 9th grade year off right and not dig yourself in to a hole. If you do it is a deep hole that you do not want to be worrying about during your junior and senior years of high school.
    Just to recap our state needs more wrestlers wrestling on the national level. We need more kids wrestling outside of the high school season and outside of the state of South Carolina. Remember there are tons of kids wrestling outside of their state and on the national level and only a few scholarship opportunities out there. Those wrestling outside of their state and on the national level are getting their name out and putting themselves in a better position to get that college wrestling scholarship. More wrestling outside of your state and on the national level seems to simply produce more success. Just look at the bigger wrestling states and how they fare at the NCAA Division I Tournament in March over the past few years. The only thing that these numbers tell you is more wrestling outside of high school produces results. It makes you better, possibly earning you a scholarship, and leading you to becoming an All-American or National Champion. So get out there and wrestle because…

*Look at the numbers of bigger states at national tournaments for high school age kids. These states that take tons of kids to national tournaments during their high school years and produce the most NCAA All-Americans each year. The numbers do not lie!

 (All of these states have large numbers and huge success at Cadet /Junior Nationals, Cadet/Junior Duals, NHSC Senior Nationals, and the 2 open nationals in Virginia and Delaware the past 2 years)

Number of NCAA Division I All Americans by State the Last 3 Years (2000, 2001, 2002)

1. Pennsylvania 34
2. Ohio              23
3. New Jersey   21
4. Iowa                 18
5. California          15
5.     Illinois           15
7.     Minnesota     14
8.     Oklahoma     12
9.      Michigan        8
10.   Utah                7