National championships, World Team Trials come to Charlotte
James Johnson
Last year’s Ontario Beach Sports and Music Festival sports lineup included professional jet skiing and beach volleyball.
More muscle has been added to this year’s event at Charlotte, as Rochester hosts sanctioned beach wrestling for the first time, on Saturday and Sunday.
Beach style was formally recognized by the sport’s sanctioning bodies two years ago. Competitors face off in a 20-foot ring marked in the sand. The object is to score two points.
A point is awarded with each takedown or removal of an opponent from the ring during the three-minute match.
“It’s really a wide-open opportunity to enjoy wrestling,” said Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling’s director of communications. “It’s really easy to follow and the matches go very quickly.
“The athletes tend to try it out, and after they do, they like it. The sand slows the action down that in some cases, allows the older athletes to succeed against younger athletes.”
Competitors grouped by sex, age and weight go after USA Wrestling National Championships, beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday. The Beach Wrestling World Team Trials take place 10 a.m. Sunday, with the winners forming the United States team at the World Championships in Turkey, Sept. 7-9.
At the same time at Charlotte, spectators can check out the American Power Boat Association’s Water Jam and the New York Beach Volleyball Championships. Admission is free during the three-day festival, which starts today.
The Monroe County Sports Commission won a bid to host the beach wrestling events.
“It can work well from USA Wrestling’s standpoint,” said Scott Bell, the Monroe County Sports Commission’s sales and marketing director. “They knew that people would already be at the beach.
“This adds another form of entertainment. Rochester is such a great sports community that we continue to find niches that work.”
Don Murray, organizer of the beach wrestling events in Rochester and a USA Wrestling executive committee member, hopes that the new sport will return to Rochester next year in some form.
Three sanctioned beach wrestling events were held in the United States during 2005. That number was 12 last year and will hit 20 this year.
Murray watched beach wrestling live for the first time two years ago on Long Island. He returned to Long Beach, Long Island, for the same event in August.
“They put it right on the boardwalk,” said Murray, the long-time wrestling coach at State University of New York at Brockport. “It was great.
“You have to be up with the times. It’s not only new, but it’s also entertaining.”
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