The tournament, which continues through July 20, will feature wrestlers representing nearly every state. Matches are held in freestyle and Greco-Roman formats across 16 weight classes.
Greco-Roman cadet championship matches for male wrestlers were Monday, while the junior matches conclude with finals today.
Male cadet freestyle contests begin Wednesday, followed by junior freestyle Thursday. The cadet freestyle national championship is Friday, followed by next Saturday’s junior freestyle finals.
Wrestlers born in 1997 and 1998 are eligible for the cadet division. The juniors division is comprised of wrestlers born Sept. 1, 1993 and later who were enrolled in grades 9-12 during the 2013 spring semester.
Team Georgia is taking 44 wrestlers to the event, which is equivalent to the traditional state championships held each year by the Georgia High School Association. Among the 44 Team Georgia members, 12 were state champions this past season.
“We’ve been working on the small details at camp,” said Team Georgia and Life University wrestling coach Mike Miller. “It’s not about how hard we wrestle because our guys already do that. It’s the details that cost us matches at the national level.
“That’s huge because everyone is so close technically, you have to eliminate the small details that can hurt you in a match. I think our kids are honed in to what they need to do and I think we can come back with some hardware.”
There are no seedings for the national championships, so opening round matches will come down to draws to fill out the weight class brackets. A wrestler can go on a roll with the right draw and the top eight finishers in each weight class earn USAW All-America status.
“Our team is suited to wrestle both styles,” Miller said. “We have guys in Greco and guys in freestyle and we’re confident we’ll have all-Americans is both.”
Local wrestlers involved in the tournament include Pope’s Jake Henson, Tyler Haskin and Jake Adcock, Walton’s Jacob Murphy and George Humphrey and Kennesaw Mountain’s Justan Rivera.
Murphy and Haskin will compete in the junior division along with first time Team Georgia member Henson. Cadet’s Humphrey and Adcock are also in their first seasons.
Adcock will compete at 138 pounds, while Rivera, a Class AAAAAA state champion, will wrestle at 182 and Humphrey’s at heavyweight. Haskin will see time at 126, Murphy, a Class AAAAA state champion, at 138 and Henson, also a Class AAAAAA state champion, at 152.
Rivera walked away with cadet all-America nods in Greco-Roman and freestyle in his first season as a part of Team Georgia last year. He placed fourth in the Greco-Roman discipline and third in freestyle.
“Last year, my main goal was to place and make all-American and I did that,” Rivera said. “This year, I want to make it all the way to the finals and bring back some gold for the state.
“Up there, I’m facing some of the best, and in order to beat the best, I have to make adjustments to my style and defend shots. I took that knowledge and applied to my season last year and hopefully it carries over (this week).”
Miller, who is in his second season as a Team Georgia coach, is excited to see how the squad will perform in Fargo.
“I’ve been to Fargo as an athlete, but as a coach, it’s different,” he said. “You have to prepare for the kids instead of preparing for myself. It’s fun to see the kids put things on the line and challenge themselves.”