This weekend AAU Wrestling’s national event series gets underway with the 2020 AAU Winter Nationals from Ralston Arena in Ralston, Nebraska. The tournament is expected to hit the 1200 entry mark after having over 1100 entries in each of the last two years, according to the Director of AAU Winter Nationals Daniel Vacha.
“We had some growing pains two years ago when we got over 1100 wrestlers and figured out quickly our model wasn’t going to work with that number of wrestlers, so we made changes last year and everything was extremely positive. We increased to 14 mats both days, adjusted the order that brackets were wrestled to get the smaller brackets done early, so those wrestlers can get back to the hotel. We also started at 9:00 AM versus noon on day one by doing weigh-ins Friday.” said Vacha.
Along with offering 14 mats for competition, new to this year’s tournament is TrackCasting of all 14 mats on both days. For those fans, family members, and coaches that cannot attend the event, live video of all 14 mats will be available through TrackWrestling.
To accommodate the expected increase in entries, Vacha plans on a longer competition day on Saturday so that wrestlers/parents/coaches can have more time for travel on Sunday at the conclusion of the tournament.
Another innovation for the 2020 tournament is an all-new electronic tapper system.
The tournament is billed, “The Challenge for the Chain” as all winners will receive a championship chain. Last year Vacha switched from awarding belts to the champions, as he wanted to do something “special”. After consulting wrestlers of all ages at various tournaments, the wrestlers told Vacha that they would rather have the chain, “by an overwhelming margin”. The change from a belt to a chain was “a big gamble, but it turned out to be a great success.” stated Vacha.
In addition to the championship chain, the champions will also receive large printed brackets.
While the awards for the winners are an enticing touch, Vacha hopes that, “parents and wrestlers decide to enter because of a well-run tournament with great competition.”
For the third consecutive year, a separate girl’s division will be offered. With such rapid growth across all levels of wrestling for women and girls, entry numbers in this division are sure to increase. All of the girl’s brackets will be contested in a round-robin format and completed on Saturday.
There will be a handful of decorated athletes with past success at AAU Winter Nationals looking to add to their list of credentials.
Last year, Kyler Lauidsen made history by capturing his eighth championship at Winter Nationals. He has never lost a match at this tournament and now seeks title number nine.
Ignacio Villasenor is a five-time champion that is going for his sixth.
Brent Dennhardt, Wesley Martin, and Gable Porter are all attempting to win their fourth championship.
Wrestlers can register through TrackWrestling
• Chains for Champions of each weight class
• Trophies for 2nd and 3rd place in each weight class
• Medals for the top 6 places in each weight class
• Team Awards Presented
• Awards immediately after completion of bracket
• Class A: 18 or More (Score only the top 18)
• Class B: 13-17 Wrestlers (Score only the top 13)
• Class C: 8-12 Wrestlers (Score only the top 8)
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Friday, January 3rd:
11:59 am – Online registration closes at
6-9:00 pm – Weigh-ins: (all wrestlers get .9lbs allotment)
6-9:00 pm – Ticket booth opens to prepurchase admission
6-9:00pm – Coaches passes can be purchased or picked up is purchased online
***** ALL wrestlers need to have AAU Membership Card in order to weigh in
*****Please have a copy of birth certificate available (will only check if age is challenged)
*****Coaches will need to show Non-athletic AAU card in order to get a Coaches/Floor pass
Saturday, January 4th:
6-6:30 am – Weigh-ins
6:15 am – Arena doors open
7:30 am – Floor open for warm-up time
8:30 am – All wrestlers report to weigh in area for Parade of States
8:30 am – All Coaches report to Coaches Band Purchase area for Coaches meeting
8:45 am – Parade of states starts
9:00 am – Wrestling begins.
Will wrestle at least two rounds, Round Robins, ALL Girl Brackets
Sunday, January 5th:
6:00 am – Doors Open
7:00 am – Floor Opens for warm-ups
8:00 am – Wrestling Starts
10:00 am – Awards area opens for awards for completed brackets
STANDARD AAU DIVISIONS
ALL WRESTLERS GET A .9 (Nine Tenths) POUND SCALE ALLOTMENT
Tots Weight Classes (6 & Under) 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 & HWT (75 lb Max)
Bantam Weight Classes (7 & 8) 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 90 & HWT (125 lb Max)
Midget Weight Classes (9 & 10) 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, 103, 112, 120, 130, & HWT (175 lb Max)
Novice Weight Classes (11 & 12) 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, 100, 105, 112, 120, 130, 140 & HWT (205 lb Max)
School Boy/Girl (No High School wrestlers 13-15) 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, 100, 105, 110, 115, 120, 125, 130, 140, 150, 160, 180 & HWT (260 lb Max)
For more information on AAU Winter Nationals