photo courtesy of Dennes Barrett
After a one-year hiatus during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Hills Nationals, AAU World Folkstyle Championships is back! The tournament, which takes place at Spearfish High School in Spearfish, South Dakota, is in its 18th year of existence and will get underway on March 19th. Early registration numbers have been huge for the event. As of Tuesday morning, over 1200 wrestlers across nine divisions have signed up to participate. That number could balloon up to as high as 1600 by the time the first whistles blow on Friday. Founder and Tournament Director Frank Pavich has seen plenty of entries from both coasts and “everywhere in between.” In addition to great competition, parents and wrestlers have used the weekend to take advantage of the beautiful, unique area in the Black Hills surrounding Spearfish.
On Friday afternoon, the Masters will get things kicked off for the 2021 Black Hills Nationals. From his experience with this division, Pavich says there, “plenty of solid ex-college wrestlers that still feel a little froggy.” Action will get broken down into three sessions over the two days. Not only will the Masters compete in the opening session, but Seniors, girls, the high school division will also be conducted during the Friday stanza. Saturday’s early session will feature the Bantam’s, Tot’s, and Midgets, while the Schoolboy and Novice division will close out the event during the second session. Wrestlers in each division will compete for medals which will be awarded from first to eighth place.
The event is designed to “give opportunities to kids. From the youth wrestlers, we help them work their way into Junior High, then provide more efficient competition at the high school level, which hopefully will provide them with looks from colleges. After college, they become a productive member of society. It’s the wrestling circle of life”, Pavich adds.
The wrestlers are not the only ones that will be competing in Spearfish; the referees will, as well. Black Hills Nationals is one of five qualifiers around the country for officials who aim to work the 2021 Disney Duals. Officials will be graded on their performance throughout the tournament. Afterward, seven or weight will get selected to work the Duals. This has brought out 16 top-notch referees from five states.
Pavich is also excited about a future event in the area, a dual meet in the area. He is working on a team-dual event with eight to twelve squads in action, with the finals being held outside in the famous “Outlaw Square” in historic Deadwood.
But now, we are focused on the action set to take place in Spearfish. For more information about the Black Hills Nationals, check out their website at: Black Hills Nationals