AAU Wrestling will return to the mat this weekend in Ralston, Nebraska with 2021’s Winter Nationals. Despite the challenges the pandemic has presented in hosting a tournament of this caliber, tournament director Daniel Vacha has seen substantial early-entry numbers. As of Monday, wrestlers from 18 states, some as far as Georgia and Florida, have already registered. “I have also seen a large number of teams bringing their whole team. We have 10 teams bringing over 20 wrestlers and four teams with 40 wrestlers each”, Vacha says.
To accommodate local COVID-19 restrictions, there will be several modifications in the tournament’s format. There will be three, three and a half-hour sessions on Saturday to account for the wrestlers and their spectators. In between, each will be a 90-minute break for sanitation purposes. The tournament format will also see most of the early round concluded on Saturday with placement matches for most brackets on Sunday.
In 2020, the tournament debuted its electronic tapper system. This will be used again in 2021 and is a feature that other events may look to adopt as they increase safety measures. Rather than having a towel tapper for each mat, referees will wear an electronic vibrating watch that notifies them as time expires. These devices can also be more efficient than relying on a towel tapper during a crucial situation at the end of a period.
If you’re unable to travel to Ralston, TrackWrestling will be streaming on all 12 mats. For a $14.95 charge, you can view action all weekend. It’s also available if you’re a TrackGold member.
One of the nicknames of Winter Nationals is the “Challenge for the Chain,” as winners of the tournament will the customary chain. This year’s edition has been upgraded over previous versions. Additionally, wrestlers that win their fourth championship (or more) will receive a custom ring. This is the first time that rings will be awarded.
The following wrestlers will be seeking to capture a ring this weekend. Eight-time champion Kyler Lauridsen, seven-time champions Dreshaun Ross and Ignacio Villasenor, along with four-time champs Brent Denhardt and Paxton Morgan, will be looking to add more hardware to their collection. Four girls have the opportunity to win their fourth championship: Teagan Carritt, Madyn Overman, and Reanah Utterback.
- 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 After the ALL Age groups complete.
- Awards immediately after completion of bracket
- TEAM AWARDS
- 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)
- We would not be able to present the team awards until all wrestling is concluded on Sunday Afternoon. We understand that most will not want to stay around until Tots complete. Awards will be broadcasted on Mat 1 of track case and posted on the website. Team awards will then be mailed to each team if a coach is not available.