Graphic courtesy of Iowa AAU Wrestling.
The wrestling mats were out in full force over Easter weekend in Des Moines, Iowa, from April 2-3. Iowa AAU wrestling hosted the AAU National Duals and Twin Rivers Duals. The weekend consisted of three separate events: the AAU Freshmen/Sophomore National Duals, the Twin River Junior/Senior National Duals, and the AAU Lee Pamulak Middle School Duals.
Despite all three events being canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all three events returned this season in 2021. Additionally, each event will be larger and more competitive than ever before. The field will have entrants from nearly 20 different states.
“COVID-19 has been challenging,” AAU Women’s Wrestling Director Jason Loyd said. “However, if anything, COVID-19 may have helped our events this year. With all the cancellations and wrestlers having to find new opportunities, it may have helped open people’s horizons to try new events.”
Athletes certainly are taking to the mats. The 2021 AAU National Dual events hosted together in Des Moines will feature 94 total teams, including 42 all-female wrestling teams. According to Loyd, there will be twenty female youth teams and twenty-two female high school teams in action over the weekend.
“With the final hours drawing near, our numbers are looking fantastic,” Loyd said. “We doubled our allowed number of teams from twenty-four to forty-eight. Once we decided to go to multiple sessions with twenty-eight mats, the sky was the limit.”
“This year’s numbers and variety of teams dwarfs what we had lined up last year,” Loyd continued. This [event] will truly be one of the largest opportunities for the girls’ dual meet teams in the country.”
Not only are the sheer participation figures noticeable for this event, but these girls will be guaranteed at least eight matches and gain valuable experience competing against out-of-state competition.
“A lot of these schools from different states come to these National Duals because it’s a good tournament and has great competition,” AAU Wrestling National Chair Wes Creason said. “The wrestlers get to see different kids than they usually do because a lot of teams will come from outside the state of Iowa.”
“The whole idea with me is that they get a lot of wrestling,” Creason continued. “That is why in two days, these kids are all getting eight matches, and a couple of teams will get nine or ten matches total.”
One marquee girls’ team in attendance will be Black Mambas, one of the numerous previous team champions set to be in the participant field this weekend.
The Black Mambas have won national events, traveling coast-to-coast, and across multiple organizations. The squad has battled against other elite teams, such as Charlie’s Angels, and are challenged by ever-growing state All-Star teams, like Iowa, Nebraska, Montana, Missouri, Wisconsin, and others that have stacked their respective teams up the state champion-caliber grapplers.
Additionally, there won’t be a shortage of other immensely talented competitors scattered through the participant pool at all three events. Fans will find multiple state and national champions from various states and teams at these events.
“There’s a real good chance many the matches this weekend will feature a state qualifier or placewinner versus another state qualifier or placewinner from a different state. That’s the unique part of it all.”
Loyd also mentioned that the awards have improved since the last time this event occurred.
The awards are as follows:
- The top four teams receive Twin Rivers Girls Nationals Plaques that feature “Rosie the Wrestler.”
- The top eight teams and consolation bracket champions receive medals.
- There will be two substantial Outstanding Wrestler Chains awarded— one for each division.
- All participants will receive a free AAU T-shirt.
Of note, the newest honor to be awarded will be this year will be the inaugural offering of the “Empower Me AAU Women’s Wrestling Scholarship.” This scholarship goes to one senior female wrestler for any secondary university or trade school opportunity.
“We want to sure every kid has a good as a good experience, gets a lot of matches in, and that they feel like it was worth their time and expense to come to the event,” Creason said.
The event will be held on April 2-3 at HyVee Hall in Des Moines, Iowa. The female divisions will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday. If you cannot attend in person, all the action will be live-streamed via Trackwrestling.
Watch the event through Trackwrestling here.