If you have never made the journey up to Fargo, North Dakota in the middle of July then you are missing out on the main event of High School Freestyle and Greco Wrestling. The United States Marine Corps/ USA Wrestling Freestyle and Greco Nationals are known to most by the city it is held in; Simply Fargo. When athletes show up to this event they immediately see the size of the arena they are competing in. The Fargo Dome not only houses North Dakota State University’s events, but it is also home to a minor league football team and huge name concerts. As a middle or high school wrestler, it is a huge opportunity to compete in such a gigantic venue. The staff at the Fargo Dome make the wrestlers enter through a separate entrance than all of the spectators. This gives these athletes a sense of importance. This dome that can hold 25,000 people and has a special entrance for athletes are not the only attributes that make this venue special. Unlike any other National freestyle or Greco tournament, athletes compete individually in the event, but they represent their team (which is their state).
Many teams travel together and have athletes from all over the state representing their state’s name on their singlet. Sometimes athletes on the same team can be from 3 hours apart, but this is the beauty of Fargo. Not only making friends with teammates from all over the state you live in, but the ability to compete against the best wrestlers in the United States of America and Puerto Rico. For many middle and high school wrestlers, this is the BIGGEST and HARDEST tournament they have EVER competed in.
I remember personally walking into the Fargo Dome for the first time as a first-year Cadet and noticing that the event had 27 mats. It was a HUGE difference from my previous biggest high school tournament that had only consisted of four mats. Not only is the atmosphere different from any other tournament, so is the wrestling. For many athletes including myself, Fargo is the first tournament they compete in that is Freestyle or Greco. As a Fargo coach, I am often faced with the question, “What if I had never done Freestyle before?”, but that is the point of Fargo to expose an athlete to international styles of wrestling. But wait, there is more. It doesn’t just stop with wrestling. Many times when athletes are done competing they make their way outside to the “market”. On the stretch of sidewalk outside the athlete entrance, wrestlers set up gear for other athletes to buy. Wrestlers from every state try to sell and trade wrestling gear to get the coolest gear from that year and the years past. Not to mention, rare wrestling shoes, headgear, calendars, and even backpacks are for sale. When you get sick of the “market” you can always head across the street to Buffalo Wild Wings. A treasured meal after competing is done.
When Fargo is over athletes pile back up into vans, buses, and even airplanes to get back to their state. They bring with them gear from Fargo that will not only make all of their teammates back home jealous but also the ability to say that they went and competed in Fargo.
Korina Blades, Reese Larramendy, and Kennedy Blades with their National Champion from Wyoming Seminary representing their state.