AAU Grand Nationals returning to Billings in June

2014-05-11T18:00:00Z 2014-05-11T23:43:03Z AAU Grand Nationals returning to Billings in JuneBy JOHN LETASKY jletasky@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

The chase for the Triple Crown of wrestling will be on this June 12-14 at Alterowitz Gymnasium on the Montana State University Billings campus as the AAU Western Grand Nationals Wrestling Championships return to Billings.

The Triple Crown will be awarded to wrestlers who claim first place in freestyle, folkstyle and Greco-Roman at the tourney. Tourney co-director Dan Elser said previously the Triple Crown was awarded for finishing first in folkstyle at Black Hills Nationals, first in freestyle at the Ironman tourney and first in Greco-Roman at the AAU Grands.

“Now AAU has combined it all into Grand Nationals,” Elser said. “If you come wrestle here and win all three styles, you will be a Triple Crown winner. That’s a huge change to competitive kids. Now they only have to come to one place.”

This year’s Eastern Grand Nationals will take place July 3-5 in Greensobro, N.C. Wrestlers can also earn the Triple Crown there.

It is the second straight year the Grand Nationals will be held at Alterowitz. Last year was a successful year in terms of participation as the total number of wrestlers was up 48 percent from the previous year in Santa Fe, N.M. There were also 453 total wrestlers last year.

Elser said there are already wrestlers who had pre-registered as of last Tuesday. Last year at that point, he said nobody had registered yet. Elser said organizers are hoping to have 700 wrestlers compete. Montana has been tabbed as the permanent home of the Western AAU Grand Nationals and it will be in Billings for the foreseeable future.

“We’re still working on putting the Grand back in Grand Nationals,” Elser said, noting high school teams from Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Oregon and Nevada have shown interest in coming and organizers are expecting wrestlers to compete from at least 20 different states.

“If we can get to 700 wrestlers, we will be maxing out the MSUB facility and 700 is what it takes for us to get to the Metra. If we get to 700, Metra is a realistic possibility in the future.”

Freestyle will be contested June 12, folkstyle on June 13 and Greco-Roman on June 14. There are weight-appropriate divisions for wrestlers 6 & under all the way up to age 30-plus.

The registration fee is $50, which includes all three events. Entry registration deadline for the tourney is June 11 on www.trackwrestling.com. The on-site registration cost is $75.

Along with Elser (406-861-5033) of the Renegades Wrestling Club, Bryan Emborg (406-696-9869) of the Darkhorse Wrestling Club is also serving as a tourney director.

For information on the tourney, visit www.aaugrandsmt.com or email aaugrandsmt@hotmail.com.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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