Competing in this event were some 29 all-star teams representing six states. "The growth of this tournament has been phenomenal," says FCI President Bob Koehn. "Due to the competitive nature of our sport the wrestling community does not always work together in a productive manner. This event promotes unity. Wrestlers, coaches, and parents who usually compete against each other in their respective states are thrust into a situation where they have to support each other in order to achieve victory. It is very gratifying to see how excited the teams and their supporters become during the competition. Youth wrestling should be fun and this is a very fun event."
The West Virginia team had a great time in the finals defeating Georgia in the 2nd Grade & Under Division, 41-18, battling Tennessee in the 3 rd-4th Grade Division 38-21, out dueling Indiana 40-20 in the 5th-6th Grade Division, and beating Tennessee in the 7th-8th Grade Division 44-18. Due to their efforts in all four divisions, West Virginia won The Grand Champion Cup and the title of being The Best Youth Wrestling Team In The Nation.
The most exciting match of the tournament occurred in the 5th-6th grade division semi- finals between Georgia and West Virginia. Behind the efforts of Rob Preston, Matt Easter, and Jacob Frierechs, West Virginia jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead. Georgia, coached by Rob Moffow, made the score very close with pins by Jack Grooms, Brian McGahee, Josh Flinn, and Barrett Blankenship. However, West Virginia's early lead was too much to overcome and they advanced to the finals with a 35-33 victory.
Finishing over-all runner-up to West Virginia was Tennessee led by wrestlers Alan Morris Jr., Brad Lane, Travis Creagan, and Keyonsay Moore. "The competition was very good and is only going to make us better," claimed Tennessee Head Coach Alan Morris.
The final team standings were: West Virginia Olympian Team- 16 points, Tennessee- 8 points, Georgia- 7 points. Other states participating were Indiana, Florida, and Alabama.
Next year's tournament is already shaping up to be a truly outstanding event. All interested states will need to hold a qualifying tournament in order to enter a team in The 1998 Challenge Cup. Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina are already making plans to field a team next year. Contact Bob Koehn at 706-965-2714 for further information concerning holding a qualifying tournament in your state.
The Challenge Cup is a dual meet tournament pitting all-star teams from the southeastern states against one another. All the competitors were in grades 1-8. The states represented this year were Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, Florida, Alabama and West Virginia. The Grand Champion Cup is given out at the end of the tournament to the team with the best overall record. West Virginia won this cup based on their 12-0 record.
The second grade and under team was anchored by Shawn Beckett and Ryan Lowery. They shared duties at 85 pounds and heavyweight and combined for 6 pins in their 3 dual meets.
The 4th grade and under team was led by AAU National Champions, Anthony Easter and Mitch Smith, at 55 and 85 pounds respectively. They racked up 3 pins and 3 technical falls.
The 6th grade and under team had the toughest competition. They were led by lightweight lead off man Matt Easter, who won all his matches at 68 pounds.
The middle school team was the most dominant team. The team was led by AAU National Champion Robbie Ripley, Chris Johnson and Adam Schindler. They were unchallenged in their nine matches, combining for 49 team points in the three dual meets.
For complete results of the Challenge Cup read the May 15 issue of Wrestling USA.
Updated April 10, 1997