Get a feel for what it's like to be on the floor as wrestlers battle for their state championships. Brian Powers, firstname.lastname@example.org
A new high school wrestling tournament is coming to the state of Iowa — one that organizers hope will become one of the sport’s premier national competitions.
Beginning next year, the Xtream Arena and GreenState Family Fieldhouse in Coralville will host the Dan Gable Donnybrook, a brand-new tournament announced Wednesday by Think Iowa City.
The inaugural competition, sanctioned through the Iowa High School Athletic Association, is scheduled for Dec. 4-5, 2020, and marks the first sporting event announced for the Iowa River Landing’s new facility.
The event will be invite-only, will consist of a 32-team individual format with team scoring and will include divisions for both boys and girls. Organizers hope the best high school wrestling teams from Iowa and surrounding states will compete.
“A ‘donnybrook’ is a free-for-all brawl,” Think Iowa City president Josh Schamberger said in a release. “Our hope is that through exceptional event production and top-level competition — both attributes that are required with an event that boasts Dan Gable as its namesake — that wrestlers from the Midwest and ultimately the country will put this tournament on the top of their list.”
Any and all proceeds from the tournament will be split between the Veteran’s Liberty Center in Iowa City, which provides various levels of assistance to veterans, and a fund to help promote and grow girls’ wrestling in Iowa.
The competition will be produced, in part, by the same organizers that put on the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials, which came to Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City in both 2012 and 2016, and the UWW Freestyle World Cup, which came to Carver in 2018. Xtream Arena is scheduled to open in August.
“The new facilities … are perfect for this event,” Nathan Eichorst, chief event organizer, said in a release. “We’ll be utilizing both Xtream Arena and the GreenState Family Fieldhouse. The atmosphere that weekend will be awesome.
“I’m excited to work with Josh and his team at Think Iowa City. They know how to put on top notch events and our visiting teams will receive the red carpet treatment.”
► From the Iowa City Press-Citizen: Xtream Arena raises final beam
The inspiration for this competition stems from the fact that the IHSAA limits Iowa high school wrestling teams from traveling to bigger, more competitive out-of-state tournaments. The association only allows teams to include events in bordering states, as well as Kansas, on their schedules.
A handful of top-notch competitions are available to Iowa high school wrestling programs, including the Council Bluffs Classic; The Clash in Minnesota; the Kansas City Stampede in Missouri; and the Cheesehead Invitational in Wisconsin, among others. Independence’s Cliff Keen Invitational and Bettendorf’s Midwest Shootout are two in-state tournaments that have attracted strong competition from other states, too.
But some of the nation’s premier competitions — The Walsh Ironman, in Ohio; the Beast of the East, in Delaware; and the Doc Buchanan Invitational, in California, among others — are unavailable to Iowa high school teams because of the association’s restrictions.
Schamberger’s hope, then, is that the Donnybrook grows into something that attracts the nation’s best teams and wrestlers every December. An avid wrestling fan, Schamberger wants to model the competition like the Yarygin Grand Prix, arguably the toughest freestyle wrestling tournament in the world.
“My goal as a sponsor and supporter of this event is nothing short of making the Dan Gable Donnybrook the high school-aged equivalent of the Yarygin,” Schamberger said.
The Yarygin, held annually in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, is named after Ivan Yarygin, a two-time Olympic gold medalist for Russia in 1972 and 1976.
The Donnybrook, of course, is named after Dan Gable, a two-time NCAA champion at Iowa State-turned-1972 Olympic gold medalist-turned-Iowa coach who led the Hawkeyes to 15 NCAA team titles.
He, too, is excited for the tournament.
“I am excited to join Josh, Nathan and their teams to help develop this new annual tournament here in Coralville,” Gable said in a release. “… This tournament has my name on it. So you better come to compete.
“Anyone who wins this tournament will have accomplished something special.”
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
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