NORTHBRDGE, Mass. – He paces from end of the gym to the other, buds in his ears, stopping to jump from one foot to the other now and then. Whether he’s reacting to the music from his IPod or nervous energy as he awaits his turn on the mat isn’t known.
He is among 200 or more young wrestlers at Northbridge High School on Saturday, Jan. 14, there to participate in the NHS Invitational Wrestling Tournament.
The teams have names like Bulldogs, Red Raiders, Panthers and Phoenix and they’ve come from as far away as the western part of the state.
This is the fourth year Northbridge has hosted the tournament, noted Athletic Director Al Richards. The first year, eight teams participated; this year 24, the closest from Bellingham, Marlborough and Hopkinton.
It’s a popular tournament, noted parent volunteer Brian Labonte, whose children have been involved with high school wrestling for six years. “This is a good sized field house. They like the atmosphere and the size of the place,’’ he said of the other teams.
The tournament is a way to showcase the school, the faculty and the town,’’ Richards said, and it’s a favorite because the state’s powerhouse teams, like Wayland, don’t participate, which makes it more of a “level playing field,’’ he said.
“It’s always a good day,’’ he said.
Nick Doucey, who wrestled for Northbridge High until he graduated in 2010, explained that a wrestler can win by points or pin. A match goes three rounds, wrestlers getting points for specific actions. The wrestler with the greatest numbers of points at the end of three rounds wins.
A wrestler who pins both shoulders of the opponent to the floor, however, earns an automatic win, Doucey said.
Wrestlers are matched against wrestlers of similar size, from 106 lbs. up to 285 lbs.
“Wrestlers are a different breed,’’ Richards said. “They’re all good kids. With the sport itself, there’s nobody to blame out there but yourself. It teaches you to accept responsibility for your own actions, your own results.’’
Richards said participants and results of Saturday’s tournament will be posted at www.kapwrestling.net.