North Central College and Hammer Wrestling are teaming up to compete in the Tournament of Champions in Columbus, Ohio. Members of the Hammer Wrestling coaching staff, along with several North Central wrestling alums, will be wrestling in the open division of the tournament.
The annual tournament hopes for 3000 participants from kindergarten to post high school. There will be 40 plus mats in one arena. It is proclaimed to be the largest one day tournament in the world. More information can be found at Tournament of Champions
The tournament holds much more meaning than a mere competition for those involved. For one, it will be a reunion of old teammates, coaches, and alumni, providing an opportunity to reminisce on the glory days. Also, it’s a sort of coming out of retirement for many of those wrestling. Regardless, this weekend has the makings of great fun and excitement as these individuals attempt to forego age and silence the naysayers.
The Hammer coaches competing include Craig Becker, Joe Norton, and Andrew Zobac. Becker was a national champion at UW-Parkside in 2010 and this will be the first time competing since then (to the best of our knowledge). Norton took sixth in this tournament (at 135) last year but has dropped to 125 this year. He was a four year starter for NCC, graduating in 2010. Zobac was an All-American for the Cardinals last year, taking fifth at 141 pounds. Each of these guys also coaches at North Central.
Also of note, Kevin and Karl Bratland will be joining forces again to coach the competitors. These brothers coached together at North Central College for five years. Kevin Bratland is still the head coach at NCC, while Karl coaches at a local high school. Both of them were the original founders of Hammer Wrestling.
The NCC alums competing include Vinnie Sapienza, Joby Bodi, Cowan Brown, and Derrick Martin. Sapienza was a four year starter for NCC at 197 pounds, graduating in 2010. Bodi started for the Cardinals for three years, wrestling at 157 his senior year. Brown was a national qualifier for NCC in 2010 at 174 pounds. Martin is the dark horse of the whole group as he graduated from NCC in 1995. His senior year he was a national qualifier at 177 pounds. He will be strapping up the singlet for the first time since.
This weekend has the makings of a bittersweet reunion of friends, coaches, and wrestlers. It is a unique situation where the the simple sport of wrestling is bringing many together. It’s going to be exciting to see these guys compete and support one another. Stay tuned to our web page, twitter, and Facebook for up to date information.
Weights listed below:
125 – Norton
145 – Zobac
155 – Becker
175 – Bodi, Brown
190 – Martin
220 – Sapienza