It’s time to head back to the national stage for Richmond wrestling.
The grappling Blue Devils will be taking their third out-of-state trip this season as they’ll head to the Mat Mayhem High School Duals in Fort Wayne, Ind. The competition they’ll see there is – to no one’s surprise – stiff, as they’ll face Indiana powerhouses Merrilville and Brownsburg in pool play.
While pinning down as many wins as possible this weekend will be great, it’s really not the top priority of head coach Brandon Day.
“It’s so stress-free for us, because we don’t care if we win or lose,” Day said. “We just want our kids going down there and competing hard.”
Along with the high school duals, there will be colleges ranging from Division 2 to junior college ready to compete, making it a 2,700-wrestler showdown. Really, at a tournament this huge, just getting exposure for top seniors like Aaron Kilburn, Cody Keller, Graham Barton and Zack Roberts makes this tournament worth going to.
“We want to get our seniors noticed and recruited so they can compete at the next level and get their educations,” Day said.
In total, the Blue Devils will take 18 kids down to Fort Wayne on their trip that will start on Friday. While crossing state lines has been common for the team, it doesn’t seem like they’re close to taking the trip for granted.
“We are thankful our school, our school district, our administration and our board allow us to do this to showcase our kids,” Day said. “A lot of places this doesn’t happen … but here our superintendent wants these kids to do their best, and he backs it up.”
Traveling to tournaments like this only makes the Blue Devils stronger, highlighted with their state title last season. And while they saw plenty of talent graduate from last year’s team, Day knows that his team will continue to surprise people as the season grows older.
“We graduated a great class last year, and we know what we have here,” Day said. “We know we have enough talent in here to win the state championship again. The good thing is that the rest of the state doesn’t think so, and we’re fine with that.”