Rochester is getting ready to rumble

New wrestling tournament will draw top high school teams

By Donny Henn

A couple of successful high-profile high school holiday tournaments have made Rochester a basketball and hockey hotbet in the middle of winter. Now the wrestlers are muscling into the city with a heavyweight event of their own.

A well-organized volunteer group of wrestling supporters has joined efforts with the Rochester Amateur Sports Commission to stage a high-powered 20-team tournament Jan. 3-4 at the new fieldhouse at Rochester Community and Technical College.


The event, a team dual tournament called "The Clash", will draw some of the top high school wrestling teams from Minnesota and other states, including Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Utah and California.

"I've always been envious of the excitement the Kiwanis (hockey) and Rotary (basketball) events brought to town over the holidays," said tournament organizer Ed Hruska. "I felt with the new fieldhouse coming on line, our hotel/restaurant situation and a group of seasoned people that have run numerous wrestling events, we could pull off a similar event."

Rochester has hosted the National Junior College Athletic Association's national wrestling tournament in March for the last three years, and Mayo Civic Center has also been the site for the massive Northland Youth Wrestling Association championship in April, and the state Freestyle championships in May. But this is the first big tournament for high school teams.

The tournament field is already filled with 20 teams that have signed contracts. Sixteen of the teams were state tournament entrants last year, and eight were state champions and were ranked among the top 25 nationally.

Local teams entered include Rochester Mayo, Owatonna and Caledonia. Other Minnesota entrants are Glencoe, Windom, Centennial, Milaca and Apple Valley, the four-time defending Class AAA state champ. Owatonna is the two-time state runner-up in Class AAA; Centennial (AAA) and Milaca (AA) also were at state last spring for the third straight season.

"We wanted to make it a tournament for the top teams in the country, but we also wanted some local flavor," Hruska said. "I think some of the local teams are wondering if they're the right caliber for this tournament, but the format should allow for teams to get into pools with evenly-matched teams."

The format guarantees that all 20 teams will receive an acceptable number of matches, Hruska said. Teams will wrestle two matches on the first day. The second day will be round-robin pool play, with pools divided by teams that won both opening matches (W-W pool), won and lost (W-L), lost and won (L-W), and lost twice (L-L).

Hruska said that many of volunteers have totaled about 800 hours to bring this event together, including RCTC wrestling coach Chuck Siefert, Al and Peggy Chihak, and Randy Cirksena, who has done most of the recruiting of teams. Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. has stepped in as the major financial sponsor.


Hruska said there will be some wrestling celebrities at the event, including Gophers head wrestling coach J Robinson, and Dan Gable, the legendary former University of Iowa coach. Cael Sanderson, who completed his college career last season with a perfect 154-0 record at Iowa State, may also be here to cheer on his former high school team from Heber City, Utah.

"Our focus has been on creating a highly competitive event, but also making this the top event these folks will ever attend," Hruska said.

For more information on 'The Clash' go on-line at

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