North Carroll High School may have closed, but it is still the primary haunt for one group of local kids. The Manchester Wrestling Club holds practices and matches there.
And the place really rocks one day each year at Holiday time when the club holds its annual Manchester Holiday Tournament.
On Dec. 2, the Holiday Tournament had its biggest turnout since 1978 when it began. In recent years this event has grown significantly as organizers have drastically changed its format.
The 40th annual event a few weeks ago drew 368 wrestlers, ages five to 16, from Maryland and Pennsylvania. Wrestlers from 31 different teams showed up.
Three Carroll County Maryland Junior Wrestling League teams — Manchester, The Warriors, and Alliance (Mount Airy) — were there.
The Mount Airy-based Maniacs Wrestling Club was also there, and in a big way.
The event also attracted nearly 700 others, including coaches, volunteers and spectators.
Manchester coach Andy Kiler said the format of the tournament has been changed in recent years to keep pace with the times. About five years ago, organizers dropped team scoring.
Now, there are individual weight class championships only.
Kiler said with all the tournaments available now, it has been hard to get full teams to commit to any one event. The Holiday Tournament changed its policy and now registers wrestlers as individuals and not by team.
The results have been beneficial, and turnout had grown over the previous four years.
A recent decision by the MJWL to increase its attractiveness to young wrestlers had big additional beneficial impact on this year’s Manchester event.
The Junior League, wishing to make itself more attractive to Maryland youth wrestlers, decided it needed to start entering teams under its flag into nationally recognized youth wrestling tournaments.
It was felt this would give its athletes stronger competition against highly respected, "name" opponents in youth wrestling while keeping them in the Junior League at the same time.
The Manchester Tournament was considered an ideal vehicle for setting this up. So this year's event was used as a qualifier for a major prestigious tournament to be held after the first of the year.
It was decided that the top MJWL finishers in the Holiday Tournament’s weight classes would be formed into two all-star teams to compete in the Tyrants Duals, to be held in the York Expo Center on Jan.12-13.
One team is for elementary school (sixth grade and under) and the other for middle school (15 and under).
One did not have to win a weight class championship to make the all-star squad. The wrestler simply had to be the highest-finishing member from a MJWL team.
The idea of competing in a national-level wrestling tournament has generated a lot of enthusiasm from the kids.
“(Junior League) is the biggest wrestling league in Maryland, and everybody wanted to make the all-star team and qualify,” Kiler said.
Seven members from Carroll County MJWL teams qualified and will wrestle in York as an all-star.
They were Manchester’s Logan Myers (six-under, 49 pounds: second place), Josh Hale (six-under, 69, second), Jake Boog (15-under, 101, second), Travis Green (15-under, 106, third), Noah Onkst (15-under, 131) and Colby Seal (15-under, 211, second).
Also going is the Warriors’ Kaleb Kearns (six-under, 101).
Kearns, Onkst, and Alliance’s Ethan Arneson (15-under, 106) and Luke Winkler (six-under, 131) were the only Junior League wrestlers to win their weight class championships.
The Maniacs had eight champs of their own.
These taking first at six-under were Cameron Hall (45), Evan Owen (69), Anthony Rodrigues (65), and Manny Rodrigues (111). Fifteen-under winners were Michael Pizzutto (89), Josh Strong (97), Gage Owen (101), and A.J. Rodrigues (116).
Jackson Richmond (161), a wrestler from Westminster, also took first at 15-under.
Other Carroll County wrestlers won trophies for placing in runner-up positions in their weight classes. They were:
Alliance: Nathan Angleberger (six-under, 101, fourth), Josh Arthur (six-under, 69, fourth), Giuseppe DiMonte (six-under, 131, third), Garhett Dickenson (15-under, 111, third), Marcus Dye (15-under, 161, fourth), and Joel Hopkins (15-under, 250, second).
Maniacs: JoJo Gigliotti (six-under, 73, third), Jack Bruffery (six-under, 85, second), Marquez Estrada (15-under, 85, second), Austin Combs (15-under, 106, second), and Rylan Moose (15-under, 131, third).
Manchester: Kayden Reid (six-under, 57, third), Faith Day (15-under, 73, third), and Brandyn Fish (15-under-81, fourth).
Warriors: Brayden Brassel (six-under, 61, second), Benjamin Scheiner (six-under, 69, third), Dylan Ohler 6-under, 81, fourth), Kevin Poole (6-under, 97, fourth), and Randy Green (15-under, 211, fourth).
Kiler believes these changes and the revised format will continue to make the Manchester Holiday Tournament a popular stop-off in the schedules of youth wrestlers each year.
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“If the league continues this format we will have a base of about 250 kids,” Kiler said, “and the tournament will keep growing.”