Vegas trip a great experience on and off the mat
A great wrestling experience was only part of the reason that the New Richmond wrestling team's trip to Las Vegas is being viewed as a major success.
"It was a great experience for the kids," said Tiger coach Mark Neumann.
The trip began with the team flying to Las Vegas last Wednesday. That proved to be an experience in itself, with a half-dozen of the wrestlers never having flown before.
The team got to spend much of Thursday being tourist. The team took a tour of Hoover Dam on Thursday, driving through the Rocky Mountains and past Lake Mead. They also drove past several homes owned by movie stars outside of Las Vegas.
The Tigers also got to see a rare event in Las Vegas -- rain. The city got a record rainfall on Thursday. Las Vegas averages four inches of rain per year.
Friday and Saturday were spent at the wrestling tournament.
Sunday morning the team went for a 3-mile run, getting to run in T-shirts and shorts in the 60-degree weather.
Neumann said the experience of seeing the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, plus the cultural diversity of the city, was enlightening for the wrestlers.
"I think it opened the eyes of a lot of the kids to different sights, different cultures. It's a different perspective," he said.
The team flew home Sunday, reaching New Richmond at about 2 a.m.
The Tigers actually fared quite well in the 50-team tournament, which included numerous individual state champions. Among the teams in the field were a nine-team state championship team from Pennsylvania and state champion teams from California, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada.
The top finish was by senior Chris Parker, who took sixth in the 145-pound weight class. He lost in the tournament semifinals to a wrestler who hadn't been beaten in two years.
Neumann said five other wrestlers came within one match of placing in the tournament.
Jake Dalton and Colin Melby both finished 4-2 in the tournament. Dalton's first loss in the tournament came against a two-time defending Nevada state champion.
Zach Wolff, Mike Tarman, Phil Gartner, Parker, Bryan Tschudy and Aaron Praschak all won three matches in the tournament. Bryan Volkert came up with one of the Tigers' biggest wins, knocking off the number one seed in the 215-pound bracket.
"Everyone wrestled with a lot of intensity and heart," Neumann said. "We had several kids come out of their shells and show promise for the future."