'Betsy grapplers set to do battle in 'Border Wars'

By Ivan Sanders
Star Correspondent

   When wrestling was added to the foot-race competition of the Greek Olympiad in 708 B.C., little did those original competitors know that war would break out some 1,293 years later. Border Wars that is.
   On Saturday at Elizabethton High School, the second annual Border Wars wrestling tournament gets underway with nine teams from five states set for battle. Begun last year as a six-team competition, the field has grown by three this year and next year it is anticipated that more than 20 teams will participate.
   Border Wars gets underway at 9:30 a.m. and will last all day long, concluding somewhere around 6 p.m. The tournament will feature some of the best high school wrestling around, and provides an opportunity for the community to come out and see what dual match wrestling is all about.
   What is Border Wars you ask? Border Wars is a dual wrestling tournament that will feature three pools with each pool containing three teams. Each team will wrestle the other two teams in their pool with the winner of the pool advancing to the championship pool.
   The other two teams will advance to a pool for second and third place. After first, second, and third place is determined there will be a challenge round in which one team can challenge another team or one opponent can challenge another opponent.
   Dual wrestling is based on an opponent squaring off against another competitor. Victory is gained through one of three ways: one opponent pins another's shoulders to the mat, one opponent outpoints his competitor by scoring points over three periods of wrestling, or a competitor wins by forfeit due to injury or an empty team slot.
   Pool one features Mitchell County from Spruce Pine, N.C., Dobyns-Bennett from Kingsport, and Virginia High from Bristol, Va. The Indians of D-B have always had a tough wrestling program and this year is no different.
   Pool two features Spring Valley from Conova, W.Va. located near Huntington, Prestonsburg, Kent., and the host Cyclones. Pool three features a team from a program that has been ranked in the top 20 wrestling programs nationally in Grundy High from Grundy, Va.
   Joining Grundy in pool three will be Tennessee High from Bristol, and Morristown East. Grundy, ranked 15th in the nation, has a feeder program like no other program around with nearly 80 wrestlers from elementary age through middle school participating in wrestling.
   Many of the teams participating have several regional and state competitors going head-to-head with the best competition around. Wrestling is the only sport that tests the true metal of an athlete as the final results are based on the performance of that athlete in the heat of battle.
   Coach Bill Potter is excited about this year's tournament.
   "Border Wars gives us the opportunity to wrestle teams that we normally don't get a chance to wrestle," he said. "There is going to be a lot of great wrestling going on, and we want everyone to come out and support our guys, as well as watch some quality competition."
   Border Wars is quietly but quickly picking up steam in high school wrestling circles as many other schools are inquiring already about the tournament for next year.
   "We have schools from Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania wanting information or planning on coming next year," stated Potter.
   Border Wars could very well become to Elizabethton in wrestling what the Arby's Classic has become to Bristol in basketball. With this type of notoriety, local sports enthusiasts should make an effort to come out and see what the sport of high school wrestling is all about.
   No need to worry about being hungry either, as there will be concessions available throughout the day. Border Wars will be well worth the price of attendance.