Blood, sweat, and tears are familiar to every Spartan, but a new event, set to debut this year, will change the landscape of Spartan forever.
Enter the Arena
In addition to the hundreds of Spartan races featured on the calendar in 2021, athletes will soon have a chance to undertake a new opportunity for competition. Led by the Spartan Combat team, Spartan Nationals — which promises to be one of the biggest and best wrestling tournaments in the country — will be held in Jacksonville from May 20-23.
REGISTER NOW: Spartan Nationals in Jacksonville, May 20-23
Spartan and Wrestling Are a Natural Fit
Wrestling is one of the oldest practiced sports, if not the oldest, in the world. A staple of the original Olympic Games in Greece, it has been featured at nearly every iteration of the modern Olympics and is one of the fastest-growing sports among high school girls in the country. Over 265,000 high schoolers compete in it every year, with higher-level competition featured across the globe at colleges, universities, in the amateur ranks, and at elite and professional levels.
For the uninitiated, there are three central formats to the sport, and Spartan Combat will feature all three at the Spartan Nationals in May.
Folkstyle (also known as collegiate) is the most traditional form of wrestling in the United States. Contested at high schools and colleges across the country, it prominently features takedowns, either by shooting or throwing. This format is different from Olympic freestyle wrestling, as it allows for movements from the bottom position, enabling fighters to defend their position to avoid being pinned. It also incorporates what is called the referee position.
Freestyle, the second form, is the Olympic standard. Similar to folkstyle, the goal is for an athlete to pin their opponent, which competitors do through shooting and throwing. Unique to this form, however, is the par terre position, which is not found in folkstyle or Greco-Roman.
Greco-Roman was contested at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and is still practiced internationally. This format allows for takedowns by attacking an opponent's upper body, and leg attacks are not allowed.
At Spartan Nationals, match rules and round length will be the same for both men and women. Competition will be fierce for both open (individual) titles and dual (team) competition.
Top Talent From Across the Country Will Be There
In order to bring Spartan Combat to the masses, Spartan Nationals will feature top talent and teams from all divisions. Numerous wrestling superstars — including Kyle Dake, Gabe Dean, and a number of other surprise guests — will be at the tournament, and youth wrestlers will have a chance to meet them. Division 1 coaches from the NCAA will be in attendance to scout the elite talent on display, and many of the top wrestling clubs in the country have already committed to Jacksonville, including Team Kong, Team SHUTT, and more.
The event will be open to the public and COVID safety protocols will be in place. Spartan Combat has also partnered with Wrestle Like a Girl, a nonprofit organization that aims to provide greater opportunities for female wrestlers.
What Sets Spartan Nationals Apart From the Rest?
As an extension of the Spartan ethos of grit, determination, and perseverance, Spartan Nationals was created to celebrate one of the hardest and most competitive sports in the world. Other major tournaments on the calendar — from Fargo to Beast of the East — have tailored their format to benefit junior-level athletes or area schools. Other well-known tournaments, like Escape the Rock, have already been postponed until next year.
This event seeks to bring the top-ranked talent from across the country to one venue, and elite wrestlers from all corners of the country will be in attendance.
School-aged wrestlers are encouraged to participate, and there is a real possibility that the next national or Olympic champion will be in the arena. Athletes will be privy to top-level wrestling firsthand, but will also have plenty of time to learn, train, and bond with each other.
Making Our Mark in the Combat Sports World
As an entry point into wrestling, Spartan Nationals will offer levels of competition previously unseen to most Spartans, and it will also be a showcase for some of the most talented teams and individuals in the sport. In May, on Spartan soil, the best wrestlers in the country will be on display. You won't want to miss it.