2013 NUWAY Nationals drew over 1,000 wrestlers from 12 states

Updated: May 15, 2013

By Jeff Chaney, Michigan Grappler

Kyle Keller is a three-time qualifier for the Ohio High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament and two-time all-state performer.

And the 17-year-old Delta High School junior credits a busy off-season, including competing in the National United Wrestling Association for Youth (NUWAY), for helping him excel on the mats in one of the toughest states for high school wrestling.

“I love wrestling in OURWAY (NUWAY’s Ohio association) and NUWAY,” Keller said. “I remember my first tournament in fifth or sixth grade, I took second.”

Keller also remembers his last NUWAY tournament wrestled — that came in the NUWAY National finals last month at Battle Creek, Michigan’s Kellogg Arena.

He won a national title by wrestling his way through a tough Division 7 122-pound bracket.

“At NUWAY, my first two matches were against the kids who took second and third because it was round robin,” Keller said. “It was tough tournament.”

And that is why Keller says wrestling in NUWAY with the competition from top-level wrestlers from other states has helped improve his skills on the mat.

“You get some competition there that you will never wrestle in high school,” Keller said. “You usually have to battle every match.”

It’s that reason NUWAY president Dave Dean and Roger Chandler have put so much effort into building this association of folkstyle wrestling to what it has become today.

Dean and Chandler started the idea in the state of Michigan, but NUWAY has grown into a national association which has 12 active states, and 22 total, competing in state and regional-level events.

Caiden Hart (right) of Ohio lost a first-round match, but came back to win three consolation bouts and finish sixth at 62 pounds in Division 3 of the 2013 NUWAY Nationals in Battle Creek, Mich.

And at this year’s nationals, 1,009 wrestlers competed in seven divisions, the most in the five years of the national tournament.

“We grew by a good number this year, 150 more participants,” Dean said. “That had to do with the growth of some of our state associations like North Carolina, South Carolina and New Jersey, they had a strong showing. Our numbers from Indiana, Ohio and Michigan were strong because of location, but states that are farther out are showing more support.”

OURWAY director Randy Hartman loves how NUWAY has grown, especially the tournament.

“I like the concept of making it a true national tournament,” Hartman said. “You have to qualify in your state for Nationals. You have to earn it.”

This year, Ohio had over 1,200 wrestlers wrestle in its OURWAY tournament.

Dean hopes to have those kinds of numbers throughout the country, giving kids all around the country the ability to compete in the great sport of wrestling.

“We do have more projects in the works, in business you always have a contingency plan,” Dean said. “Because you do run into situations, and you get older and wiser. We want to do more around the country, continue to grow.”

Keller gives it his stamp of approval.

“It helps me a lot for high school,” Keller said. “Getting as much mat time in the off-season helps me stay in shape, learn how to win the matches I need to win and just battling.”


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