HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- 80 schools, 1,100 wrestlers and 2,000 matches. It all adds up to one of the largest and longest running wrestling tournaments in the Eastern United States.
Friday, the 35th Annual WSAZ Wrestling Invitational got underway giving local grapplers a chance to go head to head with some of the best in their own back yard.
"It's always big to have a tournament so close to home," Hurricane wrestler Zach Cooper said. "This is the biggest individual tournament before the regional and state tournament. It's always good competition."
For Huntington coach Rob Archer, this tournament has special meaning. He's been involved from the beginning, watching the tournament grow each and every year.
"It's special to me because I watched it grow from the old Huntington High gym to the Veterans field house to the Big Sandy Superstore Arena," Archer said. "It's neat to watch it grow and get bigger. It has a special place in my heart. Most of the kids have grown up watching the tournament. They definitely want to win the WSAZ tournament and add it to a list of their accomplishments."
But as badly as the wrestlers want to win, it's their parents who can be just as entertaining to watch. Many times, the parents scream and yell louder than the coaches.
"Some of the parents are crazy, but it's only about your kid and what he can do," Kim Fischer, who's son, Kyle, wrestles for Spring Valley said. "You probably are more into it because it's not a team. Its only him."
And that's what makes this sport so unique. While you're part of a team, it really comes down to one-on-one action with nowhere to turn for help.
"It's definitely the toughest sport in my opinion," Zach Cooper said. "It's a battle with you and another guy. It's about who is the toughest guy, and who wants to win the most. You don't have anyone helping you."
The WSAZ Invitational runs through Saturday, with the finals starting approximately 8:15 pm.