Wednesday, March 5, 2014

National High School Coaches Association celebrates 25 years of National Wrestling Championships

by Jeff Fisher
Host, NHSCA Sports Hour
Follow @NHSCARadioShow

25 years ago, National High School Coaches Association founder Bob Ferraro, Sr. had a dream – bring together all of the nation’s senior high school state wrestling champs.

“The day we left Lewisburg, Pennsylvania for the championships in the western part of the state, we had only 51 wrestlers registered,” said Ferraro, who at the time of the first national championships was the head wrestling coach at Bucknell University. “Back then there was no internet, so it was hard to tell if more kids would be coming or not. I’m thinking how bad will this be if only those 51 kids show-up?  The good news is we had a great turnout for on-site registration and we ended-up with 262 wrestlers from 39 different states.”

25 years later, Ferraro still enjoys talking about that first year in Pittsburgh, but he also smiles when discussing the NHSCA’s upcoming Silver Anniversary of the NHSCA High School National Wrestling Championships, March 27th through the 30th at the Virginia Beach Convention Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

A quarter-century since those first championships, the NHSCA has expanded, not only the championships, but also the organization as well.  Today, the National High School Coaches Association crowns championships in five different divisions – middle school, freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior classifications.

Each an every year, the number of wrestlers competing grows.  The 2013 championships attracted a record 2,800-plus wrestlers to Virginia Beach to battle for the coveted title of NHSCA high school national wrestling champ.  The top eight wrestlers in each weight class also earn the honor of NHSCA All-American.

The national championship alumni roster reads like a Who’s Who in the sport of wrestling with the likes of current Penn St. head coach Cael Sanderson, who won the NHSCA Senior Nationals in 1997 before going on to become a four-time NCAA champ with a 159-0 record.  Sanderson won an Olympic gold medal in 2004 in Athens, Greece.

Two other NHSCA Senior National champs went-on to win Olympic gold.  Jake Varner was a NHSCA Senior National champ in 2005 before going onto to become a two-time NCAA champ at Iowa St.  Varner won the 96 kg gold medal in the 2012 Olympic games in London. 

2006 New Jersey’s Jordan Burroughs won an NHSCA National Championship before going to Nebraska where he won two NCAA titles.  Like Varner, Burroughs won a gold medal at the London Olympics.

Stephen Abas was a 1996 NHSCA Senior National champ.  Abas was a three-time NCAA champ at Fresno St.  Abas won an Olympic silver medal at the Athens Games.

“It’s always a lot of fun to watch our wrestlers move-on to have great success at the NCAA level,” said Ferraro.

The most exclusive club for the NHSCA’s is the elite four-time champion club.  There have only been three, quadruple champs – Blake Roulo of Matoaca High School in Virginia; Tyler Beckwith of Greene High School in New York; and BJ Clagon of Toms River South High School in New Jersey.

To register for this year’s championships, go to

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