If you drove by Perry Meridian High on Sunday, March 4, you would have thought school was in session because the parking lot was packed. If you had driven through the lot, you would have noticed license plates from Ohio, Kentucky and other Midwestern states.
The reason for the crowd was the Perry Meridian Thornton Strong Open, and it’s a big deal in the wrestling community. The wrestlers ranged in divisions from peewee to junior and ranged from ages from 5 to 18 and in weight classes from 35 to 285 pounds.
What made this tournament special is that the school wrestling season is over, and this was the place for wrestlers to show off their skills and what they’ve learned over the year.
The tournament is named for former Perry Meridian teacher and wrestling coach Thornton Strong, who died May 15, 2014, after a four-year battle with colon cancer. He taught and coached for over 21 years at Perry. Along with wrestling he also coached track and field and football.
This year almost 600 wrestlers took part in the tournament. Along with the wrestlers come the moms and dads to watch. And here is a news flash … the wrestling is not for the boys anymore as girls also wrestled.
The Perry Meridian Wrestling Club, coached by Matt Schoettle, scored more points than any other team. The club’s season started a few weeks ago and will continue until the Disney Duals in Orlando, Fla., in June.
Because the trip will cost each of the wrestlers more than $500 each, they are trying to raise money to defray the expense. One of the club’s fundraisers will be a silent auction at the Greco-Roman and freestyle open tournament April 8 and 9 at Perry Meridian. Those who would like to donate items can email PMWCsilentauction@gmail.com or call Adam Biszantz at 317-886-8075. More information about the club is available at www.PerryMeridianWrestlingClub.com.