Their NCAA eligibility is up but not the drive to compete: Simpson hosts the ‘Old Man Wrestling Tourney’

by Brock Borgeson, sports editor

For many ex-baseball players, slow pitch softball becomes their competitive outlet. For basketball players, noon-time basketball becomes their Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

But if you are a wrestler, what do you do?

Simpson College wrestling answers this question, hosting the Next Man in Nationals, ‘Old Man’ wrestling tournament on Sunday, Apr. 19, welcoming ex-wrestlers to Indianola for a chance to get on the mat once more.

Simpson head wrestling coach, Nate Hansen, hopes that this will spur a tradition.

“We hope to grow the tournament into a yearly event that will bring all kinds of wrestlers who still have “one more great match” in them,” Hansen said.

With a wrestler entry limit of 150, ex-Simpson wrestlers like Cory Stratton, Jeff Sand and Taylor Witzel plan to get on the mat again, as well as South Dakota State wrestling alums who got to know Hansen during his time as assistant coach of the Jackrabbits.

Aaron Pickrel, who wrestled at 125 for SDSU from 2008-2013, went 87-49 for the Jackrabbits and will be coming from his home town of Watertown, S.D. for the tournament this weekend.

“I plan to leave Saturday morning and I’ll pick up a buddy of mine,” Pickrel said. “I definitely want to go in and win as I’m a competitive person.”

Jackrabbit teammates Nick Flynn and Kevin Kelly will also be heading out to Simpson in what is a bit of a reunion.

The wrestling will start at 12 p.m. on Sunday in the north-end of Cowles Fieldhouse.

Competitors will wrestle under Modified National Federation High School Rules, or ‘Folkstyle’ wrestling. Weigh-ins for the eight weight classes from 125 to heavyweight, will take place from 4-6 p.m. on Saturday, Apr. 18 or from 8-11 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Weighs-in will take place in the Luther Hill Wrestling Center, a facility new to the wrestling program at Simpson and one that Hansen will like to have advertised this weekend.

“We’re really looking forward to hosting a tournament that will bring people from all over to Simpson’s new athletic facilities,” Hansen said.

The fee to enter is $25 for those who register online prior to Apr. 18, and $30 who register at Simpson.

Those interested can register online at: http://goo.gl/forms/PJR7HyrcEa

If the urge to compete isn’t already enough, there will be an extra incentive for the wrestlers and for making a potentially long trek out to Indianola.

The top eight places will earn “All-American” status and receive awards, as will the oldest wrestler and the wrestler who traveled the furthest to compete.

Pickrel, who will travel over 400 miles from Watertown, S.D. to Indianola may not be traveling the furthest to wrestle, but 800 miles of gas round trip won’t be getting in the way of a chance to prove himself on the mat again.

“We are all meeting up together once again to see if we can do it,” Pickrel said. “It gives me a good reason to get off the couch and do something. I’ve been training a bit over the past couple of weeks.”