Release via the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA)
PHILADELPHIA --For the third time in history, the University of Pennsylvania’s famed gym, The Palestra, will be hosting the NWCA All-Star Classic.
On November 1, the nation’s top wrestlers will kick off the wrestling season in an annual showcase of the sport’s top collegiate athletes at the NWCA All-Star Classic presented by the Atlanta Chapter of the Wrestlers in Business Network.
While the gym is known for its ballyhooed college basketball history, the name palestra means “house of wrestling” in Greek. It’s a fitting environment for the annual kickoff.
After a successful run in the Washington, D.C. metro area the last two years, the All-Star Classic returns to Philadelphia for the first time since 1991. The event was first hosted in Philadelphia in 1989.
“Looking back on those two previous events held in Philadelphia, the wrestling community got to see some of the sport’s best wrestlers like Jack Cuvo, Ken Chertow, Kendall Cross, Tim Krieger, Pat Santoro, Carleton Haselrig, Tom Brands, Alan Fried, Mark Reiland and Kurt Angle,” said NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer. “The All-Star Classic has been able to showcase our sport’s college wrestling stars. I’m excited that a place with so much history, not just in wrestling, but in all sports, will host the event.”
Tickets go on sale on September 15 at the Penn Athletic Ticket office. Online sales will be posted at the NWCA website at www.nwcaonline.com. Tickets start at $10 with premium seating plans going up to $150. Doors will open at 5:45 with the first whistle blowing at 6:45.
Alex Tirapelle was recently hired as the new head coach of the Penn wrestling program. He’s excited about the opportunity.
“The NWCA All-Star Classic is a great way to start the college wrestling season. The All-Star Classic takes the highest caliber of collegiate wrestling and brings it to the fans at the beginning of the season to get everyone excited about what is to come,” said Tirapelle. “The University of Pennsylvania and Penn Wrestling are honored to host this historic event at our ‘house of wrestling’ at The Palestra. We look forward to providing a stage for the best wrestlers in the country to showcase their talents to a devoted and enthusiastic fan base.”
Tirapelle is no stranger to the All-Star Classic. He competed in the showcase dual in November of 2005 in Stillwater, Oklahoma at 157 pounds while an athlete at Illinois, beating Iowa’s Joe Johnston 4-2. His older brother Adam wrestled in the event in 2000.
Along with the title sponsor, the Atlanta Chapter of the Wrestlers in Business Network, the national organization, the Wrestlers in Business Network, is also sponsoring the event.
“The work the Wrestlers in Business Network has been able to provide for the last several events has been nothing short of spectacular,” said Moyer. “The work John Licata and the entire WIBN group have done to promote and drive this event is humbling.”
Last year at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, the NWCA also hosted a youth All-Star meet pitting some of the top middle school wrestlers in the nation against one another in a showcase dual. The Youth All-Star Meet will again be held, while the annual All-Star Clinic and WIBN Pre-Meet Social are also part of the All-Star Classic Weekend.
“Ultimately what we’re trying to do is create a festival-like atmosphere,” said John Licata, Executive Director of the Wrestlers in Business Network. “We’re taking some of the things we saw with the NBA weekend and things of the like. Wrestling is always good. It was good in the 60’s … the wrestlers do their part. You have to do more around it to differentiate in today’s environment.”
Licata believes Philadelphia is a prime location for the kickoff event.
“It’s easy access for anyone traveling,” he said. “You’re not far from the wrestling pockets and having it in the epicenter, there’s 10,000 youth wrestlers just in the greater Philadelphia area. That time of year it’s really nice. We want to be near an airport where we can accommodate. We want to get in a place where you can drive. A lot of the participating teams are able to drive. When you think of the population, most of the people who will come will travel within two hours and maybe up to five hours. Two hours from Center City Philadelphia and think about all the fans and all the wrestling programs that are within 200 miles.”
“Our All-Stars are deserving to have a full and ravenous house. Doing this, it’s exciting for the kids and one of the reasons the coaches like it is that it emulates the NCAA finals. They’re looking not just to get on the podium, but win the big one,” said Licata.
The NWCA will be announcing the full field of competitors weight-by-weight in the weeks leading up to the event. For information about the All-Star Classic, be sure to follow the NWCA on twitter @NWCAwrestling and online at www.nwcaonline.com