High School Wrestlers Meet In Tulsa For USA Wrestling Junior National Duels

High School Wrestlers Meet In Tulsa For USA Wrestling Junior National Duels

More than 2,000 high school wrestlers from all over the country are in Tulsa to compete in the USA Wrestling Junior National Duels.

Zachory Randall is the tournament director and says Tulsa was the first city to host a women's duel event, and they've paved the way to create more wrestling opportunities for women.

The Cox Business Center is filled with 45 girls and 45 boys high school wrestling teams registering and weighing in ahead of the USA Wrestling Junior National Duals.

Getting here isn't easy.

“It's a really tough tournament,” said Riley Johnson, who is from Nebraska. “You got to qualify through your state, so basically, if you're here, that means you're the best in your state at your weight.”

Tulsa has become synonymous with wrestling; the city also plays host to the Big 12 Wrestling Championship. 

"There's a lot of good wrestlers who come out of Oklahoma; Oklahoma State and Oklahoma both have such storied college programs," said Johnson. 

That history has played a role in bringing and keeping big tournaments in Tulsa, it has even opened doors for women to get in on the sport. 

“It started here, it's grown here, it's developed here,” Randall said. “We have it here and Tulsa had a hand really in women's sports and women's wrestling.”

Tori Liles, who coaches the girls' junior gold team, says wrestling is now the fastest-growing women's sport. 

“I have kiddos on my team, girls on my team that are coaching their younger sisters, and then we have female referees, and now we have women that are coaching national teams with the blow-up of college programs,” Liles said. “It is fascinating to watch."

"I think any wrestling gets eyes on the sport, helps make it bigger," said Johnson. 

Matches run 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Thursday, 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. Friday

The championships are on Saturday.