Barry Mask Invitational moves to MontgomeryPublished 4:41pm Wednesday, January 22, 2014
What started as an opportunity to showcase Elmore County’s top wrestlers has morphed into one of the state’s top wrestling tournaments featuring a mixture of state champions and state finalists.
This weekend, the Barry Mask Invitational debuts in Montgomery at the Cramton Bowl Multiplex as a two-day affair featuring teams from Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
“Obviously we wanted this tournament to grow,” said Wetumpka wrestling coach Jeff Glass, who along with Tallassee’s John Mask and then state representative Barry Mask founded the tournament, entering it’s eighth year. “We wanted this to become one of the most competitive tournaments in the state. And if it’s not already, now that we have the new venue and the ability to expand it, it will be in the future.”
The tournament, with opening ceremonies set for Friday afternoon features: the Elmore County schools, along with American Christian, Auburn, G.W. Carver, Montgomery Catholic, Clay-Chalkville, Fort Walton Beach (Fla.), Grissom, Hoover, James Clemens, Jeff Davis, Opelika, Oxford, Pelham, Prattville Christian, Prattville, Lee, St. James, Spain Park, Sparkman, Thompson (Red and Black) and Turner Co. (Ga.).
“I really think Thompson is going to be one of the favorites to win this year,” said Glass. “I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Prattville win it all though. They’ve been wrestling extremely well lately and are strong at several weight classes. But Thompson, nobody has seen them because they’ve been wrestling out of state – well, out of region really. They’ve gone to tournaments in Minnesota and Missouri. Everybody expects a lot out of them. Hoover and Auburn are bringing some extremely competitive teams too.”
Thompson won the 6A state championship a year ago. St. James won the 1A-4A crown, besting Tallassee.
Tallassee defeated St. James to win the sectional title.
“In this tournament, and I haven’t seen the brackets, but you could very well have state champion versus state champion matchups in the semifinals,” said Glass. “That alone is worth the price of admission.”
While the tournament has grown throughout the years, the one thing holding it back was a lack of hotels. As a result, tournament organizers were having to turn teams away. That’s not the case this year.
“We are going to have more mats out than we’ve ever had at a tournament like this,” said Glass. “But, we have more teams than we’ve ever had. We are probably going to have to wrestle consolations on that first night. There are going to be some teams who won’t have a kid wrestling on Saturday.”
Due to the size and scope of the venue, Glass said the tournament will be contested on 10 mats.
“We are having this two weeks before sectionals,” said Glass. “So for a lot of teams this is going to be a dry run. The main selling point is that teams need good competition at this point in the season and that’s what we offer with this tournament. And, since this will be the site of a Super Sectional, it’s going to give the wrestlers the chance to adjust to the venue so when they walk in at sectionals they aren’t overwhelmed.”
The tournament is scheduled to start Friday afternoon and will continue until champions are crowned Saturday night.