NAPLES — Wrestle mania hits Lely High this weekend in the form of the Lely FoxBoro Duals.
The 24-team dual tournament will give schools two days of nonstop wrestling, beginning at 12:30 p.m. today, with championship matches expected to begin around 3 p.m. Saturday.
Among the 24 teams are every Collier County school, including Palmetto Ridge, a perennial team to beat.
Host coach Tige Thompson, whose Trojans usually are in the top three, says his team might make the top eight.
“There is a lot of talent in this meet and I think the teams will be more even than in the past,” he said.
The 24 teams will be split into three pools of eight. Each school is guaranteed nine matches. Trophies will go to the top three teams and individual wrestlers who compete in all matches and win the most.
“There will be no individual winners who get a number of forfeits on their way to a nine-match record,” Thompson said.
Unlike an individual tournament, where a wrestler could be out after just two matches, everyone involved in the FoxBoro Duals will get plenty of mat time.
Joining host Lely and Palmetto Ridge from Collier schools will be Naples, Barron Collier, Golden Gate, Gulf Coast, Immokalee and St. John Neumann.
Among the other schools are Estero, Gateway Charter, East Lee County, Dunbar, Lemon Bay, Port Charlotte, Evangelical Christian, Clewiston, Cape Coral-Baker, Mariner, Cape Coral, Miami-Jackson, Boca Ciega and Stoneman Douglas.
Thompson tries to make an even mix in each pool and also makes sure that teams get to wrestle against schools that they normally wouldn‘t compete against.
“That gives wrestlers a chance to go up against someone they won’t see in the regular season, but might see down the road when it comes to regional and state matches,” he said.
Thom Popoli, former assistant coach, and owner of FoxBoro Sports Tavern in East Naples that has sponsored the duals for the past four years, likes the event.
“I think it is good for the sport and the community to come out and see the talent that exists,” he said.