Watertown-based No Nonsense Wrestling is bringing the beach brawl back to Surfside this year, with a scheduled date of July 25.
Last year’s brawl drew 122 competitors to the park from across the state as well as from outside of Minnesota. The turnout was far more than the goal of 75 that No Nonsense founder Jake Saatzer said he’d initially set for that inaugural showdown.
Saatzer said he’s worked through the knots of the unknown involved in putting on last year’s fights, and he’s gotten an earlier start this year with promotion and reaching out to food vendors. But now he’ll have to grapple with a global pandemic that has punched a hole in most everything from the Olympics and concert tours down to high school graduations and this year’s Trista Day.
“I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that everything clears up pretty soon,” he said. Saatzer said he is expecting 150 competitors this year and is adding a fourth ring to last year’s three for accommodating the brawl’s series of round robin brackets. Competition in the beach brawls is not limited to those who train with Saatzer in Watertown.
“It’s a great opportunity for the kids to do something and do something different. The wrestling season, it’s a grind throughout the season and as a competitor it gets kind of tough,” he said. “When you do a tournament like this and get all of your buddies throughout the state together and all hanging out and barbecues and stuff like that, it’s a lot more fun than going into a gym or a club room and grinding out a practice. That’s something they do four to five times a week and this is something they get to do once a year.”
Saatzer’s father had hosted his own beach brawls in 2005 and 2006, right when United World Wrestling was ushering in the sport with the first World Championship in Antalya, Turkey.
But the brawls hosted by Saatzer’s father were of a different stripe: he had dragged mats out onto the sand, whereas Saatzer’s own brawls, like those on the world stage, are stripped down to just the sand—no nonsense.
“It’s something different for competitive wrestlers to do and to bring that new element of fun for some of the kids,” he said, noting the added challenge of having a surface that moves beneath the feet.
Sand wrestling is more common on the east and west coasts, and it’s rare to see in Minnesota the kind of sand-only rings that Saatzer is bringing to Surfside.
“I think I’m the only club that decided to do the actual sand wrestling,” he said, adding that a few other clubs and gyms have done matches in local parks but have brought mats along with them.
With the competitors, ages 5-18, divided by their age and weight class, Saatzer said he is planning on four or five wrestlers per bracket, with three or four bouts in the ring. Scoring will be first to three points, with one point for a takedown or for pushing an opponent out of the ring. Two points will be awarded for a takedown to an opponent’s back.
“You’re using all your skills that you would use typically in a normal wrestling match,” said Saatzer, counting out the collegiate folkstyle wrestling as well as the freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling practiced in the Olympics.
But there won’t be any opportunity for ground control at the brawl, said Saatzer. “Once there’s a takedown you go back up on your feet.” Just like it’s done at the World Championships.
Saatzer, from Mound, grew up competing and founded No Nonsense Wrestling six years ago. He has previously helped with the wrestling programs at Westonka, Waconia and Watertown-Mayer as well as Minnetonka and Maple Grove.