Fans at the COC Tournament in Webb City on Saturday will hope to get the same bang for their buck that Braxton Strick provided attendees at the Branson Tournament a couple weeks ago.
Strick gave onlookers from Ozark to McDonald County to Moberly quite a thrill by throwing one of his opponents not once, not twice, but three times in the first period alone.
"Everyone was going crazy," said Strick, Ozark's 150-pound senior. "It's always fun to slam someone. I'll do it if it's there. It's fun to create a good environment."
The throw certainly rates as wildly popular and seemingly always, no matter who the two wrestlers are, creates a commotion from around the mat and in the stands.
Even a pin almost always pales in comparison to the response a throw receives.
"Big lifts and throws are fun," Ozark coach Tod Sundlie said. "They're popular with the crowd."
Likewise, mat returns appeal to the masses.
In Ozark's practice room, the Tigers will sometimes stop to watch 126-pounder Keaton Hurst during.a mat return drill. He draws the attention of his teammates while denying his practice partner an escape and sending him back onto the mat with perfect form and power.
"Hurst has some of the best mat returns, throwing people hard," Tigers 285-pounder Peyton Greer said. "They are so fun to watch."
Throws and mat returns most often occur in the middle weights, but can at times be found in the lower weights and even among the heavyweights.
A gym erupts when one 285'er lifts and throws another behemoth.
"You see it a lot less (at heavyweight) than in most classes," Greer said. "But I've been thrown."
The common denominator of a wrestler who throws well often is usually a background in greco wrestling.
"When you hear of people who are really good at greco, you will see them throw a lot and they will be really good at it," Greer said.
"My background in greco definitely helps me throw people," Strick said.
"Coming off a greco national championship (last summer), I've got a knowledge and good skill-set of throwing," Nixa 215-pounder Brennan Carey said. "When I can take advantage of it, I'll hit some big moves. We're working in the room incorporating under-hooks, arm-springs and body locks into my folkstyle."
It would be a stretch to characterize throws as a rarity in folkstyle, but they are much more frequent in greco and freestyle and thus a big reason why those styles generally are more popular.
"In greco, it's all upper body so you're more likely to see throws," Strick said. "Freestyle and greco are the most exciting (styles) in my opinion. (Folkstyle) is actually my least favorite. But this is how we do it in high school and college, so it's how you've got to do it."
New fans might witness a throw and wonder where is the referee's signal for two points. But, of course, a throw doesn't necessarily lead to a takedown.
"You have to cover and get control before you get the two points," Strick said.
Sundlie points out that even without a takedown, a throw can heavily impact a match because of the physical punishment from being pounded onto the mat.
"Being physical, being aggressive and being in total control in that particular situation, that's what it is all about," Sundlie said. "You don't want to give them a chance to recover. You're not trying to hurt anybody, but you are trying to impose your will. That's the nature of wrestling."
Novice and knowledgeable fans might be surprised to learn a throw doesn't necessarily zap strength from the wrestler doing the throwing. A throw obviously produces an adrenaline rush that can fuel a wrestler, but other factors also come into play.
"Once you start training and throwing guys heavier or the same size, it becomes second nature," Carey said. "It's not very exhausting once you've trained for it for hours."
"If you use (your opponent's) momentum, you hardly use any energy at all," Strick said. "It's kind of like in the Karate Kid when they talk about momentum, 'You're not lying.' Once I throw someone, it makes me want to throw him again. Once you start, you don't want to stop."
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