Berger wins FloNationals Tournament


Cowboys place 10th as a team at national tourney

The Crook County Cowboys are continuing to shine on the wrestling mats long after the regular season is over.

After going undefeated in the regular season and winning his fourth consecutive state championship, Tyler Berger is now a two-time national champion.

The 145-pound wrestler bested 65 other competitors in his weight class to win an individual championship at the FloNationals Wrestling Tournament. It is the second consecutive time that Berger has won a national title at the tournament, and the fourth time he has been named an LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Tyler Berger celebrates after winning the state championship. Last weekend he won the FloNational title at 145 pounds.

“He’s their first four-time All-American,” said Cowboy assistant wrestling coach and Tyler’s father, Rob Berger. “And he was the fifth guy to win the tournament twice.”

The FloNationals wrestling tournament is a relative newcomer to the national wrestling scene.

Still, the tournament has rapidly become one of the top tournaments in the country, and after just five years, is now recognized as the national championship.

Held at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex on the campus of Indiana University in White, Penn., the three-day tournament features high school, middle school and elementary wrestlers from all over the country.

“It’s tougher than nails,” Berger said of the level of competition at the event. “It’s a great tournament.”

In large part, the tournament has grown so rapidly because, unlike most high school tournaments, the event largely follows collegiate rules.

“The college guys love it because they do a lot of college rules,” Berger said. “They get a chance to see what a kid is going to do at the next level. You’ve got the riding time and the out of bounds call like in college so it’s a great opportunity for them to see how kids will fare in college.”

This year, the two-day high school portion of the tournament, which was held April 4-5, featured 668 of the top wrestlers from all over the country.

Berger was not the only Cowboy wrestler to have success at the tournament. With just five wrestlers participating in the competition, the Cowboys garnered a 10th-place finish despite competing against primarily all-star teams. Crook County would have placed even higher except just four of their wrestlers actually counted in the team scoring.

Wrestling at 145-pounds, Colbran Meeker earned All-American status, placing sixth in the tournament. However, with teams allowed to score just one wrestler in each weight class, the 20 points that Meeker earned at the event did not count in the team scoring.

“Meeker will be on the board next year,” Berger said. “He will be nationally ranked because he placed. Colbran has helped Tyler all year long and Tyler has helped Colbran. Our wrestling room is so stinking tough.”

Not placing in the tournament, but still earning team points were Trayton Libolt (113), Hayden Bates (132), and Brendan Harkey (152).

Of the three, Libolt, who finished with a 4-2 record, came the closest to placing, falling one round short of the placing rounds. Ryan Friedman, who defeated Libolt in sudden death, went on to finish third in the tournament. Bates finished the tournament with a 2-2 record while Harkey was 3-2 at the event after losing in the first round to No. 1 ranked Louis Hernandez, who eventually won the weight class.

“The tournament was a real eye-opener,” Berger said. “These kids can’t wait until next year. Now they know they are at that level.”

Flat River Wrestling, an all-star team from Michigan with 25 team members, won the event with 127.5 points. Dark Knights Wrestling Club with 13 wrestlers finished in second with 95 point. Bison Legend Wrestling Club took third with 80.5 points followed by Izzy Style with 77.5 points. A group of unattached wrestlers came away with fifth place earning 67 points, while Young Guns (62), Clovis (55.5), St. Paris Graham (55), Brookville (51.5) and Crook County (51) rounded out the top 10. Had Meeker’s points counted, the Cowboys would have vaulted all the way to fifth place in the event.

“It was a great tournament, and a great way to end the year,” Berger concluded.