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Despite record-breaking heat, thousands turn out for outdoor wrestling tournament

Posted at 9:59 PM, May 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-26 23:10:29-04

Around 600 athletes braved the record-breaking heat at an outdoor wrestling tournament being held in Omaha for the first time.

The "Clash at the Capitol District" used to be called the "Rumble at the Railyard" in Lincoln. About 1500 fans turned out for the event.

Tournament organizer Rob Saunders says the Capitol District came with more space and allowed them to double the size of the tournament and include a female division.

"We were more worried about the rain than the heat because there's always more water, there's always more tents," he said.

The youth wrestling tournament had been scheduled long before Mother Nature decided to turn up the heat to a record-breaking 100 degrees.

For the girls finally able to participate, there was no way they were sitting out because of some sun. Pedriana Dyer says the mats were much hotter than in a gym.

"If you're in the direct sunlight and when your arms get on to the mat it just hurts but you have to work through it because you don't want to lose," Dyer said.

The heat also produced other problems. National Coach for the Iowa girls team Jessica Philippus says coaches and parents were constantly monitoring players.

"We had a couple bouts of almost heat exhaustion," she said. "We had to call a timeout to get them in the shade and let them catch their breath and pour water on their head and stuff like that. Cool towels have been helping. This is harder than anything we've ever done before just because of the elements."

Saunders says they might consider next year hosting this event over two days starting Friday night to take advantage of some cooler temps.