ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Bronte Rondash, 4, of Boston takes on Julian Rios, 10, of Lowell during Saturday’s Lynn Shore Showdown at Nahant Beach.
By STEVE KRAUSE
NAHANT — Saturday’s Lynn Shore Showdown at Nahant Beach was a chance for wrestlers of all shapes and sizes, and of all ages, to draw a circle in the sand and engage in some serious competition.
More than 80 wrestlers, some from as far away as Providence, R.I., converged Saturday just at the beginning of the Causeway for the second annual showdown.
“That’s an improvement on what we did last year,” said Lynn School Committeeman Jared Nicholson, founder of the event, “so I’d say the turnout has been terrific.”
In the absence of mats, the sand would have to do. And it did nicely. In fact, Nicholson incorporated a bit of Sumo wrestling to go along with the usual folkstyle grappling in this year’s event. In Sumo wrestling, winners have to knock their opponents outside the circle.
Nicholson feels the time is right for wrestling to gain a bigger stronghold in Lynn sports — and for a variety of reasons.
“It teaches discipline first,” said Nicholson, who wrestled at Lincoln-Sudbury High School. “And it’s one of those sports where you get to compete as an individual, but also as part of a team. You’re in the ring, just you and your competitor, but when you’re not in there, you get to root on a teammate, which is very important.”
Because the sport is “very demanding, physically,” Nicholson said, “it’s important that wrestlers stay active in the offseason. If you keep active, and keep working, it’s a great way to make gains.”
Nicholson, who grew up in Sudbury, began wrestling almost by accident.
“I was playing freshman football at Lincoln-Sudbury, and my coach was the varsity wrestling coach,” Nicholson said. “He talked to me about going out for the team in the winter.
“But my dad was also a wrestler, so we always had interest in the sport growing up.”
Last year, for the first time, Lynn had a varsity wrestling team. It was a composed of students from all three public schools, and Nicholson — who worked to set up the program — thought it did very well.
“It’s a new sport,” he said, “and it needs to gain some momentum. But the coaches (Frank Viera in the middle schools and Tim King at the high school level) have done a great job.”
He gives participants credit, saying that unlike many other sports where players step onto the field of play as part of a team, wrestlers get in the ring with just their opponents.
“People can be intimidated to step out onto the mat by themselves,” he said.
“Most high school competition is folkstyle (as opposed to Greco-Roman of the Olympics), we drew a big circle and called that the ring,” he said. “In Sumo wrestling, you win when you force your opponent outside the circle,” he said. “That’s what we do here.”