Mount Mat Madness wrestling tournament will not be held this year

Founder says it got too tough to attract the top public school teams in the state

November 17, 2011|By Sandra McKee

Struggling to attract top public school wrestling teams to an event that was once considered among the top 10 in the country, Neil Adleberg has decided to call off Mount Mat Madness this year.

“It’s my tournament, and I decided not to have it for a variety of reasons,” said Adleberg, who created the event and is also the president of the Maryland State Wrestling Association. “It’s a year-round effort to put it on, and I needed a break. It’s become so hard to get the top Maryland public school teams to come, and in general, the cost of running the tournament — facilities, officiating and other costs — continued to rise.”

Adleberg said last year was the first year he could not get even one public school team champion to attend the meet at CCBC-Catonsville.

“Every other year we’ve had the private school champions and the public school 1-2 A and 3-4A champions attend,” Adleberg said. “But not last year.”

Over its eight years, Mount Mat Madness had grown to be rated as one of the best tournaments in the country by a number of national wrestling publications and websites.

Though Adleberg said it cost about $30,000 to run each year, he said it was not the economy that did in the event.

“It usually covered its expenses,” he said of the two-day meet held in mid-January that featured top out of state teams as well as local private and public schools. “Originally, I put the tournament together in hopes of helping wrestling in the state to get better. But the MPSSAA has so many rules, if the public school teams come and don’t win and don’t get points, they [might not] qualify for states. I did this for Maryland wrestling, not to help teams from out of state schools.”

John Carroll coach Keith Watson, who coached in public schools before taking his current job, pointed to the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association as a hinderance to public school participation, because losses at Mount Mat Madness could affect teams’ qualifyication or seeding for the postseason.

“It’s a shame the state of Maryland does not support big events,” Watson said. “They really frown on anything that brings the best together. They want everyone in their little pockets.”

The MPSSAA does allow its teams to throw out the results of one of their three tournaments for seeding purposes, but coaches pointed out that if one of those other tournaments got snowed out, then Mount Mat Madness would come in to play, and some coaches didn’t want to take the risk.

MPSSAA executive director Ned Sparks isn’t buying that state rules are a hinderance to the tournament drawing public schools.

“That’s completely baloney,” Sparks said. “To say we’re hindering kids is pretty ridiculous. We have 114,000 students who participate. You can’t say that’s not benefiting kids.”

Owings Mills coach Guy Pritzker said it’s disappointing that the tournament will not be held, despite the fact his team had not gone in the last six years.

“I loved the tournament,” he said. “But it got tougher than the state tournament. I didn’t have the kind of team that would have benefited from that kind of competition and the points situation is always a consideration.”

Adleberg said he will consider bringing the event back next year, or possibly the year after, when a new gym at Mount St. Joseph will be complete and could be used as a venue.

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