Staff Writer By Warren Rappleyea 27th Old Bridge Wrestling Festival starts Monday Top wrestlers from throughout the region expected to compete JERRY WOLKOWITZ Former New York Knicks great Walt “Clyde” Frazier signs an autograph for a fan at Fanabilia on Monmouth Street in Red Bank on Saturday. The Hall of Fame player met with fans for about three hours. The 27th annual Old Bridge Wrestling Festival will open Monday, and this year’s event is expanded to include 15 individual tournaments. Festival Director Greg DeMarco is expecting 1,400 participants. Last year more than 1,000 grapplers descended on the Old Bridge Sports Arena for the various double-elimination tournaments. This year’s festival includes high school scholastic tourneys on each of the four days of competition, as well as two junior high school and two elementary school scholastic tourneys, one on each weekend of the competition. “People come here to wrestle, so we decided to give them more opportunities to do that,” DeMarco said. “We get some of the top competitors from throughout the region, and now they’ll have the chance to get in more matches.” He added that about one-third of the participants are from Middlesex and Monmouth counties, another third from other areas of the state, with the final third primarily from other East Coast states, although many areas of the country are represented. The competition schedule shapes up as follows: Saturday: High School Scholastic I (9th-12th-graders), Elementary Scholastic I (sixth-graders and under), Open Freestyle, High School Freestyle (9th-12th-graders) and Junior High Freestyle (6th-9th graders). Sunday: High School Scholastic II, Junior High Scholastic, Open Greco-Roman and High School Greco-Roman. July 21: High School Scholastic III, Junior High Scholastic II, Open Collegiate. July 22: High School Scholastic IV, Elementary Scholastic II and Masters Scholastic (30 years old or older). As always, organizers will use its homegrown “Madison System” where competitors weigh in the morning of the tournament and weight classes are then determined. Now widely used, this system was devised in the early days of the festival when Old Bridge was known as Madison Township. Weigh-ins will be held from 7:30 until 9 a.m. on the day of the tourney. Wrestling begins at 11:14 a.m. The entry fee is $15 per competition, payable at the scale. Each tourney uses a double-elimination format, and wrestlers will not be seeded. All champions receive trophies; runner-ups receive medals. Another high point of the festival is the Central Jersey Duals, a competition for high school teams held July 16-19. DeMarco is expecting 20 teams to the event, which Piscataway has won for the past four years. Teams are accepted on a first-come basis. The festival also features two wrestling camps, both of which begin Monday and run through Friday at the Jonas Salk Middle School on West Greystone Road. The Old Bridge Wrestling Camp is for grapplers in seventh through 12th grades. It runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the Friday session ending at noon. Cost is $90 per participant and includes a training manual, T-shirt and complimentary issues of wrestling publications. A mini camp for third- through sixth-graders will be held from Monday through Thursday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Fee is $45 and includes a camp T-shirt. Camp instructors will include Joe Dougherty, the head coach at South Brunswick who serves as camp director; Glenn Pazinko, head coach at East Brunswick; Vince Fitz, head coach at Delaware Valley High School; Ray Nunamaker, head coach of Nazareth High School (Pa.), a four-time Pennsylvania Coach of the Year; and Ricky Romero and Tom Tanis, who both compete for Rutgers University. For more information on the festival, call (732) 721-5600 ext. 4999 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. or visit www.obwf.org.