The 2019 Beast of the Beach wrestling tournament is slated to be the biggest and best ever thanks to fresh leadership by former Fruitport wrestling standout Levi Six.
Heading into his junior year as a sports business management student at Davenport University, Six took over the Beast of the Beach tournament as his first major professional project and decided bigger is better for the July 20 event.
Partnering with the Meijer State Games, Six hopes to build his event into a can’t miss spectacle in its 13th year, akin to the Soccer in the Sand and Beach Vault events flanking it on the July calendar.
“Ken, who ran it before me, did a really nice job, but he liked to keep it small,” Six said. “The first thing I wanted to do was get the name out and make it a big event in and outside of the state.
“The marketing side has been the biggest change I’ve brought, just trying to get as many people excited and interested as possible. Being a Meijer State Games event has really helped with that. Having that brand on there really impacts the legitimacy of an event.”
Running the show for 2019 is a dream come true for the 2017 Fruitport graduate, who is already seeing success in his field of study and as a starter for the Panthers wrestling team.
“It’s awesome to take this event over, it is exactly the kind of thing I want to do,” he said. “My hopeful career is in this kind of stuff, so it has been really fun to see what works and play around with the event.
“Wrestling is going well, too. This year will be our first year competing in the NCAA, so we’re really excited about that.”
With the educational and technical background to make this event go, Six’s impact has been immediate with registrations coming in from across West Michigan and beyond.
“I’ve already gotten emails from people from Indiana, Ohio, even New York who are interested,” he said. “Seeing it get that far out is so awesome. That is exactly why I wanted to take the event over because I knew it could be big.”
Like any event held at the park, Grand Haven’s picturesque Lake Michigan backdrop, soft sand and involved patrons is the Beach of the Beach’s ace in the hole.
“Grand Haven just attracts so many people because of how nice it is,” Six said. “It’s a beautiful beach and an awesome area to have any event. There isn’t any other place I’d rather have it.
“What’s better than hanging out at the beach and wrestling in the sand and sun?”
The event is open to wrestlers of all ages and genders with elementary, middle school, high school and open divisions. There will not be gender-specific brackets. While the elementary school divisions are limited to young athletes with wrestling experience, the older brackets are open for anyone who thinks they have what it takes.
“For the elementary divisions, we would rather have kids who know what they are doing so there is less chance they will get hurt,” Six said. “For the older guys, it could be anyone. If you are walking by and think you are strong, come see if you have what it takes.”
For those brave enough to enter the ring, the tournament will run on a modified freestyle rulebook. Three one-minute rounds will decide each match with the first to three points taking the win.
“They end up being quick, exciting matches,” Six said. “Since it is first to three points, some matches end in the first round and some go all the way. You get points for push outs and takedowns, two points for a throw to the back, so it encourages intense wrestling.”
To register, visit the Beast of the Beach website to sign up in advance for $30. Day-of registration will cost you two extra dollars, with ringside signups running $32 per entry. For those interested, the only required gear is a pair of shorts. Headgear and mouth guards are permitted, but not necessary for the sandy ring.
The ring will sit right in the sand in front of the state park pavilion, putting competitors in prime position to attract spectators.
“We want to get people to come watch and experience this unique event,” Six said. “It is going to be cool and is a great way to grow the sport of wrestling in the area. I think it is an event people shouldn’t miss.”