By: Jeff Chaney
As dust clears MHSAA back at work perparing for next year's finals
AUBURN HILLS – The dust hasn't even settled from this past weekend's Michigan High School Athletic Association Individual Wrestling Finals at The Palace, and Ron Nagy is already thinking about the 2013 tournament.
Nagy has been the tournament director for the past 14 years, and admits, putting together the three-day spectacle is 365-day labor of love.
“I start (the Monday after the tournament), trying to find more ways to make it exciting for the fans,” said Nagy, who is a wrestling official and former coach at Troy High School. “I'm always thinking of ways to enhance the tournament, but two months before is when I really get busy getting it ready.”
Nagy acknowledges his most challenging job is coordinating the 170 volunteer and support staff it takes to run the tournament.
“The hardest part if putting together a team that helps the tournament run smoothly,” Nagy said. “Matching personalities, and making sure everyone is on the same page. And all of us want to make sure everything runs well for the kids, because if they are happy, we've done our job.”
One of the 170 support staff that donates his time, as well as paying his own way to the tournament, which isn't an easy trip, since he has to pay airfare from Virginia, is Dr. Andrew Dahlgren, who lives in Mechanicsville, Va.
Dr. Dahlgren was a fellow of tournament head doctor, Dr. Robert Kiningham, and did his first individual tournament in 1999, and has come back each and every year.
“I love the event,” said Dr. Dahlgren, just after stitching up one of this year's competitors. “It is hard to beat this state for wrestling, this state has some of the best wrestlers in the country. And everyone puts on a great tournament. I actually like spectating more than working. It's just a great event.”
MHSAA assistant director in charge of wrestling, Mark Uyl, says Nagy and his large staff help the MHSAA put on a great event.
“The reason this goes so well, is we get good people, get them what they need, and then get out of the way,” Uyl said. “Ron probably thinks of this tournament once a day for 365 days. Ron's work makes this a special event.”
Nagy believes that he has the tournament down to a science now, and that he and his staff just tweak to make it better each and every year.
“We want to make sure everyone knows the format, so they know what to expect,” Nagy said. “And the people at The Palace have been great, and give us a perfect venue.”
So the next time you travel to The Palace in early March to watch 896 of the best wrestlers in the state battle for a state championship, remember the people that are there to make it happen.