WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Mount Greylock wrestling program has a strong tradition of competing at the highest levels.
The current edition of the Mounties doesn't feature the amount of experience of past Greylock teams, however. With just four upperclassmen on the roster, the Mounties are looking to gain any experience they can as they continue the Mountie tradition. That's exactly what they will do Saturday in their own gymnasium.
Mount Greylock will host the Mountie Invite on Saturday. The 20th edition of the tournament will feature 21 teams this year. Teams from all over the area as well as Rhode Island and New York will make the trip to test their skills.
"It's going to be a pretty good tournament," sophomore Travis Hilchey said. "It should be pretty hard with a lot of tough, tough matches. But those make you better."
That's exactly the goal of the Mountie Invite. The Mounties, as well as the other 20 teams involved, will all be looking to get better as the stretch run approaches leading into sectionals and states. Sure it's nice to win the tournament, but it doesn't hurt the team's status if it loses.
Coach Ray Miro helped start the tournament in 1993, and it's grown to be one of the toughest individual tournaments around.
"When we got it started it wasn't a big deal," Miro said. "The next year we had a couple more teams that were interested and then before you know it we were up to 14, 15, 17 teams. And it's just grown to the 21 that are here this year."
Sure the Mounties spend the weekends during the season traveling to different duals throughout Western Massachusetts. And Berkshire County does feature some of the section's top wrestlers, but this weekend showcases different individuals. Individuals that Berkshire County wrestlers haven't encountered before and probably won't encounter for the rest of the year.
"During the season, we do a lot of team duals but this is one of our big individual tournament," 145-pounder Mitch Graves said during a team workout on Wednesday. "It gets us ready for Western Mass. and states. We'll see some talented competition.
"Even if you win throughout the season [in Berkshire County], you have to see some tough competition or lose a match just to see what you can do to improve."
Graves finished second in his weight class at the Invite last season and is hoping to win it this year. He knows that will be a challenge, however. The top three wrestlers in Western Mass. all hail from Berkshire County schools and will be at the tournament, as will several teams from out of the state.
The tournament is designed similar to the Western Mass. and state individual meets. The organizers will run four mats at the meet and look to push the pace of the matches. The tournament gets under way at 9 a.m. Saturday and will conclude Saturday evening.
"This tournament will be tougher than Western Mass. It will be a lot tougher, but it is good for our kids," Miro said. "The teams in the county love it because you see a lot of different people who you don't see over the course of the year. It's very competitive, yet there is life after the Mountie Invite."
Greylock will have two matches left in the regular season following the Invite. The Western Mass. tournament will begin Feb. 8.
"I'm expecting a good hard tournament," Ross Jackson said. "I know I might lose, I'm hoping not too, but it's going to be really tough with all the out-of-state teams coming over.
"Maybe they'll do moves that other people around here don't do so we can learn how to defend them. That's really what we need out of this."