How it all started
The Reno Tournament of Champions and College Invitational was created by a group of wrestling enthusiasts during the summer of 1994 who wanted to establish a tournament unlike any other–this “Toughest Tournament in the USA” would bring together the best of the best to raise funds for youth sports programs.
The tournament founders, all former wrestlers, envisioned the event as a true state-by-state high school national championship along with a four-way college dual featuring the best programs in the country. This combined tournament would not only be a great event for competitive wrestling but promised to be exciting enough to build a whole new fan base for this great sport.
The first tournament
After a year and a half of planning, the first tournament took place in January 1996 in Reno, Nevada and featured 32 of the best high school teams in the nation-possibly the first time ranked teams from both coasts ever competed in a tournament.
Fierce competition made every round tough with the semi-finals and the finals reaching new competitive heights for high school wrestlers. To this day, this first tournament is considered to be the best high school wrestling tournament ever.
A few tournaments later…
Officiated by only the best officials from across the nation, the high school event has grown over the last six years from 32 teams to 84. Even though we have added a considerable number of teams to the event, it is still considered to be the best high school event in the nation.
The college part of the tournament has grown from a four-way college dual with teams like Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Central Michigan and several other top ten teams to a 16-team invitational. The finals of each of the college tournaments have often featured the same wrestlers who would eventually square off in the finals of the NCAA National Championships. In the last two years, we have seen four double overtimes at each tournament providing the spectators and college athletes alike with an opportunity to see college wrestling at its toughest level.
Every wrestler in the tournament feels as if they are wrestling in a national championship event. We honor six placers with the first three having the honor of being named as an “All American.” Designed by Jostens, Our awards and Outstanding Wrestler rings are of the finest quality and craftsmanship and go to those who are honored as the Toughest Wrestlers in the USA.