College Wrestling

Hardly a beach bum: Peters finds new passion, success with beach wrestling

Quincy High School graduate Michael Peters, right, attempts to take down Kevin Birmingham in the finals of the 2017 U.S. Beach National Championships. Peters won the championship in the 70 kilogram senior division. | Photo courtesy USA Wrestling/Patricia Fox
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Oct. 2, 2017 9:05 am Updated: Oct. 2, 2017 9:32 am

QUINCY -- As dramatically different as beach wrestling and folkstyle wrestling are, Michael Peters believes he is a more complete wrestler by doing both.

"They really play off each other," Peters said. "Beach wrestling is mainly on your feet, so lately I've been practicing on my feet. I've done a little mat wrestling, but mostly it's been on my feet. I can transition that really easily from the beach over to the mat."

If the Quincy High School graduate is as successful on the mat as he has been on the beach, Peters realizes his sophomore season at NCAA Division II Maryville University could be quite special.

"I had a few setbacks last year with injuries, but I'm going into this season feeling good," the 154-pound Peters said.

When you win a national title, it should give you good vibes.

Peters participated over the summer in the 2017 Beach Wrestling Championships, which are part of USA Wrestling's Associated Styles program. Held in Carolina Beach, N.C., the championships feature four weight classes in the senior division and two weight classes in the veteran division.

Wrestling in the 70 kilogram class, which is 154.3 pounds, Peters won four matches to win the national championship, defeating Kevin Birmingham of Greensboro, N.C., in the title match.

"It's a newer style," Peters said. "It's not as popular as folkstyle or freestyle, but it is one of the fastest growing styles of wrestling across the world."

Matches typically are quick, lasting to only three points. Wrestlers earn one point for a takedown, one point for?pushing their opponent out of the ring and two points for a feet-to-back takedown.

"There's no pins," Peters said. "It's mainly wrestling on your feet."

It requires patience and quickness to be successful.

"It's a lot slower pace," Peters said. "So I definitely take a patient approach to it. You wait for stuff to open up. You have to be smart."

One mistake can end a match in a hurry.

"I had a match that lasted 20 seconds," Peters said.

His ability to adjust rather quickly to a different style has afforded him a great opportunity. Peters' national championship earned him a spot on the USA Wrestling beach team, which will compete at the Beach Wrestling World Championships on Oct. 13-15 in Dalyan Turkey.

"We're working on going right now," Peters said. "There are some things with the NCAA and the college season coming up that we have to figure out. We'll get it figured out, but I'm really looking forward to going over there and compete."

It's part of the natural progression in Peters' career.

He wrestled in a couple of folkstyle tournaments over the summer as well, winning the college/open division at the Midwest Nationals in Bloomington, Ill. The rest of his time was spent prepping for the upcoming season.

"I've mainly focused on getting stronger," Peters said. "I spent a lot of time in the weight room over the summer and getting ready for the season."

That season is now morphing into a year-round event with different styles for different times of the year.

"I plan on wrestling beach wrestling for many years in the future," Peters said. "I can do beach wrestling in the winter and switch back to folkstyle in the winter."


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