Fort Bragg continued its 25-year tradition Monday, kicking off a two-day wrestling tournament at Ritz-Epps Fitness Center.

Forty-one participants, in six weight classes, took to the mats to compete in the double elimination, round-robin wrestling tournament.

“I grew up wrestling,” said Ryan Paplaczyk, a participant. “Other than the military, wrestling has always been the one thing in my life that has been a gut check to me. Being out here makes you feel a little bit younger still.”

Even though wrestlers often train and hone a lot of their skills as a team during matches, wrestlers rely on themselves to train properly.

“Unlike team sports, at the end of the match you can only look at yourself if it went well or not,” said Paplaczyk, who won his first match to advance to the second round of the first day.

While freestyle wrestling does offer wrestlers the opportunity to pin opponents and end a match instantly, freestyle emphasizes scoring points with take downs, gaining control and exposing your opponents back to the mat. Wrestlers who have both ground work and standup skills are dual threats.

“My favorite thing to do is come out here and win,” said Philip Young, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, XVIII Airborne Corps. “That’s the goal as far as what I’m best at is take downs. I’ve got a good single leg take down and inside trip I like to use.”

Often when wrestlers with similar skill levels step onto the mat together, the difference between winning and losing is which wrestler wants it more, said Justin Kinnaman Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 82nd Special Troops Battalion.

With day one of the tournament in the books, wrestlers who survived look to move on to the championship round of day two.

“I love the one-on-one competition you get out of it,” said Young. “You know with it being an Army tournament that you are going to have great competition because everyone trains hard who comes out here. You know you’re going to get everyone’s best.”