Over the past two years, Culpeper High School wrestler A.J. Marshall has been able to pin just about every challenge that’s come his way to the mat.
Now, the rising junior grappler needs some help from the Culpeper community if he is to take down his next opponent.
Last month, Marshall qualified for the USA Wrestling Junior and 16U National Championships, which are held every summer in Fargo, N.D. The prestigious event, commonly referred to as the Fargo Nationals, attracts the top talent from across the country and is generally considered a litmus test for young wrestlers focused on honing their craft.
This year’s Fargo Nationals will take place from July 16-23 at the FargoDome, which is located on the campus of North Dakota State University.
Marshall has also qualified for the 16U National Duals, which will he held in Fairfield, IN from June 9-13.
These trips aren’t free though. Participants are responsible for their own transportation, boarding and meals, among other things.
In an effort to get a headlock on these expenses, Marshall’s father Anthony has established a GoFundMe account, titled “AJ Marshall is going to Fargo.”
“This is an individual fundraiser to help with meals, flights, hotels, transportation and all other costs for these tournaments,” Marshall said. “Our goal is to raise $3,500.”
Right now, time is Marshall’s foremost opponent. With the 16U National Duals happening in less than a week, only $325 has been raised.
“These tournaments are so important because they give me the opportunity to show everyone what wrestling in Culpeper is like and how skilled we are,” Marshall said. “Growing up in a small town makes it harder to get recruited. Even if you have all the talent in the world, if colleges don’t know about your town then they won’t know about you.”
Culpeper wrestling coach Alex Csontos underscored Marshall’s urgency about the importance of participating in these national events.
“Participating in these tournaments is the next logical step for him,” Csontos said of Marshall, who has amassed a 63-10 record with two district championships, a regional title and a pair of fifth-place finishes at the state level during his two high school seasons. “It’s always good for kids to branch out and seek competition outside of the state, especially if they become as good as A.J. is right now.”
Marshall isn’t the only Blue Devil grappler in need of the community’s support, however. Teammates Alivia Loveless, Sebastian Gabarette and Jason Young have also qualified for Fargo, and each of them are asking for assistance with their expenses as well.
“We are all dedicated to our craft and are just looking to get better,” Marshall said. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to compete against the best kids in the nation.”
Csontos, who also serves as an assistant coach for Team Virginia, will be accompanying his charges to Fargo.
“Having him there with us will make it even more special,” Marshall concluded.