A group of dedicated parents, and grandparents, are leading this year’s Grant County Youth Wrestling Club.
Steve Parsons, who has two grandsons in the club, is assisted by his son Tye Parsons, as well as Drew Knowles and Justin Clarry.
With 32 youth out for wrestling, Steve said they have assistance from other parents as well.
“You can’t do it without them,” he said. “We have parents and coaches, and we try to break them up into a group of four.”
He said a couple of the moms have also been helping.
“We’re trying to keep it hands-on with all the kids that come out.” he said.
Children as young as 4 and as old as 11 have joined the program this year, including three girls. Youth from Monument and Long Creek also join in the practices held in John Day.
Steve said he and the assistant coaches are all about teaching the fundamentals of the sport.
“We’re not trying to make superstars out of any of them,” he said, adding they focus on making the sport fun for the kids.
Still, the youth in the program are competitive. Several came home with medals from their first ORWAY (Oregon Wrestling Association for Youth ) competitions of the season.
Their first meet of the season was Nov. 4 at the Baker Brawl Wrestling Tournament. They traveled to the Hermiston Invitational on Nov. 11, where 32 teams competed. The wrestlers and their parents travel nearly every weekend through December.
“That’s three to four days a week of practice and tournaments on Saturdays,” Steve said. “For the parents, it’s a huge commitment for time and dollars — lots of travel.”
Five or six of the youth will likely continue on to state USA wrestling tournaments after the regular season.
Steve said what the youth learn in their wrestling program carries on through junior high and varsity.
“That’s the reason we try to teach them the basics, so as they move forward they’re more experienced,” he said. “You can win 90 percent of your matches with the basics. They need to know the basics and do it .”
First place: Mason Benge, Taylor Parsons, Jerett Waddel and Owen Parson
Second place: Rowdy Wilson, Zeke Rookstool, Jeritt Gast, Maveryk Bartlett and Beau VanCleave
Third place: Halle Parsons, Jase Whatley, Huntur Wright and Kaden Wright
Also participating: Charley Knowles, Jack Knowles, Tristan Clarry, Colter Handley, Natalee Clarry, Cody Knowles, Brogan Lundbom, Cooper Ross, Blake Sandor, Samuel Stout and Trevor Sasser
First: Mason Benge, Owen Parsons, Beau VanCleave and Jase Whatley
Second: Taylor Parsons
Also participating: Zeke Rookstool, Natalee Clarry, Tristan Clarry, Brogan Lundbom, Halle Parsons, Kaden Wright, Colter Handley, Trevor Sasser, Mitchell McKrola and Arionna Young
Youth wrestling tournament planned Dec. 9 in John Day
This year, the local youth wrestling club will host its first home tournament in about 15 years. The event is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 9, at Grant Union Junior-Senior High School in John Day.
Long-time wrestling supporter and tournament director Cindy Dougharity-Spencer said she’s glad for the chance the club has to host a tournament. She expects as many as 400 youth wrestlers, plus coaches and spectators, at the event.
“We have had a big increase of youth wrestlers over the past few years,” she said. “Unfortunately for those families, that means travel for every opportunity for their kids to compete.”
She added, “Being able to host a tournament will allow our youth wrestlers to compete at home and provide an opportunity for their friends and families to come out to support them without traveling.”
Dougharity-Spencer said they are seeking volunteers to help with the tournament. For more information, contact her at Grant Union at 541-575-1799 ext. 32.