JOHN DAY - The 2008-09 Grant Union wrestling team will compete on the mat for the first time this weekend.
The Prospectors will face off against several teams in the annual Grant Union Tournament Saturday, Dec. 6, in the Grant Union gymnasium. Matches will begin at 11 a.m. and run throughout the day.
Grant Union is returning two of its top three wrestlers from last season: Isaac Whitman and Don Speakman. Whitman and Speakman both competed in the National High School Junior Wrestling Championships in Virginia Beach last year. The Pros are looking to move up in the Eastern Oregon League after only losing a single senior, Chris Boyer, from last year's team.
Assistant coach Nick Stiner said the team is looking forward to the tournament and the season.
"We have a full schedule this year," Stiner said. "We have 14 meets scheduled, not including Districts and State, and that's the most you can have legally. It's nice to start at home."
Although the season doesn't start until this week, the Pros have been getting some good practice in recent weeks. They even had national wrestlers helping coach them.
U.S. women's coach Levi Weikel-Magden, formally of John Day and son of Hans Magden, brought two wrestlers to train and work with the Grant Union team. Patricia Miranda, the first American woman to win a medal in olympic wrestling, and Sally Roberts, a U.S. and world champion wrestler, were in John Day through the end of November.
Several of the wrestlers said they were surprised by how strong and talented the women were.
"They were pretty tough," Whitman said. "I learned a lot, and got tossed around a bit."
The Pros are also holding a firewood raffle to raise funds for the season. They will be raffling off five cords of wood and tickets are $5. Tickets can be purchased from any member of the wrestling team or you can contact Stiner at 932-2827.