July 7, 2008

Ten Win Wrestling's Triple Crown

10 wrestlers earn Triple Crowns at USA Wrestling Kids Nationals
Craig Sesker USA Wrestling

OREM, Utah – His name is Ty, but all he does is win.

Wisconsin’s Ty Pelot continued his magical 2008 season by capturing a coveted USA Wrestling Triple Crown on Saturday at Utah Valley University’s McKay Events Center.

Pelot won the Triple Crown in the Novice 60-pound division as the three-day USA Wrestling Kids National Freestyle and Greco-Roman Championships concluded on Saturday morning.

Pelot recorded a first-period pin over Montana’s Cody Jackson in the freestyle finals. Pelot won USA Wrestling’s Ultimate Dominator Award earlier this year.

“This tournament was a lot of fun,? Pelot said. “It’s exciting to win this.?

Pelot was one of 10 wrestlers to win a Triple Crown this weekend.

Also winning Triple Crowns on Saturday were Midget wrestlers Anthony Artalona of Florida and A.J. Jaffe of Illinois.

Pelot was joined as a Triple Crown winner in the Novice division by Dante Rodriguez of Nebraska, Matthew Kolodzik of Ohio and Joey Nelson of Wisconsin.

Sam Brancale of Minnesota won a Triple Crown in the Schoolboy class on Saturday. Ryan Cone of Wisconsin, Joe Scanlan of Iowa and Eric Mason of Kansas won Triple Crowns on Friday in the Schoolboy division.

This is the final event in the quest for the 2008 USA Wrestling Kids Triple Crown. Each year, USA Wrestling honors athletes who are able to win national titles at their age-level in all three styles: folkstyle, Greco-Roman and freestyle.

The nation’s best 9-14 year old wrestlers battled for national titles and All-American honors in three age-divisions: Midget (9-10), Novice (11-12) and Schoolboy/girl (13-14).

Pelot didn’t mess around in his finals match. He shot in on a pair of textbook single-leg takedowns before eventually turning Jackson to his back with a power half-nelson maneuver. Jackson fought valiantly to avoid being pinned before Pelot finally was able to secure the fall late in the opening period.

Pelot said his wrestling heroes include his father along with Olympic gold medalist Dan Gable and Olympic silver medalist Dennis Hall.

“I want to wrestle in the Olympics,? Pelot said.

50 – Jaxon Cole of Utah
55 – Dylan Duncan of Illinois
60 – Anthony Artalona of Florida
65 – Austin Gomez of Illinois
70 – A.J. Jaffe of Illinois
75 – Max Odell of Connecticut
80 – Christian Bahl of Minnesota
87 – Wyatt Koelling of Utah
95 – Dylan Meeks of Florida
103 – Alexx Herrera of Idaho
112 – Garrett Whitehead of Idaho
120 – Sam Anderson of Minnesota
120 plus – Porter Thomas of Idaho

60 – Ty Pelot of Wisconsin
65 – Caleb Williams of Utah
70 – Dante Rodriguez of Nebraska
75 – Matthew Kolodzik of Ohio
80 – Tyler Berger of Oregon
85 – Luke Lovett of Wyoming
90 – Jon-Jay Chavez of California
95 – Joey Nelson of Wisconsin
100 – Angus Arthur of Michigan
105 – Nicholas Villarreal of California
112 – Connor Doak of Illinois
120 – Robert Akil of Oregon
130 – Colby Meeks of Florida
140 – Jared Langley of Kansas
140 plus – Javin Harrison of California

70 – Adam Burchett of Washington
77 – Sam Brancale of Minnesota
84 – Micah Perez of California
91 – Corey Keener of Pennsylvania
98 – Blayne Briceno of California
105 – Andrew Schulte of California
112 – Tomaz Gonzalez of Idaho
120 – Dakota Trom of Minnesota
128 – Eric Hoffman of Maryland
136 – Brandon McBride of Idaho
144 – Jordan Rogers of Washington
152 – Ryan Cone of Wisconsin
160 – Connor King of Colorado
175 – Joe Scanlan of Iowa
190 – Brooks Black of Pennsylvania
210 – Eric Mason of Kansas

April 8, 2008

Michigan and Kentucky claim titles at 2008 Middle School Folkstyle Duals

Michigan and Kentucky claim titles at 2008 Middle School Folkstyle Duals
Elizabeth Wiley USA Wrestling

Teams from Michigan and Kentucky took home titles from the Middle School Folkstyle Duals in Danville, Ill. at the David Palmer Arena, March 28-30.

Michigan placed first in the gold division, winning a first-place dual over Indiana Gold, 51-23. Kentucky barely edged Texas Black in the silver division with a score of 40-39.

The event feature six rounds of pool play on Saturday which determined what division teams would compete for medals in.

Middle School Folkstyle Duals
Danville, Ill.
March 29-30

Gold Division
Team Standings:
1. Michigan
2. Indiana Gold
3. IKWF Gold
4. Oregon
5. IKWF Silver
6. IKWF Bronze
7. IKWF Platinum
8. IESA Top Dawgs

Medal Rounds:
1st - Michigan 51, Indiana Gold 23
3rd - IKWF Gold 57, Oregon 13
5th - IKWF Silver 48, IKWF Bronze 21
7th - IKWF Platnium 41, IESA Top Dawgs 31

Silver Division
Team Standings:
1. Kentucky
2. Texas Black
3. Indiana Blue
4. Nebraska Red
5. Ohio Prodigy
6. Ohio Stallions Red
7. Ohio Stallions Black
8. Ohio Tornadoes

Medal Rounds:
1st - Kentucky 40, Texas Black 39
3rd - Indiana Blue 39, Nebraska Red 36
5th - Ohio Prodigy 54, Ohio Stallions Red 21
7th - Ohio Stallions Black 49, Ohio Tornadoes 39

January 18, 2008

Golden Grappler prepares for Tulsa Nationals

Golden Grappler prepares for Tulsa Nationals
By Jeff Andrews / Staff Writer

When Howard Smith tells his classmates at L.A. Nelson Elementary School that he’s a wrestler, they don’t understand.

“They know, but they think it’s like WWF or something,? Howard said. “I’m like ‘No, it’s not that.’?

Howard isn’t the type of wrestler that throws chairs at his opponents. He’s the type who pins opponents to the mat. And he’s been pinning his opponents with stunning regularity.

The 11-year-old has already won two national events — the recent U.S. Junior Open Championships in Oklahoma City and the Dollamur Cotton Bowl, which is the biggest youth wrestling event in Texas.

He’s also the Texas state champ in freestyle and Greco-Roman style wrestling in his age group, but for all his success, Howard isn’t one to gloat about it.

“I don’t really like bragging about it,? Howard said. “I don’t really talk about it. I bring it up when they [classmates] bring it up. [If I lose] I just say to myself ‘I did my best.’ I accept the loss and I say ‘I’ll get them back next time.’?

And with those awards under his belt, Howard turns his attention to the Cliff Keen Tulsa Nationals in Tulsa, Okla., one of the biggest youth wrestling events in the nation.

“He’s put in such hard work,? said Howard’s father, Howard Smith. “He’ll go here and do well. He’s got a chance [to win it]. He has a good work ethic. I think it’s going to pay off when we get there.?

Howard started wrestling two-and-a-half years ago and immediately took a liking to the sport. He also is a strong enough golfer that his father said Howard could beat him.

Howard’s father was a wrestler in high school, a pro boxer and a semi-pro football player. With a strong background in athletics, Smith tried to introduce athletics to his son.

“I didn’t force him,? Smith said. “I opened the door and he fell in love with it. The only thing he was doing before was golf. We took him to [wrestling] practice and I said ‘I don’t think he’s rough enough for this sport.’ We took him in there. He got roughed around. I said ‘Are you done? Do you want to go back?’ and he said ‘Yeah!’ Ever since then, it’s been his passion.?

It became evident pretty quick that Howard had a talent for wrestling. He quickly rose through the ranks of his previous team, and after a few weeks of practice, his father noticed his son had a talent.

“I noticed he had real good athletic ability,? Smith said. “With athletic ability, everything else comes. Not only that, but he’s smart. You have to have the physical ability and the mental ability to do wrestling.?

Howard recently switched to a team coached by former Olympian Kenny Monday. Monday won Olympic gold in 1988 and won the silver medal in 1992. He won an NCAA title at Oklahoma State and is a Tulsa native.

“He’s a tough competitor,? Monday said of Howard. “He loves to compete. He’s a tough kid. He’s a good student. He listens very well and doesn’t mind hard work that we do in practice. He’s a good kid. He’s got great manners. He’s very respectful. His parents have really done a great job of raising this young man. He’s got a bright future if he stays in it.?

November 5, 2007

Coaches building wrestlers from young ages

When practices for the Lancaster Youth Wrestling program get under way Nov. 12, the first- through sixth-grade wrestlers might not know it, but they're building for the future.

"It gets kids interested young and lets them know that there's an alternative to playing basketball," Lancaster High School wrestling coach Eric Pennycuff said. "It can light a fire in them for the sport early on."

Lighting that fire is the job of youth wrestling coaches, like Sean Gunther, who head up the programs that are a part of various peewee wrestling leagues in Fairfield County and beyond.
Sometimes the youngest of participants have to work through the frustration of learning a new sport that can be difficult to master.

'The first year, it's trying to get them to understand that wrestling is different than a lot of the other biddy sports," Gunther said. "A lot of times they can get very emotional."

The Lancaster Youth Wrestling program is less than 10 years old, but the youngsters that have stuck with the sport after sixth grade are now starting to make their mark at the later levels.

"Of the juniors and seniors we've got, I would say probably seven or eight of them came from our peewee program," Pennycuff said. "With the freshmen and sophomores, a majority of them come from the peewee program."

The numbers are typically strong at near 50 to 60 kids at the six grade levels for Gunther. The size of the practice squad can sometimes be challenging to manage.

"It can be difficult when you have that many kids at different skill levels," Gunther said. "What's nice is there are so many different styles."

Those styles are put to the test against eight other teams that make up Lancaster's youth league, the Southeast Ohio Youth Wrestling League.

Fairfield County peewee teams from Amanda-Clearcreek, Bloom-Carroll and Fairfield Union also compete in the SEOYWL.

Giving constructive criticism along with positive reinforcement is a delicate balance that youth coaches have to master.

"When they get done wrestling, I try to tell them something they need to work on and something they did well," Gunther said. "They learn a lot through drilling, and depending on the age of the kids, you have to know when to pull back."

Though taking charge of a sizeable group of young wrestlers can be daunting, Gunther said he is in it for some simple but very powerful reasons.

"Seeing the smiles on kids' faces when they win," Gunther said. "When they get their first win, their expression of emotion speaks volumes for the sport,"

"We had a wrestler last year who didn't win a match all season, but he got a win in the tournament, and he just went crazy. You love to see that."

Pennycuff said that hopefully the junior high and high school programs in Lancaster can schedule meets that include peewee competitions as well.

"It's important that we stay in touch, because what they do is important to us, and they're doing it on a volunteer basis," Pennycuff said.

Even if the children who participate in the peewee wrestling program don't stick with the sport, the skills they learn on the mats could prove useful elsewhere.

"It will help them if they play football or soccer or other sports," Gunther said. "It teaches them how to control their body as far as footwork, and they start to understand leverage and body position."

Gunther said the percentage who stay with the program after their first year is typically 75 or 80 percent.

"Some kids try it and find it's a little more difficult than they expected and they go and try a different sport," Gunther said.

The idea of programs like Lancaster Youth Wrestling and other area teams is to prepare the young grapplers for the tough competition they will face down the road.

Pennycuff said he believes the peewee program that gives Lancaster High School many of its wrestlers has done just that.

"I think they know more of what the sport's about," Pennycuff said. We had kids come in years ago and think this was like the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). Now they have the basics down and they're ready to go."