Thursday, March 14, the Morgan Wrestling Club hosted an event that brought in about 160 young wrestlers and hundreds of fans from as far away as Evanston and Bridger Valley.
They were cordial to their opponents, welcoming them to Morgan High School, signing them in and preparing them for the tournament. However, when they met them on the mats, they showed no mercy. From takedowns to pins, they showed unmatched strength and knowledge of the sport.
The wrestlers were Pre-K, as young as 3 years old, up to eighth grade. Morgan’s team has been training three nights a week for the last month, learning different skills to compete against area wrestlers. Morgan brought around 50 wrestlers; Coalville brought 30; and Evanston had around 30. Many others joined in the competition from all over the state and beyond.
“Get them introduced to the sport and make them not hate it,” Kristen Korth, president of the Morgan Wrestling Club said. While there may have been a few tears shed, the boys overall came away with pride. Some of the wrestlers even used tears to gain advantage over their opponents. They each competed well and grew along the way.
“They learn how to win and how to lose,” Korth states. They are learning, while young, to be good sports regardless of who wins.
Traditionally the winner’s arm is raised at the end of a round; however, in order to bolster confidence at this young age, both arms are raised in victory of competing. However, the meet does not go un-scored. As takedowns, escapes and pins are accomplished, the referee signals to the scorekeepers, who are vigilantly watching. At the end of their bracket, medals are handed out depending on their results.
First place winners received gold medals and second place winners received silver. As can be expected, third place winners received bronze. Uniquely, however, all other competitors received a bronze. This gave these young men a chance to see that their efforts had paid off.
“You get out of it what you put into it,” Korth explains of the individual sport. While team sports require each player to do their best to succeed, wrestling is unique in that an individual relies on himself when he competes.
The tournament and clinic were fundraisers for the Morgan High wrestling team. The youth group and high school team work hard to support each other.
About half of the referees were high school wrestlers, who were joined by parents and community fans of the sport that filled in the rest of the ref positions as well as helped carry out the entire event.
While the system is set up to provide a positive encounter, there are, sometimes, some frustrations that arise in wrestling. Age and weight are huge factors in wrestling. Before a tournament, each wrestler is weighed and signs in depending on age. Each wrestler is matched with a wrestling partner that most closely matches his age and weight. Because of this, each tournament changes depending on who signs up to compete. Sometimes there can be a big gap in weight or age, depending on what other wrestlers attend the event.
For example, the night before the Morgan Tournament a similar tournament was held in Coalville. One young wrestler, who turned 4 last month, was paired with a 6.5-year old that was near his size. On another mat a boy was matched up against another wrestler that was roughly 15 pounds heavier. When this happens, it can be disappointing to be at a big disadvantage, but most of the wrestlers take these setbacks with stride and learn from them.
Often times it seems to be more discouraging to the parents in the stands than the individual wrestlers. Overall, wrestlers and their fans left the tournament happy with the chance to participate in a great event.
“The main purpose of our youth club is to expose as many people to the sport as possible so that it continues to grow,” Korth encourages.
The Morgan Wrestling Club board consists of: President Kristen Korth, VP of Jr. High Wrestling Krissy Pentz, Treasurer Janet Thornton, Jr. High Tournament Director Kristen Toone, Website Administrator Richard Korth, Fundraising Chairperson Emily Payne, and Coaches Kelly Wilson, Rod Haslam, Adam Toone, Quinn Toone, and Jade Woolsey.
For young wrestlers who would like to get involved, spring wrestling is over, but another round of practice and tournaments will start up in the fall.
There is a special team coached by Jade Woolsey for fourth-eighth grade. There will be ample opportunity to learn all the aspects of wrestling including individual and team competition. Until then, Korth recommends getting as much “mat time” as possible, and for parents to get involved and learn more about the sport.