Friday, August 01, 2014

Kids dedicated to wrestling

By Greg Mast/Herald Sports Editor | 4/11/2014

Many of the wrestlers in the Mat Masters program have fallen in love with the sport. Some have taken it to the next step and wrestling has become an integral part of their life.

These Ottawa kids ­— some as young as five or six — understand the hard work and dedication it takes to keep growing in the sport.

Many of the wrestlers in the Mat Masters program have fallen in love with the sport. Some have taken it to the next step and wrestling has become an integral part of their life.

These Ottawa kids ­— some as young as five or six — understand the hard work and dedication it takes to keep growing in the sport.

“The kids love it,” Mat Masters coach Jay Wieneke said. “I have a lot of these kids that are dedicated, especially the state champions. We have motivated parents.”

Wieneke said there were right at 70 wrestlers that started the season back in November and about two dozen still at it in the second week of April.

“Wrestling has been over for about five weeks now,” Wieneke said. “They still come and practice. They want to get better.”

Wieneke is taking 13 youth wrestlers to the Brute Nationals this weekend in Independence, Mo.

“It is a neat event,” Wieneke said. “I have a lot of kids that can compete at that level.

“We are moving them along to see how they do in a national event. We like seeing some kids from Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.”

There are lots of reasons the wrestlers enjoy the sport.

Andrew Spangler, who won a state title in the under-8 division a few weeks ago, said he has improved a lot.

“This year I have been improving on shots,” he said. “You get to grab people and pin them.”

Success breeds success

Wieneke took over the Mat Masters program three years ago. By his own admission, he runs a tight ship. One that other clubs want to mimic.

“We get a lot of kids come from the other clubs to compete against [us],” he said. “We put on a good practice. I am here to teach the kids the art of the sport. I am still learning something new every day.

“I go to coaching clinics to keep bringing things new to the mat to keep my kids ahead of the game. If you are not ahead of the game, you don’t have a chance.

“We are doing something right. You can see by their dedication and work ethic. We win a lot of matches.”

This year, the Ottawa club had two state champions, one state runner-up and a fifth place.  

“Every year we are getting better and better,” Wieneke said. “I have some kids that are eager. I have some really awesome kids. We are starting a dynasty.”

The program practices four times a week with tournaments on the weekends.

“There are times I spend six days a week with these kids,” Wieneke said. “I am emotionally attached to the sport ... emotionally attached to these kids. Seeing the kids faces after they won,it can bring tears to my eyes.”

Wieneke does not just teach them about wrestling, but about how to become successful in life.

“It becomes goal-setting,” he said. “All I care about is the development of these kids. Their respect factor, the discipline, the hard work and everything that wrestling could have done is ten-folded me. It builds champions not only in wrestling, but in society too.”

Basic wrestling

Wieneke does not teach a lot of exotic moves, but stays with the fundamentals.

“I try to stay basic as possible,” he said. “I try to break bad habits. If it does not have an 85-90 percent chance to score, I probably have not showed it. We build strength on top of that. They pick it up pretty quick.”

The coach said it takes repetition for things to become instinct and gives the Ottawa wrestlers an advantage over their opponents.

“They say it takes 10,000 times the same activity to have it muscle memorized,” Wieneke said. “That means they have to have 10,000 shots so they don’t have to think about taking a shot on mat.

“That is why we do shots and shots. Every match starts with them on their feet. It is what happens in between that determines the winning and losing.”

Wieneke said a big part of wrestling is being good on your feet.

“If he can take you down, but you can’t hold him down because he has great hand control, he does not need to pin a sole,” Wieneke said. “All he has to do is take you down and escape. You have a state champ and a national champ because the kid is good on his feet.”

The Sutton way

The Sutton children have made wrestling a priority. They work outside of practice.

Wieneke said the Suttons workout each night following his practices.

“They do pull ups and sit ups,” he said.

It has paid dividends. Even older sister Violet caught the bug this year and has picked up the nuances of the sport quickly.

Brock has shown the most promise. The nine-year-old is a two-time state champion. He started wrestling when he was 4.

“The kid is intense,” Wieneke said. “He is fun. You have to have that drive and motivation. To be champion, you have to have that. Brock lost in the Sunflower State Games after winning a state title. He was wrestling up in weight class. He dedicated himself to the sport.”

Brock said his goal is go college and wrestle then move on the Olympics.

The young wrestler gives credit to God for his accomplishments.

“Before every single match at state, I prayed,” he said. “God helped me go to the championship.”

Brock is one of the Ottawa wrestlers at the national tourney this weekend.

“Go out there and do the best I can,” he said. “If I lose, do it with honor. If I win, do it with honor.”

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