MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Marquette Senior High School currently boasts one of the best wrestling teams in the Upper Peninsula, placing second this past weekend at the U.P. Finals. The team is hoping to build on that success well into the future, with a well-established youth wrestling program.
The youth wrestling program in Marquette has been around for about four years. Currently, 72 wrestlers from kindergarten through fifth grade, and 26 middle school wrestlers train and compete on the team.
"Learning wrestling, like most sports, is such a wonderful opportunity for kids to learn life lessons and it carries through with them for their entire life,” said Rich Baker, coach the youth wrestling team. “The ability to win with grace and humility and to accept defeat humbly, that's what this is about."
With kids of all ages on the team, the biggest focus for Baker is of course the fundamentals.
"We're learning to take people down and put them in a half," said wrestler Jonah Scott.
"They're wrestling, they're learning about physical contact, but in a controlled environment where no one is getting hurt,” said Jonah’s father, Todd Scott. “They're doing it the right way, they're learning the right moves, and they're being safe about it. The coaches are phenomenal."
The team practices with all ages at the same time on occasion, aiming to impart the younger wrestlers with the knowledge and skills of more experienced wrestlers.
"You really are a role model for the younger kids below us and we want to be able to take the good character of the older wrestlers and make sure the little kids see that positive effect that wrestling has on them," said Baker.
High school head coach Tony Gentz is happy to have the help of the program, which gives him athletes that are well trained by the time they reach his level.
"With coach Sadler, I've known him for years, I've known coach Baker for years, and having all three of us on the same page is going to be great, the kids are going to know the same moves we teach at the high school level," said Gentz.
The team is open to young boys and girls from kindergarten to eighth grade in the MAPS system. They practice Tuesday nights at 5 p.m. at Bothwell Middle School.