BUTLER — The Clear Fork Elite Wrestling Club is getting pins and wins on the mat.
Rick Hayden, in his first year as head coach, took his squad to Toledo recently and came home with a state title in the Ohio Novice State Wrestling tournament.
“We came out on top. We are super excited,” Hayden said.
Clear Fork had a quartet of state champs in Sloan McGhee, Tye Pryor, Ahmad Sabino and Kane DeLancy.
Others who placed were Dylan Daugherty, 4th; Caelan Logan, 2nd; Miles Parker, 3rd; Garrett Lane, 4th; Carter Thomas, 3rd; Camron Glennon, 2nd; Kobi Braden, 4th; Tristan Cromer, 2nd and Brooks Craw, 3rd.
Those are the novice state kids that place out of 22 kids from Clear Fork Elite Wrestling who competed. The final count was 180 teams and the local club had 240 points, which was 6 points better than the second-place team.
“It was a tough opening round, but our kids fought hard and did well. You’ve got teams like Perrysburg and all the top schools in the state of Ohio competing.”
Youngsters from 40 pounds to heavyweight compete. It is for those in kindergarten through 6th grade.
The Ohio Athletic Committee tournament is March 23 and 24 at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown.
Competing will be district champs Anthony Oscar, Grady Hayden and Kane DeLancy.
Carter Thomas, Dylan Daugherty and Colton Wenger are looking to place at district to make it to the OAC meet.
“Last year we won the state title at the Ohway state tournament in the the small school division as a first-year program. This is our second year as a program,” Hayden said.
“We also have kids competing in national tournaments.”
At this year’s Ohway state novice tournament at Tiffin University, Dillon Daugherty, 2nd; Carter Thomas, 3rd and Lincoln Soliday, 4th; advanced to the second biggest novice state tournament.
Novice is for wrestlers with 3 years or less experience.
“We’ve swept the board so far,” he said. “We’ve been in 6 team tournaments and we’ve won all 6.”
Hayden sees growth in younger kids wrestling.
“It’s a huge, growing sport for youth across the state,” Hayden said.
Tournaments average 35-45 teams. The program begins workouts Nov. 1.
“The appeal is a lot of kids are naturally hyper or high-strung at that age. It lets them go burn off energy and develop technique and work ethic.”
Hayden said they also learn correct nutrition and exercises.
“Parents fall in love with it. They see their kids being more respectful. We place a lot of emphasis on that,” Hayden said.
“We tell them we win with grace, we lose with grace. We also tell them it’s important to respect their parents. Give them a hug and thank them for what they do for you, for supporting you.”
While the youngsters compete hard on the mats, respect needs to be shown there as well.
“We preach that once you step on the mat, you show them respect. They’re ready to battle you and give your full maximum effort.”
Summer camps are held with wrestlers or coaches from Ohio State University to help teach them the fundamentals.
The club may hold fundraisers to offset the cost of uniforms and tournament entry fees.