Wrestling is a tough sport, and that’s what’s good about it for kids, according to sponsors of the Pittsburg Wrestling Club.

Wrestling is a tough sport, and that’s what’s good about it for kids, according to sponsors of the Pittsburg Wrestling Club.

Taking annual signups at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Pittsburg High School Commons, the group expects enrollments of 10-15 for the pee wee class and 15-20 each in the novice and intermediate-advanced divisions.

Classes begin Nov. 9 and 11 with instruction from 5:30-6 p.m. for pee wees, 6-7 p.m. for novices and 7-8 p.m. for intermediate and advanced wrestlers each Tuesday and Thursday in the PHS Wrestling Room. Fees are $30 for membership and $35 for a USA Wrestling Card and insurance.

“A lot of times, kids want immediate success,” Club President Doug Hitchcock said last Thursday. “But it takes a lot of practice, desire and hard work. We give them the best opportunity we can to successful, but we are demanding. The kids put themselves through a regimen of workouts and training, and the discipline is invaluable.”

Volunteer coaches Jon White, Nick Akins, Daren Woods, Ty Jaquess, Nick Shumate, Joe Beck and Josh Dunstan work with students from ages 6 to 18, although some 4 and 5-year-olds participate on a non-competitive basis, said Hitchcock, PHS director of activities.

Pittsburg Community Middle School’s 30 wrestlers and the high school’s 35 won’t train with the club until after their seasons, starting in mid-November, are concluded; but many of them have laid their foundation there. Club members take part in several tournaments each year, including the March state championships in Topeka.

“It’s like youth football or basketball,” said Hitchcock, who is organizing the classes with board member Greg Lair.

“We don’t worry about win-loss records. We’re more concerned with teaching fundamentals as they enjoy the sport.

“Beau Bennett is an excellent example. He started with us, worked through middle school and was the Kansas high school state heavyweight champion last year. Beau was not one of those gifted with talent, but he made up for that with his work ethic and desire to be good. Now he’s up to 275 pounds and is wrestling on scholarship at Baker University in Baldwin City.”

Hitchcock’s 11-year-old son Tanner, who weighs 64 pounds, is a three-time state winner. The club was organized in the late 1970s.

“We instill the confidence that when they step onto that mat, they’re the best wrestler out there,” Hitchcock said.
“There can be some roller-coasters. The training is very difficult. It is a sport where you might not be a success right away, but that’s another test of your character. Are you able to work through that and overcome those situations?”

James R. Campbell can be reached at james.campbell@morningsun.net.