South Windsor youth wrestling hosts the Bobcat Brawl

By Martha Marteney, Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Sun., Feb. 6, 2011
 Jake Odell prepares to call the pin by Kyle of Suffield over Fehem of South Windsor. Photos by Martha Marteney.
Jake Odell prepares to call the pin by Kyle of Suffield over Fehem of South Windsor. Photos by Martha Marteney.

The South Windsor Wrestling Association hosted the Bobcat Brawl on Sunday, Feb. 6 for some 250 youth wrestlers in kindergarten through eighth grade.

“This is actually the first year for the foundation,” explained Wayne Cunningham, executive director of the non-profit group, which is organized under the South Windsor Community Association. “We handle the support of wrestling for all ages, youth through high school.” The association supports the town’s wrestling programs by raising funds for training and equipment.

“We’ve been a booster club for a long time,” explained Jude Knapp, athletic director for the association and South Windsor High School wrestling coach. “We’re trying to get to the point where South Windsor is a wrestling town,” he added. In addition to the high school team, Timothy Edwards Middle School and the South Windsor Parks & Recreation department have wrestling programs. “It’s a great sport, and it helps kids.”

“Next year, we’re looking to revamp the youth program to get more involvement,” explained Cunningham. In the meanwhile, the association continues with its fundraising, including meet programs for the Groundhog Duals and the Bobcat Brawl, t-shirt sales and providing food at the concession stand for the meets.

According to Russ Angers, South Windsor Recreation department wrestling coach, there are meets throughout Connecticut for the youth wrestlers every Sunday in January and February. Speaking about the Bobcat Brawl, which is a cooperative effort between the South Windsor High School and the South Windsor Youth Wrestling Association, Angers said, “They do a great job, especially with having eight mats.”

“It gives the kids a chance to compete on their home match,” said Steve Turgeon, head coach for youth program. There are 24 participants in the program this year, about half of whom are from South Windsor. “A lot of towns don’t have wrestling programs,” he explained. Children from other towns sign up through the South Windsor Recreation department.

Like many of the other youth wrestlers, 9-year-old Casey of Tolland started wrestling this season. At the Bobcat Brawl, Casey wrestled Dominic of Newington in the intermediate class. “I wish I could have sprawled more,” said Casey after loosing his match.

“I know nothing about wrestling,” said Casey’s mother, Lisa Bowden. Casey joined the program after learning about it from a friend. “The drills that they do are very hard, and he loves it.”

“I like it that you get to pin somebody,” explained Will of South Windsor. He has been in the program two years, following his older brothers in the program.

“It’s good for the kids, especially in the winter,” said Will’s father, Tim Kasek, who also coaches for the program. “It’s an individual sport, but it’s also a team sport. The wrestling kids stay together.” He also sees the positive effect that wrestling has on the children’s body awareness.

“The kids play a lot of team sports, but this is more of an individual, one-on-one contact and competitive sport,” noted South Windsor parent and coach Mike Kelly, who has been with the program with his three sons. “It teaches them a lot about discipline and keeps them in shape during the winter.”

“I just like the sport,” said 12-year-old Matt, who wrestles for Timothy Edwards Middle School. He started in third grade, because one of his friends was in the program. He is now a committed wrestler. “It’s a fun sport,” he said.

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