“Mighty Mustangs” wrestling is back at it for a new season in International Falls.
Our youth wrestling has been around for about eight years. After a few years of losing kids, due to the Boise/Cascade paper mill cutting 300 jobs, our program is back on track.
We have about 25 wrestlers this season, picking up three more from Fort Frances.
Including Hudson Mann, who was born in the Fort and has a grandmother and uncle in Rainy River, this brings the total of Canadian-born participants to six for head coach Pete Benedix and myself as assistant coach with which to work.
The Mustangs range from pre-school to Grade 6, with our main focus this season being to teach good basics, power stance, and good set-ups.
We do have quite a few new wrestlers this season, so we want to keep our expectations and goals reasonable.
The aim is to get our new kids 20-25 good matches and work on qualifying for the Jaycees state championship in April.
Zayne Basaraba from Fort Frances, being a second-year wrestler, has taken some big steps from last year.
His mother, Savannah, has told us wrestling has improved Zayne's confidence immensely, and that he's more mentally strong and isn't afraid to stand up for himself or his friends.
Pete and I both expect Zayne to make it to the Jaycees state championship.
Hudson, meanwhile, will be more focused on MNUSA State, where there can be up to a 64-fighter bracket at a tournament.
Other Fort-based wrestlers on board for this year are Vai Lockman, Landon Hammond, Zack Hammond, and Jack Reinhardt.
The direction of our program keeps moving up and up. We want to keep growing our youth wrestlers while getting more competitive and building the team atmosphere.
The amount of discipline and focus at a young age is what makes wrestling one of the best sports to introduce to your child.
You learn fundamentals about life, how to win and lose, mental toughness, and good sportsmanship.
We practice Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-6:15 p.m. for beginners, and 6:15-7:30 p.m. for those with two or more years' experience, at Falls High School.
If we can get one kid off the couch, that's great. Our door always is open to any parent or child who wants to see what we're all about.
Our next meet is Saturday in Blackduck.