This past Sunday, I was in Neillsville watching my grandson Cain wrestle. He is 5 years old.
It has been a few years since I wrote an article about youth wrestling, so I thought I would re-visit it again.
If you aren't familiar with youth wrestling tournaments, it is a sight to see. Wrestlers, from 4-year-old kindergarten to eighth grade converge on the fieldhouse in Neillsville. Once the kids are all weighed in, they are put into brackets. Usually, there are four kids in each bracket.
Cain was in one of nine brackets in his age group. His was bracket No. 8. Brackets are also set up by weight. That way, all the kids are pretty close in weight. There were only three kids in Cain's group. He got the first bye, which means we sat through 16 brackets before he wrestled. Some kids were done wrestling before he even started. This wait gave me an opportunity to observe other things going on around me.
The first thing I noticed was the energy expelled by these youngsters as they waited for things to start. For the older kids, loosening up and working on their moves was at the top of their priorities. For the younger wrestlers (I mean the very little wrestlers), their idea of passing the time was chasing each other around the mat. Some even double teamed another kid. One took him down and the other sat on his head. All three were having a good time.
The second thing I noticed was when the brackets were posted. First they came up in small numbers. Then the group got larger. Pretty soon, everybody was looking over shoulders to see where they wrestled. No, I am not talking about the wrestlers here. These were the adults. There are many dedicated and proud parents who bring their kids to these tournaments.
With that excitement taken care of, it is time for wrestling.
Then, there was the interaction between wrestler and parent. There always was a glance to the side of the mat to see if Mom or Dad would come to the rescue. All he heard (if he even heard) were words of encouragement.
Some kids came off the mat crying. It wasn't always because they were hurt, but rather they did not like to lose. A parent's shoulder always can be a comforting headrest.
On the other end of the spectrum, you see the thrill on a kid's face as he wins a match. It is even more exciting when a pin is involved.
The ultimate feeling is watching a father and son hugging each other after a pin. It doesn't get any better. The smiles of the victor and the father were priceless as they hugged each other.
There always will be the argument of what is too young to be out on the mat. That is something between the parent and the child. What I do know is that the smiles and hugs probably outweighed the tears.
Harry Toufar is a correspondent for Spencer. Share Spencer area news with him by email at email@example.com or call 715-659-4429.