Youngsters mix it up on the mat

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The Mother Lode Wrestling Club has become quite the attraction in its second season.

"It's kind of blasting," co-founder and coach Kevin Day said. "We have a lot more participation than we anticipated."

Weekly practices, Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. at Tuolumne Memorial Hall, have drawn anywhere from 40 to 60 young matmen and there's always room for more. Wrestlers who want to join can call Day at 928-3361, or co-founder and coach Jim Baldrige at 586-1108.

The club will participate in the second tournament of its four-event schedule Sunday in Ripon. Six members won division championships in the season's first tournament last Saturday in San Andreas.

Other events are the AMA Tournament on March 2 in Angels Camp and the club's own event March 9 at Columbia College's Oak Pavilion. The latter will be the club's major fund-raiser for the year.

Day and Baldrige, both former high school wrestlers, and also the longtime coaches at Summerville Elementary School and Curtis Creek School, respectively, started the club for several reasons.

"We both have a passion for the sport, and we want to have a better feeder program for (Summerville and Sonora) high schools," Day said.

"We want to make the high school programs and the elementary school and junior high programs better," Baldrige said.

But there's more than that.

"We emphasize love of the sport, and working hard at something," Baldrige said.

"We don't teach winning and losing," Day said. "We teach attitude, and hopefully they can have some fun with it."

The club is open to 7-year-olds through eighth-graders, and there's a weight range of from 52 pounds to more than 200. The folkstyle (the style used by high schools and colleges) tournaments are formatted by weight, age and experience so that the youngest don't have to compete against the oldest, and the least-experienced don't have to get drubbed the most-experienced.

11498946
The Union Democrat
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