It’s enough for Andrea and Alex Othon of Maple Valley to keep an eye on their two young boys on a daily basis.
Wrestling has been a godsend.
“We were just looking for a good, healthy outlet for our youngest son (Alex, 6) who has a lot of energy he needs to push out,” Andrea said.
The sport has attracted the boys’ full attention, and the family has come to enjoy the excursions around the Puget Sound as their experience grows.
The Othon’s, competing for Mat Demons Wrestling Club, made a full-day of it at the Northwest Ultimate Wrestler tournament Sunday, hosted by Northwest Wrestling Club at the Kitsap Sun Pavilion in Bremerton.
“It’s great mat time for the boys,” Othon said. “The talent here is a lot harder than in league wrestling. Here, we really find out what their deficits are so we can work on it.”
Othon wasn’t too keen on the idea of her boys wrestling early on — her oldest son Austin, 9, broke his hand in his first season — but the two have shown an affinity for the sport, she said.
“Last year was their second year, and they both loved it,” she said. “This year they love it even more.”
Ty and Beth Michaelson run NWWC of Silverdale and are in their seventh year hosting the youth tournament. Beth Michaelson said the multi-mat, all-day tourney gives younger wrestlers an opportunity to compete on full-size mats — many for the first time.
“Most of the time when kids compete they’ll take a wrestling mat and divide it into four sections,” she said. “Having an opportunity where maybe your big brother was wrestling the day before, or your big sister, and now you get to wrestle in the same place. It’s really fulfilling as a little wrestler.”
The three-days of wrestling extravaganza kicked off on Friday with a junior varsity, and girls-only meet and Saturday featured an Olympic-style dual team meet from the state. More than 460 wrestlers competed from all over the state as well as Oregon and Alaska.
Alaska Battlecats coach Mike Priebe said the tournament is worth making the trip from Anchorage.
“NW Wrestling Club is a very good club, and they run a very good tournament,” he said. “They have enough mats, and it’s smooth. We have our challenges, but they handle them well like in every tournament. It’s a nice community, and it’s easy to get to. We like it a lot.”
It takes a lot of volunteers to run the tournament. Between coordinating officials, keeping kids wrestling, making sure bloodied noses are tended, and mats stay clean, feeding the volunteers and organizing vendors it’s a full-time effort. They are assisted by Wrestling Supporting Wrestling, a non-profit promotes the sport on the peninsula and also runs the highly-regarded Hammerhead Invitational at the Pavillion, Dec. 16.
NWWC is one of the top clubs in the state and top eight in the country and has succeeded fostering the growth of the sport on the peninsula. The club’s reputation brings some of the top wrestlers from around the northwest to Bremerton.
“Kids know when they come to a tournament that we host that they’re going to get some good competition,” Beth Michaelson said. “When you’re a high-level athlete you can travel a long ways for just one match. So if you’re one of those competitive kids you know you have a good chance of getting (good competition).
“It’s just growing and growing,” she continued. “It’s good to see.”