Jasper Youth Wrestling excels in second season
by W. Brian Hale
Mar 31, 2013 | 1546 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Since its formation in October 2011, the Jasper Youth Wrestling program has allowed aspiring grapplers throughout the area an opportunity to hone their skills on the mat and compete in matches and tournaments experienced at the high school and collegiate levels.

The second year of the program under coach Martin Blankenship proved to be a success, with six members of the squad placing at state tournaments.

One grappler, Cody Headrick placed in both the beginner and advanced state tournaments.

Headrick earned the program’s first state championship as the beginner state champion, as well as placing fourth at the advanced state tournament.

“Cody has been a pleasant surprise for us this year,” Blankenship said.

“He’s really picked up on learning his techniques and the success that he has had and as quickly as it has come to him has been amazing.”

Jaxson Hulsey also had a great year for the program, being named as beginner state runner-up.

Isic Clark placed third at beginner state and Lucas Vance placed fourth at beginner state.

Jackson Blankenship also had an outstanding year, earning a fourth-place spot at the advanced state tournament.

Even though team points are not kept at the beginner and advanced state levels, Blankenship felt that the squad’s strong showing of six wrestlers at the tournaments was a healthy indicator of the progression the program’s members have made.

“For our team to have six young men competing among the 13 teams that were present and place at the advanced or beginner level doesn’t happen too often,” Blankenship said.

“It was symbolic of what kind of effort and hard work our team members have put forth this year. Except for two young men who joined us lat in the year, every member of our team earned a medal or better in tournaments and won matches. Everyone did very well.”

The program, which is open to wrestlers from 6 years-old to sixth graders, is composed of grapplers from across the county — with squad members hailing from Jasper, Cordova, Nauvoo and Dora.

Since many aspiring wrestlers do not have the chance to learn and compete into the middle school or high school levels, the Jasper Youth Wrestling program allows participants to begin their development before reaching the higher levels of competition.

“I used to get excited when a seventh grader wanted to wrestle at middle school, as when they graduated high school, they would have six years of experience under their belts,” Blankenship, who is also head coach of the Walker Vikings’ Wrestling team.

“With our youth wrestling program, it’s possible to have a young person start at the kindergarten level and have 12 years of experience when they graduate. As a coach, that gives me a lot of excitement because by the time they reach middle school, they will have gotten their bodies used idea of wrestling — it makes learning skills and techniques a lot easier.”

Further information on Jasper Youth Wrestling can be found on the program’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JasperYouthWrestling.