BY JEFF CHANEY
12/30 – Louie Johnson is glad to take a team and support New York Wrestling Association of Youth Wrestlers, the new youth wrestling organization in the state of New York.
But the coach also wants to win and show where some of the top youth wrestlers in the state of Michigan stand.
Johnson will be taking 18 Michigan youth wrestlers to the Big Red Kickoff Tournament at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY January 8.
It’s NYWAY’s (New York Wrestling Assocation for Youth) first big event in the association’s first year.
“It’s great that we can take some of the best kids of Michigan to New York and support New York, but here is the way I look at it, you always want to win,” Johnson said. “And hopefully in the future they can reciprocate and come here and support us. The more kids we can get from other states to come here and wrestle will help get our kids better.”
The tournament will be an individual tournament that will have team scoring, allowing teams and states to win a team title.
The tournament will be run in two sessions, a morning and evening session, with Cornell and Lehigh taking to the mat between sessions to give the wrestlers and fans in attendance a look at college wrestling.
“This is our first shot at it, and we are hoping for 400 kids,” said NYWAY president Clint Wattenberg, who is a former Cornell All-American from California. “What I do know is we have 1,500 registered NYWAY athletes, and 60 teams, and we’re hoping for a good representation from our state.”
Cost to attend is $20, and includes a ticket to the Cornell/Lehigh match.
“Hopefully it’s a big kickoff,” Wattenberg said. “We have Michigan, Pennsylvania, California and Maryland also represented, so it should be a good tournament and hopefully will drive some registration in NYWAY and build on our 1,500 strong.”
The Michigan team will consist of Austin Boone at 70 pounds, Sam Russel, Alec Rees, Davin Gowen at 80, Lucas Hall at 85, Alex Hrisopoulos at 90, Maxwell Johnson at 95, Foster Karmon and Zeth Dean at 101, Alex Martinez at 108, Devin Schroder at 115, Joel Rees at 122, Steven Garza at 129, Connor Chaney at 136, Kyle Johnson at 143, Devon Pingel and Max Dean at 160 and Tanner Thomas at heavyweight.
MYWAY president Dave Dean, who established the first state youth wrestling association in Michigan 11 years ago, is pleased that his state will be sending a team to New York to help them grow like his has the past decade.
“I’m pleased we are sending a MYWAY team to have an experience and support the new association,” Dean said. “It should be a great experience for them.”
New York is 22nd state that will now have a folkstyle association.
“We weren’t thinking we would be a national movement, but we came to realize that the same needs we had in Michigan were the same needs states had all over the country,” Dean said. “As we have developed systems to improve the sport, other states have adopted them.”