Wrestling is coming to Washington’s three grade school districts.
A co-op team for fifth- through eighth-graders that includes host Beverly Manor School, Central Intermediate School and Washington Middle School has been formed and will begin IESA-sanctioned competition this school year.
Practices will be held at John L. Hensey School in District 50 after tryouts are held in December. Several meets have been scheduled, including duals against East Peoria Central, Morton and Deer Creek-Mackinaw.
With all that in place, all that’s needed is a coach for the Washington team. Candidates should contact District 50 athletics director Jennifer Miller at email@example.com or 745-3121.
So what does the formation of a Washington grade school team mean for the powerhouse Washington High School wrestling team, winner of four straight Class 2A state team championships and 10 consecutive Mid-Illini Conference titles?
There’s a club wrestling program for K-8 kids in Washington, the Super Soldiers, which holds its practices at the high school and is led by high school assistant coach Matt Webster.
While the club has helped the high school team, having a grade school team will help the Panthers even more for a couple reasons, said high school coach Nick Miller.
“Club wrestling doesn’t simulate the team aspect of high school wrestling, nor does it have academic accountability. The grade school team will do both,” he said.
“Having a grade school team is a great opportunity to grow the sport of wrestling in Washington. Hopefully, the grade school team will attract kids who want to compete for their school and don’t want to commit to a club program.”
There are about 60 Super Soldiers wrestlers in grades 5-8 including a substantial flock of seventh- and eighth- graders who are eligible to try out for the Washington grade school team, Miller said.
High school Superintendent Kyle Freeman said a group of wrestling parents got the ball rolling to start the grade school wrestling team earlier this year when they contacted him and asked what needed to be done.
“Part of a superintendent’s job is to help people find the appropriate channel for something they’d like to see offered at school. I took the wrestling parents’ request to the monthly meeting of (Washington) superintendents, and two parents spoke at a later monthly meeting,” Freeman said.
Freeman said he’s glad the grade school wrestling team will be formed so quickly.
“I’ve been thinking about what it would take to start a grade school wrestling team in Washington for a couple years,” he said.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.