The Sebring Takedown Club youth wrestling squad traveled to George Jenkins High School in Lakeland on Saturday, April 27, to compete in the AAU Florida Championships. Twenty-four wrestlers from the team competed in the event and four claimed first place.
State champions were Dalton Slade in the 126-pound School Boy division; Israel Santiago in the 120-pound Novice class; Ty Sodrel in the 65-pound Midget class; and Frederick Hankerson in the 90-pound Bantam division.
Those taking second place were Nathanyel Santiago (90-pound Bantam), Justin Cole (75-pound Midget), Jake Cole (80-pound Midget) and Will Moore (Heavyweight Novice).
Third-place medal winners were Casey Ricker (170-pound Elite), Abram Wimmer (70-pound Bantam), Philip Sapp (125-pound School Boy) and Dustin O’ Meara (45-pound Bantam).
Fourth-place finishers were Andrew Iglesies (132, Cadet), Ty Johnson (195, Elite) and Zain Carmichael (70, Bantam).
Also competing in the tournament were Dakota Slade; Luis Sanchez; Reegan Logston; Ryan Logston; Judd Cole; Joseph Wright; and Tanner Oxer.
“The kids wrestled well against some tough competition,” said Takedown Club coach Josh Miller. “I was very proud of them and we’ll continue to work hard and look to improve.”
Miller said it was great for the kids to get wrestle some top-notch kids throughout the state, as that gives them a better idea of what they need to work on.
Miller definitely believes in what the Takedown Club does, as he was a former club member himself as a youngster, and went on to make three trips to the state wrestling tournament and placed twice.
"I started in fourth grade," he said. "A lot of these guys are younger than I was when I started. These kids have a chance to be multiple state placers. When you start a program so young and you stick with it, that's going to happen naturally."
Miller’s primary goal is to teach the kids the basics of the sport, which will give them a foundation they can build on in the future.
"A lot of what they learn is positioning and that's the most important thing," he said. "If you can get the positioning down, and even if you only know two moves, you're going to be a great wrestler later on.
"That's one of the harder things to learn when you're older and big and bulky. It's easy to learn the moves, but it's harder to learn the positioning. By coming in at a young age like this it really sets the tone for you."
The cost is just $25 for the year. Miller said youngsters can join at any time, as well as wind up their season whenever they want to. He said some of the kids have been a member of the club for four or five years, while others are just getting interested in the sport.
"It doesn't matter when they start," he said. "They can start at any time and they can stop at any time so they can do other sports. We're going to be here every Tuesday and Thursday for the next few months."
Contact Miller at 835-1787 or firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the high school wrestling room (Room 301) on Tuesday or Thursday between 6 and 7:30 p.m.