Two members of the Juneau youth Tornados Wrestling Club have made club history.
Jahrease Mays and Benjamin Ng, both 10 years old, attended the Kid’s Western Regional Wrestling Tournaments and National Kid’s Wrestling Tournaments this past June.
The duo was part of 25-member strong Team Alaska and both wrestlers had top individual medal places.
“This is the first time any of our kids have ever attended a regional or national event,” Tornados coach Paul Davis said. “To have a couple of first place finishes, as well as to place in all but one of the events, is pretty impressive in my book.”
Mays, the 2012 Alaska State Greco champ and second-place finisher in the State Freestyle event, was competing in the 65-pound weight division at the Kid’s Western Regional tournaments in Pocatello, Idaho. Teams from 12 states attended. The venue was the University of Idaho’s Holt Arena with a seating capacity of 12,000.
Mays took 5th in the Regional Folk Style tournament with five wins (2 pins, 3 decisions). Mays took 4th in the Greco tournament with six wins (2 tech falls, 3 pins, 1 dec.) and he garnished a 5th-place medal in the Freestyle tournament (4 tech falls, 1 pin, 1 dec.).
“Jahrease is tough,” Tornados coach Josh Houston said. “He battled through his bracket from the loser’s side to earn these places. That is really hard to do.”
Ng, the 2012 Alaska State Greco and Freestyle champ, was in the 112-pound bracket at Pocatello.
Ng dominated the Regional Folk Style tourney for 1st place (3 pins, 1 dec.) and did equally well in the Greco tourney with another 1st place medal (2 pins). Ng had his first loss of the wrestling season in the Freestyle tourney and placed 2nd (1 pin, 2 dec., 1 forfeit).
Ng was so dominating at the venue he received his weight bracket’s West Nationals Outstanding Wrestler belt buckle.
“Ben had a great season this year entering the tournament with a 22-0 record,” Houston said. “I am really proud of all his accomplishments.”
Ng and Mays continued on with Team Alaska to the National Kid’s wrestling tournament in Orem, Utah, June 26-27, where temperatures hovered near and above the 100-degree mark.
Teams from 36 states competed and Ng said the competition was the toughest he had ever faced.
In the Greco portion Ng earned the 3rd-place medal and Mays the 4th. In the Freestyle tourney Ng took another 3rd and Mays had to withdraw with an injury.
Both wrestlers stated they plan to return to the regionals and nationals next year.
“I want to come back every year,” Mays said. “I loved seeing Idaho and Utah. I can’t wait for next year’s tournament.
Ng stated it was an amazing experience.
“The best thing is knowing I can beat kids from outside Alaska,” Ng said. “I am going to work on some things so I can come back next year.
To earn spots on Team Alaska, Mays and Ng, the only representatives from Southeast Alaska, attended the required training camp in Chugiak.
For eight days, seven hours a day, they worked on condition, wrestling skills and situation wrestling.
“It was important for our kids to get to know the Team Alaska coaches, as our coaches were unable to travel with them to the tournament,” Ben Ng’s mother Leanne said. “The kids were in great shape by the end of the camp. They met their fellow teammates and made some new friends.”
An added plus to spending 24 days in the month of June on the road was the cultural benefits of tournament travel; the Lava Hot Springs in Idaho, the Boondocks outdoor fun park, laser tag, putt-putt golf, go carts and a lot of fast food, to name just a few.
Jahrease Mays stated he missed his dog Zoey, while Ben Ng said he missed his own bed.
Both admitted to missing their younger sisters, “just a little.”