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The Juneau Tornadoes wrestling club hopes to take the competition by storm this weekend, as a large contingent heads to Eagle River for the Alaska USA Wrestling Freestyle and Greco-Roman State Tournament.
Thirty wrestlers from the club - by far the largest state contingent the Tornadoes club has ever had - will travel north today. Weigh-ins are this evening, with competition on Friday and Saturday at the McDonald Sports Center.
Juneau-Douglas High School sophomores Logan Harvey and John Kuterbach are among the Tornadoes heading to the state tourney. It will be a return trip for them. Both finished second in their respective divisions at last year's state meet.
Harvey said he was impressed by the number - and skill level - of the wrestlers he faced and watched at last year's tourney.
"I thought it was cool how many people there were and how good they were," he said. "There were some high-caliber wrestlers."
Harvey, who will wrestle at 125 pounds at the tourney, and Kuterbach, who will compete at 160, wrestle for the Crimson Bears during the winter high school season. Kuterbach said the tournament - and the whole club season - helps to keep the high schoolers ready for next winter.
"You don't lose practice," he said. "You stay with it almost all year-round."
One difference between the high school season and club wrestling is the wide range of ages in the club. The different age divisions range from kindergartners to high school seniors. The younger wrestlers are able to watch and learn from older competitors, and the older wrestlers get to help coach their younger counterparts.
"There are some five-year-olds who can do some pretty good moves," Harvey said. "It's neat watching them."
Tornadoes coach Bob Mahon said having such a large group travel together to state bodes well for the club, since the wrestlers will gain experience on the mat and grow as a team.