Hundreds turn out for state youth wrestling tourney

Englewood gym hosts Colorado athletes ages 4 to 14


It was wall-to-wall action in the gymnasium Feb. 3 as Englewood hosted the state youth wrestling tournament.

Hundreds of 4- to 14-year-old athletes from a dozen teams took part in the day-long tournament. The morning session was for wrestlers younger than 10. After a short break the 10- to 14-year-olds took to the mats to compete.

“We are happy to host the tournament,” said Matt Burton, Englewood youth wrestling coach. “For us it is great to see so many boys and girls taking part in the sport. A few years ago the participation was really down. At one point we only had about a dozen kids on the roster. But things picked up and we have 54 wrestlers wearing the Pirate colors today. It is the most kids we have had in 11 years.”

Burton said he started wrestling in the Englewood youth program when he was a 4-year-0ld, stuck with the program and eventually wrestled for the Pirates in high school.

“After graduation in 2008, I took over the youth program and have been with it ever since,” he said. “I believe wrestling teaches you how to win, how to lose, how to work hard and I feel it makes you a better person all the way around.”

There were three full-size mats set out for the tournament. Each mat was divided into quarters for wrestlers 8-years-old and younger. Later when it was time for the 10- through 14-year-olds to compete, each mat was divided in half.

All during the tournament it was standing room only around each mat as families and coaches cheered on their favorite wrestlers. Coaches as well as parents frequently provided vocal support and often shouted out instructions to the wrestlers.

Girls could wrestle against the boys and there was also a separate all-girls competition. Englewood's Ariana Castro took the gold medal in the all-girls competition by posting a 16-0 decision over Kale Berton of Team Extreme.

“I got into wrestling because it gets you in good physical condition and makes you tougher,” she said. “I also play basketball. Basketball is fun but wrestling is different because basketball is a team sport and in wrestling you are out on the mat by yourself.”

She said she likes wrestling because it she likes the tough physical competition. She said she also likes wrestling because it gives her the chance to win medals

Adrian Garcia wrestles for the Pirates. He said he got started wrestling because his dad told him it would be fun.

“Wrestling was a little hard at first but the sport became more fun as I was able to get better and enjoy some success on the mat,” the 14-year-old said. “Wrestling has helped me with sportsmanship and it has helped me be a better team player. I see wrestling as an extra physical workout and it is fun too, I used to play basketball and baseball but I gave them up to focus on wrestling because I like wrestling more.”


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