Sioux Falls, SD
Every child dreams of being a state champion. For the kids and sometimes toddlers who compete in the youth wrestling programs, their dream begins on the mat.
"About the youngest we have is three-year-olds starting up to sixth grade. We have a couple three-year-olds. It gets a little young but if they're enthused about it and they don't have a problem with it we don't either," Harrisburg Youth Wrestling coordinator Rollie Fink said.
For more than 30 years, future wrestling stars have been competing in events around the area. The tournament draws anywhere from 400 to 500 wrestlers all learning a sport that is quickly on the rise.
"Wrestling is growing. It's getting bigger and bigger. Sometimes you might not think it's growing as fast as some other sports, but we're fortunate this year we finally cracked 100 kids to sign up and that was pretty exciting for us," Fink said.
Although not all of the kids in youth wrestling will continue on to wrestle in high school, for now it's a great break from the everyday stresses of a child's life.
"If you have a lot of homework and you go to wrestling practice you can take a break from doing homework," youth wrestler Beau Beavers said.
With some of the grapplers comes tears, but also plenty of smiles. For the coaches, they are proud of the dedication the kids put fourth and love watching their kids' wrestling careers evolve after they leave the youth program.
"My little guys, to get to State Champions in high school is kind of big deal. We've had a few go onto college and place in Nationals. I guess a coach's ideal thing is to see somebody make the Olympics but I might not ever see that," Fink said.
If the Olympics or a state title are in your child's dreams there's one sport that can get them there.
"Try wrestling; you can't go wrong with it," said Fink.
"I'm going to try my best, and win or lose I know I stepped out on the mat and tried," Beavers said.
For more information on youth wrestling, there is contact information on the Harrisburg Wrestling website.