Catamount youth wrestlers hit biggest stage yet
BENNINGTON - The Catamount Wrestling Club in Bennington has the opportunity of a lifetime on Saturday.
The club's kindergarten to eighth grade competitors will participate in a meet at the Journeyman Northeast Duals, a tournament that brings some of the top Division I college wrestlers from around the country to Troy, N.Y.
Catamount will wrestle side-by-side with their college counterparts against an all-star team called Smitty's Barn from Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
"[Mount Anthony] coach [Scott] Legacy and [Brian] Coon were at another Journeyman tournament and [Journeyman officials] asked if we'd be interested," said youth coach Wayne Call. "We were excited as soon as we heard.
"We got the kids together and they wanted to be part of it."
The tournament is in its 10th year and takes place at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy. This is the first year that the youth wrestlers will take part.
"They get to wrestle next to Division I wrestlers and that's huge," Call said. "They look at these guys, some who are even national champions and say, this can happen."
There are 14 college teams and four youth teams at the tournament, which will bring in some of the top teams, including the University of Oklahoma, Cornell, Central Michigan and Bloomsburg University (Pa.).
"We're fortunate to get a lot of people to come here," Call said. "They tell and show us what they do to get to that level. The kids go and watch and see it's a dream they can achieve."
The tournament is also a good chance for local wrestlers to come back to the Capital Region to compete in front of family and friends.
Among others, Ben Price, a Binghamton University sophomore and Mount Anthony Union graduate will be at the tournament.
"They see someone like Ben - guys they have seen move up - and that's awesome," Call said. "These guys work hard and respond to that."
Call said the Catamount team, which is comprised of members solely from the Bennington area, travels to tournaments throughout the region.
But wrestling at the Northeast Duals will show how far the team has come, he said.
"This is a town team. [It's] all Bennington, nowhere else. We wrestle the all-star teams it's a good measuring stick of where we are and where we have to be," Call said.
Coach D.J. Schaefer said he thinks the kids won't grasp how big the tournament is until they arrive.
"It's very exciting. Lots of kids wrestle in big tournaments, but never side-by-side with the college guys," said Schaefer, who also coaches at the middle school. "There are national champions here and the kids see what it takes.
"I think we'll do well, but it will definitely be an eye-opener for some of the kids. It should be a fun time."
Catamount will wrestle starting at 9:30 a.m. on Mat 6 against Smitty's.
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