Joliet—The A-J Junior Wildcat Wrestling Club had one of the most monumental days in its club’s history on February 10, 2013. Not one but two of the club’s wrestlers placed in the Bantam State Championship.
“It’s like everything else in Illinois,” said club president Rollie Hawk. “There’s Illinois and then there’s southern Illinois. You can have all the success you want locally but nobody takes you seriously until you go up north and take care of business.”
On Sunday, two of the Junior Wildcats’ top grapplers did exactly that.
The Bantam State Championship featured 600 of the top six-, seven- and eight-year-old wrestlers in Illinois. Among them were eight-year-old Grover Blake Mays and six-year-old Drew Sadler from the A-J Junior Wildcat squad.
Drew Sadler wrestled in the 46-pound bracket and went 2-2 for the day, finishing in fourth place out of twelve. “He’s just a second-year wrestler and is already seeing a lot of success,” explained club president Rollie Hawk.
Grover Blake Mays wrestled in the 64-pound bracket and went 3-1 for the day, finishing second out of twelve. “To top it off, Blake earned his 99th IKWF win today,” said head coach and father Grover Mays. “He’s now 46-6 for the year.”
“For a couple of wrestlers aged eight and under, these young men are setting the bar pretty high for the rest of the team,” said Hawk. “A lot of people might say they are just naturals at wrestling but you have to see how they work to fully appreciate it. These kids don’t take a weekend off from tournaments. They drive to Herrin every week for extra practices. They wrestle in the off-season. They put in the time and demonstrate that there is absolutely no substitute for hard work.”