A group of local wrestlers from the Little Celtic Wrestling Club headed down to Springfield this past weekend to participate in the IKWF Jon Davis Kids Open.
With more than 1,400 participants, there was a lot of competition both from Illinois and some bordering states. What makes the Kids Open different from other tournaments is that there is no coaching. The participants must make all of their own decisions throughout each match.
“The 'no coaching' aspect provides a good experience for the kids. You have to learn from your mistakes in this sport,” Coach Mike Menozi explained.
Asked if it was difficult to watch the wrestlers without being able to coach them, Coach Ryan Cumbee noted, “Absolutely not! It is an opportunity for the coaching staff to see our kids develop and implement their own match strategies.”
Local wrestlers from the Little Celtic Wrestling Club who attended were: Ben and Sam Emery; Ike Papes; Cole Smith; Adam and Zack McDowell; Nick Matthias; Jakob Wheeler; Tony Menozi; Jackson Hosman; Conner Cumbee; Aiden Cumbee; Kevin Countryman; Joe Brauer; and Jake Polka.
Making their way with wins throughout their brackets in the open division, Nick Matthias won his championship match with a score of 3-2, Jackson Hosman won his match for 1st place with a score of 4-0, and Kevin Countryman took 1st place winning his match with a pin in 19 seconds. Aiden Cumbee took 2nd place with a score of 11-2, and Conner Cumbee captured 3rd place, teching his opponent with a score of 15-0.
Wrestling in the more competitive Elite division and having some very intense matches, the hard work from the Little Celtic Wrestling Club was obvious. Bringing home a 4th place medal at 95 pounds was 12-year-old Cole Smith. Cole had a couple of great wins and won his match leading up to the 4th place bout with a score of 12-0. After a true battle for 3rd place at the 84-pound weight class, 12-year-old Tony Menozi prevailed with a final score of 9-6.
Coach Ryan Cumbee commented, “I noticed the intensity the boys approached every match with. I was so proud of all of our boys for showing me through their matches, that regardless the score or time on the clock, they were intense!”
At the Elite 95-pound weight class, 12-year-old Jake Polka proved to be an intense opponent. In his championship match against a current Indiana state champ, Jake made it look easy with an 11-4 win. At the Elite 66-pound weight class, Ben Emery was a fierce competitor. Wrestling in the championship match and winning with a score of 8-2, Ben won his weight class.
When asked which of his matches was the toughest of the day, Ben responded, “My semi-final match, because he was the hardest.”
Ben also shared one of the goals he has for this season: “I want to make it to state”.
In all, the Little Celtic Wrestling Club had over half of its participants place this weekend. When asked about this, Coach Mike Menozi responded, “This didn’t come as a surprise to me, we have to make sure these boys are prepared for the state tournament in March.”