The holidays were extra special to five Carroll County youngsters who were champions at this year's Manchester Holiday Wrestling Tournament, which took place Jan. 6-7.
Taking first at Manchester Valley High was Manchester Wrestling Club's Noah Onkst, 105 pounds, of the sixth grade and under division. Club teammates Jake Boog, 85, and Kyle Shearer, 95 were first in the age 15-under division for those of those in seventh grade on up.
Also first were the Warriors Wrestling Club's Jack Hurst, 90, in the 15-U division and Manchester Valley junior varsity member Nathan Welsh, 170, 15-under.
The field was unusually small this year; only about 160 young wrestlers of ages 6 to 15 showed up. Tournament officials gave two reasons for the small turnout. Another large wrestling tournament held in Hanover that weekend pulled off some wrestlers.
Additionally, many teams in the Maryland Junior Wrestling League used the weekend to make up a number of matches that had been postponed due to poor weather.
Consequently, the holiday tournament's weight brackets were also small. The wrestlers generally competed in round robins with the others in their weight bracket.
Manchester has been a power in the Maryland Junior Wrestling League over the past couple of years. Last year, it was second in the MJWL's team championships and also second in the league's individual championship tournament. However, over that time it has also lost about 14 wrestlers who moved on to high school competition.
“The last two years, we sent a lot of kids to high school. We have only a couple of eighth graders on the team now,” said John Gregg, who coaches with a number of the club's teams including the “A” travel team.
However if there were doubts about how competitive that travel team would be this year, the first weekend in January may have helped dispel them. Manchester had a very good showing in the holiday tournament even though its travel team is a very young one, now.
While tournament organizers did not keep team points standings, Manchester would probably been the winner if they had.
However, because the team will be young and relatively inexperienced, coaches will have a different emphasis in practices. There will be greater stress placed on fundamentals than in the past.
Despite that relative youth and inexperience, Gregg feels that the team showed a lot. And, he also believes everybody who attended the holiday tournament got a lot out of it.
“The numbers were down, but the competition was good, and everybody was happy with how it turned out,” he said.
Placing second for Manchester in the sixth grade-under division were Torin Farver, 45, Braydn Vandervort, 75, Caden Shearer, 80, and Landon Bell, 95. Also second was Lee Seipp, 80, of the 15-under division.
Third for Manchester from the sixth grade-under division were Cayden Farver, 55, Payton Collins, 80, Austin Gregg, 105, and Nicholas Lo Preato, 150.