IVN contributing writer
The Illinois Valley youth wrestling group sponsored more than 40 local wrestlers in tournaments Saturday, Nov. 18.
In addition, four local wrestlers went to Tulsa, Oklahoma to participate in the WOW Kickoff Classic. This is rated in the top five tournaments in the country and 10-year-old Tori Conn placed third in her bracket. Coaches Buster Conn and Samuel Newman accompanied the four young athletes.
Locally, over 40 wrestlers from 6 to 18 years old participated in the Best of the West tournament in Medford. This is the biggest tournament in Southern Oregon with over 80 wrestling groups and High Schools represented. Thirty-nine youngsters competed in the youth divisions, with 14 placing. There were three girls, Sophia, Scarlett, and Ava Harris that won their brackets for first place. There were three second place winners, three finished third, four finished fourth and one finished in fifth place.
There are several coaches who deserve recognition and credit for all the time they devote to these youngsters. They are head coaches Luca Harris and Buster Conn along with assistants Jerod Bruner, Dusty Culver, Adam Miller, Samuel Newman, Tyler Robbins, Cory Merk and Eric Unger.
Illinois Valley High school coach Gene Griffin accompanied seven I.V High School wrestlers with five bringing home medals. James Conn, who finished second in state last year, was very impressive with two pins, a tech fall and a major decision in route to a first-place finish in the 106-pound division., Micah Martinho, returning 2-time state champion, at 120 pounds recorded four pins to finish in second place. Ryan Griffin, returning state champion recorded two pins while finishing third at 165 pounds. Also, Morgan Melton and Kiara Walker finished second and third in the 105 – 115-pound division.
Overall, it was a very impressive showing by a fine group of youngsters. Next week, I hope to have an up-to-date roster and schedule for the defending state champion Illinois Valley High School Cougars.