CYA Wrestling Team performs stretching exercises, one part of the team’s hour warmup.
With an orangish tint painting the sun setting early in the evening sky, kids from the ages of 4-14 can be seen getting out of cars in the Catoctin High School parking lot. With the vapor of their breath leading the way in the cold winter Thurmont nights, they head inside the school and upstairs past the locker rooms into Catoctin High’s team wrestling room. The ceilings are low, but the energy in the room is high. Cold, wintry temperatures are replaced with the heat only given off by bodies continually hard at work, the smell of sweat lingering as the high schoolers exit the room, welcoming a new generation of grapplers. The young wrestlers are met by a number of enthusiastic coaches, led by longtime CYA Wrestling coach, Cory Bell. Coach Cory has led CYA wrestling for 14 years. Assisting Cory in leading this year’s group are his dedicated fellow coaches: Brandon Rivera, Steve Byington, Garrett Baer, Billy Jenkins, Ethan Fuss, Charlie Perilla III, Charlie “Chas” Perilla IV, Shawn Smith, and Dennis Pittinger.
After the young wrestlers have worked up a sweat, jogging around the mats, doing bear crawls, front rolls, cartwheels, and other calisthenics, they are split up based on age and weight to begin their wrestling-specific workouts and training, each group led by a caring and knowledgeable coach. When this aspect of training is over, the group comes together for a group challenge or game. Meant to build team spirit, Cory and his team of coaches use these group challenges or games to instill a spirit of teamwork in a sport that can be seen as an individualistic endeavor to a casual fan. After the young wrestlers have been thoroughly warmed up, struggled through head locks, been taken down in a myriad of ways, and finally completed a series of sprints, they come together as a group and on a count of three, yell, “Family.”
This season, CYA Wrestling has 42 members of this “Family.” They are not only led by their coaches, but by a group of eighth graders looking to leave a mark in their final youth season: Jacob Thibadeau, Ashton Thompson, Kamerin Jenkins, Beau Andrew, and Seamus Riddle. For these eighth graders, this is their final year in the youth program before they have the opportunity to wrestle at the high school level. Moving on to the high school arena will not be completely unfamiliar territory to them, as many of the high school wrestlers were also part of Cory’s CYA “Family” and continue to come out and give support at the youth matches.
On February 4, at noon, wrestlers from Thurmont, Hagerstown, and Boonsboro will leave their cars, bundled in winter coats, making their way into the Catoctin High School gymnasium. Mats will cover the court, scoreboards and match trees will be on tables next to the three individual fields of action. They will warm up for an hour—a mix of cardio, calisthenics, and wrestling moves. By 1:00 p.m., the gym will be packed with wrestlers, parents, and families to cheer them on.
Intense action follows, one-minute round after one-minute round. Heard from afar are coaches yelling directions and parents and fans cheering their wrestlers on. After their match, one wrestler has their hand raised by the referee. All those cold winter nights, sweaty gym sessions, bruised bodies, and bloody lips are now contradicted by smiles, friendly competition, camaraderie, and the encouraging “Family” atmosphere. It has all now come to fruition. All the kids will have won because they had the courage to go out there and try in a very intense, physical atmosphere.
Last season, CYA Wrestling represented itself well at the Mid-Maryland Wrestling League (MMWL) Championships, which included teams from Washington, Frederick, and Carroll counties, and also a club from Germantown. While many wrestled valiantly but came up a little short, wrestlers Brody Bell (1st place), Grayson Stroble (2nd Place), Grayson Baer (4th place), Xavier Meekins (3rd place), and Liam Jenkins (4th place) all placed and found themselves on the podium in their respective weight classes.
This season, CYA will host wrestling tournaments on February 4 at 1:00 p.m. and February 26 at 8:00 a.m. at Catoctin High School. They have eight competitions during their season to prepare for their culminating tournament, the MMWL Championships on March 5. If you are interested in seeing CYA Wrestling in action, please come to one of the meets and cheer on our kids! Food and refreshments are available at the concession stand. Admission is free.