Aaron Meekins

CYA (Catoctin Youth Association) Wrestling’s March Madness began with the Mid Maryland Wrestling League (MMWL) Championships, held at Urbana High School on March 5. Here, teams from Washington, Frederick, and Carroll counties sent their best wrestlers to compete for mat supremacy in a double elimination or round-robin format, depending on the number of grapplers signed in for each weight class. The parking lot and gym overflowed with wrestlers, coaches, and spectators.

Out of the madness, a number of CYA wrestlers were able to reach the podium and bring home a coveted 2023 purple and gold trophy. Eighth-grader Ashton Thompson led the way, securing the only first-place trophy of the day for CYA in his weight class. Fellow eighth graders, Beau Andrew and Shane Smith, both brought home first-place trophies in their respective weight classes. These wrestlers will take their talents to high school next year following a successful season on the youth wrestling circuit.

Other CYA wrestlers also got the chance to climb the podium. Seventh-grader Shawn Smith fought hard and earned a fourth-place trophy, as did sixth-grader Carter Reaver, who also earned a fourth-place finish. Third-grader Xavier Meekins reached the finals in his division, earning a runner-up second-place trophy. Fellow third graders, Julian Thompson and Liam Jenkins, also placed in their weight classes, with third- and fourth-place finishes, respectively. Many other CYA wrestlers put up a valiant fight in their divisions and put in some tough matches, but came up a bit short of reaching the podium.

The following weekend, seven CYA wrestlers made the three-hour trek across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to wrestle at the Maryland State Wrestling Association’s (MSWA) Youth State Championship Tournament on Saturday, March 11, followed by the Future Champions Series and MSWA Regional All-Star Duals on Sunday March 12 at the Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury.

At Saturday’s event, Ashton Thompson again showed that he is a top wrestler in the state, making the final four in his division and finishing with a fifth-place trophy. Gracen Baer won two matches, and Xavier Meekins won one match in the pair’s first showing in state-level competition.

At Sunday’s Future Champions Series, seventh-grader Hunter Byington, one of CYA’s wrestling leaders, earned a first-place finish in the 14U division. Following Hunter’s lead, third-grader Aaron Oden (in his first-year wrestling) and Jackson Wivell also ended the day with first-place finishes: Aaron in his 10U division and Jackson in his 8U division. Fellow third-grader, Maddox Miller, also put in a valiant effort against stiff competition, bringing home a fourth-place trophy.

Sunday’s events also featured the MSWA Regional All-Star dual that saw different regions of Maryland face off in a team event. Representing the West Region at 56 pounds, Xavier Meekins faced stiff competition from the South, Central, North, and East regions. He ended his weekend by earning a win by fall versus the East Region’s representative.

This year’s wrestling season brought an end to Cory Bell’s 14 years leading the CYA Wrestling Program. Fourteen years ago, Cory decided to get his oldest son into wrestling. Ever since, Cory has led CYA wrestling on the mats, along with Kristen Bell and Kara Castellow organizing the program behind the scenes. The families of CYA wrestlers past and present truly appreciate their time and efforts over the years. Thank you very much!

If wrestling sounds like something your child may be interested in, please have them come out and give it a try next season. Practices are held three times a week, beginning in mid-late November. There are eight matches prior to the end-of-the-season tournament. It is a great way to learn friendly, albeit physically challenging, competition and to make some friends along the way. We would love to see your child and you out on the mats and help bring more trophies back to Northern Frederick County in 2024!

Pictured from left are Coach Steve Byington, Maddox Miller, Hunter Byington, Aaron Oden, Jayce Oden, Coach Garrett Baer, and Jackson Wivell.

Photo Courtesy of Melody Byington

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