Three members of the Chehalis Youth Wrestling Program, Blake Ely, Tucker Land, Antonio Campos and Eva Reinitz, competed at the 2017 Northwest Bigfoot Battle in Spokane November 17-18. The 13-year-old Ely, who is a seventh grader at Chehalis Middle School, finished fourth in his division, while 11-year-old Tucker Land and 8-year-old Eva Reinitz claimed second- and third-place, respectively, in their weight classifications.
“Everyone just did outstanding,” said Josh Land, Tucker’s father and a coach for the Chehalis Youth Wrestling Program, which is associated with the Twin City Mat Cats. “There’s a lot of tough competition in this event. [The tournament] caps the number of wrestlers to 1,200 and they shut down registration and had to turn people away because there was so much interest in competing in it.”
The Eighth Annual Northwest Bigfoot Battle was the first of six events that comprise USA Wrestling’s folkstyle 2017-2018 Tour of America, an event where participants were able to earn Future Olympian Ranking Points.
“Friday night they weighed in,” said Josh Land, “then they just wrestled all Saturday.”
For Tucker Land that meant six matches on the day in the novice 98-pound division. He won his first four to advance to the championships before losing in the finals to Rocky Alo-Perry of Vandit Wrestling Academy. He capped the event by winning his final match, defeating the third-place finisher Carsen Speelman, 4-2, to secure a true second place.
“I think he had maybe six minutes after he lost in the finals before he was back on the mat wrestling again,” Josh Land said. “He really didn’t have time to think about the loss too much because he was right back out there. It actually may have helped him. It was kind of a whirlwind. We’re very proud of how he did.”
Ely, who earlier this year became a Washington state Triple Crown champion after winning state titles in folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman, dropped his opening match before advancing through the consolation bracket to secure fourth place in the 130-pound middle school division.
“Blake is just an outstanding wrestler,” Josh Land said. “To lose right at the start and then continue to wrestle like he did all the way to the third/fourth spot shows what a competitor he is.”
Ely followed up that performance the following week by claiming a pair of titles at White River’s annual Tough Guy Tournament on November 24.
Due to his January birthday, Ely is in a position to compete against 12 and under wrestlers or elect to opt up and wrestle against 14U competition. He elected to try both at the Tough Guy Tournament, capturing the 130-pound title in the 12U bracket and the 128-pound crown in 14U.
His finally tally at the event totaled nine matches. He finished with seven pins, one technical fall and one victory by points.
“I don’t really like sitting around and waiting too much,” Ely said. “So it was pretty cool getting to wrestle that much [in one day].”
Ely, who started wrestling in kindergarten and holds a 42-2 record on the season, will close out the folkstyle season before transitioning back into the freestyle and Greco-Roman season, making wrestling a near-12 month sport for him.
“I do take a little break over the summer,” said Ely, who used the hiatus to take up running and proceeded to post a personal-best time of 5:48 by the end of August.
Up next for Ely could be the Ninth Annual Z-Man Wrestling Tournament in Hillsboro, Oregon. The folkstyle event is open to wrestlers in the bantam, cadet, intermediate novice and schoolboy/girl age groups.
The 2017/2018 Tour of America series, which had more than 5,000 participants from all over the country compete last year, continues with the King of the Mountain and King of the Mountain Challenge Duals in Castle Rock, Colorado (December 1-3), the Salt Lake Slam in Farmington, Utah (December 28-30), the Southern Grind in Cartersville, Georgia (January 19-20) and the Roughneck Rumble in Tulsa, Oklahoma (February 17-18) before concluding with the Dominate in the Dells in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin (March 9-10).