Young Valley wrestlers host tourney for first time in decades
January 2, 2013
By Sebastian Moraga
The wrestlers? Novices wanting to make a good first impression. The adults? More experienced, but with pretty much the same goal.
The Snoqualmie Valley Wrestling Club hosted the first youth wrestling tourney in its six-year existence and the first tourney of its kind in the Valley since 1980.
The tourney was a dream of many supporters of the sport for many years, club coach Thomas Marum said, many of whom have to travel long distances for matches.
“We go to all corners of the state and we live within a 50-mile radius of a wrestling Mecca,” he said. “So, we would like set up a regular sanctioned event next year.”
First, the club had to get USA Wrestling to let it host a tournament.
This summer, USA Wrestling gave the OK for a novice tournament, for wrestlers with two or fewer years of experience, ages 4-13.
More than 25 teams signed up for the tourney, tournament director Leilani McClure said. More than 600 people — including wrestlers, parents and siblings from as far as Anacortes and Burlington — were expected to land in the Valley Dec. 29 for the one-day tourney.
“The cool thing is that it’s going to be the start of many,” said Smokey McClure, club coach and Leilani’s husband.
The results of the tournament weren’t available before press time.
Marum credited McClure with landing the tourney, which “got our foot in the door,” he said.
Wrestling is a sport that is thriving in the Valley at several levels.
At the youth level, the middle school season yielded 10 champions in 13 categories. All 10 champions belonged to the SVWC, Marum said.
“If that’s not total domination, I don’t know what is,” he said.
At the high school level, Mount Si High School placed eighth out of 40 teams in a tournament in San Diego during Christmas break. Several Wildcat wrestlers are former SVWC members, including Wilkins Melgaard, son of club founder Nels Melgaard.
The sport had thrived in the 1970s under the name of Mount Si Wrestling Club, Marum said, only to dwindle after the end of that decade. In the 1990s, he said, Valley wrestlers of the then-Snoqualmie Falls Wrestling Club had the talent but not the numbers.
Then, Joe Marenco and Nels Melgaard started the latest reincarnation, with a different name.
And yet, the tourney remained elusive.
Many wrestling enthusiasts have wanted to hold a tournament, Leilani said, “but it’s been pretty much my husband’s and my pushing,” she said.
Smokey said the biggest reason he pushed for it was the fellows with the nervous faces wearing the singlets Dec. 29.
“The kids in our novice class,” he said. “I wanted them to experience wrestling regardless of whether they are going to have success. Most of them don’t travel to Burlington or Arlington, and now they have a tournament.”
The tourney, he said, could serve as a springboard for a career in wrestling.
“It could spark something in the kids to say ‘I like this sport and I want to go to more tournaments,’” he said. “It takes a spark to start a fire.”