If Bigfork High ever gets a wrestling program back, these “Little Guys” will be ready for it. On Mondays through Thursdays in the winter, the Swan River School gym hosts up to 58 kids, ages 4 to 15, all coached in the best maneuver to pin their opponent.
“When Bigfork dropped the wrestling program, this died out,” says Coach Marc Nadeau, “Mark Tudahl resurrected it.”
This is the second year of the renewed Little Guys Wrestling program in Bigfork. It starts in mid February and lasts 6 weeks. Treasurer and coordinator Kelly Rieke says last year they had 54 kids involved altogether, this year participation rose to 58.
By 7 in the evening of March 3rd, the scene at the Swan River School gym is well organized chaos. It’s the last tournament for the Pee-Wee wrestlers (4 and 5 year olds,) and it’s a chance for families of all the 5 wrestling age groups to see their kids compete.
“Last weekend we were in Libby,” says Rieke, “that’s hard for grandparents to go see.” Beginners are 6-8 year olds, Novice – 9 and 10, Middle – 11 and 12, and the Junior level works with 13 – 15 year olds.
Western Montana Little Guy Wrestling started up in 1975. The bylaws demand Folkstyle (High School Style) wrestling is taught and the National High School Wrestling Federation rules be used in all competitions. The final competition is the weekend of the 22nd, in Missoula. Rieke says this state tournament draws from 25 different clubs from across the state. Last year, 10 of Bigfork’s wrestlers qualified for the state tournament.
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