After a successful season, the Marengo Youth Wrestling Club held its annual banquet on April 9, 2011 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Union.
Wrestlers were presented with awards at the banquet, which was catered by Rosati’s of Marengo. Robb Swanson, head coach of the Marengo Youth Wrestling Club, said the banquet gets bigger and better every year.
“As far as our achievements this year, I was overwhelmed by the accomplishments of our team,” Swanson said. “Our main, core goal is to get every kid better at wrestling, but also to get them better at everything they do in life—school, work, other sports, etc,” Swanson said. “We have three rules that we go by: pride, determination, and resiliency. That’s our team motto. They earn t-shirts that say that on the back; and they have to learn the definitions.”
Larry Mackey, president of the board, said he really appreciates all the support.
“[It’s] great that we keep getting new people, new parents, and new kids coming out because that’s what we really need to help the club grow,” Mackey said.
The team was originally founded in 1995 through the Marengo Park District, and remerged about five years ago, Swanson said.
“Once we merged the two teams together, we basically doubled the practice room and the number of kids in our practice room,” he said.
Swanson said some of the club’s eighth graders that are moving on to high school and “will be sorely missed,” include: Nick Remke; Kody Burno; Derrek Caskey; and Alex Knaak.
Swanson said Remke became one of the top wrestlers in the State of Illinois in a three-year period.
“Most of these other kids that are the top wrestlers in the State of Illinois, [they] wrestle year-round,” Swanson said. “Some of them wrestle 100 to 150 matches a year; and he wrestled 50 or 55 matches this year. He’s only wrestled half of what these other kids are wrestling, but he’s able to keep up with them. He didn’t just get good because of his nature ability. He [became] good because of how hard he works.”
Swanson said that some of Remke’s best attributes, in addition to showing leadership, are that he is kind and humble.
“He’s one-of-a-kind,” Swanson said. “I was very fortunate that he was in our practice room; and I’m fortunate that he’s going to be around to help out with the club in the future. He’s a great role model for our younger generation, the next group of kids.”
Remke, 14 years-old, on the Silver Team, said he started wrestling when he was seven years-old and will probably wrestle through high school.
Swanson said Marengo resident, Dillon Connell, eight years-old, also took third in the State Tournament this year.
“I like winning, getting trophies, and wrestling new people,” Connell said.
Austin Keefer, 13 years-old, on the Silver Team, said he likes the amount of commitment it takes to win. Keefer also said the coaches are really nice.
Harrison Hoffman, eight years-old, who won the Coach’s Award at the banquet for the Beginner Team, said he loves wrestling because, “it’s fun and the coaches are good.”
Harry Hoffman, lead coach for the Black Team, said he thoroughly enjoys coaching and seeing his son, Harrison, wrestle. “There’s nothing like seeing him get his hand raised for the first time because he knows he went out there and did it all by himself,” Harry Hoffman said. “It’s a joy.”
O’Neil Swanson, 11 years-old on the Silver Team, said he likes the one-to-one competition of wrestling.
“Once you step on the mat, you can’t step off,” he said.