Sports

Wrestlers learn young

Lee Miracle eats, drinks and breathes wrestling.

So when he moved to Oak Harbor with the Navy five years ago, there was a void he had to fill.

“There was no place for the kids to go as far as wrestling,” he said.

Wanting to make a change, Miracle along with Rick Karjalalinen, launched the King of the Rock Wrestling Club for children ages five and up in 1999.

“In order to be competing when you get to high school, you really have to start at a younger age,” Miracle said. “Where I’m from you start when you’re five. If you start at the junior high or high school level you’ve started too late in Ohio.”

A former wrestler at Heidelberg College in Ohio and all-Navy team member, Miracle’s main goal is to teach kids correct methods at a young age, while preparing them for a higher level of competition.

Oak Harbor High School wrestling head coach Brian Farmer is already reaping those rewards in what he’s seen from this year’s freshman class.

“We’re starting to see the (King of the Rock) kids come up through our program,” Farmer said. “It’s really just making our kids have a love for the sport.”

Dylan Jahrling, 11, is already developing an affection for the sport after only one week of wrestling.

“I like everything about it,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

The club is not only welcome to boys, but has several girls who also participate.

McKenna Fields, 6, is a first time wrestler, who recently made a transition from another activity.

“I used to be in ballet classes when I was in another place,” she said.

Her favorite part of wrestling so far?

“When we do the hand stands,” she said.

The King of the Rock club is currently in its folkstyle season, which started last week and runs through February. In that time the club will take part in a variety of scrimmages and several more tournaments than in the past. The club will host the second annual Oak Harbor King of the Rock Classic on Jan. 24 at Oak Harbor High School.

“We held a tournament here last year and it was the largest one in Washington,” Miracle said. “Because of that the schedule for this year’s tournaments has tripled.”

Those who establish themselves as elite wrestlers are presented the opportunity to travel to regional and national tournaments in Oregon, Nevada and Oklahoma, which averages out to close to 25 tournaments.

Regardless of their level of skill, each wrestler gets the opportunity the same amount of times during the season.

“They’re wrestling 25 times a year , but they might be wrestling smaller tournaments or in scrimmages,” Miracle said.

As each year passes, Miracle continues to see a growth in popularity in the club.

“Last year we had 100 sign up, I’d assume we’d have the same or more this year,” he said.

King of the Rock freestyle season opens Feb. 28 and runs through May. Those interested in folkstyle or freestyle can registerat any time.

Cost is $75 for one child. Each additional kid receives $10 off. After four kids from the same family have been paid for, additional family members are free.

Those interested in joining should contact Lee or Jeannette Miracle at 279-1699.

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