Opening night for open mat draws 70 PDF Print E-mail

At this time last year, the Eastern wrestling program was on life support as the school board considered doing away with the program. A group of wrestlers and supporters rallied behind the program and the school board gave them a year to turn it around.

The first step taken to save the program was to start getting kids interested in the sport at a young age. To do that, the high school program, under the direction of Head Coach Justin Long held an open mat night for students in the school corporation.
The open mats were held once a week for four weeks and was open to students in kindergarten through eighth-grade. There was an average of 50 kids a night and the final night there were more than 65.
This year open mats are underway and will continue on Nov. 16 and Dec. 7 and 21.
They are open to all students kindergarten through eighth-grade who live in the East Washington School district.
The cost is $1 per child and the proceeds will help benefit the high school program.
The final night of open mat will resemble a wrestling tournament and will give those who participate an idea of what an actual wrestling tournament is like.
The second step in building a successful wrestling program is to have a solid feeder program. A place where young wrestlers can compete and improve and develop a love for the sport.
That’s why a group of parents got together to start a club program through USA wrestling.
Unlike the open mats, the wrestling club is open to any student who has an interest in trying the sport of wrestling.
“With the club, there are no boundary limits,” said Scott Stewart, who was selected as president of the newly formed club. “We are using the school facilities, but the club program is not school affiliated. So if there was a kid in Borden or Salem or anywhere for that matter, who wanted to wrestle, they are allowed to take part.”
Stewart said this couldn’t be possible without the school being so willing to help.
“They really have been great to work with,” he said.
The Eastern Wrestling Club, which is open to both boys and girls, will travel to eight tournaments between January and March all over Southern Indiana. Some of the areas include Jeffersonville, Charlestown, Floyd Central and Providence. 
The cost to participate in the club is $40, which covers the cost of a USA Wrestling membership and a team T-shirt.
There is an additional fee of $10 per tournament and those participating will need to buy a singlet, wrestling shoes and head gear.
Stewart, who has a lot of experience with youth sports thanks to his stint as president of the East Washington Youth (baseball and softball) League, said the group is trying to come up with ways to help any student who are unable to participate because of finances. 
At the conclusion of open mat last year, there were three kids who went on to participate in club. Stewart said the thought is more kids may want to take part locally and that’s why they decided to charter the club program.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “We show up as a team, but at these tournaments, the kids will wrestle as individuals in their respective weight classes. The people who participate range from very skilled to inexperienced.”
The coach of the club team will be Nathan Tuesch.
Tuesch wrestled in high school and college and even participated on a national team. He spent several years coaching the Eastern High School program.
“We are very lucky to have a guy with his knowledge and experience helping to coach our young people,” he said.
Stewart said parents are responsible for arranging their own transportation or making arrangements for having the wrestler at the tournaments.
High School students are allowed to participate in club only after the season has ended, but those planning to wrestle on the East Washington Middle School team can do both..
Anyone within the East Washington School System who would like information are encouraged to attend one of the open mat nights. Stewart will be on hand on those nights to answer any questions by parents wanting to get their kids involved.
Any student who would like more information about the club program outside of the East Washington district can call Stewart at 967-3888 or visit the club’s Web site at,
The first club practice will be Dec. 9 at 5:30 and the deadline to sign-up for the wrestling club will be Jan. 1.
“We are looking for between 12 and 20 kids who want to become more competitive at the sport,” Stewart said. “There are weight classes for all size kids and it is open to kids starting at age 4.”