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Bulldogs work hard in new facility

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

Charles Whisnand

‘Twas three nights before Christmas and all over the mat, there were plenty of creatures stirring and all of them had to much energy so none of them sat.

A large number of youth decided to begin their Christmas vacation on Monday doing something more than watching television, playing video games or dreaming about the presents they would receive. They were all dedicated members of the Carson Bulldogs wrestling club, working on the fundamentals.

They were also doing it in the club’s new facility in a portion of the old Nevada Appeal building on Bath Street. The club has come a long way since it began in the early 1980s.

“They just had a couple of kids rolling around on the mat,” said the club’s director, Ken Chalk.

From that humble beginning, the Bulldogs grew into a club that had 101 wrestlers last season. This year has just begun and the club already has 85 members with signups still ongoing.

Wrestlers in the club range from ages 5 to 18. When the high school season is over, there will be more wrestlers coming out for the club, so its number will likely reach at least as high as last year.

Carson High’s program has definitely reaped the benefits. Among the wrestlers who are in this year’s CHS program, most were Bulldogs.

“Very few were not Bulldogs,” Chalk said. “It’s nice to send kids into high school that already have got 400 matches under their belts.

“We want to give them the opportunity to take it to the highest level they can. If we give them the work ethic to continue, it’s kind of neat. It’s really fun to watch.”

While the club does prepare wrestlers for high school – and even beyond – that’s not the Bulldogs’ No. 1 mission. Chalk said the No. 1 goal of the club is to teach the kids sportsmanship.

“The overall big picture to me is sportsmanship,” Chalk said. “Probably one of the hardest sports in the world, competitively, is wrestling.”

Chalk said if he’s taught a wrestler “to be a good sport, then I’ve been successful. What we’re trying to do is keep the kids off the streets, have a good time and do a little wrestling.” Chalk also said he wants to teach his wrestlers “to be good little neighbors.”

The club has had its share of success. The Bulldogs are the two-time defending Northern Nevada champions and the defending state Greco-Roman champion. Much of the club’s success is due to the number of adults involved. There are 14 adults involved in coaching about 100 wrestlers. “What I really like about this is the individual attention they get,” Chalk said.

Among those “assistant coaches” is former Carson High coach Tim McCarthy, who Chalk hesitates to call just an assistant coach. “How could you ask for a better coach to come out and help you?” Chalk said.

The Bulldogs used to practice at Carson High and while the high school was gracious, it became clear the club was becoming to big for the small confines of the Senators’ upstairs wrestling room.

“It was a little bit tight for us,” Chalk said. “When we got over a 100 kids we knew that we had to do something to give these kids a place to wrestle.”

So one of the club’s volunteers, Bob McDonald, stepped forward and bought the portion of the building that the club now uses. There were many donations and free labor, including a large donation from Manoukian Construction. Another one of the club’s volunteers, Eddie Brown, was instrumental in the development of the facility in which the Bulldogs moved into this month.

“It lets us practice when we want, however long we want,” said Chalk about the new facility. “It opens it up.”

Chalk was watching two wrestlers work out when one ended up in a painful position. “That looked like it hurt,” Chalk said. But after reaching for the top of his head, the wrestler kept going.

Ricky McDonald, a Fremont Elementary fifth grader, is one of the Bulldogs’ top wrestlers. Last year, McDonald won state titles in freestyle and Greco-Roman and placed sixth at the USA Western Regionals in Greco-Roman. He said his goal is to place in nationals and to wrestle in high school.

“They work us hard,” McDonald said. “Not too hard, but hard enough.”

One of the most enthusiastic wrestlers in the club is Riley Hutchinson, a Mark Twain Elmentary second grader. “I like everything about wrestling,” he said. “I think this is the greatest club.”

Hutchinson explained why he was with the Bulldogs on Monday night instead of taking it easy during his Christmas break. “Because I want to be really good and to know what I’m doing on the mat,” he said.

Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor. Contact him at cwhisnand@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1214.