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Mat Rats collect medals at first meet
The LCRD Mat Rats display the medals they earned competing in their first match of the season. They are, from left, in back, Ryan Foster, Tyler Fisher and Zachary Terry; in front, Andrew Houghton and Trey Neal. - photo by Patty Leon
The first meet of the season gave the Liberty County Recreation Department's Mat Rat wrestling team an opportunity to gnaw at their opponents and allowed five of their six competitors to medal at the fourth annual Early Bird Pool Style Open Wrestling Tournament on Oct. 18 in Orange Park, Fla.
All the wrestlers fought folk-style and according to volunteer coach Travis Wells, the meet was small, affording the wrestlers another challenge since all the competitors were bumped up from their weight class to fight at an upper division.
Wells' son Mason, 14, was wrestling against high school seniors. It was one of the few times he competed and did not medal.
Brothers Ryan Foster and Andrew Houghton took bronze and gold, respectively in their match.
Houghton earned several medals last season. Foster said he didn't get to compete as much as he wanted to last season but looks forward to all the matches this year.
"We plan to win a team trophy," Foster said. "This season I have a lot more matches scheduled."
He said he enjoys the challenge and wished the local area schools had wrestling as part of their athletic program. Foster said he is planning to join the Marines and if they have a wrestling team, he plans to be a part of it.
For three of the wrestlers, Trey Neal, Zachary Terry and Tyler Fisher, it was their first time earning a medal.
"It felt awesone," Fisher said.
"I just wanted to wrestle," Neal said. "Winning the medal didn't make a big impact on me, I just wanted to wrestle."
"It felt weird," Terry said
Terry earned a bronze while Neal and Fisher brought back silver medals.
Coach Philip Howe said he has around ten meets scheduled for the season. His Mat Rat squad meets every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 6:30-8 p.m. and Saturday's from 9-11 a.m. at the old gymnasium behind the Midway City Hall. Kids wanting to learn about wrestling are encouraged to come out and join the squad.
Howe is working on fund raising so the Mat Rats can get an additional wrestling mat installed at the gym. An extra mat will allow Howe to separate his beginners from the more experienced wrestlers and train each participant according to their skill levels. In addition to assistant coach Ernie D'Alto and Travis Wells, former Grover and Benedictine wrestling coach Tony Proulx has joined the staff providing more one on one training.
Howe's non-profit organization, Coastal Athletic Association is designed to promote interest in the sport of wrestling among parents and the youth of Southeast Georgia and to supervise, sponsor and financially assist a disciplined and competitive program of wrestling. Its goal is to develop the ideals of good sportsmanship, honesty and respect for authority and to stress the concept of parents and children working and playing together in all club activities so that the family will be strengthened in the process.
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