The Grove Takedown Club hosted an awards banquet honoring their athletes.
Local athletes ranging from four to fifteen are able to gain experience in the sport of wrestling through the club. With roots going back to 1987, the Grove Takedown Club is the youth wrestling program for the area. The club competes through the Oklahoma Wrestling Association.
"Every weekend we travel, we have five or six coaches who go," said Alicia Davis, President of the Grove Takedown Club. "They come and they practice three nights a week. They work their tails off."
Davis says the athletes have the option to enter tournaments, but are not required to compete.
"You don't have to enter the tournaments, you have the option every weekend. It's by age and weight division," said Davis. "We go every weekend on Saturdays, we spend all say long in the gym and these coaches give so much and these kids work so, so hard."
The club had around seventy students enrolled for the 2016-17 season.
"Some kids use it as their gymnastics alternative, it's their activity for the week. They come and they get two solid hours of physical activity three times a week and it keeps them in shape. Some of them are more competitive, so we have anywhere from twenty to thirty that travel every weekend," said Davis.
The club is split into two levels, the novice level, which is any athlete who has been training for less than two years, and the open level, which is an athlete who has more than two years experience.
Seven athletes from the novice division placed at the State Tournament. Any novice athlete can compete at the State level, there is no qualifying round. However for the open division, athletes must place in the top six at Regionals to move on to the State Tournament.
The club competes in the Northeast Region, a highly competitive region.
"You could place tenth in your region and still beat the first place person from the South. [The Northeast] is a very competitive region that [The Grove Takedown Club] is in," said Davis.
The club took nineteen athletes to regionals.
"All nineteen qualified in the top six. They all went to State. Out of those nineteen, we had fourteen place at State," said Davis.
Each athlete in the club received a completion medal.
"None of us are very participation medal minded, but these are completion medals, because even if you don't go to the tournaments, practice is hard. It's very hard. They come and they do this gladly three times a week and they compete on the weekends, they give up their time and we want to recognize them for that," said Davis.
In the upcoming 2017-18 season, the Grove Takedown Club will host the first wrestling tournament in over a decade.
"We've worked really hard as a group and we'll actually have enough in the account," said Davis.
The club practices in the Fieldhouse at the High School.
"Part of our goal here is to not only host the tournament, but we've worked really hard and after tonight we'll be able to kick back the High School wrestling program to help them get uniforms and stuff they need," said Davis. "John Henry [Ward] and all his coaches are amazing. They send their boys, if they're not wrestling in a tournament that weekend, they're active in our program."
Davis has been involved with the club for four years and both of her boys, Aiden and Alec have been involved in the program. Aiden, who is in seventh grade, just spent his first year with the school team. Alec is in fourth grade and competes through the club.
"There's nights they just come out of that room looking sweaty and miserable and you think ' oh my gosh' and the next day they're like 'let's go to practice, I'm ready to go'," said Davis.
Davis says that the program helps teach the athletes how to take responsibility for their work on the mat.
"These boys are always cheering each other on, there's that cohesiveness, but when you walk out there, how you perform is on you. There's nobody to blame," said Davis. "How you do out there, you take that and you have to own up to your mistakes. And I think that in a time when there's so much blame, for them to take self-accountibility and to be able to see that is a bigger lesson than we could ask for."
Davis says that many of the athletes will go on to play high school and college sports, but that the work ethic that the students learn is the most important thing they take away.
"It's just when they get done with this, they learn to show up on time, to work hard and to be better young men. They watch us parents work so hard and hopefully they learn to give back to the community that gave so much to them," said Davis.