Wrestling program in 2nd year at Isbell

November 02, 2001
Sports
There’s a wrestling team at Isbell Middle School, but not too many people are aware of it. The program, that began last year, is somewhat rare in Southern California. Junior High or Middle School wrestling is much more popular in Northern California, the Midwest, the Northwest and Canada.Darren Hicks, a P.E. teacher at Isbell, coached the program last year. This year he’s heading up the junior varsity football team at Santa Paula High School, so Mike Richardson, a second-year Isbell teacher is coaching the team, which consists of 31 boys and girls.Richardson was a high school wrestler himself and has been teaching for six years, coming here from the Barstow area. He got involved with the program at Isbell last year because his twin daughters were in the program. He credits Ojai resident Robert Hastie with getting the middle school wrestling program started in Ventura County. Hastie is a wrestling coach with the Police Athletic League in Ojai and the new coach for the Cardinals’ wrestling team. They had three schools involved last year, but only two stayed with it this year. Balboa Middle School in Ventura dropped out, leaving Isbell and Matilija Middle Schools. “We are hoping again next year to see this expand out to several more schools,” Richardson said. “There are schools that have expressed an interest, but it’s hard to find the adults.”Richardson says a similar program is going on in the Santa Maria area and he’s hoping they can work out some kind of tournament next year with them.
As for girls in wrestling, Isbell had three last year. This year there are eight in the program. Richardson says women’s wrestling started in the Midwest and Canada about 10-to-12 years ago. “There are now colleges and universities offering scholarships for women wrestlers,” he said. “It was announced about two months ago that it has been accepted as an Olympic sport in the year 2004.”The Isbell wrestlers had a limited competition schedule this year. They started with a take-down tournament, which involved using just the basic skills. “And then we went to a full take-down and wrestling to the pin,” Richardson told us. Those were the only two tournaments they had this year. “We’re going to have a Championship a week from Wednesday at Matilija.”He says the idea is not to produce Olympic wrestlers. “It’s to give the kids an opportunity to get some exposure to the sport. Where I see wrestlings’ real importance is that it gives kids who don’t physically fit into other sports an activity that they can participate in.”



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