Young athletes at the Kid’s AAU State Wrestling Tournament had medals and trophies to compete for.
Even with plenty on their minds, it was virtually impossible to block out thoughts about the future of the sport.
“When I grow up, I want to be an Olympic champion,” said Ayden Kingery, a 10 year old competitor.
“I’d like to wrestle for America,” said Anthony Zach from Waukee.
While wrestling greats like Dan Gable and Kevin Jackson state their cases to the IOC, those coaching the sport’s future stars have the task of keep their kid’s eyes on the prize.
Lessons in focus have become just as important as teaching a proper pin or take-down.
“I just tell them to worry about today. Work about this practice, worry about this tournament,” said Ty Knowler, a Southeast Polk wrestling coach.
“Forget about the Olympics, we need to focus on getting ready for this tournament right now,” said T.J Moen, a wrestling coach from Saydel.
Coaches like Knowler and Moen say their young athletes have had plenty of questions, but the message remains the same.
“I tell my kids to keep fighting hard, keep opening up, and good things will come,” said Moen.