Budding Patriot program yields national champApril 20, 2017
By MICHAEL HUGHES
The Patriot Wrestling Club at Heritage Hills had already taken monumental strides coming into its recent season. Back when Grant Coleman founded the club for youth wrestlers to learn the sport before high school, he was coaching 13 kids in an extra room at the Spikes Center, an old elementary school that was turned into an indoor baseball facility.
There was an extra classroom that hadn’t been renovated for baseball, so that became the first home of the Patriot Wrestling Club in 2011. At the end of the first year, there were seven wrestlers willing to stick around, and one of those was Coleman’s son. Little by little, the numbers started to rise. Coleman credits that surge to Heritage Hills High School for allowing the club to move into the same wrestling room as the high school team, and Jon Goldsberry, who joined as an assistant coach in 2013.
“He really helped get a bunch of kids in there and it kept growing and growing,” Coleman said of Goldsberry, a Heritage Hills graduate and former high school wrestler who played football at Purdue before a brief NFL career. “We’ve been doing it for six years, I think, and we’ve got about 55 kids now.”
That led up to April 3, when Jett Goldsberry, Jon’s son, captured a national championship and Hayden Smith finished fifth out of nine wrestlers at the USA Wrestling Nationals in Cedar Falls, Iowa, while representing Patriot Wrestling Club. Both are third-graders at David Turnham Educational Center. Goldsberry won the title in the 87-pound weight class that featured 10 wrestlers at the national tournament. He also took first among 27 competitors at the Indiana State Wrestling Association State Finals on March 12.
Before the Patriot Wrestling club reached that point, the numbers and ability of wrestlers have increased in step with each other, said Jon Goldsberry, who also said he hopes the most recent success leads to another surge of new members.
Coleman first founded the club to find a place for his son to wrestle year-round that was closer to home. Before, he was a member of the Southridge Wrestling Club, but there was no option in Spencer County. The club serves wrestlers in kindergarten through sixth grade, but used to have members in the seventh and eighth grade. Coleman said he’s hoping to revive that part of the club soon.
This was the first year of the smaller age range, since the Southern Indiana Elementary Conference discontinued competition for the seventh- and eighth-grade age groups.
Currently, the club schedule runs from November to the start of February, the start of the elementary and junior high seasons. Coleman said he’s considering creating his own schedule for seventh and eighth graders, to continue to allow a competitive home for wrestlers before they reach high school.
“They’re kind of on a path and I hope they stick with it,” Goldsberry said.
Current members of the Patriot Wrestling Club do have a blueprint to follow in that regard. Alumni who are wrestling for the high school team include Sam Scott, a semistate qualifier as a freshman this year, as well as Wyatt Keller, Phoenix Rodgers and Mason Ayer.
Considering the recent success of the club, the pipeline from Patriot Wrestling Club to Heritage Hills appears to be running stronger than ever.
“To have a kid do that well in the national tournament is just unbelievable,” Coleman said. “I wouldn’t have ever even thought about that. That’s great.”
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