After a kick-off banquet Feb. 9, the Popeye Wrestling Club began practice for wrestlers ages 10 and older Tuesday and holds its first practice for ages 9 and younger Feb. 23.
Jason Cavasos is the program’s head coach and oversees practices at Homer Middle School. Bubba Wells does the same at Anchor Point, with practices at Chapman School.
The age of wrestlers registered with the club is wide-ranging.
“In the past, the program was focused on youth wrestling and as kids got older, there were less of them, but now we have a real strong group that are in high school. It’s great and really competitive, so it’s exciting,” said Cavasos.
The season continues through April, with meets in Nikiski, Anchorage, Soldotna, Palmer and Anchorage. The Alaska USA Wrestling meet is at the Wasilla Sports Complex April 30-May 2.
An increased interest in the sport by girls locally and across the state brought the addition of girls-only competition at the high school state meet in December. It also has resulted in the Popeye Wrestling Club adding girls-only practices twice a week.
“It’s always been that girls could wrestle, but they had to wrestle with boys all the time,” said Larry Croft, one of the club’s coaches. “Now there’s enough interest that it seems like it’s finally been decided to give them something of their own when it comes to state tournament time. We’re just kind of tagging what high schools are doing and trying to make it a little more fair and give them the option to come in and work with people of their own strength.”
Wrestling is a family affair for Cavasos. He began wrestling when he was in the sixth grade and continued through his high school years at Homer High. His son, Ravi, 15, and daughter, Mina, 12, wrestle and in January, the Alaska USA Wrestling Board selected his wife, Storm, as its women’s director. She helped fundraise so five of the club’s girls could attend the Pre-Season National War of the Roses, a girls-only wrestling tournament in Dayton, Ohio, and has arranged for the Homer club to sponsor a War of the Roses meet this season.
It is not too late to register for Popeye wrestling. The fee is $125, which includes registration with USA Wrestling, coverage under the club’s insurance policy and the registration fees for tournaments in which the club participates.Visit it online at homerwrestling.teamsnap.com, visit it on Facebook or stop by a practice session.
2015 Popeye Practice Schedule
Feb. 16-April 39
Bring workout shorts, sweats and shoes
Beginning Feb. 16: ages 10 and older
Beginning Feb. 23: Age 9 and younger
Homer Middle School:
Ages 5-9: Monday and Wednesday,
Ages 10 and older: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 5:15-7 p.m.
Girls only: Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30-5 p.m.
Thursday practice and weigh-in (all members if going to tourney): 5-7 p.m.
Friday night duals, all ages (when team is not traveling), 5-7 p.m.
Monday and Wednesday, 3:30-5 p.m.
until March 23; then 5-6:30 p.m.
Some Thursday and Friday practices will be at Homer Middle School.
Weekly schedules will be given.