ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Coach Harold Stultz is hoping some heavyweight help will give Goessel’s new wrestling club a big-time boost.
If Stultz can get 100 eligible participants to sign up by Dec. 12 for day-long wrestling clinic scheduled for later in the month, recently retired Olympic and world-class wrestler Melvin Douglas will be on hand to lead it.
The clinic, scheduled for Dec. 30, is open to anyone 14 years old and younger who has a current USA Wrestling Card.
“We’re pretty excited about even the possibility of having somebody of this stature coming and teaching Kansas kids,” said Stultz, who directs the Goessel Wrestling Club.
Douglas, a Topeka native, has a wrestling resume that reads like a nomination form for the Hall of Fame.
In addition to competing at the Sydney Olympic Games this fall, he is an eight-time U.S. Nationals champion, three-time world champion, Olympic team trials champ in 1996, two-time Olympic Festival champion and a Junior Nationals champ.
In college he was the NCAA champion in 1985 and 1986 and was a three-time state champion as a Topeka high schooler. And that only touches the surface.
So, how did such a small town land such a big-time wrestler?
“I went to grade school and junior high with him at Highland Park,” Stultz said. “I moved to Lawrence for high school, but he stayed on at Highland and I wrestled his brothers.”
Stultz maintained contact with Douglas while both were wrestling in Europe. Stultz competed while in the military and at one point won the Southern European Championships and the European Championships.
His involvement in and love for wrestling, plus the prompting of two of his sons, motivated Stultz to start a wrestling club in Goessel this year.
“We went with Hillsboro (club program) last year with four kids,” Stultz said. “We knew we had other kids at Goessel who wanted to wrestle, but we didn’t have a program. Parents didn’t have the means to get them to Hillsboro. We decided maybe we’d start a club in Goessel.
“Corey Burton and Scott O’Hare (Hillsboro wrestling coaches) have been a pretty key part of helping us get going in Goessel,” he said.
This winter, 14 wrestlers between the ages of 6 and 14 have joined the club. With the help of some grant money, the Goessel Recreation Commission purchased mats and uniforms for the boys, and parents have chipped in to buy the other necessary equipment.
The proceeds of the one-day clinic will go toward the club, which will be traveling to wrestling meets a couple of times each month through February.
Stultz was certified as a bronze-level coach earlier this year by USA Wrestling. He directs the program with the help of Daryl Cress, who manages the club’s finances.
For now, Stultz is coaching wrestling for the kids’ enjoyment. He has a dream that the sport may expand into Goessel schools.
“We’d like to see wrestling get into the high school and junior high someday, but it’s going to be further down the road,” he said. “Goessel’s a basketball community. It’s going to be tough. But that would be a goal of ours.”
In the meantime, he’s happy with the way the club has developed in its first year.
“I’m just real pleased with the 14 first-year wrestlers we’ve got,” he said. “They’re great kids and we’re having a lot of fun.”
To contact Stultz about the clinic, call 316-947-2866 or e-mail him at gravelends@marionco. net.