In the fall of 2011, the Cape Ann Youth Wrestling program could hardly be considered a true youth program.
With just a dozen competitors and no experience, the squad was a start-up in the truest sense of the word.
A year and a half later, the program is still in its infancy. Its growth, however, can’t be ignored. The participation numbers have more than doubled, and as the young wrestlers -- spanning from kindergarten to eighth grade -- gain experience, success has followed.
After impressive outings from several young wrestlers at the Big East Tournament and the state tournament -- and even sending at least one competitor to this weekend’s New England Tournament in Lowell -- the program will wrap up its season Saturday when they host an intrasquad meet at Gloucester High School.
The event will span from 3 to 5:30 p.m. and will feature a general demonstration of the sport followed by matches between teammates.
There’s no charge for admission, but five-dollar donations are encouraged.
The hope for the event’s organizers, who have already seen the program that they’ve started rapidly expand, is to further establish themselves in the area and continue to increase local participation.
“It’s really taken off,” coach Kirk Benson said. “We’ve got good numbers and we’ve been able to take the kids to some meets and get some experience. On Saturday, we’re going to bring our kids out to wrestle each other as a demonstration so that people can come out and really see what wrestling is and raise some awareness. I hear people all the time saying that they still didn’t know that we have a program.”
And, while it may be a ways off, the eventual hope is to build off the Cape Ann Youth Wrestling program and build a successful program at Gloucester High School -- a plan that’s already underway, likely beginning next winter.