First Posted: 3/21/2012
Cullen Ratchford, 10, and his cousin, Sam Stevens, 7, both won first place at the Abington Rookie Round Robin Tournament at the Abington Heights High School March 4. Both boys wrestle for Summit Wrestling Club and attend Waverly Elementary School. They were coached by Matthew Dailey.
The boys have been doing Jiu Jitsu at Pride Lands Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy in Clarks Summit for several years. Pride Lands is owned by Cullen's father, Jason Ratchford. Sam started wrestling in the folk or collegiate style two years ago and his cousin joined him at Summit Wrestling this season for the first time. The years of work on the mat proved to be a solid base from which to learn the new style.
"Cullen and Sam are on the mat all year round, which may be why they have been so successful," Jason Ratchford said. "It's a privilege to coach them. They want so much to train. They love it. When class is over, these two are still working."
Stevens enjoys using the skills that he has developed through the program during his matches.
"I have confidence when I compete because I practice all year," Sam said. "It's fun because I get to do a lot of moves that I've learned."
A new wrestling club will be starting at Pride Lands March 13. Jason Ratchford saw a need for yearround training to supplement the seasonal program. He said youngsters from other areas had an advantage in meets because they had access to yearround clubs and the Abington area boys did not have that opportunity. All boys from the various school districts are invited to attend. Classes will meet three times weekly for a fee of $35 per month. Information is available at pridelandsbjj.com or by calling 955-9290.
"I take this seriously," Cullen said about wrestling. "I work hard on my technique. Wrestling and Jiu Jitsu are great sports because you can use them for self defense, too. We learn to never give up."