Wrestler qualifies for international event, begins raising funds for trip
A sophomore at Mountain Home High School is raising funds in his quest to compete against some of the world's top wrestlers in Australia next July.
Jon Ryan is one of three state wrestlers selected to attend the 22nd Annual Down Under Sports Tournament, which features a series of competitions representing nearly a dozen sports from mid-June to late July next summer.
Ryan began wrestling at age 7 and by eighth grade earned a fourth-place finish in the 2008 district finals and third-place honors in the state's freestyle competition. His performance that year led to his invitation to the international games.
In 2009, the sophomore continued his winning ways, finishing seventh in the district finals and fourth at the state championship.
At each level of competition, Ryan faced one unique challenge: his larger-than-average height and stature, according to his father, Rich. In his freshman year, Ryan was already in the 171-pound weight class, requiring him to wrestle against older, more experienced competitors.
"It was tough being a big freshman, having to wrestle juniors and seniors," his father said. "He got beat up pretty good at times, but he learned a lot."
Today, Ryan competes in the 189-pound weight class and uses his years of experience to teach younger wrestlers with the city parks and recreation Little Man league.
To date, a handful of family members and local merchants came together offering cash donations to help Ryan get to Australia, but he needs additional help to reach his goal. The family hopes to raise the roughly $4,000 by early May to get him to the games.
Those interested in donating should contact Rich Ryan at 695-6878.
Hosted by International Sports Specialists, Inc., the annual games provide a forum for athletes from other countries to compete head to head in the sport they love, according to a statement released by the organization.
"(The) goal is to continue to provide athletes who excel in their sport the opportunity to experience the culture, beauty and grandeur of the land Down Under all within the framework of spirited and intense competition in many different sports," the statement read.