Wrestlers earn national team bids

It's hard to keep a good man down.

And in the case of three Hood River wrestlers, it would be a challenge to take them down at all.

That's because Jason DeHart, Josh Van Ek and John Harvey of the Airtime Wrestling Club are some of the best grapplers in the state of Oregon, if not the United States.

DeHart and Van Ek each earned a bid on the U-16 Cadet National Team after gritty performances at the National Chamÿpionships in Fargo, N.D. in late July. Harvey also made the team, but did not participate at Nationals due to other obligations.

"The Nationals in Fargo is the biggest event in high school wresÿtling, where only the best and most committed earn the right to compete," coach Bill Van Ek said.

"To lose a match means nothing more than gaining experience. To win is just a bonus."

Josh, a second-year Cadet who wrestled his way to first place in freestyle and second place in Greco-Roman at the Oregon State Championships, performed well enough to guarantee himself a spot on both the national team and the Cadet Dual Meet team, which compete separately.

"It was a fun trip and I made some good friends," Josh said. "I did the best I could and don't have any complaints."

DeHart, a first-year Cadet, had similar success at Fargo, finishing in the top 20 out of 80 wrestlers in the freestyle competition, and grinding out a tough victory in the Greco competition before being eliminated.

Harvey took fourth place in Greco at the Oregon state championships earlier this year and was invited to join the national team despite his absence from Nationals.

Airtime Wrestling works with wrestlers as young as five years old, and teaches mostly collegiate wrestling rules, which sanction high school competition.

Most Airtime students are junior high school age, the club often works with high schoolers like DeHart, Van Ek and Harvey to prepare them for big tournaments like Nationals. Hood River Valley wrestling coach Mark Brown also contributes his expertise on a regular basis.

"Mark was very instrumental in the success of these three wrestlers," coach Van Ek said. "We all appreciate his efforts."

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