FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Wrestling is starting to boom here in the interior.
We have Nine individual state champions, and the Lathrop Malemutes brought the team title to Fairbanks for the first time in 17 years.
One of the main reasons for this success may be a training center completely devoted to developing top wrestlers.
Let's take a look at the Interior Grappling Academy.
Lathrop was able to edge Colony to bring home the team title in the State Championships last weekend in Anchorage. Not only did the Malemutes win the state title, they destroyed everything in their path. They won every dual this year and won the Conference Championship by an incredible 269 points. According to Head Coach Wes Bockert, this state title was a long time coming.
Wes Brockert; Head Coach - Lathrop Wrestling>>"This was something we were working hard for four years. When I came back in 2014 I had this group of freshmen who are seniors this year. I kind of told them what my plan is, and how I had done in the past, to kind of come up with a great strong team. And they bought into it, and we traveled all year, Idaho, Fargo North Dakota, Nationals. We Wrestled all summer. We slept in an RV on top of each other. And we did that for four solid years until this year. It was exciting that these seniors worked so hard and this was the finished product."
Wrestling isn't just a hobby for Coach Bockert, it's become a full-time family business. He is the head coach for the Alaska State Wrestling team and he runs the Interior Grappling academy, which trains wrestlers of all age and experience groups to help them win at whatever level they are competing in this is the only school of its kind in the entire state.
Wes Brockert; Head Coach - Lathrop Wrestling>>"When I retired from the Military, and I coached then did the military, when I retired, my dream was to have a gym where it was just a wrestling academy and we produce great wrestlers that have a very good foundation that grew up to be high caliber wrestlers in the Fairbanks area and across the state."
For the first time in recent memory, the interior is starting to look like a wrestling power. The Interior Grappling Academy has helped mold winners and champions, including Bockert's Sons Jeremy, who took second place in the state in the 98 pound weight class, and Westley, who is now the reigning state champion in the 145 pound class. Former State Champs Cameron Baxter, David Weiss, Dillon Achman, and several more were all molded by Coach Bockert. People are starting to take notice as well. Chevrolet of Fairbanks has decided to sponsor the Academy to help mold the next generation of Champions.
Wes Brockert; Head Coach - Lathrop Wrestling>>"It's getting really big and the level of wrestling at North Pole and West Valley and Lathrop, you're gonna start seeing it just shoot through the roof and having some good Barn-Burners here. And then you'll start seeing them in the future down there at states battling for the championship instead of Us vs the Valley. I'm just obsessed. I'm obsessed. I want to see kids grow. I want to make a difference. You know wrestling kind of saved my life in all reality. My coach was more my family figure and my grandparents kind of kicked me in the butt. But I was just a wild kid and wrestling kind of kept me focused because I was too worried to lose that. And I know what it can do for kids that need that."