Wrestling: Wood wastes no time enjoying success on mat
West Jordan • How does so much talent and potential fit into a 70-pound body?
Only 11-year-old Ethan Wood has the answer, but he's not telling. He'll let his performance on the wrestling mat do the talking.
His performance did more than talk earlier this month. Its shouts could be heard all the way from Billings, Mont., where the sixth-grader won a national championship in the 70-pound Novice division of the Greco-Roman competition at the AAU Grand Nationals.
Wood avenged a freestyle loss to a Montana wrestler with a dominant performance in the Greco-Roman final.
"I went into the match a little hot-headed," said Wood, who also placed second in the freestlye and third in the folkstyle competitions. "I had wrestled him [two years ago] and beat him, but it helped me see he had gotten better and that I needed to step up my game."
Wood became the ninth Greco-Roman national champ produced by Mountain Top Wrestling Club, which is run by Bill Kilpack in West Jordan. The coach said wrestling comes naturally to Wood, who has been competing for just three years.
"At the big tournaments, he gets more fired up and really goes after it smarter than he does at other tournaments," Kilpack said. "It's come naturally to him. He went out his first year and took sixth at the Beehive Brawl. That's pretty unheard of for a first-year wrestler."
Wood's father, Kary, is an assistant coach with Mountain Top. He said his son is one of the team captains and tries to set a good example for his teammates. Kary also said he wasn't sure if Ethan would come out flat in the Greco-Roman final, the way he did earlier in the freestyle final.
"It makes me nervous because at that age you can't keep their intensity up all day," Kary said. "But you have to understand that and you have to work on that, as a parent and as a coach. It makes it nerve-wracking because you don't know if he's ready or not."
Garrick Kilpack, 12, placed second in the Novice 95-pound freestlye competition and took home fourth-place finishes in folkstyle and Greco-Roman. Montana's Austin Ketchem swept all three events in the 95-pound division.
Kilpack, who started in the sport at age 4, is in his first year back after stepping away for three years. Bill said he was a bit surprised by his son's performance, given the time away from the mat.
"His attitude and his performance has been a lot more positive and motivated than it has been in a long time," Kilpack said about his son, who was a national champion in the 6-under folkstyle division in 2007.
Wood achieved his goal of three top-three finishes at the season-ending event. He likes Greco-Roman the best of the styles because he enjoys throwing his opponents and doesn't have to worry about shooting the legs, which happens in freestyle.
Dad Kary hopes the results in Montana are a sign of things to come.
"We're proud of him, and he has so many things to come," Kary said. "This is a stepping stone to getting college paid for. That's our goal."
Ethan Wood, 11, of Riverton, won a national championship in the Novice 70-pound Greco-Roman wrestling competition earlier this month in Billings, Mont.
Wood took second in freestyle and third in folkstyle, respresenting Mountain Top Wrestling Club in West Jordan.
Mountain Top teammate Garrick Kilpack, 12, also posted three top-3 finishes at the national event in his first year back in the sport after three years away.