The Shafter Mennonite Brethren Church held their annual Takedown Tournament recently, drawing 160 competitors, the largest field in the tournament's history.
Pastor Pat Coyle, along with a team of volunteers, put on the tournament, the season-opening event for most of the wrestlers. The tournament is affiliated with the Kern County Youth Wrestling Association, helping it draw wrestlers from all over the county and the Central Valley.
Wrestlers came from as far as Selma, Fresno and Clovis, as well as most of Kern County.
The local youth wrestling team, the Shafter Spartans, had 13 wrestlers competing in the event, with several placing in the top five in their weight divisions.
According to Pastor Coyle, the tournament is especially good for novice wrestlers, helping them get accustomed to a tournament atmosphere and what to expect as the tournament season progresses.
Coyle runs a wrestling camp every summer, attracting a large number of beginning wrestlers, teaching them basic technique and moves. Coyle sees a lot of the kids that go through his camp competing later in tournaments, which gives him great satisfaction.
The Shafter wrestlers that finished in the top five were:
Natalie Salinas – 1st place
Nehemiah Salcido – 1st place
Matthew Cortes – 1st place
Brianna Jimenez – 1st place
Angel Leon – 1st place
Jayleen Jimenez – 1st place
Aleena Leon – 3rd place
Navian Jimenez – 3rd place
Eliana Gonzalez– 3rd place
Skylar Smith finished in 6th place and Jayleen Ibarra finished in 9 th place.
Medals were awarded for the top finishers.