Ryder Sowards, 5, son of Wes and Jennifer Sowards, of Pratt, and a kindergartner at Southwest Elementary, is one of 69 area youths ages 5 to 14 who are participating in Pratt Wrestling Club activities this year.

The team is directed by Pratt High School Wrestling Coach Daniel Prater.

On Saturday, Dec. 21, at the Junior Cardinal Classic in Hoisington, Sowards took second place in the 6 and under, 37 pounds division.

“We couldn’t be more proud of him,” Wes said.

Ryder’s parents enrolled him in the Pratt Wrestling Club last fall, seeking a sport that would hold his interest.

“We had been trying about everything, from T-ball to soccer, and, quite frankly, he didn’t show much interest,” Sowards said. “He’s always wrestled with me on the floor, so we thought maybe he would take to wrestling as a sport.”

As a member of the Pratt Wrestling Club, Ryder has early evening practice sessions three times weekly at PHS wrestling room, coached by Prater, Cullan Wilson and Kyle Grizzell.

“And, man, the coaching — I could see he was grasping some of the concepts, that he was really trying, not like soccer where he was kind of chasing butterflies,” Sowards said. “It was really cool to see.”

“I like take-downs and pins,” Ryder said. “I like my coaches and teammates.”

A bonus for Ryder and the other members of the Pratt Wrestling Club was when PHS alumnus and three-time 4A State Wrestling Champion Dylan Pelland attended a practice session to give encouragement.

“It’s really been good for him — all positive,” Wes said. “He’s listening better and become more focused.”

Prater said a goal of the Pratt Wrestling Club is to teach participants good work ethic, incorporate some fun and lay the building blocks for those wanting to be ready for the PHS Wrestling Program.

“Wrestling is the only sport where there is no size, height or weight advantage like there is in football or basketball,” Prater said. “Everyone is paired up equally. Usually the mentally toughest and most prepared win.”

Cost of the program is $35, which will include a USA Wrestling Card. Registration is open.