Title: Local Athletes Get Elite Instruction at Meathead Wrestling Club By: Jack Beardwood
Origins of the Sport of wrestling can be traced back 15,000 years to cave drawings in France. Early Egyptian and Babylonian paintings depict wrestlers using most of the holds known to the present-day sport. In ancient Greece, wrestling occupied a prominent place in legend and literature. Wrestling competition was the supreme contest of the Olympic Games.
In 2005, former Cuesta wrestler Aaron Steed and former Cal Poly grappler Jeff Barksdale attended the Pac-10 championships at Cal Poly. “We noticed there weren’t any high school kids there,” says Steed, who is co-owner of Meathead Moving. “Here we were at one of the top meets in the country, and you could count all the high school kids on one hand.”
It was then that Barksdale and Steed decided to create a wrestling program that would cater to athletes of all ages throughout the county; 115 people are currently registered in several programs offered by the Meathead Wrestling Club of San Luis Obispo. The youngest students are age five. There is no age limit.
Steed, who took second place in the state in both Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling during his college years, says the sport is the main reason he has been a success in the business world. “It was the most positive and influential thing that happened to me in my younger years,” he says. “It made me who I am.”
Steed says the duo’s goal was to utilize some of the resources that are available through the outstanding Cal Poly wrestling program. They have outdone themselves.
Currently teaching an elite program mainly for high school students is Joe Seay, whom Barksdale described as one of the elite coaches in U.S. history. Seay coached several championship teams at Div. II Cal State Bakersfield and several Div. I individual champions. From there, he went to national power Oklahoma State and coached two national title teams and too many individual champs to count. He has also been a coach for the U.S. Olympic Team.
Also coaching at Meathead is Sammie Henson, a Cal Poly assistant coach who won a silver medal in the 2000 Olympics. He is also a two-time NCAA Div. I champ.
Among several other coaches involved with the program is Cal Poly head coach John Azevedo, a former Olympian and NCAA champion.
Barksdale, who coached at San Luis Obispo High School for five years, says the sport offers a good opportunity to teach youngsters a variety of qualities. “You are going out and doing combat with someone,” he says. “It is an intense and emotional event for most kids. That alone teaches kids to maintain control of their emotions. They have to learn to make their emotions to work for them rather than against them. It’s impossible to do wrestling casually; it’s not a recreational sport. To reach a moderate level of success in this sport takes high level of commitment, dedication and discipline.”
Barksdale’s sons, Brandon and Christopher, wrestled for him at san Luis Obispo High. Both competed at the California Interscholastic Federation championships (CIF) several times, and Christopher took second place in his weight class at CIF.
The club offers year-round instruction and competition with occasional breaks. A fall program concentrates on basic moves for younger wrestlers. An 11-week program starts after Christmas, stressing competition in several tournaments.
“It’s awesome,” says Cayucos resident Tony Mininni, whose sons Dolin, 15, and Aaron, 17, are in the elite class. “It’s what we need to get up to the next levels. They’re providing world-class instruction. The level of coaching instruction is out of this world.”
Meathead hosted an April 5 freestyle and Greco Roman tournament. First-place winners were: Chad Snyder, Mitchell Snyder and Chris Becton of Oceano; Kobe Feely and Zak Holmes of Paso Robles; Kent Beecham and Jacob Carlson of Los Osos; Ethan Phillips and Christina Jenn of Arroyo Grande; Daniel Vargas of Nipomo; and Andrew Cummings of Morro Bay.
For more information about the program, call Barksdale at 235-0135.