Wrestling club up and running in Martins Ferry

MARTINS FERRY – Scott Roth has been attending the Ohio State Wrestling Championship for many years as a fan, competitor and now as a coach.

The last few seasons he’s grown more and more upset and agitated about the performances of area wrestlers overall.

“The valley, in general, isn’t placing many guys at the state tournament, numbers are down and all in all, it’s a little rough for our area’s schools right now,” Roth said. “I spend a lot of time thinking about this sport and trying to enhance it here locally.”

Rather than sitting around watching Ohio Valley wrestling take its lumps on the state’s biggest stage, Roth is going to work.

The current Martins Ferry Purple Riders’ head coach, who was an undefeated state champion in 2000 and wrestled for four years at Cornell, has joined forces with another former Purple Rider state champion and Ohio University product Clay Tucker.

“Smitty (Michael Smith) has his club up in Steubenville, and I was taking a few guys up there, but between just driving up there and gas, it was tough,” Roth said. “So, I was thinking that there’s no place down here like this, so I thought, who better to start it than myself?”

Roth and Tucker are currently operating the Vertex Wrestling Club in Martins Ferry, which is open to wrestlers from all over the Ohio Valley on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6-7:30 p.m..

“There are thousands of clubs all over the country,” Roth said. “It’s a good way to get a grass roots program started. There are these sorts of clubs all over Columbus, Cleveland and kids are getting better instruction when they’re younger and it’s translating all the way up to high school.”

The Vertex Wrestling Club focuses on freestyle wrestling, but Roth points out quickly that “wrestling is wrestling.”

Thus far, the club has been attracting upwards of 20 wrestlers total.

Somewhat surprisingly to Roth, the majority of those are young kids.

“When I first got this idea in my mind, it was aimed at high school,” Roth said. “It’s not turned out that way so far. It’s a lot of guys who aren’t even in junior high, but it’s been fun because it’s away from the daily grind of high school wrestling. Plus, you can see the drastic improvements in their techniques because they’re so fresh.”

With the positive response, Roth isn’t about to limit what age groups he and Tucker will work with, but Roth did acknowledge that it could get to the point where there are two sessions an evening.

“Eventually, I’d like to see it to the point where we can have an intense junior high and high school aged workout,” Roth said.

“We’ve been getting kids just through word of mouth, and it’s been spreading really well.”

Roth and Tucker have been kicking around ideas about the future of the club when actual wrestling season heats back up in November.

“We’re trying to figure out a way to do it all year for the younger guys or at least have club during the actual wrestling season,” Roth said. “We’ve got some things in the work, but it’s all still in an evolution mode and nothing is really set in stone. Hopefully, it takes off and it can be great for everyone.”

Along with Roth and Tucker, former Purple Rider standout Mike Rose is also aiding the cause as one of the club’s instructors.

For more information about the Vertex Wrestling Club contact Roth at 304-281-1576

Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com