Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009 | 3:38 p.m.
From the moment the Henderson Wrestling Club's practice commences, silence fills the wrestling room.
Not a single wrestler, who are as young as 5 and as old as 14, so much as utters a whisper as they complete their stretches.
It's safe to say that Tony Medina, the four-time state champion from Rancho and the club's head coach, runs a pretty tight ship as his wrestlers approach the sport with the same intensity he once had.
"The biggest thing for me is that this gives me a chance to give back," Medina, 31, said. "Maybe some of them will never even wrestle in high school, but the impact from working hard, goes a long way."
Not everything is strict drilling for the youth club, which is in its third winter training at the Foothill wrestling room. Medina lightens things at the end of practice with games of pickup basketball or mat-football.
In between the fun, Medina takes the time to enlighten the burgeoning grapplers with some of the skills that helped him go 154-6 in high school.
The team has seen success early in its season, which runs from November to March, and won seven weight classes at the Team Vegas Wrestling TakeDown in December.
Henderson's winners included Daniel Reyes at 55 pounds, Cole Cauley at 60 pounds, Tyler Rushmore at 75 pounds, Preston Cauley at 85 pounds, Lance Kenely at 90 pounds, Randle Crowley at 112 pounds and Cody Harris at 130 pounds.
"There are a lot of good wrestlers coming up," Medina said. "The biggest thing I have noticed is that a lot of my wrestlers get good grades, are well behaved and take school seriously."
Medina started the club in 2006, with the blessing of Foothill varsity coach Bill Smales, and has seen it grow from about 20 children to 47.
Most of the club's wrestlers are zoned for Foothill, including Logan Bowles, 12, who hopes to follow the footsteps of his brother and Foothill senior wrestler Alex Bowles.
"I think this club will give me a big advantage," Logan said. "(Medina) was a state champion, so you can always tell he has a lot of experience."
Medina is familiar with the amount of pressure wrestling can put on a student, and hopes to prepare his grapplers with what they may face in high school.
After losing only six matches in his first two seasons at Rancho, Medina went undefeated his junior and senior year. He won consecutive state titles from 1992 to 1995 and got plenty looks from colleges, but opted to focus on his wife and family.
It was only when his son, Tony Jr., turned 5 years old that Medina decided to return to the sport.
"It was a breath of fresh air to step away from it," He said. "When my son asked me about wrestling I decided to get back into wrestling."
To Medina, the greatest benefit to wrestling is that it builds confidence.
One such case was Wyatt Morgan, 12, who defeated a wrestler in the Southern Nevada Wrestling Association championships last year after losing to him early in the season.
"I was actually afraid to wrestle him because he beat me so bad," Wyatt said. "But I worked hard going into the tournament and it paid off."
Sean Ammerman can be reached at 990-2661 or [email protected].