The site of Juneau Youth Wrestling Club’s future practice facility has been cleared, and Josh Houston, club board president said it’s hoped the building will be in place by October. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

The site of Juneau Youth Wrestling Club’s future practice facility has been cleared, and Josh Houston, club board president said it’s hoped the building will be in place by October. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Juneau Youth Wrestling Club’s new home nears completion

Tornados are ready to touch down.

Juneau Youth Wrestling Club is close to finishing work at the site of its new practice facility, but the club hasn’t yet pinned down an exact completion date.

The site of the wrestling club’s planned practice facility is cleared, the building that will be placed at the Mendenhall Loop Road property is in town, and the project is shaping up to be completed by October, said Josh Houston, wrestling club board president and coach. But he added that’s a rough estimate.

“It’s hard because pretty much everything that’s being done is all volunteer work,” Houston said.

The site of Juneau Youth Wrestling Club’s future headquarters has been cleared, and Josh Houston, club board president said the building that will be placed at the site in in town. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

The site of Juneau Youth Wrestling Club’s future headquarters has been cleared, and Josh Houston, club board president said the building that will be placed at the site in in town. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Right now, Houston said Juneau Youth Wrestling Club volunteers are waiting to make use of excess back-fill material donated by the state, and then lay the foundation for what will primarily be a practice facility.

“We had been hoping by the end of August to have this thing up, but it’s looking more like the end of September,” Houston said.

[Juneau wrestlers win triple crown]

However, Houston said he’s confident the project will be completed relatively soon. He said funding for the nonprofit club that is open to youths from kindergarten to 12th grade is tight, but at this point that can only slow things down, not stop the effort.

“At this point, I don’t foresee anything that could prevent this from happening,” Houston said.

In total, Houston said the project costs about $225,000. The club is still accepting donations for the project on Facebook, and Houston said that campaign continues to drive interest in the effort.

While interior work may not be totally complete by the time the club wrestling season starts in January, Houston said the building should at least be able to host practices and meetings among coaches.

He expressed cautious optimism that despite the coronavirus pandemic, there will be a club season. The season typically starts in January. USA Wrestling, which is the governing body for the club sport, shared new guidelines June 11 that outline a return to the mat, and some wrestling events are already taking place in the Lower 48.

When the building does get put into place, it will be the realization of a goal set more than a decade ago.

Houston said finding a dedicated practice space for the club —wrestlers currently practice at Juneau Gymnastics —has been something talked about since at least the late ’90s.

However, he said discussions turned more serious in the past several years.

“There’s always been discussion about it,” Houston said. “It just economically wasn’t feasible.”

Then, the opportunity to lease a corner of a property owned by a club member’s parent’s company came up, and it made sense for Juneau Youth Wrestling Club to pounce on it.

“It would be our own place,” Houston said. “It would expand our options for how many nights a week we practice. Every single board meeting we have, we have to come up with a place. We’ll have a home for all of our stuff.

“It feels pretty good. After all these years of dreaming.”

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

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