Lovelock wrestlers train in Winnemucca

Lovelock wrestlers train in Winnemucca

Lovelock wrestlers train in Winnemucca

You don’t get to be a wide receiver with the National Football League (NFL) Detroit Lions by playing it safe, especially when you come from a small town. If you snooze, you lose.

That’s why, in February 2020, Jace Billingsley started a youth program foundation in his home town of Winnemucca. ‘Up from the Mucc’ provides free learning to young people who seize the opportunity.

Last week, about 100 wrestlers met at the Winnemucca Events Center. 

They came from Winnemucca, Reed, Damonte Ranch, Dayton and Fernley. 

Lovelock brought 23 wrestlers aged eight through 15 to the three-day camp. 

“We were proud of the kids who made the trek with us. They got a lot of experience and coaching both on and off the mat,” said Mike Brooks, Lovelock’s athletic director, wrestling and football coach. “We were happy with the turnout.”

There’s nothing like learning from the best. That’s where Eastern Oregon University came in. In 2021-2022, the EOU Mountaineers qualified six wrestlers for Nationals. The team finished 13th, their best finish in program history. 

EOU coaches and wrestlers traveled to Winnemucca to work with the campers. 

The Mounties created a fast-paced and fun atmosphere with games, drills and matches to build wrestling skills.

Billingsley played college football at EOU before signing with the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent. 

He retired from the NFL in 2018 to pursue a career in music. ‘Up from the Mucc’s’ curriculum includes sports, but also writing, art, fitness, yoga and jiu-jitsu. 

Gerardo Ramirez, of Lovelock, impressed everyone with his wrestling, attitude, listening skills and positivity. 

The coaches gave him one of the three ‘Wrestler of the Week’ awards. He displayed it proudly.