EVART — A year ago, there was not a wresting program at Evart High School.

There is now.

The club team, under the coaching of Ryan Hopkins, has been practicing for more than three weeks in anticipation of a season that opens this Saturday at Big Rapids.

Other matches are Dec. 17 at Pine River and several in January and February, including Jan. 3 and Jan. 31 at Reed City.

The program was provided with a $9,000 mat, provided via a Dick’s Sporting Goods grant that club officials secured. The mat has been used for practices at the Evart Middle School cafeteria. Members of the Evart youth wrestling program have also been using it.

“It has to be for a start-up program, not an existing program,” Hopkins said.

Whether or not there will be a home meet remains to be seen, although prospects for that this season seem slim.

“Right now, we’re using them for practice and getting them broken in a bit,” Hopkins said.  “If we end up having a home meet, we’ll take it over (to the high school).

“(The mat) is absolutely spectacular. It’s top notch right here. It’s a lot more comfortable with a lot more padding. This is the only company that does concussion testing on the mat. We tried to find the best we could for what we had with the kids, and this is what we purchased.”

Evart wrestling officials have been told the mat is good for seven to nine years.

“But I know other clubs that get 12 to 15 years out of it,” Hopkins said.