YOUTH WRESTLING: Whether he’s racing or wrestling Spillner Jr. finds success |

YOUTH WRESTLING: Whether he’s racing or wrestling Spillner Jr. finds success

Justus Spillner Jr., right, and his father Justus Spillner Sr. look on before a match at a tournament in Natomas.
Submitted photo |

When Justus Spillner Jr. was 5 years old he was tearing up the race track as quarter midget driver and earning trophies almost as big as he was.

At 6 years old, Spillner Jr. has a new passion, one that has him traveling all over the western United States and pinning down more awards.

The 55-pound Spillner Jr. has taken to the wrestling mat where he has quickly made a name for himself in the state. After several local and some not so local tournaments, Spillner is ranked No. 1 in California in the 5-6 year old, 56-pound division, according to the State of California Wrestling Alliance for the Youth.

“I like winning,” Spillner Jr. said. As for how he wins. “Go hard in practice…Go hard and wrestle hard.”

The young grappler, who trains with his father Justus Spillner Sr. as well as the California Grizzlies team in Granite Bay, has already built quite the list of accomplishments.

Spillner Jr., who attends Union Hill Elementary School, took first place at the Oakdale SCWAY Tournament, winning all his matches by pin. He has second place finishes at the Beast of the West Rocky Mountains National Tournament, the Salt Lake Slam in Farmington, Utah, and the California Republic SCWAY Tournament in Corcoran, Calif. At his first national tournament, the Freakshow National Tournament in Las Vegas, Spillner placed third.

Throughout the season, Spillner has competed in 12 tournaments and finished in the top-3 in his weight and age group in all 12 events.

Spillner Jr. practices four times a week, twice at home with his father and two more times with his team in Granite Bay. Spillner Sr. acknowledged that the two spend a lot of time and energy on the sport, but said he is simply going at his son’s pace.

“There are days where we have to back off practice a little,” Spillner Sr. said. “But, for the most part he enjoys it.”

Spillner Jr. said he loves practicing and learning from every experience on the mat.

“My favorite part of practice is getting better,” he said. And, after losses he said he’s a little sad and mad, but he turns every loss into a learning experience.

“I just think about what I can do better and how to win next time I wrestle,” he said.

Spillner Sr., who wrestled as a youth and in high school at Bear River, said he hopes his son gets a lot of the life lessons he learned from wrestling.

“In general, I want him to not be so reserved. To be mentally tough when it comes to stuff,” Spillner Sr. said. “Whether it’s school or racing; If he loses he’s learning to deal with it and accept it.”

Spillner Sr. added that the cost is relatively inexpensive to compete locally, but the big trips can put a dent in the wallet.

“It’s definitely expensive,” he said. “Flying to the tournaments is expensive for sure, but thankfully in wrestling if you want to stay local and compete its pretty dang inexpensive.”

As for why he spends the big bucks to go to the big tournaments, “He’s wrestled two kids that were ranked in the top three in the nation. He didn’t beat them, but to get him those matches is worth the travel.”

Spillner Jr. has set his goals at being state champion and will get that chance at a tourney in late March.

Soon after Spillner Jr. will go back to his other passion of racing. He also plans on putting on pads and playing football when he turns 8 years old.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User