Through wrestling and jiu jitsu, JM’s Evangelene Chittanavong finds competitive edge, family pride

ROCHESTER — It’s easy to underestimate Evangelene Chittanavong, but not wise.

Wrestling at 106 pounds, and not the tallest by any stretch, it’s clear to understand why it happens to the John Marshall junior.

Yet, as most of her foes grow to learn, that’s a mistake. A big mistake.

Not only does Chittanavong pack a punch at 106 for the JM varsity wrestling squad, but she’s also one of the top female jiu-jitsu artists in the area. In fact, encouraged by her father, she walked into the JM wrestling room five years ago to better perfect her jiu-jitsu craft — one that first developed when she was just nine years old.

For someone who has always enjoyed getting her hands dirty, she was intrigued by the sport. Continue reading at →

Wrestling is an outlet for JM’s Zach Hindt, who is legally blind

ROCHESTER — For as long as Zachary Hindt can remember, his vision has been limited.

Born with a genetic condition called retinitis pigmentosa — a group of eye diseases that affect the retina — the eyesight of the John Marshall senior has steadily gotten worse. He lives with the fact that his eyesight has a high percentage of being lost.

RP makes cells in the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of the eye) break down slowly over time, causing vision loss. Mutations in more than 60 different genes can contribute to this condition.

“It’s just tunnel vision like this,” Hindt said, making a circle with his pointer finger and thumb while wrapping around his eye before slowly shrinking it. “So eventually, I’ll lose my sight.” Continue reading at →

Local Special Ed Teacher Wins National Wrestling Title

Chad Otterness won the USA Wrestling Masters Division D 70kg championship

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Wrestling and special education are a pair that don’t seem like they’d go together. But for JM’s Chad Otterness, he says his students inspire him.

“When I see them work as hard as they do, when they have certain particular limitations, that always tells me if they have that drive and fire to overcome their obstacles, then there’s no reason I can’t continue to work,” Otterness said.

Talk to Otterness, and there’s no doubt he has a fire in his belly. He says some of his students display that same fire — and that helps him want to stay on top of his craft.

“We’ve had some very competitive kids in my class that have played, they’ve been involved in Special Olympics, adaptive floor hockey, adaptive softball, and their love of competition has been higher than almost any other athletes I’ve been around because their desire to win really stands out,” he said. “They will go at lengths to be successful.” Watch/continue reading at →