Amateur Athlete: Elijah & Rayanne Bayne

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Siblings fight, somtimes they scratch and claw to get their way, but Elijah and Rayanne Bayne clash, no because of sibling rivalry, but because they want to help each other.
“We both get tougher and tougher each time we wrestle at practice, and we do better and better and we get each other better and better,” said Rayanne.

“They’re the best partners that we could find for them,” said their father Clarence. “We couldn’t ask for more. They’re each other’s biggest… they don’t miss a match at all. They’ll watch each other and cheer each other on louder than anybody there.”

There’s plenty to cheer on. Elijah is six years old and one of the top young wrestlers in the country.

“He’s just a natural,” said Jerry Ulrey, Elijah’s coach. “He’s a freak. That’s what I call him. He’s just one of those kids that… It’s a coach’s dream. You teach him a move and he’ll make it great within a day.”

His natural ability, combined with Jerry’s coaching, helped Elijah recently win another national championship at the Kickoff Classic in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“I consider him to be the best in the country,” said Ulrey. “I would put him against any kid around his weight, 50 pounds, six years old. He’ll beat anybody.”

At such a young age, Elijah’s father and coach couldn’t find a suitable partner for him, until his older sister wanted to learn the sport as well.

“Rayanne got involved a little bit last year,” said Clarence. “She says she wanted to wrestle. She’s done multiple sports. She says she wanted to wrestle during one of her offseasons and we let her wrestle a little bit, not anything too serious at the time, but we started losing partners for Elijah/so we started sticking those two together and they just became phenomenal partners.”

Rayanne, who is nine, isn’t at the level of Elijah, but there’s no competition between them. She is his biggest fan. In fact, at Elijah’s National Championship earlier this month, Rayanne didn’t compete, bue she and her dad were still exhausted.

“Man, I am a wreck,” said Clarence. “I can’t even… It’s bad sometimes, but I will say in my defense, Rayanne’s just as bad. At the championship match, I was so nervous I tried not to think about it. She was over there shaking.”

Since Rayanne works just as hard as Elijah, his success is hers.

“I was pretty scared because this kid was tough and I thought it was going to be a pretty good match, but I was also really nervous,” said Rayanne.

At this point, both Elijah and Rayanne are fully invested in the sport.

“I love wrestling because it’s fun, and if you want to protect your family, it can help you. It can teach you that,” said Rayanne.

“There’s a lot of cool trophies, and I like going to Nationals,” said Elijah.

Regardless of why they do it, Elijah and Rayanne are two siblings fighting for all the right reasons.