Upstart American Outlaws Wrestling youth club shines during first season

All seven wrestlers in the club qualified for the state tournament, and six of the seven placed in the top eight of their respective divisions during the club's first season.

The American Outlaws youth wrestling team from left to right (front) Harleigh Hastings, Kaejrick Clark, McCoy Heinrich, Corbyn Westall, Jory Heinrich, Tucker Hastings and Rylee Heinrich and (back) coaches Brady Hastings, D.J. Clark, J.D. Heinrich and Rainer Westall are pictured on Thursday, April 6, 2023, in Dimock.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

DIMOCK, S.D. — American Outlaws Wrestling claims to be more of a family than a wrestling club, and it’s not hard to see why.

Comprised of four families with a total of seven children who compete and all four fathers serving as coaches, the smaller, tight-knit environment was exactly what the families were aiming for with the club's creation in July 2022.

Less than a year on from its formation, AOW recently capped a success-filled first season with a strong showing at the 2023 South Dakota AAU youth wrestling tournament in Aberdeen. All seven wrestlers in the club — Jory Heinrich (age 7), McCoy Heinrich (6), Rylee Heinrich (11), Kaejrick Clark (7), Harleigh Hastings (8), Tucker Hastings (9) and Corbyn Westall (7) — qualified for the state tournament, and six of the seven placed in the top eight of their respective divisions.

“We wanted to keep it more family-orientated rather than having a big group,” explained AOW founder J.D. Heinrich. “So we just stepped away and started our own little thing, and here we are.”

Coming together

J.D. Heinrich has coached wrestling since before he graduated from Chamberlain High School in 1999 — that’s how he met fellow AOW father and coach Rainer Westall — and as such, he said it has always been a dream of his to operate his own club.


So after deciding he wanted his three children to receive more individualized training and attention, Heinrich started AOW. Westall, Brady Hastings and D.J. Clark brought their families, which hail from Brookings, Mount Vernon and Mitchell, into the fold as well to form the core four families.

It’s been a near-perfect mesh for all involved right from the start.

“It definitely helps to get a little more one-on-one time,” Clark said. “That's really good, especially for kids that are as young as these ones are, because the individual time helps keep them focused.”

“Every wrestler in this room wants to be here, wants to learn and know more,” Hastings added. “If they could have been, they all would have been matside for every match, so my favorite part is the camaraderie that has been built this season.”

In looking for a name for the crew, Heinrich wanted something different. Moving on from local clubs, Heinrich said he felt the outlaw label was fitting, as he landed on American Outlaws. The club practices in his Hawkeye Tree and Stump Services workspace near the south end of Main Street in Dimock.

Members of the American Outlaws wrestling club spend time playing on the wrestling mats on Thursday, April 6, 2023, in Dimock.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

‘A natural’

The top individual placement for AOW at the state tournament was J.D. Heinrich’s 7-year-old son, Jory, who won the Bantam 47-pound bracket.

On his way to a second-straight state title, Jory Heinrich won three matches by pin in less than 75 seconds before notching a 9-0 major decision in the championship match, which was also his 200th career match win. This season, Jory’s third after getting his start as a 4-year-old, he had 95 wins to 20 losses, running his career record to 200-36, as of April 7.


According to J.D., since around the time Jory started wrestling, his ambition has been to one day wrestle collegiately for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

“You sit back when a 4-year-old tells you that and you look at it like it's good to dream, but he puts in the work,” J.D. Heinrich said. “I've been blessed with a natural.”

But Heinrich is also quick to compliment the exceptional wrestlers Jory has to compete against, lauding the intensity of AOW practices. Teammate and fellow 7-year-old Corbyn Westall, who is nearing his 100th career win (97-30 as of April 7), placed seventh in the same division at the state tournament, as Heinrich and Westall faced off in the quarterfinals.

Also in the AOW wrestling room, McCoy Heinrich placed second at Tots 46 pounds, Kaejrick Clark was fourth in Bantam 57 and Tucker Hastings qualified at Midgets 63. On the girls’ side, Rylee Heinrich was the runner-up at B 65 pounds — she also competed for MEGA Gymnastics the same weekend at the state competition in Sioux Falls — and Harleigh Hastings took fifth at A 55 pounds.

“The beautiful thing about this group of kids is they're not accepting of their goals,” Heinrich said. “Once they meet their goals, they're always looking beyond and are never satisfied. I've been truly blessed with this group of kids.”

The American Outlaws youth wrestling team from left to right Harleigh Hastings, Kaejrick Clark, Tucker Hastings, McCoy Heinrich, Jory Heinrich, Corbyn Westall and Rylee Heinrich pictured on Thursday, April 6, 2023, in Dimock.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

A promising future

As Year 2 under the AOW banner approaches, all four coaches share a palpable excitement.

There’s the opportunity to welcome new families to AOW, which all four coaches said they were open to. However, they were quick to note that preserving the family atmosphere that brought them Year 1 success is of utmost importance.


Of course, there’s also the level of achievement that the seven AOW wrestlers reached in their first season with the club and the expectation that all will continue to improve and contend next year.

“I'm beyond excited for next year,” J.D. Heinrich said. “I don't see any reason why these seven kids won't all be in the top three next year. That's my expectation from what they did this year.”

During Year 1, trips to large regional competitions included Fargo, North Dakota; Moorhead, Minnesota; Omaha, Nebraska; and Spearfish. Next season, AOW is hoping to add the national competition in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to the list.

“They set the bar pretty high on the first year,” added Rainer Westall. “It just makes them more hungry and we can use that. This is what we did last year, this was the time we put in, and things can only get better.”

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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