Kids get top coaching at Precision Wrestling Camp in Towanda
TOWANDA - Around 50 area wrestlers got a chance to learn from some of the best as they took part in the Precision Wrestling Camp at Towanda over the past four days.
"We had right around 50 or so kids," said Towanda assistant coach Mike Maurer, a former Lycoming wrestler and assistant coach who helped bring the event to the school. "I thought it was pretty good to get that many kids to come in for four days during the summer.
"It's really cool, the turnout from Towanda was great, and we had kids from Canton, Wyalusing and Northeast Bradford. We had kids from as far away as Dallas and Tunkhannock and we even had a kid from Greene, N.Y."
Maurer knows that in the future the camp will only grow as they learned from this first experience.
"It's the first year we have done this and we learned a lot," Maurer said. "We have learned how to market it a little bit better, and we might change the dates to get more of the New York kids when they are finished with school."
The camp had two featured clinicians, in Clarion head coach Troy Letters and assistant coach Bekod Abdurakhmonov. Letters is a former two-time PIAA champion, and a national champion at Lehigh University.
The camp also included Penn State star, and national champion, Ed Ruth on the staff, along with other college and high school coaches.
"It's awesome to have all of these people," Maurer said. "They are some of the best teachers I have ever seen. Ed Ruth is a two-time national champion at Penn State, Troy Letters is the head coach at Clarion and a national champion. I think everyone learned something, I was able to learn stuff this week."
Towanda head coach Bill Sexton knows that wrestling is a sport where there are always things to learn, and he thinks this camp was big for the kids.
"Wrestling is a constantly evolving sport," he said. "You can always learn and it helps you to get better."
One of the big things for area wrestlers was the chance to learn from some of the sports best, right near home at a reasonable price.
"Camps are getting very expensive," Sexton said. "To be able to get this kind of instruction, it's really a bargain at $150. A lot of times you will go to an overnight camp and spend $400 or $500 for this kind of instruction."
Matt Park, who is the head coach at Penn State Dubois and is one of the founders of the precision camps, said the goal was to get top people to work with the kids at a good price.
"Wrestling is a pretty blue collar sport and our goal was to make these camps affordable for everyone," Park said. "We have gotten a lot of support from the local areas (around Towanda). It was a great place to have a camp. We like to get the highest level (of instruction) at an affordable price."
For the first time in Towanda the camp got a lot of support and everyone thought it was a success.
"We want to thank Larry Fulmer and his family for putting these guys up," Maurer said. "The community really supported this."
"We do a lot of these camps, a lot of them are in the Western part of the state," Clarion assistant coach Keith Ferraro said. "This is the first year we have been here and it was a great turnout. It's been a great group of kids."
The kids in attendance ranged from young kids starting out in the sport, to Canton junior Garrett Wesneski, one of two state medalists from the NTL last season.
"It's great for the younger kids to be a part of what the older kids are doing," Letters said. "We don't split them up, we teach them the same things. The younger kids are learning the same things as the older kids."
What is a big benefit for the older wrestlers is getting a chance to ask questions of college coaches and NCAA champions like Ruth and Letters.
"It gives the high school guys access to Division I coaches," Letters said. "I do a Q&A with them and they can ask me any questions. They can ask about how important academics are. They can ask me what it is like to win an NCAA title and what it takes to win an NCAA title and what it takes to wrestle at the highest level."
While the instruction is great for the kids, Clarion graduate assistant Kerry Regner said one of the biggest things that kids take from the camp is the experiences.
"The instruction is great, but what the kids will really remember is meeting Ed Ruth. Getting a chance to wrestle with Troy Letters. It's the memories that they get which will last a lifetime."
The past two years Clarion has been among the top 35 schools in Division I, two years ago finishing 18th, and Ruth is a two-time national champion on the national championship winning Penn State wrestling team.
Regner knows that having people like that show up at the camp is something that you wouldn't see in other sports.
"It would be like if Urban Meyer came and did your football camp," Regner said. "Clarion is a Division I school. Two years ago they were 18th, this year they were 33rd. It would be like getting a coach at a good Division I school like Meyer to come and do your football camp."
For the kids this was a chance to interact with athletes they may have watched wrestle at the college level.
"They get a chance to talk to Ed Ruth about his day-to-day training, and what it takes to wrestle at that level," Regner said.
Regner felt like the kids at the camp all really wanted to learn.
"This is a good wrestling area," he said. "You can tell these kids are well coached. No one is talking back, they are paying attention, they are all here to learn and to wrestle."
Eric Grecco, a former Lycoming wrestler, along with Maurer helped to organize the event for Towanda and he was happy with the turnout for the first year.
"We going in were optimistic," he said. "We were hoping to pull from some of the D4 schools and we were shooting for about 50 kids and that's what we got."