Baldwin City youth showing more interest in camp
A good recipe for success in building a high school program is making sure the youth of the town are learning the sport from good teachers.
Baldwin High School wrestling coach Kit Harris is doing exactly that with his annual Team Champions Wrestling Camp. The camp is running this week at Baker University.
"It's exciting, especially since we have more in the youth group," Harris said of having Baldwin City wrestlers at the camp. "We have 36 here from Baldwin. We had 25, 27 and 29, so 36 is our all-time high. It's really easy for them to come to the camp right here in their hometown. It's been really exciting as a Baldwin coach to see that.
"I think it helps just trying to promote interest in the sport," Harris said. "That goal is being reached."
The number of wrestlers pleases Harris, because he knows several others are busy during the summer.
"We've got a pretty good number of high school kids here," Harris said. "Of the high school kids that aren't here, it's because some of them are competing nationally. Some are also really involved with other things during the summer with activities or jobs. I always try to be understanding of that."
BHS freshman Josh Hanson has attended the camp for three years and enjoys spending time with other hometown wrestlers.
"It's nice being with the other Baldwin wrestlers at the camp," Hanson said. "It's really fun."
Many of the Baldwin wrestlers spend time together during sessions at the camp.
"In between sessions you goof around with them or whatever," said Baldwin High School Brian Harris. "When it's time to work, it's time work."
When the Baldwin kids aren't bonding with each other, they are taking advantage of the experienced clinicians that the camp.
"The camp is great this year," K. Harris said. "There are a lot of learning experiences and a lot of staff members that really know what they are doing."
Two of the bigger names at the camp are back. Eric Akin, four-time All-American at Iowa State University, and Gary Mayabb, Oak Park (Mo.) High School head coach and six-time Greco-Roman World Team coach.
Another clinician is Gonz Medina. He helped K. Harris start the camp three years ago.
"Gonz and Eric are really good coaches," Hanson said. "They teach us different moves. I just learned a new move from Eric today."
Elliott said the camp has been tough, but he is learning important techniques.
"It's a lot of fun, but it's also physically exhausting," said BHS freshman Aaron Elliott said. "I am learning a lot of offensive take downs and defensive counters."
One advantage of the camp for Baldwin wrestlers is the location. Baker University makes the camp much more accessible for the hometown grapplers.
"The Baker gym has worked really well for us," B. Harris said. "It's nice that it is walking distance from the dorm. It's a really nice set up."
Elliott enjoyed the opportunity at camp to know his future teammates.
"I am having fun meeting my teammates next year and bonding with them," Elliott said. "I actually am looking forward to wrestling next year. I wrestled last year, so I think going into high school it will be very fun."
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