Duals highlight annual wrestling camp
Kit Harris not only recruits high profile wrestlers and clinicians to his Team Champions Wrestling Camp, he also attracts dozens of Baldwin City grapplers to the camp.
Harris, who is entering his eighth season as the Baldwin High School wrestling coach, held his fourth annual Team Champions camp last week at Baker University.
The camp was a success in Harris' eyes.
"Camp went great," Harris said. "It seems to get better and better each year. We get more kids enrolled and we get more coaches and clinicians to come help. This is our largest coaching staff we have had."
More than 130 grapplers attended the camp with 30 coming from Baldwin City. The local wrestlers ranged from high school age to elementary students.
One of those local participants was BHS senior-to-be Jacob Enick, who will be entering his second year as a wrestler in the winter. Enick enjoyed his first wrestling camp ever.
"I learned a lot and had a good time," Enick said. "I was surprised at how many people were there, because there were a lot. I've never experienced anything like that camp. It was neat."
Baldwin Junior High School eighth grader-to-be Cody Sellers has attended the Team Champions camp several years because he enjoys learning fundamentals.
"Camp was fun, because it teaches you a lot of basics," Sellers said. "I think learning a lot of basics is fun. It's a fun camp."
The Team Champions camp does focus on teaching the fundamentals of the sport, but the high profile clinicians also teach lots of the technique that made them successful.
The new clinician this year was Zach Roberson, an NCAA national champion and three-time All-American at Iowa State University. He was also a four-time state champion at Blue Valley Northwest High School. He still holds the state record in Kansas with a 153-0 record.
Roberson taught an afternoon session last Thursday, but had to return to Ames, Iowa, that evening. He said he wished he could have stayed at the camp longer.
"I liked the camp," Roberson said. "I liked the format. It was long enough for the guys to get something out of it. Sometimes you go to camps and you don't have enough time to teach everything you want to. Sometimes it goes so long that the kids can't even pay attention that long. This one was good."
During his session, he taught the wrestlers a move he used successfully for many years. Harris then showed the campers a video of Roberson from his national championship match.
"Zach showed his technique and he showed his patented shuck-pass-by," Harris said. "I was able to pull out the NCAA finals video from 2004 when he was a national champion. I showed the kids how legitimate of a technique it was. That one move put five points on the board and he won the national title 7-3. So, that move did win him a national title."
Harris, through Eric Akin, a four-time ISU All-American and Team Champions clinician for three years, contacted Roberson. Akin helped bring Roberson to the camp this year.
Bobby Bovaird, Washburn Rural High School coach and former assistant to Harris, brings several of his wrestlers to the Team Champions camp to learn from wrestlers like Akin and Roberson.
"It's great for them to be exposed to those guys," Bovaird said. "They are like the Michael Jordan's of our sport. Basketball players would have to pay thousands of dollars to get one-on-one work with a pro like that. But with wrestling, it's just the way our sport is."
Besides Akin and Roberson, several high school and collegiate coaches attend the camp to teach the grapplers. BHS senior-to-be Cameron Scruggs enjoyed learning from all of the experienced clinicians last week.
"I learned a lot of new stuff this year," Scruggs said. "We had a lot of really good coaches come in from out of state and teach us a lot of really good moves. People like that know what works, because they have been in it a long time. They really know what works and how to do it."
Sellers enjoyed how the clinicians and coaches worked individually with the campers.
"They work with you a lot if you are having troubles," Sellers said. "If you are wrestling a good kid, they will tell you to go out there and do your best."
During the week, the campers wrestled twice a day for two hours per session. They also spent some time in the classroom learning about sports psychology, being a champion of character and other wrestlers' struggles through difficult times during their lives.
The camp finished Friday with the championship duals. The wrestlers were divided into teams and competed in duals during the first three nights. The duals become a favorite part of camp for many of the wrestlers.
"Duals are my favorite part," BJHS sixth grader-to-be Riley Thomas said. "It's pretty much the only camp during the summer where you get to actually wrestle live matches."
Sellers said he enjoys the duals because they help him become a better wrestler when the season starts.
"The duals are fun, but challenging," Sellers said. "They test my skills a lot and they help me improve for the upcoming season. If I lose, I need to work on stuff. If I win, then good for me."
Harris agreed that the duals become a camp favorite each year.
"The duals are always a highlight every year," Harris said. "They get into a team and give themselves a team name. All week they are talking back and forth about who is the best team. It's a lot of fun."
Harris finished by saying the camp requires a lot of his time, but he feels it's his duty as an educator to help these youths, whether in wrestling or life.
"It's a lot of work and sometimes I wonder why I am taking this on, but it's a lot of fun," Harris said. "I just like to do things that I feel are in the category of being an educator, whether its academic, athletic or influencing."
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