LAURINBURG —Teenagers and prospective St. Andrews wrestling recruits are in the middle of their annual summer fitness camp — and for once cutting weight wouldn’t be hard.
The 20 or so wrestlers who attended the camp were drenched in sweat as they threw each other down on the mats Monday afternoon. The Physical Education Center on campus is equipped with air conditioning, but it’s currently being worked on so the wrestling team is getting their sweat on.
The Knights started camp on Sunday and will have work outs and practices through Thursday. Long-time Knights head coach Joe Baranik was excited about the turnout for the camp and was even more thrilled the team had prospective recruits from five states.
“We have kids here from Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and of course North Carolina,” Baranik said.
Baranik along with his staff, which includes assistant coach Denzel Vaughn, St. Andrews’ only two time All-American, and three current St. Andrews wrestlers — Brennan Patton, Austin Dixon and Tyler Evers.
Vaughn went through the fitness camp with Baranik as a student and is pleased to see the tradition continuing for a ninth year.
“He’s been carrying on that same trend and it seems to help our guys when they come back in the fall,” Vaughn said.
One of the key aspects of the camp is teaching the recruits the style of wrestling Baranik and the Knights use on the mats, which often times is quite different than the style the kids have used at their respective high schools.
The camp also helps the would-be Knights get a sense of how they will do on the mat at the collegiate level. Even if they don’t excel according to Vaughn it helps the wrestlers know what they need to work on over the remaining summer months.
“It’s a good motivation for the new guys coming in to wrestle with a college guy and see how they stack up,” he said.
Having the current members of the wrestling team take over and teach the recruits is an integral part of the Knights fitness camp. Patton was in charge of showing campers several basic techniques St. Andrews uses during their matches Monday afternoon.
After a quick demonstration the wrestlers would break into groups, based on weight classes, and practice what Patton had just taught them. The junior would then walk around and offer assistance and tips as the wrestlers when through the moves.
Watching the upperclassmen train and mentor the younger wrestlers shows the staff they are doing their jobs Vaughn said.
“If I’m able to show Brennan something once and then he can take that and show four or five guys and they are able to show four or five more, I’ve done my job,” he said. “Especially at our school, because we’re trying to get everyone used to our wrestling style and that will help put more in their arsenal. Another good thing with them seeing the fresh meat coming in it allows the upperclassmen to see which wrestlers might need a little bit more help, if they choose to come here, during the regular season.”
Not every member of the St. Andrews wrestling team is able to attend the fitness camp due to summer jobs and other schedule conflicts, but Vaughn says the team is close to having a full roster for the winter.
“We have around 25 kids right now, we would like to have 30 so we can have three students wrestling in each of the 10 weight classes,” he said.
The Knights will be hitting the mats again next week to host their sixth annual youth camp, for kids in first through sixth grade, July 18-21 from 9 a.m. to noon each day at the St. Andrews wrestling gym.
The day camp will help teach kids how to become fit, learn a skill, become better prepared for self-defense, gain self-confidence and develop work ethic. Each student will be paired by age, weight and skill level.
In addition, kids will engage in fitness activities such as tug-of-war, kick ball, team handball, whiffle ball, “Vision Quest,” and “Odd-Person Out” run scramble. The cost of this camp is $70 and includes a T-shirt.
For information, contact Baranik at 910-277-5012 or [email protected]
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170. Also be sure to like us on Facebook, Laurinburg Exchange and follows us on Twitter @LburgExchange.