The St. Andrews Knights sixth annual Wrestling/Fitness Camp kicked off Sunday, June 19, with over 30 students hitting the mat to begin a week of wrestling training.
Thirty-five wrestlers from across the southeast lined up in the Knights’ Old Gym, waiting instruction from St. Andrews head coach Joe Baranik and his team of wrestling gurus, including Scotland High head coach Joel McCanna, SHS assistant Nick Kee and 2-time Olympian Gray Simons.
The wrestlers opened Monday with a team run before hitting the gym for over four hours of training before the night’s dual matches.
“We’re really pleased with the turnout,” Baranik said. “We’d always like to have more, but this is a good start. We have students all the way from Georgia attending the camp, so it’s good to get out here and get the kids moving on the mat. I think they’ll learn a lot.”
In the afternoon sessions, the campers took in a special group instruction from Simons, who lead Lock Haven University of seven national championships on the NAIA and NCAA Division I levels. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame member is the only 6-time Outstanding Wrestler award winner, winning the honor twice on the Division I level.
Simons worked on the wrestler’s take downs and counter combinations, gathering the group of students around a pair of St. Andrews’ wrestlers to hold short demos before allowing the individual wrestlers to practice in pairs on the mat.
“We started with takedowns today, and we worked our way to duck-unders in different positions,” Simons said. “We went from that to combinations and learning how to get yourself on top and work your way out of a tie-up.”
Simons said that the campers have had a knack for picking up the techniques he’s teaching.
“They have been a very polite group of kids,” he said. “They are eager to learn and you can tell they want to hear what you have to say. As a coach, that’s all you can ask for.”
The Knights’ camp will continue to run until Thursday, with matches concluding at 10:30 a.m. Thursday morning.