The recent Great Bend High School wrestling camp had almost 50 young wrestlers working in the offseason to improve their skills.
GBHS head coach Norbert Muth’s camp focused on fundamentals, having good form and staying in the proper positions.
“I want the kids to enjoy what they are doing but at the same time learn things that are going to help them in their wrestling future,” Muth said.
Participants ranged from 5 to 18 years old, separated by age into two groups.
“It’s important for kids to start early,” said GBHS assistant coach Justin Schwartz. “They develop good motor skills and proper technique from the beginning.”
Schwartz led the wrestlers through stance drills, followed by double-leg and high-crotch takedowns.
“I don’t know how good I’ll be. I hope better than my brother,” said 6-year-old Emmanuel Prieto, who is starting his third year wrestling.
Middle school and high school wrestlers had a much more intense camp, but it shared Muth’s focus on proper position and fundamentals.
“You can know a thousand moves, but if your body is not in the right place none of that will matter,” Great Bend Middle School head coach Jeremy Foster said. “These kids know a lot of moves. They know moves they will never use in a match.
“Body position, control, stance (and) proper pressure, these are things you use every match all the time.”
GBHS senior-to-be Chris Burley, who captured second place at the Class 5A state meet last February in the 120-pound division after winning the state crown in 2011 in the 112 category as a sophomore, said he is eager to improve his form.
“I need to finish my shots better,” he said.
GBHS teammate Kade Sander, who missed virtually all of last winter with a knee injury, said he used the camp to get back into conditioning.
“I need to get into wrestling shape and really try to stay healthy this year,” he said.
The Panthers had eight state qualifiers last season.
“We have to fight through a tough regional tournament just to get to the state tournament,” Schwartz said. “We are bringing back a lot of experience and I know these kids have high expectations for themselves and their teammates.”
Junior-to-be Greg Burley already has his mind on this year’s state tournament. He was a third-place finisher at the state meet at 132.
“I’m looking at moving up a weight class because I’m getting taller,” he said. “The season is a ways off, but today’s the day to get better.”