ELKTON — As soon as Elkton wrestling coach Mike Wright shared his idea for a Cecil County-wide summer wrestling camp with Nick Willey, the former Elkton state champion and 2005 graduate wasted little time jumping on board.
For Willey, who produced one of the finest wrestling seasons in Golden Elks history, the camp represents a chance to give local wrestlers something he never had as a student-athlete.
“Growing up, we worked in the offseason on our own, if at all. It’s a brilliant idea by Mike Wright, and as soon as he told me about it, I was excited. I wanted a piece of it and I wanted to do anything I could to help,” Willey said. “This is one of those camps you can travel to and don’t have to pay a fortune for these kids to go. This camp’s next to free and they’re getting a lot of different personalities, a lot of different styles, backgrounds coming in to give these kids whatever they can soak up. I think it’s great.”
The Elkton coaching staff, in conjunction with Cecil County Parks and Recreation, is hosting an in-house wrestling camp in the school’s gymnasium July 22-25. For only $10 a person, boys and girls, ages 7-18, can attend the daily, two-hour camp to learn various wrestling moves, including takedowns, set ups, pinning combinations and throws.
The camp, open to all area wrestlers and taking place every day from 2:45-4:45 p.m., will not focus on conditioning and weight-cutting, but instead center on technique, with instruction available for all skill sets.
“It’s not just about Elkton, it’s about getting kids out and staying in their wrestling shoes the entire year if they can,” Wright said. “We get a lot of kids that come out for wrestling for the first time during their 10th grade year. We don’t really have a junior league program, so this might get them interested early and get kids coming out from middle school or even earlier than that.”
Each day will feature a special guest teacher. Notable instructors include Jake Trybus, who graduated from Bohemia Manor in 2014 as the school’s only four-time All-County selection, Clint Farrazzo, who captured a pair of Delaware state high school championships and walked the stage as the second winningest wrestler in state history, and Kevin Green, an MMA and jiu jitsu instructor in Newark, Del.
Willey, who went undefeated as a senior and won the 2A-1A 171-pound state crown prior to wrestling in college and embarking on a career in MMA, will also be among the camp’s unique teachers.
“I hope the turnout’s amazing,” Willey said. “I’m hoping young wrestlers come out in droves because Cecil County needs this.”
The camp follows a down year for varsity wrestling in the county after only one local grappler captured a region crown and zero wrestlers placed at the MPSSAA state tournament in March.
“It’s something that we always wanted to do for our team specifically, but after last season’s results, we kind of saw it could make the county better and area better, as well,” Wright said. “We figured what if we got coaches on board from other schools and got some of their kids out and really made it a Cecil County-wide thing?”
Trybus, who placed at states three times during his career with the Eagles, went on to wrestle at the University of Maryland. He noted he was among six Cecil County high school wrestlers that traveled across the country in 2013 to compete in the ASICS/Vaughan Junior and Cadet National Championships in Fargo, N.D.
“I had to jump on this opportunity. When my family moved here to the area, county wrestling wasn’t anywhere as big as it was when we were living in Pennsylvania. I always knew that the county needed a little bit more help, more opportunity for kids at the high school level to get exposed to a little bit higher technique,” Trybus said. “One of the best learning opportunities is to bring someone down from a higher level. When I was in high school, that was one of the things I did was go to different camps and get the opportunity to learn from kids in college and college coaches.
“Seeing [how wrestling went in Cecil County this past year] was kind of hurtful because you want them to do well. You take pride in the fact that’s where you came from. There’s been a little bit of a culture change,” Trybus continued. “When my class was coming through, there was a really good group of kids that were all involved in the sport, going out to Fargo, going to different camps. It was having that group of kids who were willing to travel, willing to train together, and you just don’t hear about that as much anymore. Hopefully this is an opportunity to take in and figure out how to start working together as a county.”
Helping the community is why Green was eager to contribute to the camp.
“I didn’t even hesitate. My whole life has been community, so the opportunity to share this sport that I loved with kids growing up, it was easy for me to say ‘let’s do it,’” said Green, a head coach at Triple Threat Combat Sports just across the Cecil County border in Delaware. “What’s really unique about this camp is that the focus is on technique. What they’re going to get out of it is a lot of different styles and experience things from a variety of different coaches.
“I wrestled in high school, but in my MMA career, I’ve wrestled with Greco-Roman wrestlers who were in the Olympics. I have a judo background. I’m excited to show wrestlers some techniques from the judo world and the jiu jitsu world that will definitely help them. I think they’re going to get an opportunity to really focus on technique as opposed to grinding it out.”
Those interested should register with Cecil County Parks and Rec.
“I think it’s cool that Mike is doing this for the entire community, not just his school,” Green said. “Not only are these wrestlers getting to see techniques from different instructors, but they’re getting the chance to wrestle with, practice with and share their love for the sport with guys they normally would be competing against. There’s something to be said about that.”
Follow Jordan Schatz on Twitter: @Jordan_Whig