SHINGLE SPRINGS — Summer is the best time to prepare for the high school wrestling season that competes in the winter.
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That’s how Ponderosa High wrestling coach Tyson Escobar sees it. Escobar and most of the Bruin grapplers returning this winter were hosts of the 12th annual California Gold Wrestling Camp inside the Bruins’ gym.
“It’s always been a team camp,” Escobar said. “The biggest thing is mat time; we want the kids to wrestle. We do not keep score. It’s low-key. Everybody who’s here is getting better. That’s the main focus. We want the kids to wrestle as many matches as possible, and get better.”
The three-day camp had grapplers from 14 schools working on techniques in the morning. Then after lunch, they would be placed in their respective weight classes to wrestle, working on the moves that included implementing some of the lessons they learned in the morning and days prior.
Most of the schools competing were from the Sacramento region that includes powerhouses Elk Grove and Vista del Lago. Others included teams from Orange County in Southern California and San Diego, plus schools from McQueen of Reno, Nev. and Oregon.
“It’s a good group,” Escobar said.
Returning Bruin matmen Zackary Velasquez, who will be a senior, and Zach Miller, who will be a sophomore, enjoyed competing at the camp.
Working on their strengths, and improvement, is the key toward success, Velasquez points out.
“You get that mat time so you can figure out what you’re doing wrong,” Velasquez said. “To me, that’s the biggest difference.”
Miller added, “This camp is different from others because we actually wrestle, work on technique. The live matches help you get better.”
Members of the Sacramento City College wrestling team contributed their time at the camp, teaching the high school grapplers drills, and serving as referees during matches. One of the Panther grapplers is Jacob Richards, a 2012 Ponderosa graduate who wrestled in the 182-pound class for the Bruins.
“They trained the kids in the morning, getting them loosened up,” Escobar said. “We take about 45 minutes to do that.”
During the camp, the grapplers were treated to life outside of the mats by camping out in Coloma.
“The team bonding thing is a big aspect,” Escobar said. “We roasted marshmallows. The kids from San Diego brought their fishing poles. Some of the experiences the kids are getting, coming to Northern California, is priceless. That’s what we promote.”
On the last day of the camp, a mini-tournament was held in which kids were placed in their respective weight classes, and wrestled three to four matches. Factor the matches they’ve had at the camp for the last two days, and that’s a lot of time on the mat.
“When they leave after three days, most kids are going to have anywhere from 10 to 15 matches,” Escobar said.
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or [email protected] Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.