ELKIN — Seventy-two local athletes, ages six to 18, attended the first day of the four-day Gold Medal Summer Training Camp at Elkin High School Saturday.
The camp is literally a hands-on experience for young wrestlers. The camp is run and led by Ken Chertow, who has competed for the USA in the Olympics; was a three-time NCAA All-American; and was a three-time NCAA Academic All-American at Penn State.
“They’re doing great,” Chertow said as the camp approached the lunch break. “There are a lot of focused kids.”
Also present as an assistant was incoming Elkin coach Matt Dunn.
“I think it gives the kids an opportunity to see people who have been extremely successful in the sport and see what habits make them extremely successful,” Dunn said. “He runs the largest and most successful camp in the country.
“He’s probably the best at doing this. He doesn’t just push wrestling and academics, he pushes excellence.”
Chertow credited Dunn with bringing the camp to Elkin.
“I’ve known Coach Dunn since he was a teenager,” Chertow said.
“I do most of my camps in major metro areas,” he said, “but when Coach Dunn asked me, I got my butt down to Elkin, North Carolina.”
It is obvious Chertow and his staff enjoy what they are doing. They are intense and they are very sure of their instruction.
“You can start at any age, but the sooner you get started the better,” Chertow said. “You can be long and lanky or short and stocky, I’ll teach things that will work for them.”
In all, 82 are registered for the camp. Ten were missing Saturday due to other commitments. Twenty-seven of the 72 campers present Saturday are in the Elkin pipeline: 12 of high-school age; eight of middle-school age; and seven of elementary age.
“I love the camp,” said Elkin rising junior Said Javier. “It’s a good experience to learn things. You learn more in the offseason.”
Javier said Chertow and his staff are showing him how to tweak some of his moves and learn others. “I really like the bar tilt we’ve been working on,” Javier said.
Elkin rising sophomore Blake Frye said much the same. “I love it,” he echoed, adding he is learning “a whole lot of new moves” and getting good experience.
“I love the way he’s incorporating stuff we haven’t seen around here,” Frye said.
Surry Central rising senior Zack Martin said, “It’s really good. They know what they are doing. They break things down.”
Chertow and his staff kept the campers busy with short bursts of instruction, followed by bursts of practice. “There’s not a lot of downtime,” Martin said. “We’re always working. We’re always learning.”
Elkin rising sophomore Juan Anuario said, “I’m really thankful. Coach Chertow and Coach Dunn and all the assistant coaches who brought the camp here. This is high-level stuff.”
Anuario added the Chertow staff was putting them through “an intense workout. It’s good for us. I want to be on the podium this year. This is Elkin. We all want to be on the podium.”
Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @elkinareasports.