Competition Camp in the summer helps wrestlers get ready for the winter scholastic season

By Stuart Hedstrom 
Staff Writer

    DOVER-FOXCROFT — For the 12th year in a row, wrestlers from near and far have had the chance to learn new techniques and skills they can then use during their upcoming school seasons at the Foxcroft Academy Competition Camp which was held July 16-19.

sp-wrestlecoach-dc-po-30Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom

    BACK, FORWARD AND LEG SWEEP — Old Dominion University wrestling coach James Nicholson leads attendees of the 12th annual Foxcroft Academy Competition Camp through a drill on the afternoon of July 17. Nicholson and Old Dominion Director of Wrestling Operations Nick Pullano were the guest clinicians at the camp, and the two are also from the Granby School of Wrestling as they provided instruction in this style of wrestling.

    In past years the Foxcroft Academy Competition Camp has featured Olympic medalists, members of the U.S. Olympic coaching staff, college head coaches and former Foxcroft Academy standouts who have gone on to wrestle in college and most of the camps have had current or recently graduated members of the Pony wrestling team helping out.
    Camp coordinator and Foxcroft Academy wrestling head coach Luis Ayala said the guest clinicians for 2013 are Nick Pullano, director of wrestling operations at Old Dominion University in Virginia, and Old Dominion assistant wrestling coach James Nicholson.
    In addition to representing Old Dominion, where they both wrestled as student-athletes before taking jobs at their alma mater, Pullano and Nicholson were each providing instruction using lessons from the Granby School of Wrestling. 

sp-wrestlecoach2-dc-po-30    Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom

    HANDS-ON INSTRUCTION — Nick Pullano, standing, and James Nicholson of Old Dominion University and the Granby School of Wrestling provided wrestling lessons during the annual Foxcroft Academy Competition Camp on July 16-19. The camp is open to boys and girls in grades 5-12, as campers can then take what they have learned over the summer and apply the knowledge during the scholastic wrestling season.

    The Granby style of wrestling was established by National Wrestling Hall of Fame member Billy Martin, whose teams at Granby High School in Norfolk, Va. won 21 state championships in 22 years from 1949 to 1970 — a run that included losing just two matches during the 1960s.
    “We are working on a kind of hybrid of our system and the things James and I do well,” Pullano, who along with Nicholson was visiting Maine for the first time, said in-between the morning and afternoon camp sessions on July 17. “Most people know all of the same moves, but there is a lot of little details. We try to tighten up those details and help them develop a more high- level technique.”
    “We are just bringing what we know,” Nicholson said. “A lot of people have heard about the Granby roll, but the system has evolved over time and we know in detail each move and how to teach it.”

sp-wrestlegame-dc-po-30    Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom

    BEING PULLED IN SEVERAL DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS — Fun games are a part of the Foxcroft Academy Competition Camp, as teams fought to bring a wrapped towel from the center of the mat over to their side.

    Nicholson said the Foxcroft Academy Competition Camp attendees, many of whom were staying overnight in the school dorms, learned techniques for the various aspects of a match. “You want to be an overall wrestler, so we are working on what to do when you are on your feet and how to be on top; Nick’s got some great moves. We are trying to put them in every position they are going to be in.”
     After lunch and a warm-up game resembling a full contact version of capture the flag, the several dozen campers —the camp is open to boys and girls in grade 5 through 12 — assembled on the mats in the Foxcroft Academy gym for the afternoon instructions from Pullano and Nicholson. Nicholson reviewed a series of moves the younger wrestlers learned earlier, in order, knee shrug, second level, elbow shrug and high low.
    Pairing off, the campers practiced the series of four moves for several minutes with the two clinicians walking around the four mats covering the floor to offer pointers and adjustments if necessary. “We do that every session, at the beginning so it’s fresh,” Nicholson said.
    With the review finished, the campers began to learn a new technique. Focusing on their footwork, Nicholson led a “back-step drill” comprised of a “back step, front step and I’m sweeping, no one should stand up and we are sweeping our left leg around,” he said as the all the wrestlers followed Nicholson’s lead.
    The ensuing lesson involved using a hook technique to be utilized when tied up with another wrestler, which followed the leg sweep. The campers again paired off with fellow grapplers similar in size, practicing the lessons until Pullano and Nicholson gave them a thumbs up, indicating they performed the moves correctly and had earned a break.

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