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GSU wrestling camp growing in popularity
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          The Recreation Activity Center at Georgia Southern is usually the site for fun and games, but this week saw middle and high school aged wrestlers getting down to business at the second annual “Camp for Champs” clinic.

            From Thursday until Saturday, 25 wrestlers in grades 6-12 met at the RAC to go through rigorous training that was designed to teach new techniques and tactics to advanced competitors.

            “We’re very excited about hosting this year’s camp,” said GSU coach William Hurst. “We held it at Southeast Bulloch last year, but this year, we’ve got more mats and have almost twice as many campers.”

            Many different schools were represented, and the attendance ranged from local -- SEB and Bulloch Academy -- to statewide as wrestlers from Tifton and Carrolton made the long trek.

            While many of the state’s top wrestling programs are in the northern half of Georgia, the growth in popularity of Camp for Champs after just one year has Hurst optimistic that the clinic can become a staple for talented wrestlers in this corner of the state.

            “I love the idea of having a big camp in this part of the state,” said Hurst. “There are a lot of very good wrestlers at the high school level down here, and a lot of the guys on the Georgia Southern team come from those big programs in Atlanta and up around Tennessee. There’s a great wrestling tradition in Georgia, and that’s something we want to continue to grow here.”

            With the quick success of the camp, plans already are being made for the 2011 edition. The College of Education -- which supports all camps run by GSU organizations -- has discussed next year’s camp, and it is possible that additional spots will be made available for beginning wrestlers to focus more on the basics of the sport.

            In addition to improving the skills of attendees, the camp also serves as both a recruiting tool and a coaching opportunity for the current members of the GSU squad, which is heading into its third year of competition this fall.

            “We have a couple of guys on the team that are helping as instructors,” said Hurst. “It’s good for the campers to get instruction from guys that are skilled and competing at the collegiate level. Some of our wrestlers are looking to be coaches after they’re done with school, so this is a good opportunity for them to get some experience with teaching others.”

            Now, the campers will return to their schools for the fast-approaching school year while the Eagles start to focus on their upcoming season

            “We’ll get to work almost immediately,” said Hurst. “Our guys will have a few days to settle in, but then we’ll have our first meeting and get to practicing until we have our first match in October.”


            Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.