The first day of the much-talked-about Senior Greco camp at MWC in Papillion, Nebraska concluded on Thursday with two sessions and new insights to the overall training plan coming to light. Turnout, as reported earlier this week, is substantial. In fact, it is the largest Senior gathering on US soil since the Pan-Am camp back in late-February.
A vast collection of top athletes have showed up, including RaVaughn Perkins (77 kg, NYAC), Taylor LaMont (60 kg, Sunkist/UVRTC), G’Angelo Hancock (87 kg, Sunkist, world #8), two-time Olympian Ben Provisor (77 kg, NYAC), Kamal Bey (77 kg, Sunkist) and Austin Morrow (67 kg, NYAC/NTS), among others. Working alongside (and sometimes with) the Seniors are several of MWC’s well-known competitors such as ’19 Cadet World Team member Conor Knopick (60 kg) and ’19 Junior Fargo winner Camden Russell (60 kg).
NYAC coach and US National Team staff member Herb House spoke on Thursday evening about the attendance level at the camp, what the curriculum entails, and what the overall goal of this expanded training experience is, especially for those athletes who had previously been unable to train with others due to lockdown protocols.
5PM: Did you expect, or rather were you surprised, that so many guys showed up in Nebraska?
Herb House: Hmmm, I don’t think I was surprised. I was happy because these guys want to train, right? They want to get out and train and get back in the room, so I think I was happy more than surprised. I knew everyone wanted to get out and back to wrestling. The opportunity Zac Dominguez helped us with, getting us here, allowed us to do this. It’s a great camp. Zac Dominguez has done a lot for this camp, he has put a lot of work into it. We’re all happy to be here.
5PM: With Ivan’s camp a couple of weeks ago, he kind of integrates his system and equipment into the sessions. For this camp at MWC, it is more like what Seniors are used to with camps at say, the OTC (Olympic & Paralympic Training Center)?
House: Right, so this camp is more like a normal Senior camp. What we do is wrestle live in the morning; and then in the afternoons we’re going over technique and mistakes that we saw that we want to correct. So it’s live in the morning and technique in the afternoon.
5PM: There are a lot of wrestlers here who have yet to participate in organized training this summer and you work closely with several of them when things are normal. For you yourself as a coach, do you have certain goals or benchmarks in mind for this group of athletes that you want to see over the course of these next few days?
House: I talked with Coach (Matt Lindland) before we left just to get his advice and input that he thought was important. Things he feels we need to work on up here. Then Coach Dominguez and I put a plan together, so it’s really all three of us who came together. We came up with a plan that we feel will easily but gradually allow these guys to come back.
We didn’t really want to push them too hard — but we do want to focus on two things: pummeling on our feet and getting them in shape; and then on top of that we want to work on par terre. Lifts. Lifts. We want more lifts. We keep saying it, we have to lift. Our biggest focus was lifts and guts today, and we’re going to continue that throughout the week. We also want to get these guys in the best shape we can. We only have nine months left until the (Olympic) Trials. That’s it. I think people realize that this is going to take longer than they expected it was going to take. Athletes were coming up and telling me, Man, I can’t believe I’m this out of shape. I think they’ve come to the strong reality that yeah, they are out of shape. They need this, so it’s a good thing.
5PM: How is the energy level so far? Is everyone adrenalized to be together a big unit?
House: Yes, I think the energy level is high because everyone gets to hang out with other wrestlers, Greco-Roman wrestlers. They’re back together with their friends, people they feel comfortable with. Now that they’ve had that separation from them it is, We miss you guys! Everyone is really happy that we’re together. They love to wrestle with someone different. I think when you go home and wrestle with someone who is average and then you get to wrestle with someone who is at your level who is going to make you push yourself harder, it puts you on your A game.
I think that is what a lot of our guys are seeing now. Before this camp you have Tracy (G’Angelo Hancock), and it is hard to find people his size in the US, or his caliber, who can compete with him. Danny Miller is locked down. Lucas Sheridan is locked down. Luckily, we have Alan Vera here who was able to come. These two guys, they go at it. I’m telling you, man, they are really good for each other.