West Holmes High School wrestling head coach Scott Vaughn came away happy with his squad’s performance at the Nittany Lion Summer Team Camp held July 7-10 at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania.
With three full days of wrestling capped off with a takedown tournament, Vaughn felt his 11 wrestlers at camp did what was expected of them at this stage of the year.
After reflecting on the camp, Vaughn said, “I think most of the kids did roughly what coach Regula (Jeremy, assistant coach) and I thought they would do. There were a few kids that haven’t touched the mat since last season, and to throw them in and get 10-15 matches is a tough week for them. Again, like last year, we were a young team. We had no seniors, and we were missing two of our three returning wrestlers with state experience. Still, we more than held our own at the camp. We wrestled teams from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey and New York.”
Leading the way for the Knights was junior Tyler Masters, who posted a sparkling 12-1 mark in his matches. The returning state placer who was sixth in the state in 2018 also pocketed a championship in the summer camp’s best 2-of-3 takedowns tournament, a single two-minute period, which closed the camp. Also snaring a takedown tournament championship was sophomore Jack Welsh, who posted an overall mark of 9-4.
Masters followed his impressive state performance by continuing to dominate at camp.
“Tyler had a lot of quality matches, kids that took him the distance in really tight matches,” Vaughn said. “The single match that he lost was a one-point loss. He came back and took first place in the takedown tournament. I was really happy with his performance and how hard he worked at the ‘optional’ morning conditioning.”
Welsh impressed Vaughn as well. The head coach said, “Jack wrestled well all camp even when he was matched up with some kids 15 pounds heavier than him.”
Earning a third-place finish in the takedown tournament was junior Hunter Bowling, who ended his camp with an 8-7 record, but it was the way he finished that caught his coach’s eye.
“Hunter had a rough start to the camp,” Vaughn said. “But he came back and finished nicely. He lost his first match of the takedown tournament and came back to take third. He seems to be a slow starter, but he showed mental toughness to keep grinding and had a nice camp.”
Junior Walker Uhl and freshman Conner Varnes scored fourth-place finishes in the takedown tournament. Uhl finished his camp 9-6 while Varnes posted a strong 12-5 mark.
“Both Walker and Conner took fourth place after both lost their first match,” Vaughn said. “I think it says a lot about Hunter, Walker and Conner to take a loss the first match of the tournament and battle back. All the boys were tired and banged up after a grueling camp, and they showed toughness to keep fighting. Walker was up from his season weight class of 126 to 154 pounds, which had him changing his style a bit to wrestle bigger guys. I thought he developed some offense toward the end of camp.”
Also participating in the camp were sophomores Kendel Weber, who went 6-5; Cruz Alexander, who ended the week 11-6; and Gavin Greer, who was 8-4. Freshman Tucker Kaufman went 8-6, Noah Tish grappled his way to a 6-7 mark and Zach Snow finished 5-9.
“Our other incoming freshman wrestled well,” Vaugh said of his promising freshman class. “I threw a lot of really good kids at Tucker, and he did really well to make them earn whatever they got from him. With the quality kids he had to wrestle, I thought he had a nice camp, even though he didn’t have the best record or place at the tournament. Our only ‘big guys’ were Gavin Greer (158 pounds) and Cruz Alexander (168 pounds). We borrowed Dalton Cunningham (202) from River View, and he ended up going 7-0, but an injury cut his camp short. Gavin wrestled pretty well for not seeing the mat since March. He was looking good on his feet and pulled out quite a few close matches. Cruz was another wrestler that I really pushed with match-ups. I threw heavier kids at him as well as top-notch kids. I think this could be a breakout year for Cruz, and I wanted to see how he responded to some adversity. I thought he handled it very well and came away with a lot of positives. We have been working on fine tuning a few things with Cruz, and he really worked hard to polish off his technique.”
Vaughn also was very happy and impressed with how the summer camp was operated by the Penn State staff.
“I really liked this camp,” Vaughn said. “It was a little different than most team camps that we typically go to. Instead of having a traditional dual, we would meet with a team that we were matched up with and pair our wrestlers by weight and ability. There were no team scores taken, just focusing on getting better. I liked that we matched the kids up. This lessened the chance that a kid would get a match that they were severely over/under matched in. I also thought it was interesting how they ran their technique sessions. Instead of one long three-hour technique session a day, they ran one 45 minute session in the first and second sessions. The campers were allowed to pick which session they went to, which I think helped them stay focused. Overall, I left the camp pretty happy. No one was injured, and the kids seemed to really enjoy the camp. I definitely think this is a camp that we would consider going back to.”