Owls host prestigious wrestling camp


When discussing hosting a wrestling camp in Seymour, renowned coach Nick Purler cut a deal with Owls head Todd Weaver.

If Weaver pulled the numbers he claimed to have for one of his camps, around 60 kids, Purler would come down and give a camp in person.

Weaver came through on his end of the deal this past week, as wrestlers flocked to the high school’s auxiliary gym to attend a Purler Camp.

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“There are a few camps in the country that everyone wants to go to, and Purler is in the top two,” Weaver said. “They had been in contact with us because of our numbers. Usually they have around 20 to 25 guys. We ended up with 55.

“We were serious about it. We wanted a big turnout.”

In the past, the most that Purler had in a camp was about 30 athletes.

The program boasts 2,363 state medalists, 671 national champions and 1,112 All-Americans to its name since 1999.

That doesn’t include all of the collegiate accolades.

Weaver said that around 35 kids at the camp were from the Seymour program, ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade.

The camp ran from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, and in three segments Wednesday and Thursday that totaled six hours each day.

“When you drill this long, it can be hard,” Weaver said. “(Thursday) morning was a little sluggish, but that’s from two days of drilling. However, that’s what a lot of sports are — staying focused to get better. Constantly doing better.”

He said that the camp wasn’t for beginners but experienced wrestlers looking to improve on their skills.

Trevor Feagans, a Division I wrestler at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, led the camp at Seymour for Purler.

Feagans started with the Purler program 11 years ago.

“Coming in, I didn’t know what to expect because there are so many kids,” Feagans said. “I was a little bit nervous, but the kids were great. They worked hard and did everything I’ve asked — and I couldn’t be happier.”

The instructor was impressed by the knowledge of the campers.

“Even the little kids, they might not be as skilled as the high school kids, but they follow directions,” Feagans said. “As a coach, that’s all you can ask for. Not every kid will be the most talented, but if you follow directions and show effort, I’m pleased. That’s what I’ve seen here.”

In the sessions, the wrestlers went through a variety of drills with minimal live wrestling.

“We like to go over it once and then review it at the end,” Feagans said. “That way were not spending too much time on one move. Everything is still fresh in their minds, and they don’t get bored doing the same thing over and over again.

“Drilling is the key to success. We don’t practice to get it right, we practice until we don’t get it wrong.”

Wrestlers did get the chance, for about a half hour, at the end of each camp to wrestle one-on-one.

“When you go to a camp, you have a lot of different initiatives,” Weaver said. “You’re not usually getting a system, you’re getting moves. This is a drill-based sport. You have to have the skills. It doesn’t matter if you know the move — it matters if you can do it in live competition.

“That’s what (Purler) is doing. I think the best thing we’re getting is that it’s almost like a Seymour practice. The kids are seeing drills we already do. If the best in the country is doing it, and we’re doing it — it resonates. I think they will get more confidence in what we’re telling them since Purler is telling them the same thing.”

Incoming Seymour senior John Shuffitt said that the camp will help the team get better for the 2016-17 season.

“It has been really good drilling — everyone is just getting better,” Shuffitt said. “It gets very tiring, but you get through it. I think it will translate to the season. The guys out here are putting the time in.”

For Seymour Wrestling Club’s Sam Chandler, the camp taught him how to get out of various situations while keeping a fast pace.

“We have done a lot of hard stuff,” he said. “I’ve learned how to use my legs better. I like how we keep going here and we don’t stop until we get the break.”

Coming off one of, if not the, most successful seasons in the high schools history — with two semistate qualifiers and a 22-3 regular season record — Weaver hopes the camp continued to push the program over the top.

“You have to find numbers and get kids on the mat,” Weaver said. “We’re very excited. When we do these camps, it’s not a recruiting tool. It’s taking our existing wrestlers and getting them better. When we do our youth camps, that’s our recruiting tool. It seems to be working so far. We were pretty successful this winter and have had a good offseason.”

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