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Just ahead of several local wrestlers’ appearance at a national tournament this weekend, the Los Alamos Hilltopper wrestling program is hosting a team camp.
The camp, which opened Monday at the Pueblo Complex, features instruction from Virginia Tech’s collegiate program.
Virginia Tech’s assistant coach Nate Yetzer and one of its top wrestlers, Jesse Dong, will help run the camp.
The camp continues through Wednesday.
About 20 wrestlers were present for Monday’s opening day, including a group of seven wrestlers from Tucumcari High School, approximately 250 miles away.
“This is the stuff I like,” said Yetzer. “This is stuff that works at the little kids’ level all the way to the college level. Everybody’s different, but everyone needs a good skill set.”
Los Alamos head coach Bob Geyer said he’d been in contact with Virginia Tech previously to appear at a camp in Los Alamos. The school planned to travel to Los Alamos two years ago, but those plans ultimately fell through.
But this year, Virginia Tech welcomed the chance to appear at the camp.
Several members of the Hilltopper program were taking part in Monday’s opening day as well, including most of the contingent that will head down to the Amateur Athletic Union’s Grand Nationals. The Grand Nationals will be held at Fort Marcy Park in Santa Fe.
Los Alamos’ wrestlers – there are seven currently slated to compete – will mostly take part in Saturday’s collegiate-style tournament. Greco-Roman and freestyle tournaments will be held the first two days of the Grand National competition.
Approximately 500 wrestlers are expected.
At Los Alamos’ camp Monday, the Hokies representatives were emphasizing shooting skills and leg attacks along with some defensive techniques.
Yetzer said the camp is a fairly intense one and wasn’t sure how many wrestlers would be around for all three days.
“The easy part is the first day,” Yetzer said. “The second day, when you’re sore and tired, it’s a lot harder to get here at 8 in the morning…the second day and third day really separates the kids.”
Dong, a 157-pound senior for the Hokies who the last two seasons just missed out on All-American honors, said Monday’s first session went well.
“The kids are listening. Everyone’s excited,” he said. “Different parts of the country are at different levels. We’re coming out here, helping the kids and teaching them our style.”
Virginia Tech appears at several different camps around the country. Yetzer said he’s attended camp in 36 different states.
The Hokies were among the top wrestling squads in the country last year, but only about five years ago, the program was on the school’s chopping block.
However, the Hokies were able to rebound and in about a year’s time were already on their way back to national prominence. The school even opened a $14 million facility for the wrestling program less than a year ago.
Geyer said he was hoping to get a few more wrestlers in for the camp this year, but the campers were getting plenty of individual attention from Dong and Yetzer.
“It doesn’t matter if you have 100 wrestlers, or 1,000, or two. You do the same things. This is what helps the kids.”