Area wrestlers learn from Sanderson, teammates
By Michael Beaven
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND – The Wolstein Center on the campus of Cleveland State University this week has been the site for young wrestlers to learn more about their craft from the 2004 U.S. Olympic freestyle team.
The featured speaker on Wednesday at Brian Keck’s 2005 Cleveland State Wrestling Camp was Cael Sanderson. Sanderson taught technique and stances to 170 children ranging in age from 10 to 18.
“I am ecstatic about this event for many reasons,” CSU coach Jack Effner said. “This is a rich area for wrestling and camps like this keep making it better.”
Sanderson made his mark in the sport at the college level and through international competition. Following four high school state titles in Utah, he went undefeated (159-0) at Iowa State University from 1998-2002. He also won four NCAA championships, one in the 197-pound class and three in the 184-pound class.
Sanderson won an Olympic gold medal in the 185-pound class in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.
“We are exposing the kids to the best by bringing the best here,” Effner said in reference to Sanderson, Stephen Abas, Eric Guerrero, Jamill Kelly, Joe Williams, Daniel Cormier and Kerry McCoy.
The camp, in its second year, is put together by CSU assistant coach Brian Keck. He won a 2003 freestyle Pan American Championship and was a member of the 2003 USA national freestyle team.
“This has never been done before, ever in the history of wrestling camps,” Keck said in reference to the entire Olympic team participating. “I built friendships with these guys and got to know them and they wanted to help out with the camp.”
Area wrestlers from Firestone, Springfield, Tallmadge, Ellet and Norton took part in the drills that Sanderson led.
“He (Sanderson) came and talked to me,” said 15-year-old Alex Van Hoose from Ellet. “It felt kind of weird; I didn’t know what to do.”
Sanderson shook hands, took pictures and signed autographs for kids at the conclusion of the session.
“We’re out here having a good time,” Sanderson said. “You try and let them enjoy this sport. Promoting the sport and getting these kids excited about wrestling is what it’s all about.”
“I learned different takedowns and set-ups today,” said Seth Craft, 17, from Springfield.
Vincent Scarberry, 11, from Norton, summed up the day by saying, “Seeing an Olympic gold medalist and a four-time national champion is a great experience.”
Keck will run another camp from July 5-9 at CSU that will feature Olympic gold medalists Rulon Gardner, Kenny Monday and Brandon Slay.