FARMINGTON – Several high school wrestlers hope time taken to attend a camp teaching leg skills this weekend will pay hefty dividends next winter.
Joe Weir came to Mt. Blue High School on Saturday to conduct a two-day camp for the Nick Puler Foundation, which runs wrestling clinics throughout the United States.
“The new techniques being shown are great,” said Josh Thornton, an incoming freshman at Mountain Valley. “There are a lot of things that you don’t see (executed) a lot in Maine. Other wrestlers train year round and that’s important if you really want to improve.”
The focus of the camp was improving leg skills, an area where Maine wrestlers often fall short. This was demonstrated during last month’s Friendship Series against Nebraska and at the annual New England championship.
“Positioning and stance,” Weir said. “That’s what it’s all about, because when you watch big-name programs like Iowa and Oklahoma State, the wrestlers have a stonewall defense. You need to push yourself, and it begins in practice when picking a partner. It’s important to seek out someone who is better than yourself because you’ll be learning more and improving.”
Weir, on the coaching staff at Puler for five years, understands the commitment and dedication necessary to succeed at the next level. Weir was a two-time junior college All-American and a Big Eight conference champion at the University of Missouri in 1996.
“Every kid has different attributes and body types,” Weir said. “Strength, power and speed can be used to their advantage, but it depends on each individual. Wrestling is a demanding sport, not only physically, but mentally, and that is often overlooked.”
The camp gave wrestlers the chance to learn different techniques. The moves allow competitors to control opponents from either the offensive or defensive positions.
“My coach will run through a lot of these (drills),” John Iams of Mt. Blue said. “Right now, I’m making sure I’m learning how to do the moves. I need to make sure my arms are positioned correctly.”
Weir showed numerous offensive moves and counters, including set-ups for takedowns, moves after a bad shot when your opponent sprawls on you, leg riding, ways to score without shooting and a few moves off bottom. The many moves are needed because the opponent is working equally hard to counter those attempts.
“It all comes back to you,” Dirigo’s Josh Palmer said. “It’s a little difficult not being in (physical) shape like during the season. We work single legs a lot at Dirigo, but Joe has already shown me some double-leg takedowns and tie-ups that I can use.”
Another benefit of Puler’s program is that each camper receives DVDs that concentrate on the basics and more advanced techniques, like leg-riding. The program has helped produce 643 All-Americans and 78 national champions in less than 10 years.
“It’s a great benefit for the kids,” Mt. Blue coach Bob O’Connor said. “These (drills) gets the kids winning now by using the moves. Hopefully, it helps kids who are here, while others will miss out. I know it will help our program.”