One of wrestling's biggest names will conduct camp at Grand Valley High School
By KARL PEARSON
Trying to capitalize on what appears to be a resurgence of wrestling interest in the area, several local coaches have taken steps to bring one of the biggest names in the sport in the United States in to provide instruction for the littlest competitors up to high school age.
Through the work of Jefferson High School coach Tom Avsec and Falcon assistant coach Iain Gilchrist, noted wrestling competitor, coach, author and television analyst Ken Chertow will be putting on a weekend clinic Oct. 21-22 in Grand Valley High School's sparkling new gymnasium.
Wrestlers from the first grade through high school will have the opportunity to participate in approximately 12 hours of intensive instruction. The GV event has been dubbed the Fall Weekend Warrior
Avsec has become acquainted with Chertow over the years through clinics he has attended at the latter's facilities for his Gold Medal Training Camp just outside State College, Pa., the home of Penn State University. Avsec has attended similar camps in the Toledo and western Pennsylvania areas. Avsec highly recommends the experience.
"Ken does a fantastic job with kids of all ages," he said. "I can assure everyone their kids will get their money's worth."
In this case, that means a $200 fee for the weekend. However, Avsec said he has found Chertow willing to make participation in his camp more affordable.
"I took 11 guys from our program, five from the high school team and six from our youth program to his week-long camp, last year and it probably cost the kids about $150 apiece," Avsec said. "If you're able to get a group of four or more wrestlers together, you will receive a group rate. The more wrestlers in your group, the better your rate will be. We can probably handle about 150-200 campers."
Camp sessions will be held each day with three-hour sessions each morning and afternoon. There will be overall group sessions, but wrestlers will also be divided into appropriate age groups.
Persons interested in signing up for the camp or obtaining more information can call Avsec at 275-3922, Gilchrist at 563-9664, Gold Medal Training Camp System at 814-466-3466 or visit the internet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Area coaches are eager to tap into Chertow's knowledge for the sake of themselves and their wrestlers.
"I've talked to (Geneva coach) Dwight Fritz about it and he's really excited," Avsec said. "(Edgewood's) Greg Stolfer is definitely interested. We're going to be sending out an informational email to all area high school and youth coaches, too."
The camp is not confined to Ashtabula County wrestlers.
"We're hoping to bring people in from Lake, Geauga and Trumbull counties, too," Avsec said. "We're also hoping to draw kids in from western Pennsylvania. We're hoping to make this an annual event at Grand Valley."
It's hard to argue with Chertow's credentials. As a competitor, he was a three-time NCAA All-American on the mat and academically. Twice he was a junior world and national champions and was a member of the U.S. national team from 1986-1993.
Chertow has been the head wrestling coach at both Ohio State and Penn State. He helped mold the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions into national powers.
His clinics are conducted at sites across the country. He has produced a series of instructional videos and is the broadcast analyst for College Sports Television. He has also written a motivational book "Wrestling: A Commitment to Excellence." Since starting his camp, he has taught more than 400 state champions from various states and more than 200 U.S. and AAU champions.
Over the years, Chertow has developed connections throughout the wrestling world. Avsec believes there's a good possibility Chertow may tap into those connections while he's in the area for the benefit of the campers. It's possible two-time Olympic heavyweight champion and Edinboro University head coach Bruce Baumgartner might put in an appearance.
"Ken and Bruce are good friends," Avsec said. "Bruce isn't that far away, so he might show up. There will definitely be some great guys coming in."