Gold medalists headline wrestling camp

By ALDO AMATO / Staff Reporter

ALABASTER – With the London Olympics just around the corner, young and up-and-coming wrestlers got a chance to study technique and learn from a couple of gold medalists.

Thompson High School partnered U.S. Camps to bring 1996 Olympic gold medalist Kendall Cross and 2000 gold medalist Brandon Slay to Alabaster on Wednesday. The two Olympians were brought in as part of an organized effort by former Pelham High assistant wrestling coach Chris Pike and current Thompson head coach Shawn Weltzin.

Pike said that THS was a prime location to host this camp.

“The big reason is that they (Thompson) have a lot of support in their community,” he said. “I wanted to get nationally renowned freestyle roman Greco wrestlers. So I called coach Weltzin up and he agreed to do it and we just began advertising.”

The nationwide camp, which runs through June 22, is designed to prepare wrestlers from elementary to high school as they move along to organized and collegiate competition. Many of the attendees at the camp are preparing for the Summer Nationals in Fargo, ND.

Cross said that his method of teaching was not to focus on style, but rather technique.

“I’m really not focused on what kind of style each of them has,” he said. “What we are really focused on is teaching them better technique that they can use across the board. Some of these kids are getting ready for nationals so I’ll probably gear it toward freestyle technique.”

Warriors head coach Shawn Weltzin agreed.

“If they learn the technique from these guys then they are learning it from the best in the nation,” he said. “They are some of the best that the U.S. has to offer as far as technique goes.”

In just its first year at Thompson, the camp attendance was between 50 and 60 kids. Pike said that they hope to double that by next year.

As far as age and weight class goes, the camp does not discriminate and Weltzin said that no matter how old the wrestlers are, they can always get better through camps like these.

“Wrestling is wrestling,” he said. “These guys are some of the best in the world and it is a good thing to have them.”