All the right moves

Wrestlers learn tricks of the trade
By: Matt Long
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Oak Ridge High has built a strong wrestling program partly because of the strength of the youth wrestlers at area middle schools and with the El Dorado Hills Wrestling Club. Many of those wrestlers met last week at the annual El Dorado Hills Wrestling Camp to learn new moves and develop skills in an attempt to stay sharp over the summer and to expand and improve their knowledge of the sport. Oak Ridge High graduates, Andy Wagner (2006) and Kyle West (2009) ran the camp with a hand from Benjamin West, who’s a coach within the wrestling club. About 25 kids ranging from second graders to high school students attended the camp. From Oak Ridge senior and state runner-up Vinny Waldhauser, who stopped by Tuesday to get some work in, to wrestlers just starting out enjoyed the camp. Rey Punao, 13, had never wrestler before attending the camp. “It’s a lot of work but it’s pretty fun,” Punao said. “I’ve learned a lot and I’m getting better each day.” Bret McNamee, 13, has wrestled for three years and has a lot of the basics down, but still picked up some new moves and new ways of doing things on the mat. “You learn more moves at camp than you do during a regular practice,” McNamee said. “I learned some takedowns and some moves from the top position I can use. This camp’s fun because we also play a lot of games.” McNamee liked learning from Wagner and West, two young men who came through the program. “They know a lot of stuff and they’re able to teach it to you,” McNamee said. Wagner, who wrestled four years at Cal Poly and will graduate in December, enjoys coming back to teach the younger kids. “We’re teaching everything from the basic stance to complex moves and pinning combinations,” Wagner said. “We want to teach them as much as we can. Most of these kids have the basics down, but we can always show them stuff that they haven’t seen. “I’ve been impressed with these kids,” Wagner continued. “You show them new stuff and they pick it up quickly. The little kids are great too. You get them out on the mat and they’re wrestling like they’re in their living room. They’re fun to watch.” West, who not so long ago was attending this camp instead of running it, also enjoyed being back. “This has always been a good camp and I always enjoyed coming to it,” West said. “Now I love coming back and seeing how much the kids have grown and improved. They’re excited to learn and they just soak everything up and pick it all up in one week.”