The Paper photo by Lori Poteet 
North Montgomery’s Issac Myers (left) and Graham Lough (right) practice a drill during Tuesday’s Wabash College Wrestling Camp.
The Paper photo by Lori Poteet
North Montgomery’s Issac Myers (left) and Graham Lough (right) practice a drill during Tuesday’s Wabash College Wrestling Camp.
After years of just sending individuals to Wabash College's wrestling camp, Jamie Welliever finally cracked.

This year, Southmont High School's veteran wrestling coach decided to take his entire team. Actually, with 26 wrestlers, it's more like a team and a half.

Welliever liked the camp's instruction so much, he's turned it into a bonding activity for his young group.

He likes the instruction and is energized even more by the afternoon's dual-meet format.

"It's a great clinic and he [Wabash College coach Brian Anderson] has a really good format," Welliever said. "Twenty-five years ago when I wrestled, it may be you'd get taught a few moves and get to practice them. You wouldn't have dual meets, and it'd be five to six months before you got a chance to use them. They bring Olympians and college champions in here. It's good for the kids to hear some of the same things from someone other than their own coach."

Nearly 300 wrestlers - including those from Crawfordsville, North Montgomery and Southmont - are attending Wabash's three-day wrestling camp at the Knowling Fieldhouse, which runs until today. Even with the economic climate, that's right on-par with the numbers that have attended in the past.

Once again, the camp is also packed with high-caliber and high-quality instructors - including five Olympic wrestlers and an NCAA champion.

Iowa State University's Jake Varner (a 2009 and 2010 NCAA 197-pound champion); 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist Stephen Abas; 1996 Olympic Silver Medalist Dennis Hall; 1988 Olympic Gold Medalist, 1992 Olympic Silver Medalist and three-time All-American Kenny Monday; and 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist Jamill Kelly have all talked to campers this in the first two days. Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist (1988 and 1992) and Oklahoma State University head coach John Smith will talk to campers today. He was supposed to visit on Tuesday but was stuck in Oklahoma because of the flooding. So, Anderson's friend, and Hinsdale Central (Ill.) high school wrestling coach Jason Hayes filled in. Anderson and Hayes wrestled together at Bellmont high school, where they were members of the Braves' 1994 State championship team.

Anderson's formula for the camp is simple. It's all about having high-profile wrestlers and coaches deliver quality instruction.

"I give the clinicians freedom, as long as they don't overlap," Anderson said. "I have them teach their bread-and-butter moves, things that made them successful in their careers."

Montgomery County and state wrestling coaches think the type of instruction, and mat time, is what has made the camp so successful.

Crawfordsville coach Roger Tribbett and Southmont coach Jamie Welliever each brought double-digit wrestlers to the camp, while North Montgomery also had wrestlers attend.

Tribbett has attended camps throughout the Midwest, including ones at Purdue University, Michigan State University and The Ohio State University, along with Olympian Ken Chertow's camps.

And he acknowledged Wabash's camp, with its top-notch instructors and detailed instruction, is better than most of them.

"They take the time and break things down. They go through it [a move], then talk about it and go through it again with the kids," said Tribbett, who had 13 wrestlers (12 high-schoolers and one eighth-grader) at the camp. "They make sure to do it right. They walk around and ask guys if they've got any questions. Guys here love the sport and they want to see the sport grow. For them, it's all about what they're giving back to the sport and to the kids."

This marks the second year Zionsville coach Bob Brennan has taken his wrestlers to the camp. A 1983 Crawfordsville high school and 1987 Wabash College graduate, Brennan likes helping out his alma mater. Plus, Zionsville graduate and incoming Wabash senior Graham Youngs wrestles for the Little Giants.

The camp also offers them the chance to square off against wrestlers from around the area and the Midwest.

"I like their attitude and the things they talk to the kids about, [like] having goals," Brennan said. "Everyone does similar variations of the same moves, but it's fusing those life values in. It's the way you want to teach your kids, [with life values] like leadership, toughness, resilience and pride in yourself - core things."

Brennan also likes the extra mat time campers are offered. They're not just taught techniques. They're given the afternoon to try them and see how they fare against others.

"It gives the kids the chance to try different things and get good mat time. That's what really matters," Brennan said. "The kids can try things they've seen in the clinics and then can wrestle."