Getting a leg upPublished 8:09pm Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Daniel Riggs knows he’s fighting an uphill battle. As the Washington varsity wrestling coach Riggs is well aware of the fact that his sport trails the likes of football, basketball and baseball in popularity, but that won’t stop him from trying to change that.
On Monday, Riggs began his second annual Washington Wrestling Camp and is hoping that it will not only help the young athletes get a leg up on their future competition but also help popularize the sport.
“The main reason why I started this camp was to not only give my high school guys a week of conditioning, but from where I came from in Pennsylvania a lot of wrestlers start as early as kindergarten. Down here in North Carolina a lot of the kids don’t start until seventh grade,” Riggs said. “I think this camp will generate more interest in the younger kids and hopefully once they get to middle school they will be more advanced.”
The five-day camp featured 33 athletes ranging from fourth to 12th grade and Riggs said he was happy with the turnout.
Riggs, who has coached two wrestlers to three NCHSAA 3-A state championships, said that both the wrestlers and the wrestling program benefit from the camp.
“When the athletes come to high school you can always tell the guys who have been wrestling before seventh grade,” Riggs said. “Wrestling isn’t a very big sport on the eastern side of North Carolina and when these kids come to the camp and learn these moves it not only makes it easier on us the coaches but also helps the learning curve for the athletes.”
The campers were learning from the best as former Washington state champs Justin “Weasel” Moore and Marquin Hill served as instructors along with fellow wrestlers Matt Williamitis, Ned Batts, Jay Campbell, Gabe Gardner and Darien Peele. Also helping out at the camp is assistant coaches Steve Bianco and Lee Moore, along with former J.H. Rose state champ Brandon Leitz.
“The guys that are helping me teach the camp are guys that wrestled for me before,” Riggs said. “It’s a lot of fun bringing them back and it’s cool seeing the college kids coming back and giving their time to show the kids what they have learned.”
The camp was broken down into two ages groups as high school wrestlers worked on one side of the gym while athletes in middle school or younger wrestled on the other. Riggs said each day of the five-day camp worked on a specific skill set.
“On Monday and Wednesday we are doing footwork. Tuesday and Thursday we are working top and bottom and the second part of Thursday we will be working on some more advanced moves and on Friday they will learn to use those moves in live matches,” Riggs said.