Pam Pack wrestlers go to camp

Published 4:37 pm Thursday, July 14, 2022

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By the time kids reach high school, they’ve outgrown traditional summer camp.

For 12 Washington High School wrestlers and five of their friends from other schools, last week was far removed from the arts and crafts table and lazy afternoons on the lake.

Since COVID-19 played havoc with the sports schedule for two years, this was the first full-fledged, back to normal North Carolina State University wrestling camp since 2019 and WHS coach Chris Penhollow wanted his wrestlers to take full advantage.

“It’s a great camp because Coach (Pat) Popolizio, his staff and wrestlers do a super job of running things,” Penhollow said. “Our guys who follow college wrestling recognized some of the instructors from watching them on TV, which made them pay better attention.  We were there from Wednesday to Saturday with instruction on techniques and other skills in the morning and team matches every afternoon. There wasn’t much down time at all, which is a good thing.”

In addition to the 12 Pam Pack grapplers, Penhollow brought two from D.H. Conley, a pair from West Craven and one from Northside.

“I have a good relationship with those coaches and like to grow our sport however I can,” Penhollow said. “It allows our guys to make some friends and it helps those kids improve.”

The group wrestled against teams from all over the country, including ones from Florida, Louisiana, Ohio, Virginia and a couple from North Carolina for a total of 10 matches in three days, going 6-4.

“It is very good for the kids to face different styles and compete against opponents they don’t know anything about,” Penhollow said. “It was a good mix of opponents and it will help them gain confidence when they face somebody they don’t know in the state tournament next year. They were all tired and sore by the third day and learned to battle through that and keep going. Everybody improved in some way and the younger ones learned what it takes to compete on the high school level.”

The group stayed in the University Towers dorm near Reynolds Coliseum and got a small taste of what college life is like.

“It’s one of the best camps in the country and it’s right in our backyard,” Penhollow said. “We ate in the cafeteria, which was on the top floor and ordered pizza and just hung out at night. It was great for team bonding and everyone had plenty to do while we were there.”