Young grapplers get some experience on the mat

Neuse Charter wrestling coach Chase Crocker speaks to young grapplers last week at the Johnston County Wrestling Camp. (Michael Held photo)

Wrestlers square off in the ankles for points game last week at the Johnston County Wrestling Camp. (Michael Held photo)


Sports editor

SMITHFIELD—Forty youth wrestlers converged last week at the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatic Center to participate in the Johnston County Wrestling Camp.

Neuse Charter wrestling coach Chase Crocker coordinated the event and collaborated with long-time friend and fellow wrestling coach Kristian Stewart to provide an opportunity for boys and girls between the ages of 11-18 to learn some of the finer points in technique in the sport and to also simply get them more experience on the mat.

The name of the game for Crocker and Stewart was to continue helping to grow the sport they love.

“Our mission is to try to help grow wrestling, not just in Johnston County but just to grow wrestling in general,” said Crocker.

Most every school in Johnston County had at least one wrestler present at the four-day camp to improve their skills and work on moves as well as to learn how to appropriately prepare for a match mentally and physically.

Stewart, a veteran coach in the sport in Johnston County including 15 years at Smithfield-Selma, knows how important getting kids involved at younger ages can be to the success of a high school program.

“You get them as a freshman but by the time they become a senior, they need at least one more year,” Stewart said. “We’re just trying to get them involved (at a younger age) and get the kids having fun.

“I’ve been in Johnston County for 19 years. I started right out of college and there were very few programs in the county. My goal then and I knew the key was to get the youth involved.”

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