2010-09-01 / Sports

Roger Kish headlines North Branch wrestling camp

810-452-2632 • mselecky@mihomepaper.com

Roger Kish instructed campers on take down moves last Saturday. Photo by MICHAEL SELECKY Roger Kish instructed campers on take down moves last Saturday. Photo by MICHAEL SELECKY NORTH BRANCH — Just one day after the start of the 2010 prep football season, the Broncos’ varsity wrestling team hosted its second annual grappling clinic at Ruth Fox Elementary featuring Roger Kish, a former wrestler at the University of Minnesota and current assistant coach at North Dakota State.

“Not quite the numbers we were hoping for, but the football game last night hurt us because a lot of those guys were just too sore to come today, which I completely understand,” said Broncos’ wrestling coach Dan Ranger. “We’re going to end up with about 40 kids on the team this year, compared to the year before last when I think they had 12, so we’ve got a great batch of kids with good enthusiasm. We get along extremely well, but what we’ve found is we’ve got some kids from rugby, as well as some kids who had grade problems that wanted to set the goal of becoming eligible to wrestle. Because rugby is a club sport, they didn’t have to worry about eligibility, but for some being able to wrestle is an incentive to get better grades.”

Ranger and Kish had about 14-15 kids on hand for this year’s event which cost participants just $30. The day doubled as a 10-year reunion for the Lapeer West state championship team the duo were a part of. In that 2000 season, the Panthers (34-2) beat Lowell, 34-33, to take the Michigan High School Athletic Association Div. 2 team title as Kish pinned Pete VanLaan at 160 lbs. in 3:02 to give West a 31-15 lead with just four matches to go. Also assisting at the North Branch camp from that Panthers’ squad were James and David Ranger, James Kish and Andy Artress.

“I enjoy the community and giving back. Before lunch we were working on our feet and afterwards we’ll spend some time on the mat, doing some top and bottom stuff. We’re just working on a little technique and trying to keep the kids excited for the upcoming year,” said Kish. “Acting as a role model to the next generation of wrestlers is huge. I think everybody should have one. It’s good to be able to look up to an athlete. As I was growing up I liked to wrestle with the elite guys and see what they had to offer and be able to pick their brain. These type of clinics can get guys excited about the sport and you learn a lot of good things. I wish I knew half the things then that I know now.”

While part of the disparity in attendance numbers came from the youth wrestlers that weren’t able to participate in this year’s clinic, Ranger and his staff have been able to assemble a wrestling room for the Broncos’ varsity team at Ruth Fox, revamping and old locker room that was no longer in use after the building was converted from a middle school to an elementary school. At a cost of around $5,000, Ranger said he and his staff teamed up with several parents to do as much of the work as they could themselves, allowing the Broncos’ athletic department to keep the total cost to a minimum. This includes mounting the squad’s takedown dummy, converting a shower area into a steam room, and laying down a wrestling mat.

“We’re going to have about five coaches total this season, including Rob Kendall, a new volunteer who joined up during Rugby season and wrestled for a year at Marysville,” Ranger said. “When you come to a program that wasn’t good, these kids all want to be better, and if you have people that want to improve you can work with them. When you come into a program where the kids think they know everything, you can try and tell them things all day long, but if they think they know more than I do you’re never going to make an impact. These guys all want to be better.”

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