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Faithful grappling

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Olympic medalist featured at weekend wrestling camp

By Mike Forster

  It’s no secret that there are a number of people in Bedford County who are working to make our area a wrestling hotbed.

Add to that list this name:  Mike Jones.  The pastor at Sedalia Baptist Church has made a bold move that should pay off in a big way.  

Jones has organized the Crossface wrestling camp, which will take place this weekend.  The camp, which will be held at Liberty High School, will feature some of the finest coaching talent in the area.  It will have as one of its clinicians Don Shuler, who is the head coach of the storied Brookville High School program.

Others include noted names in grappling, such as Allen Hackman, Tom McMillan, Brian Dugan and Tom Keley.

Jones has also managed to bring in a big-time marquee name for the event:  Nate Carr, an Olympic medalist.

“Nate’s status and prestige will make this a great clinic,” noted Jones.

Those descriptors are accurate.  Carr is a six-time national champion, having won three NCAA titles and three National Freestyle crowns.  A native of Erie, Pennsylvania, Carr was a three-time champion of the Keystone state  

Blessed with 15 siblings, Carr never had to wander far to find wrestling partners.  In fact, four of his brothers went on to attain All-American status on the mats.

Carr wrestled on a full scholarship for Iowa State, which is considered the most prestigious college program in the nation.  He is a member of the Cyclones’ Athletic Hall of Fame.

Carr’s greatest athletic accomplishment came in 1988.  During the Seoul Olympics, Carr “settled” for a bronze medal after a controversial call in the semifinals.

Wrestling at 149.5 pounds, Carr faced off against South Korea’s Jang-Soon Park.  According to the Rochester Wrestling News, with Park leading 3-0, Carr had what appeared to be a takedown.  Additionally, Park appeared to attempt to flee the mat, which would have warranted a warning.  As that would have been Park’s third caution, he would have been disqualified.

As it was, no warning was issued, Carr got no points, and he lost 3-2.

He won all his other Olympic matches handily.

Carr became a born-again Christian in 1985.  Since then, he has appeared in many Christian media, including the 700 Club.

He is expected to carry his Christian message to this camp.

“His success in life has much to do with his inviting Jesus Christ into his life,” noted Jones.  “We want to share that message without shoving it down (campers’) throats.

“You can be a man, you can be successful, and still be a Christian.”

Jones noted that the camp has three primary objectives.  First, he wants to have a great camp, full of quality instruction.  

Second, he wants it to be affordable.

Third, he wants to present solid role models.  “I want (the campers) to be introduced to a man who has realized success at the highest level while maintaining his morality, his integrity and his Christianity,” said Jones.  “We wanted someone that parents would be proud of their kids to emulate.”

Still, isn’t it odd for a church to be organizing, of all things, a wrestling clinic?  Not to Jones.  “We asked, ‘What can we do to get the church out of the building?’”

Certainly, the good folks of Sedalia Baptist are getting out of the building with this premier camp.  So are a lot of people who are helping.

The camp is geared toward a wide range of wrestlers, six years old through high school.

There will be a day and a half of wrestling instruction.  Things will kick off on Friday (6 to 9 p.m.) and all day Saturday (9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).

There will be an awards banquet Saturday evening at Jones’s church in Big Island.

Best of all, the cost for this camp is just $20.  That’s right, for the cost of a double sawbuck, a wrestler will get expert instruction, lunch and dinner on Saturday, an awards banquet, a Crossface tee-shirt and exposure to an Olympic athlete.

Registrations will be taken up until the moment the Liberty High School gym opens its doors for the wrestlers.

Campers are also encouraged to pre-register by calling 434-299-5039.