Chippewas come back from Iowa wrestling camp with valuable experiences, new perspectives

Manistee wrestlers Jeffrey Crouch (top) and Junior Sarabia work out at the Chipperwas’ summer youth camp at Manistee High School on Wednesday. Crouch, Sarabia and Bryson Jensen recently returned from the J Robinson Intense Wrestling Camp in Iowa. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

Manistee wrestlers Jeffrey Crouch (top) and Junior Sarabia work out at the Chipperwas’ summer youth camp at Manistee High School on Wednesday. Crouch, Sarabia and Bryson Jensen recently returned from the J Robinson Intense Wrestling Camp in Iowa. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

When Manistee wrestlers Jeffrey Crouch, Bryson Jensen and Junior Sarabia signed up to go to the J Robinson Intensive Wrestling Camp, the community came through to help them.

What the community got in return for its support is not just a stronger wrestling team. It got young people with stronger character.

The 10-day camp, at Waldorf University in Forest City Iowa, was no vacation. According to Manistee wrestling coach Chris Codden, it resembled a basic-training-style boot camp.

“This camp is unique,” Codden said. “It’s one of the toughest in the nation, more mental than it is physical. By the second day, most kids want to quit. They break you down, just like you were going into the military. The big thing is, they get you to push your body to certain extremes.”

Crouch, who called the workouts the hardest thing he’d ever done in his entire life, said that the main lesson he took away from the camp is self-sufficiency.

“It was more mental, just knowing that I could get through more things in life by going to the camp,” Crouch said. “There are going to be ups and downs. You’re going to get in a corner sometimes, and you’re not going to know how to get back up, But you’re going to find a way. If you can find a reason to get back up, it will be a lot easier in life.

“It’s not that I’m a better wrestler, I’d say that I’m better at figuring out what I have to do to become a better wrestler.”

Jensen said that he had a significant light-bulb moment at one point during the camp.

“On the second day I was there, I had to run 22 minutes of stairs,” Jensen said. “My legs hurt, I wanted to stop, and it just clicked in my head that I had to keep going, and I have to keep trying my best in everything I do.

“I feel like there’s no challenge that’s too hard, as long as I keep positive and take it one day at a time, one practice at a time. I can do it.”

The support of the community was vital to sending the three Chippewas to Iowa. In addition to the corporate and business support, Codden said that individuals stepped up in a big way.

And those individuals were interested in more than just wrestling.

“We had a short window of time to get these kids some donations,” Codden said. “There were a lot of individuals who donated $50, $100, $200, $500. The people in this community were just awesome.

“The (donors) don’t have any idea that they’re going to learn how to do a single-leg better or whatever. We have very good people in this community who said that these kids need to get some life experiences, and that’s why they did it. It’s all about the end game, and that’s graduation.”

Sarabia said that he had a bit of extra motivation for going to the camp.

“I need to get good. I need to beat Jeff (Crouch) over there,” he said. “I liked it, but it was really hard. I feel like it’s going to change me a lot. I feel more confident, seeing what people struggled through and how they overcome what they did.”

Jensen not only hopes to go back next year, but also that more athletes from Manistee join him. And not just because of the wrestling.

“I would tell anyone I could to go down there,” Jensen said. “Once you’re down there, you’re like, ‘Oh, why did I do this?’ And then on the last two or three days I said, ‘It’s not bad, I’ve got this. I can do anything now.’

“Nothing can stand in my way.”

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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