High-profile coaches help hone techniques

July 14, 2009

By Christopher Huber

World-champion coach Joe Seay (center) works with Skyline senior Anthony DeMatteo (left) and another wrestler on the mats July 3 at the weeklong ‘Wrestle with the Bull’ commuter camp. By Christopher Huber

World-champion coach Joe Seay (center) works with Skyline senior Anthony DeMatteo (left) and another wrestler on the mats July 3 at the weeklong ‘Wrestle with the Bull’ commuter camp. By Christopher Huber

Like most high school athletes, Skyline High School wrestler Anthony DeMatteo loves competition. Knowing he could train harder, work out longer or play smarter helps him appreciate the work he puts in.

DeMatteo, a three-sport athlete, also appreciates the caliber of coaches who advised and taught him some new strategy and technique recently at the annual Wrestle with the Bull commuter camp at Skyline.

The camp, in its sixth year hosted at Skyline, is one of just four summer wrestling camps in the country run by world-champion wrestler and 2000 Olympic silver medalist Sammie Henson.

Although Henson helps with various other wrestling camps or events throughout the year, the only other week-long camps he runs happen in St. Charles, Mo., and San Clemente and Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., according to his Web site.

Henson wasn’t the only high-profile wrestler who spent the week of June 29 – July 3 imparting skill techniques, mental strategies and conditioning methods on the mats in the Skyline gym. His former coach, Joe Seay, came to Sammamish to coach the final two days of the camp, which included about 45 area youth wrestlers from elementary to high school level.“I think it’s good. It helps bring out the competition,” DeMatteo said. “Both of them teach really well.”

Seay coached the 1996 USA Olympic team, as well as the 1993 and 1995 world-champion U.S. teams. He also is a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

DeMatteo said Henson and Seay, with assistance from wrestlers from California Polytechnic State University, taught a lot of high-percentage moves — holds and moves that tend to be particularly effective. He said their expertise will help give Washington high school wrestlers a better reputation across the country.

“This means we’re getting extra help,” DeMatteo said. “Washington needs to get help with its reputation.”

Henson and Seay coach at the highest level of collegiate and professional wrestling — Henson is now at the University of Oklahoma and Seay at Oklahoma State — but they stressed that some aspects of the sport are the same at all levels.

“The key to wrestling is their stance, their positioning. A lot of the things are basic techniques that you use at every level,” Henson said in a phone interview while in New York. “I give them some insight into how to get into a shot or to finish a shot.”

Another focus of the commuter camp was training wrestlers to be more disciplined as early as possible.

“We’re all trying to help young athletes become better technicians at a younger age,” Seay said as wrestlers practiced on the mats July 3. “I teach all levels the same things. I try to get the most sound, fundamental base. To me, wrestling is like a physical chess match.”

Henson said he keeps coming back to Skyline because he has close ties with Spartan coach Gus Kiss. He also likes the youths here. Every year, he sees 20-25 returning participants from Eastlake High, Eastside Catholic, Skyline and other schools in the area.

“I love the Sammamish area, and that’s why I’m back there every year,” Henson said. “It’s definitely a place where I feel comfortable.”

Reach Reporter Christopher Huber at 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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