ASHLAND, Ore. – The Ken Chertow Gold Wrestling Camp is back at Southern Oregon University for the second consecutive year. The camp is led by 3-time NCAA champion and former Olympian Ken Chertow. While the camp was directed at young wrestlers, some of the coaches, like SOU wrestler Prescott Garner, benefited as well. Garner is entering his junior year at SOU and is coming off an all-american season that ended with Garner winning the NAIA national championship. He also hopes to coach in the future.
“I’m interested in paying back for all the good coaching I’ve received,” Garner says.
One of his most prominent coaches is Raiders’ head coach Mike Ritchey. Ritchey joined forces with Chertow to bring the Gold Camp to Ashland.
“It’s great for us to have our guys out here coaching and seeing a different coaching style,” Ritchey says. “Ken coaches a little differently than I do.”
Approximately half of the participants at the Chertow camp are in elementary school, and coaches like Garner revel in the experience of working with younger kids.
“First off, it’s just a lot of fun for me, just being around wrestling,” Garner says. “I love wrestling. [I enjoy] advertising the sport, getting kids excited about it. I do want to coach in the future so this is fun for me because it’s like practice.”
Meanwhile, Garner gets to practice with a bona-fide wrestling expert in Chertow.
“He really brings a good energy to the room,” Garner says, “and he makes it fun for everybody.”
“My goal is to help them develop a passion for wrestling,” Chertow says. “Not just technique, but to really get inspired to go home and make a commitment to excellence so they work hard in wrestling and school and everything they do in their lives.”
“It’s great for our guys to see his interaction,” Ritchey says. “If you get a chance to watch him coach, he’s an amazing guy with the kids. They love him, they laugh, they have fun.”
It’s a positive experience for the students and the coaches.