Wrestlers never rest

By Staff
Tigers' success created through summer work
Editor's note: The following is part two of a four-part series on the off season workouts of high school athletics.
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
A student's summer vacation from school is usually a time of rest and relaxation from nine months of classes and homework.
Not so for the members of the Hartselle Tiger wrestling team. They're having a busy summer of workouts and practice.
On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings the Tiger wrestlers meet to lift weights. On Thursday and Friday they work on footwork and technique during two-hour practices at the Hartselle field house.
Not all high schools put this much time into their wrestling program during the summer. Hartselle coach Keith Corder thinks it gives his Tigers an edge once the season begins.
"We should beat teams that don't workout during the summer," Corder said. "We expect to be better than them because we know that we've out worked 'em."
Many of the leading wrestling programs in the state routinely have 35 to 40 wrestlers on their squads. The Tigers usually have 25 to 30 wrestlers each season. Corder believes that disadvantage can be overcome by working during the summer break.
"This is where we can move ahead of the teams with more kids," Corder said. "We have to out work them by not taking the summer off."
The summer workouts have proved their worth by the results the Tigers produce during the season. In the last six seasons, Hartselle has finished no lower than fourth in the state championships. The Tigers captured the 2000 state title and finished runners-up last season, losing out on a championship by only four points.
Corder thinks that close finish is fueling the Tigers summer workout program.
"I think about it (finishing second at state) every day," Corder said. "The majority of the kids are thinking about it every day. They don't want to come up short this year. We have only one goal this season-a state championship."
Summertime work differs from in-season practice in two ways. No running or jumping rope during the off season. Those drills are saved for the full time practice schedule that begins in November.
"We get the kids' heart rates up during practice and keep it there," Corder said. "That's how we get our cardiovascular work in this time of year."
Fundamentals become the number one priority during summer practice sessions.
"Right now we're working on the three parts of the takedown," Corder said. "First you have to set it up, then you have to get into the opponent, and finally you take the man down. If the guys can learn the small parts well, then they can put them together in a match and be successful."
The wrestlers will soon leave for a team camp hosted by Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. from June 29 through July 3. The Tigers will wrestle against 11 other schools, as well as practice technique three times each day.
"Three-a-days at the camp are tough," Corder said. "But we need that because technique is so important. A guy with good technique can beat a stronger guy who doesn't have it."
Beyond the team workouts, two of Corder's athletes, Kurt Hamilton and Dennis Smith, drive to Birmingham two or three times each week and compete against other wrestlers from around the state.
"Those two put a lot of extra time into this because they want to be as good as possible," Corder said. "I hope some of my other guys will follow their example."

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