It’s been a few decades now since wrestling, even at the high school level, has become a year-round sport. Part of the training regimen and keys to success belong to what kind of quality work and instruction you can get in during the off season.
For a long time, that meant camps. But the culture has changed, largely for two reasons. 1) University camps are only offered during the summer, and kids need training opportunities in April-May and Sept-Nov. And 2) Many state associations have placed restrictions on open rooms and on the dates and frequency a head coach is allowed to work with athletes when the season is out of session.
What’s occurred is the proliferation and popularity of clubs. Some are run by highly skilled technicians. Others are run by business savvy organizers that bring in guest instructors. Whole tournaments have emerged for club teams who travel all over the country for competition.
Here we’ll look at some of the most successful clubs in the country. These rankings aren’t ‘official’ by any means. Consider it a discussion point. Leave your thoughts and nominations below.
First a few notations:
Wrestling rooms that are, more or less, the same as their HS team aren’t considered. For instance, St. Edward (OH), Brandon (FL), and Blair (NJ) are great offseason teams, but there’s virtually no difference from their high school team/personnel/roster.
We’re also not counting ‘competition teams’. There are a number of ‘teams’ that are put together simply for tournaments. But the wrestlers on these teams don’t train or receive instruction together. This occurs a lot in PA with SEPA, Keystone Brawlers, and Griffin.
Central Dauphin/Diesel (PA) is a little of the first category, a little of the latter. Their roster is primarily Central Dauphin HS kids, with a few studs that don’t train there peppered in for competition action.
I tinkered with the idea of putting the Minnesota Storm in. But they’re so large, they essentially double as the USAW state organization, which is a bit out of context.
10. Suples, ID
This club is starting to gain traction. Former Northern Michigan Coach, Ivan Ivanov is developing a good crop of national talent. The headliner is Hayden Tuma. But Suples put several other wrestlers in the medal bouts at Fargo this summer.
9. Best Trained, TX
Wrestling in Texas is growing, and Jerry Best has many of its top performers training in his room, including Fargo AA’s Bo Nickal, Jack Bass, and Oliver Pierce. Word is that the youngsters in the room will keep that trend going.
8. Pinnacle, MN
Jared Lawrence, Brandon Paulson, Jake Deichtler, Tim Hartung. Not a bad staff, eh? Pinnacle could climb the ladder in national club rankings in the future. They’re young and growing.
This summer, five Pinnacle members won Fargo titles: Hunter Marko (double), Mitchell McKee, Tommy Thorn, and Jared Oftedahl.
7. Purler Wrestling Academy, MO
The talent level in Missouri is on the upswing. Clubs are a big reason why. While many kids frequent multiple clubs, Purler seems to be a staple on their training tour.
6. North Jersey Club Scene: Ironhorse, Apex, SIR, Triumph
The clubs in this area are very active. Each one has great participation and have developed numerous state champs and national studs. We lump them all together here because in North Jersey, clubs are a wrestling culture, and because there’s quite a bit of crossover among wrestlers who train in multiple rooms.
5. Benton WC, PA
The impressive thing about the rural Benton Wrestling Club is how they get so much out of so little. It’s not a very populated region, but kids flock there to train, and Russ Hughes knows how to coach ‘em up as good as anyone. Zain Retherford, Colt Cotton, and Ryan Solomon all committed to DI schools this year already.
5. RAW 241, NJ
Jonathon Johnson has coached both quality and quantity in his career at RAW. From Jordan Burroughs and Darrion Caldwell to HS #1’s Cody Gardner, Mario Mason, and Alex Meade, RAW alumni have been successful on many levels and across both Freestyle and Folkstyle.
4. Burnett Trained, OH
A great many of the studs you see coming from Ohio (and other places) rolled in the Burnett room, including the Stiebers and Tessari. Their current star pupil is the #1- ranked 120lber in the country, Nathan Tomasello.
And the treadmill of studs will continue. Of the next batch of Ohio superstars, several will come out of BTWC, and are ranked on our JR High or Freshman Big Board.
3. Izzy Style, IL
Israel Martinez wears a lot of hats these days: Montini Head Coach, MMA Trainer, Izzy Style Club director. And he keeps churning out national-level talent. Perhaps this is the best way to illustrate his results: this summer, he turned one of his JV wrestlers into a Fargo Runner-Up.
2. Overtime, IL
The Overtime School of Wrestling was the premier club in the country for about a 5-year span in which talent flocked there in droves. They had unprecedented success, putting 22 wrestlers are DI rosters since 2006.
Overtime’s success directly correlated to Illinois rise as the country’s preeminent International styles state.
1. Young Guns, PA
The Strittmatter Bros. have a club producing incredible talent at a staggering pace. Young Guns is sending boatloads of prospects to DI schools. Their prize pupil, Nico Megaludis, already has an NCAA finals appearance as a true Freshman.
Young Guns leads the country in number of ranked kids both in the All-Class rankings and on the Big Boards. And it’s not even close.
Week four of NCAA wrestling is in the books and week three is upon us. Here's every Division I wrestling event occurring from Wednesday, January 27th - Sunday, January 31st, and where you can watch it. All times shown are eastern time.
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On episode 602 of FRL, the boys talk about COVID-19 ruining Michigan's big upcoming duals, the Olympics scare from last week, Teague Moore being out at American, NCAA weekend recap, and the news of Ben Askren fighting Jake Paul breaks on the show.
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