USA Greco

Jones, RaVaughn, & Baker Exit Suples Camp On a High Note

suples camp 2020 wrap up
Photo: Herb House

The first camp of the summer geared specifically towards US Greco-Roman athletes wrapped up yesterday with three participants breaking out of town wanting more.

Five top-tier Seniors were among the group: Sammy Jones (60 kg, NYAC/NTS), Nolan Baker (67 kg, NYAC), RaVaughn Perkins (77 kg, NYAC), Patrick Martinez (87 kg, NYAC/FLWC), and G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg, Sunkist). But they were not alone. Suples founder/former NMU head coach Ivan Ivanov also involved the youth wrestlers from his club, mixing them in with the Seniors for various live situations and drills.

That wrinkle in the training plan came to light on Wednesday after NYAC club coach Herb House shared some photos and revealed part of the purpose for the camp. “This is an opportunity for these guys to work with the Junior development program, which helps bring confidence to the Junior athletes,” House explained.

Prior to House’s midweek update, we ran a piece focusing on perspectives related to the camp’s kickoff featuring Jones, Baker, and Hancock. Due to Saturday being a travel day, Hancock and Martinez became out of reach for follow-ups; fortunately, Jones, Baker, and Perkins were available, and all three provided fruitful end-of-camp insights later yesterday evening.

Sammy Jones — 60 kg, NYAC/NTS

5PM: How do you feel at the end of camp as opposed to the beginning?

Jones: I felt stronger at the end of camp than I did at the beginning — and I say that just because at the beginning of camp I had like, a 17-hour travel day straight into live wrestling. So, the first practice I was feeling tired but I also felt great. I felt like I was getting better as the week kept going. I was enjoying myself. Camp was great the whole week long.

5PM: What was your favorite activity or drill that gave you the most confidence given that it had been a while since you were part of an organized camp?

Jones: My most favorite activity was the “Suples Arena” workout. You would do dummy throws, all slams, and then you would go into a little arena that the coaches made. It is basically a smaller wrestling mat/crash pad. It was a hard push but it was fun because you would do the bag workouts, slams for a minute, and then you would go and wrestle for a minute.

It was just fun. It was good to scrap. It leveled the competition. Some of the time we were wrestling each other, and some of the time we were wrestling high school kids. To level it out, we did these extra workouts with conditioning sets and then wrestled matches. It was kind of fun. I hadn’t done the arena workout before, so it was new to me.

5PM: What was your biggest takeaway that you’d keep in your pocket for later?

Jones: Ivan sparks creativity with all of his workouts. He is always looking for new ways to use his materials, new ways to accomplish the task, and new ways to score and ultimately win the match. So for me, I think it was just a refresher in my mind of, Hey, always be creative. This sport is an art form, it’s a craft I’ve been doing most of my life. It was just nice for the first camp in after a long break to have Ivan in my ear talking about being creative. I learned new variations of techniques I’ve been hitting my whole life to where it’s like, Oh, obviously! But you have to have the eye to see it, or the experience, or the time to try something new.

5PM: What are your immediate plans after this, if any?

Jones: I’m looking to get on the mat as soon as possible and continue the training. I am looking to go to Nebraska. I’m going to train myself until that comes up.

Nolan Baker — 67 kg, NYAC

5PM: How do you feel at the end of camp as opposed to the beginning?

Baker: It wasn’t so much that the training got easier as camp went on, it was more that my body just acclimated to hard work better as the week went on. I got another workout in this morning after everyone else flew out because I had a later flight. Yesterday and today were two of the hardest days we had, but I felt ten times better Friday and Saturday than I did on Monday and Tuesday.

5PM: What was your favorite activity or drill that gave you the most confidence given that it had been a while since being part of an organized camp?

Baker: Well, my favorite thing that we did were one-minute “mock matches”. You’d take some guy in the room and just walk to the middle of the mat and have one minute of pure offense trying to get anything going that you could. We did that on the first or second day; but in order to equalize our abilities with the high schoolers in the room, Ivan had us do Bulgarian Bag throws, dummy lifts, and slam balls just so that we were utterly exhausted when we walked out onto the mat. Those kids were giving us all we wanted just because we were so tired. We were live wrestling but I didn’t really feel that good because I was so tired.

But today, I got to wrestle without having to do all of the extra conditioning. Obviously, you’re not going gonzo with some of the younger guys, but you can at least get a feel for how you would wrestle if you’re not completely tired going in. So, I felt great today.

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5PM: What was your biggest takeaway that you’d keep in your pocket for later?

Baker: There are a ton of takeaways from this camp. If I had to say just one thing, it was when Ivan was giving me a ride to the airport. We were talking about the advantages of the unique training situation we had where it was us Senior guys wrestling some of the high school guys from his club, and there is a U15 World champ, Jadon Skellenger there. Wrestling guys like him, and Jadon is a great competitor. Ivan was talking about how it’s great to wrestle other Senior-level guys, but also pointing to some of the advantages we had wrestling the young guys.

He said that when we’re wrestling them — and obviously, we have the advantage — you should try to use your technique. And, if your technique isn’t working on those guys and you have to resort to just muscling them over, then you might need to go back to the drawing board and really look at your technique. Because, these are guys who are great at giving us fights and great at giving us looks — but if you’re trying basic finesse techniques on them and they’re not working, then it might be a great indication to you that it’s not your opponents who are the reason why you’re not doing good, it is something you need to work on with your own technique.

5PM: What are your immediate plans after this, if any?

Baker: Right now, I am awaiting any good news that might come from the OTC (United States Olympic & Paralympic Training Center). If that doesn’t come, I am set up for all online classes and prepared to do the semester here (in Illinois) and get workouts in with any local wrestlers and coaches who I can. Next on the docket, fingers crossed, are the U23 Trials in September. And then whatever Senior events that may come after that. Everything is really up in the air and we’re just going with the flow.

RaVaughn Perkins — 77 kg, NYAC

5PM: How do you feel at the end of camp as opposed to the beginning?

Perkins: Well, you know, we were all forced to take time off. I’ve had four months off and it was crucial getting back onto the mat. There are things that we did, or at least that I did, within those four months that couldn’t compare to actually being on the mat. The first couple of days were rough; but once we got into it, it started coming back. We still have to try and get that conditioning back, but there is nothing like being on that mat. At the end of camp, a lot of us guys were all starting to get used to it. We were a little banged up by the end of the camp but we also all saw improvement.

5PM: What was your favorite activity or drill that gave you the most confidence given that it had been a while since being part of an organized camp?

Perkins: With any of Ivan’s workouts, my confidence goes down — but once I get in there and get moving, I just start flowing.

We had five Senior-level guys there, and we had a bunch of Cadets and U15 wrestlers there. One of the workouts that I liked was that the US Team had to throw the dummies — either the speed dummies or the regular dummies — eight times; next we had to perform 20 ball slams; and then we had to go in there and wrestle one of these Cadet/U15 guys for a minute, and we had to do that six times. That was a great workout for me, especially since I’m one of those guys who likes “shark bait”. I basically looked at that workout like shark bait with those guys coming in fresh while we’re working the whole time.

5PM: What was your biggest takeaway that you’d keep in your pocket for later?

Perkins: Every time I go to an Ivan camp, you know it is going to be something with the Suples equipment. He is going to have us doing this and have us doing that, but I always enjoy it. I even bought a bag from him while I was up there because I enjoy his equipment so much. We do have his equipment at the OTC but we rarely use it, so to actually get up to Ivan’s — the man who created the Bulgarian Bags and fitness balls — I like doing that a lot. I appreciate him for having us up here.

We also got a chance to use the “Suples Arena”. I’m sure you saw the pictures of that. I always enjoy being in the middle of that. It makes you force the action. You can’t run too much. I love that, I love the equipment that he allows us to use.

5PM: What are your immediate plans after this, if any?

Perkins: My plan is to push myself because I felt horrible the first two days. It’s not the first time that I’ve had to take time off, but it gave me a reminder of how I don’t want that feeling again. So I have to push myself even more, although I’m not allowed to get on the mat right now (at the OTC). I have to push myself more off the mat, which is why I bought a Bulgarian Bag. And I want to contact him to get the fitness ball, as well, just to keep that same feeling I have leaving that camp going into the next one in Nebraska without having to struggle as much as I did the first two days of Ivan’s camp.

Listen to “5PM37: The wildman Sammy Jones” on Spreaker.

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