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Jays focus on fundamentals at camp

Ryan McKee (right) works with youngsters Cameron McKee (bottom) and Jeremiah Dorge at this week’s wrestling camp at Jefferson City High School.

Ryan McKee (right) works with youngsters Cameron McKee (bottom) and Jeremiah Dorge at this week’s wrestling camp at Jefferson City High School. Photo by Julie Smith.

While meeting with his team after the first day of summer camp, Jefferson City wrestling coach Phil Cagle had a clear message for his squad. It was a message especially important for a young team that will include just two seniors this season.

Fundamentals, fundamentals and more fundamentals.

“I don’t care what sport it is,” Cagle said during the team’s annual camp at the high school earlier this week. “... It doesn’t matter if it’s in the summertime or the state championship.”

As the Jays worked on technique, Cagle reminded them several times about sticking with the basics. He even told the team a story about Nebraska wrestler Jordan Burroughs, who used a double-leg takedown, one of wrestling’s most basic moves, to help him win a national championship.

“Everybody knows he has a double leg, but you can’t stop it,” Cagle said. “That’s fundamentals.”

The growing process continues for the Jays next week when 32 wrestlers will go to the University of Nebraska team camp. The Jays will be divided into two teams of 16. One of the teams will consist of wrestlers with mostly JV experience.

“We want to see what our kids have accomplished in the offseason,” Cagle said. “Do we want to win every one? Sure, but we don’t know what’s going to be there.

“We’re going to throw them up against some of the good kids so they can find out what they are like. Sometimes those kids just wrestle JV and they don’t get that challenge. By going to this camp and taking as many kids as we do, we can break our kids up and they can challenge them.”

The Jays will be breaking in a new heavyweight, as Cagle said junior Logan Coil will step in for John Carter, who finished second in the state last year. Cagle added Coil learned a lot from Carter in practice last season.

“He’ll take some lumps, but he’s really made a lot of improvements from last year over the summer,” Cagle said. “He’s worked out hard. We’re expecting some big things from him. But he’s done a good job.”

The Jays went to Kansas City earlier this summer and wrestled in six duals, winning each of them.

“We’ve got some good young kids,” Cagle said. “That’s the thing about it. We’re young, but we’ve got some kids that compete at that age.

“We’ve got some good freshman kids, some good athletes. And that’s the main thing. In this sport, you go hard and if you learn your fundamentals, you can be successful.”

III

There is one notable change for the Jays this year, and it comes at the eighth-grade level. For the first time, Thomas Jefferson and Lewis and Clark middle schools will field competitive teams that will wrestle against other schools.

Cagle said it will be good for the eighth-graders to get a year of experience wrestling competitively. In previous years, wrestling at the middle schools was an intramural sport. The Jays Kids Club will still function in the same manner.

“That’s going to help us. All the schools around us have it,” Cagle said. “That extra year of competition before we get them into our room is really going to help us.”

Mitch Werdehausen will coach Thomas Jefferson, while Joe Nichols will coach Lewis and Clark. Werdehausen took sixth place at the state tournament for Jefferson City in 2002.

Cagle said with so many other schools having middle-school programs, it was something that needed to be done.

“If not, we’ll be behind,” Cagle said. “Jeff City doesn’t like to be behind anybody. I think it’s a good move for us and it’s a good move for our program. It’s something we always want to strive for. We want to strive to be the best.”

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