One of the principles of the J. Robinson Intensive wrestling camps is accountability.
It is something that Mountain Pointe senior Blake Gaughan took away from his 28-stay in Minnesota, but really he set the stage months before when his quote on page 76 of the Mountain Pointe yearbook said, “Going to State was a great experience; I competed against the best, and next year I’ll be the best.”
In order to be accountable to such a strong statement, Gaughan knew he had to make the most of the summer. He didn’t get a chance to compete much on the mat because of nose surgery through mid-June so he knew he had to ratchet up the intensity.
Off he went to the J. Robinson camp where he stayed in the dorms at the University of Minnesota for four weeks — June 30 to July 27 — as he competed against some tough wrestlers in the most intense atmosphere of his career.
“It is the longest and most intense camp out there and I knew if I was going to get better, get where I want to be I had to do something,” Gaughan said. “I learned a lot, got in great shape and wrestled harder than I have ever had to before. Each day was harder than the one before.”
Gaughan is coming of a quality season that saw him go 24-15 at 126 pounds. He qualified for state and went 1-2 at Tim’s Toyota Center.
He was over matched in his two defeats — getting pinned in the first period in each — that came against eventual state placers.
“I was disappointed with my performance,” he said. “It should have been a great weekend, and I can say I’m a state qualifier, but I wanted more than that.”
So he went to work, getting clearance two weeks after the nose surgery before camp, training in the Mountain Pointe wrestling room, and running the mountain trails near his home.
“Blake took it upon himself to do something he knew he needed and something he knew wasn’t going to be easy,” Pride wrestling coach Shannon Radford said. “He is one of the most intense wrestlers we’ve ever had and this is only going to make him better.”
Gaughan, who earned a coveted “I did it” T-shirt at the end of camp, said the daily schedule tired everyone out so much that they barely talked in the dorm rooms at night because everyone wanted to sleep out of pure exhaustion.
“We did everything at camp,” he said. “A lot of hard live wrestling. We did a lot of situational wrestling and getting in those situations now can help you later.”
The draw to the J. Robinson camps is the promise to teach more than wrestling. The days are long, will-breaking and confident building as motivational speakers came in every night and touched on various topics.
“You got to hear about people’s stories and how they became successful,” Gaughan said. “It really helped with goal setting and having a purpose behind everything you do.”
Part of what Gaughan wants to do this winter is help the Pride program gain some momentum. Mountain Pointe has had some lean years recently, but with a strong senior class, which includes fellow state qualifiers Cody Rojas (113 last year), Trey Stevenson (120), that could change.
“We have the room open more this summer than before and we are working out more,” Gaughan said. “Some of us are going all year-round and that’s what you have to do to get better.”
Gaughan feels he did just that by spending 28 intense days in Minnesota.
“I’m more skilled and stronger,” he said. “It was great and I am more confident than before.”
And now he has six months to prove he is accountable, too.
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.