By Bill Tamburrino
When asked what his team did in the off season to get ready for the 2011-12 wrestling season, Coach Steve Koch deadpanned and said, “There is no off season.”
After taking a school record five wrestlers to the state meet, the wrestlers and coaches did take a couple of weeks to relax and plan their strategy for this season.
Coach Dwayne Guile is the coach of the Ramona Club Team, and in June and July that team participated in a summer league at Escondido High School.
In late July and August, the grapplers participated in five camps. The wrestlers paid their own way to the camps. The coaches are all volunteers.
At one camp at Vista High School, 22 Ramonans attended. The camp was put on by Mike Powell, who has won national titles at the club and high school levels.
In October, Isaiah Ilich, Kevin Conroy and Devin Rhodes were invited to attend a prestigious camp in Chicago. Ramona’s three grapplers were among the top 80 in the country to be chosen. Powell also put on that camp.
In late October, Guile took 12 wrestlers to a national tournament in Las Vegas. All 12 made it to the second day of competition. Conroy, Ilich and Rhodes were the team’s standouts, according to Koch.
This group of athletes has been inspired and driven by the success of the five who went to the state meet and the six who medaled at the Masters Meet. Spaso Ilich, Connor Koch, Brodie Chenowth and Marshal Thrasher have graduated, but Devin Rhodes is back. He is not a vocal leader but his work ethic rubs off on the rest of the team.
”We are planning on raising money to send wrestlers to the Greco-Roman training camp in Fargo, North Dakota in April to help take our program to another level,” said Koch. “Everybody will think that we are young but we are hungry, dedicated and we worked hard to improve. We start practice on Nov. 12 and there will be competition for several spots. The good thing about wrestling is that, if a kid works hard and improves, he can challenge for a spot on the varsity.”