Penn State’s Sanderson To Help With Clinic At Valley West
Local wrestlers hoping to become the best in the district, region or state are getting the chance to learn from one of the best of all-time.
Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson — who’s widely regarded as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, wrestler in NCAA history — will be making a stop in Kingston later this month to help run a clinic. He’ll coach the first two hours of a three-hour session organized by Ricky and Rocky Bonomo, who will run the other hour, and Valley West coach Ryan Vassello.
“Honestly, the opportunities are endless,” Vassello said. “I believe it’s a good way to start off our year on a positive note, get these kids really excited about the upcoming season.
“Let’s start setting our goals early. Let’s start accomplishing our goals. Most importantly, I think it’s ... an honor for these kids to be a part of something special.”
The clinic will be held from 9 a.m.-noon on Oct. 27 at Valley West Middle School located at 201 Chester St. in Kingston. It’s open to wrestlers in grades 1-12, and Vassello said there will be plenty of mat space for anyone interested.
However, the clinic is available through pre-registration only. Its cost is $75, and checks can be made to Spartan Wrestling Club; for more information, Vassello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There should be plenty to gain from attending the event. The instructors’ resumes speak for themselves.
“Cael Sanderson is probably one of the biggest names in wrestling history,” said David Krokowski, a Valley West senior and 2017 PIAA state qualifier. “If you’re big into wrestling, you know his name.”
Sanderson compiled a perfect 159-0 record wrestling at Iowa State, including four consecutive NCAA Division I championships and three Dan Hodge trophies, awarded to the top college wrestler in the country. That’s before he won an Olympic gold medal and eventually took over at Penn State, where the Nittany Lions have won seven of the last eight NCAA team championships.
The Bonomos will handle the 11-12 portion of the morning. Ricky, a three-time NCAA champion at Bloomsburg, and Rocky, a two-time All-American at Bloom and a former coach at Lock Haven, are Lake-Lehman graduates who won team and individual PIAA championships with the Black Knights.
“Rocky’s been a huge staple within our wrestling community for a long time. Our relationship goes back a few years,” Vassello said. “It’s awesome to be able to work with somebody like Rocky, who cares so much about the sport. His passion and my passion are alike in regards to wrestling. It’s all about giving back, it’s all about making this area better as whole.”
Vassello said he expects Sanderson and the Bonomos to focus on everything from pre-match preparation to technique work and more. It’s a chance for high school athletes to set goals for the upcoming winter season.
Krokowski said he’s excited to see how Sanderson runs a practice and can come away with even more positives from his offseason.
Last year as a junior, Krokowski earned his 100th win and captured his third straight WVC and District 2 championships. The 126-pounder ended his season 35-10 after a pair of wins at the state tournament.
His offseason has already included four or five days a week of training.
“It’s definitely worked for the benefit of me. I feel like I’ve gotten stronger … I feel like I’ve been working a lot harder,” he said.
Working alongside the likes of Sanderson is just another reason to keep at it for everyone around the WVC.
“I feel like there’s going to be a whole lot of kids down there,” Krokowski said.
“They’re stoked,” Vassello described the Spartans. “They’re ready to get this season started already. What a way to kick off the wrestling season.”
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