'Not a cookie cutter sport': DHS hosts All-American Wrestling Camp

"If you wrestle, you take some of your most emotional losses and learn how to use those setbacks to build yourself up. You will fail in wrestling, but you have to wake up the next day and go succeed,” says Sean Elkins, a DSU All-American and 2x North Dakota state champion.

Youth wrestlers from Dickinson and surrounding areas participated in a two-day All-American Wrestling Camp held at Dickinson High School.
Photo by Amber I. Neate
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DICKINSON— Dickinson High School welcomed some of western North Dakota’s elite wrestling athletes and coaches from all over the United States for the 2022 All-American Wrestling Camp July 29-30. Wrestlers ages 4-17 learned basic grappling positions and technical skills in preparation for the 2022 competitive season.

The camp featured wrestling clinics directed by 2x World silver medalist Alli Ragan and 4x Iowa All-American Derek St. John. Students rotated through wrestling training sessions and engaged in practice matches that were led by over 15 high school and college All-Americans including Stan Schlecht, an NAIA national finalist and 3x NAIA All-American for Dickinson State University, Jesse Hellinger, an NAIA national champion for DSU, and several others.

Alli Ragan, a 2x Team USA wrestler and 3x US Open champ led wrestling classes for the campers.
Photo by Amber I. Neate

DHS graduate Troy Berg, who was named Outstanding Wrestler for the state of North Dakota, also volunteered to help instruct the students.

DHS co head wrestling coach Jeremiah Hayes says the camp provided a great opportunity for local Dickinson kids, as well as wrestlers from Killdeer, South Dakota and surrounding areas to get some more mat time with high-caliber athletes. He says the instructors elaborated on and re-enforced wrestling fundamentals that will be practiced throughout the coming wrestling season.

“We want to show the kids that wrestling isn’t a cookie-cutter sport,” Hayes said. "Everyone adds their own little tweak to it. It can be adapted to fit you and that’s why we love it.”


Ragan demonstrates a proper take down technique for the wrestlers to practice.
Photo by Amber I. Neate

This was the third year of the All-American Wrestling Camp in Dickinson. Compared to last year, enrollment was down slightly, but over 50 kids, including several girls participated in the program. DHS junior Aidan Dahmus and seventh-grader Clancy Meyer said they learned a lot about wrestling on top, mastering an under hook and going for the opponent’s legs for a take down.

Sean Elkins, a DSU All-American and 2x state champion for Hettinger-Scranton says he was happy to share his love of wrestling with the kids. He picked up the sport when he was 4 years old and hasn’t stopped since. Today, he is coaching youth wrestling in Killdeer.

“Wrestling takes dedication, desire, and the ability to be self-aware,” Elkins said. “You have to know what your limits are and you have to push past those. The mental aspect of wrestling is the greatest part of growing up that you can do. If you wrestle, you take some of your most emotional losses and learn how to use those setbacks to build yourself up. You will fail in wrestling, but you have to wake up the next day and go succeed.”

DSU All-American Sean Elkins teaches two campers grappling fundamentals.
Photo by Amber I. Neate
How passion for sports molded one Dickinson residents plans for the future.

Amber Neate grew up in rural Skull Valley, Arizona. Her passion of covering sports of all types, including personal favorites wrestling, hockey, rodeo and football, began at an early age.

She obtained her Associate of Arts Degree from Yavapai Community College before attending Northern Arizona University for a three-year journalism program. While at NAU, Neate worked as an Assistant Sports Editor for the Lumberjack Newspaper as well as a hockey commentator for KJACK Radio.

Gaining her experience working for a small community paper, The Wickenburg Sun, as a general news and features reporter, her love for sports and a small-town community brings her to Dickinson to cover southwest North Dakota sports.

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