CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – Adam Santoro was looking into various summer wrestling camps when his Iowa Style Wrestling Club coach, John Degl, made a suggestion.
“Coach Degl told me to come to this camp because it was a good camp – a lot of good kids were going to be here, including kids from the club – and because Troy Nickerson and Joe Mazzurco were great coaches and instructors,” said Santoro, a Valhalla resident and freshman-to-be at Fordham Prep.
Santoro was referring to the ninth annual New York State Wrestling Camp at John Jay Middle School. The camp began Monday and runs through Friday.
Mazzurco is a three-time Section 1 champion and 1999 New York state titlist. The Mahopac great finished with 191 varsity wins. He was also a state runner-up and third-place finisher. He went on to be a two-time All-American at Cornell. Nickerson, an Iowa State assistant wrestling coach, is a five-time New York state titlist and also All-American at Cornell.
Santoro had the pleasure, if you can call it that, of wrestling Nickerson. It was not something Santoro volunteered for.
“Coach Degl suggested I wrestle with him,” Santoro said. “It was a great opportunity to wrestle with someone of his caliber. I was excited to wrestle with him. I wasn’t going to say no.”
Santoro experienced what it was like for Nickerson’s opponents to wrestle against him, let alone score a point.
“It was fast-paced wrestling against him,” Santoro said. “Everything I did, he had a quick counter for. It was very hard to even grab his leg and hold onto it. It was even tougher to score on him.
“I didn’t go in against him scared. I had a couple of good shots and was trying different things. After we finished, he told me I did a good job and shook my hand.”
Even before Santoro wrestled Nickerson, he was benefiting from his first two days.
“I like the intensity of the camp,” Santoro said. “I also like the technique, because you are getting a taste of different techniques. Also, we are getting great conditioning from wrestling live for a long time.”