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Local grapplers attend Azevedo-Hitchcock Camp
Ceres High, Mae Hensley Jr. High and Ceres Pups Club grapplers attended the Azevedo-Hitchcock Camp, July 6-13, in Lindsay. Emphasis was placed on individual training during the first four days of the clinic. Wrestling legend John Azevedo provided instruction on July 10. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Members of the Ceres High, Mae Hensley Jr. High and Ceres Pups wrestling teams returned home from the Azevedo-Hitchcock Camp on Thursday.

The eight-day clinic was staged, July 6-13, at McDermont Field House in Lindsay, Calif.

The experience was mentally and physically challenging.

"It was a really hard camp," Ceres High grappler Andrew Gibson said. "I ended up liking it a lot. Having the team there made it a lot more fun. Our team chemistry did go up. A lot of the stuff I learned, I'll make sure I bring it into next season."

Ceres High's Gibson, Jaden Cooper, Ethan Letras, David Caravalho, Jesus Duran, Daniel McElwain, Mason Foster, Edison Jimenez, Marcus Martinez, Angel Perez, Allen Thy, Ricky Gonzalez and Devin Miller, Mae Hensley's Trae Hammonds, and Ceres Pups Parker Borges, Tanner Brister, Ian Miller, Landon Ormonde and Jeremiah Young all participated.

Coaches Steve Festa (Ceres High), Josh Letras (Ceres High), Casey Palino Sr. (Ceres Pups), Adam Borges (Ceres Pups), Derek Young (Ceres Pups) and Tony Ormonde (Ceres Pups) also attended the clinic.

Emphasis was placed on individual training during the first four days of the camp.

"We were there to get experience," Festa said. "That was the most important part. We were getting six hours of lessons each day mixed in with running. It was a challenge. Everyone improved and had fun."

Added Gibson: "I learned from a bunch of Olympians and state champions."

Grappling legend John Azevedo, Matt Azevedo and Brandon Slay provided instruction.

John Azevedo placed first three times (1978-80) while representing Cal State Bakersfield at the NCAA Division-II Wrestling Championships. The Roadrunners finished first as a team twice (1980, 1979).

He won the 126-pound NCAA Division-I title in 1980.

He claimed back-to-back state championships (1974-75) at the prep level.

John coached Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for 10 seasons, retiring in 2011.

He led Calvary Chapel High School to seven state team titles in 12 years (1989-2001)

Matt Azevedo completed his sixth season as head coach of the Drexel University wrestling program in 2016-17.

He competed for Arizona State and Iowa State, each for two years. He advanced to the NCAA Tournament in three of his four seasons.

Slay won the gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
He earned All-American honors while wrestling for Pennsylvania. Brandon was runner-up twice at the NCAA Championships.

He was named executive director and head coach of the Pennsylvania Regional Training Center in 2016.

"He (John Azevedo) did a private session with just Ceres," Gibson said. "It was really cool. He knows a lot of stuff. I used some of the techniques he taught us later in the team duals. That's what helped me win matches."

Added Festa: "It was great for our guys to get that personal attention."

The team-competition portion of the camp was held, July 10-13.

"I can definitely see us doing this for many years to come," Festa said.

Said Gibson: "It was definitely challenging."

Festa took Ceres High, Mae Hensley and Ceres Pups wrestlers to the Azevedo-Hitchcock Camp for the first time last summer.

"Every wrestler works hard," he said. "You got to challenge yourself and be willing to work harder to be a champion."