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More than 80 boys, girls attend California Champ Camp
• Ceres Pups Wrestling Club hosts two-day wrestling clinic at CHS
Pups Wrestling Club hosted
More than 80 wrestlers, aged 4-18, attended the California Champ Camp this past month at Ceres High School. The Ceres Pups Wrestling Club hosted the two-day clinic. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Hosted by the Ceres Pups Wrestling Club, the California Champ Camp was staged June 22-23 at Ceres High School.

A total of 86 boys and girls, aged 4-18, signed up for the two-day clinic.

“People have seen the success we’ve had,” said Curtis Hulstine, camp director/head coach of Ceres High’s girls wrestling program. “We pride ourselves in delivering a high-level product and we’ll continue to do that.”

Billy Murphy, a 2006 Hughson High School graduate, a two-time CIF State Boys Wrestling Meet 130-pound champion and Hulstine’s older brother, served as lead clinician of the California Champ Camp.

Murphy had a combined record of 168-3 at the high-school level according to He finished 55-0 as a junior and 48-0 senior year. 

A three-time, high-school national champion, Murphy won all 15 of his matches while competing unattached at the University of Iowa in 2006-07. 

He took first at 133 pounds at the National Junior College Athletic Association finals during his lone season with the Iowa Central Community College wrestling team in 2009. He was also named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.

“He’s the brains behind the operations,” Hulstine said. “Every year, he has a plan and we make it happen for him. Last year, it was more of a physical camp. This year, we focused on the mental aspect. Being mentally prepared and tough is a huge part in being successful in wrestling.”

“Watching the kids learn is the most gratifying thing I experience,” Murphy added. “That’s my favorite part. I hammer basic foundations until it’s instinctual.”

Hulstine, Adam Borges, Lilly Avalos, Alana Ontiveros and Brody Teske also provided assistance at the Champ Camp.

“We wanted champions at the clinician,” Hulstine said. “And that’s exactly what we had.”

A two-time NCAA Division-I qualifier with Northern Iowa, Teske transferred to the University of Iowa in 2022. He’ll be vying for his second berth to Nationals with the Hawkeyes this winter. 

Teske was a four-time state champion at the high-school level in Iowa. He won 177 of 178 matches.

“He’s been successful at the highest level,” Hulstine said. “The kids were excited to learn from him.”

Pitman High grads Avalos and Ontiveros won state titles in 2023 and 2021, respectively.

Avalos and Ontiveros earned wrestling scholarships to Vanguard and Menlo College.

Avalos was an NAIA All-American this past season.

“Girls wrestling is the fastest growing sport across the United States,” Hulstine said. “To have them (Avalos and Ontiveros) there, we were very lucky.”

Hulstine, a 2010 Ceres High grad, qualified for the CIF State Meet with the Bulldogs during his senior year.

Borges, a former Bulldog grappler and football player, graduated from CHS in 2002. He was promoted to head coach of Ceres High’s boys wrestling team last winter. He coached at Mae Hensley Jr. High for three years and with the Ceres Pups for eight years.

A Beginners Camp was offered for the first time during the clinic’s three-year history.

“We added it because we wanted to introduce the sport to kids that have never wrestled before,” said Steve Festa, camp coordinator. “The sooner you start, the bigger advantage you’ll have when you get to the competition level in high school.”

“Fundamentals are the foundation to any good wrestler,” Murphy stated. “As long as you have a good foundation, you can build off that.”

Wrestlers aged 4-11 with no experience signed up for the newly-added Beginners Camp at 3:30 p.m. on June 22.

The first day of the camp consisted of one session and ran from 4-5 p.m.

Cost was $25.

The second day of the camp consisted of two sessions and ran from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 4-5 p.m. Cost was $75.

Wrestlers aged 4-18 with experience signed up for the Third Annual California Champ Camp at 9 a.m. on June 22.

The clinic ran from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

Cost was $150 per camper or $1,450 per team (maximum of 14 wrestlers).

“We focused more on the mental game and analytics of wrestling this year,” Hulstine said. “We had some really high-level technique being taught. It was a lot of fun to watch the kids apply what they learned during live wrestling.”

“We want to help out as many local wrestlers as possible,” Festa stated. “There are a lot of good camps out there. We try to separate ourselves. We focus on mental, physical and nutrition. Getting better is our No. 1 priority.”

Curtis is looking forward to reuniting with his brother Billy at the Fourth Annual California Champ Camp next summer.

“It’s always great to see him,” Hulstine said. “Being able to sit down and pick his brain about wrestling is always a special time.”