Agapé Boarding School hosted a weeklong wrestling camp starting Monday, Nov. 18, and culminating in an all-day tournament Friday, Nov. 22, in the Michael Cullen Memorial Gymnasium.

Several volunteer coaches from around the country taught the basics of grappling to about 150 Agapé students. In addition, a team of wrestlers from Hammond Baptist High School of Schererville, Indiana, known as the Swordsmen, spent the week sparring with and competing against the Rhinos.

For a lot of boys whose only knowledge of wrestling is watching the WWE on television, learning the freestyle form of “real” wrestling was sure to be an eye-opener, but they seemed to pick up on the nuances of the sport rather quickly.

“Our camp went fantastic this week,” Agapé athletic director Jason Moore said. “Every year we have guys come in who have some ability, but for the most part I would say 80% of the guys have never wrestled before and because the groups are different year to year, that 80% probably remains the same each year. I’d say about half the guys ended up getting a win over the week and getting a little bit of confidence in them makes them a little better coming into the tournament on Friday.”

The athletes were divided into 18 weight classes ranging from 106 to 240 pounds. Each bracket was single elimination until the semifinals and finals, where a third-place match also was contested. Matches were two minutes in length for the first period and one minute for each of the second and third periods. Most of the matches ended with a pinfall, but many — especially in the later rounds — went the distance and were decided on points. One match was tied 4-4 at the end of regulation, and three overtime minutes were necessary before the winner finally scored the deciding point.

Whether a Rhino wrestled against a fellow Rhino or a Swordsman, good sportsmanship was on display throughout the tournament. Competitors shook hands prior to each match and again at the conclusion. Hugs often followed the post-match handshakes as well.

The number of wrestlers and the lengths of some matches made for a full day of competition. By the time all the awards were handed out, it was time for supper for the Agapé boys.

“The tournament, I wanted it to go a little faster but we’re learning and we’re making improvements every year and it’s getting better and better every year.” Moore said. “We’ve got some tremendous ideas [for next year] to make it really good.”

The Rhinos’ Dantley Gilbert was named the MVP of the camp. Dominic Bower won the Best Spirit award.

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