Over the summer, the Collingswood High School team took a trip down
to Orlando. But it wasn’t Mickey Mouse that drew the Panthers' interest; it was the opportunity to compete against top teams around the country.
Head coach Declan Moody called the trip a great bonding experience for his team, but joked that the results weren’t too friendly.
“We got beat up,” Moody said.
Well, not every quite everybody suffered that fate.
Collingswood junior Mike Campbell flexed his muscles to the tune of five victories in six matches, earning a silver medal along the way. Campbell, who reached the Region 7 Tournament at 160 pounds last season, is hoping his successful summer is just the start of a big junior season.
“That was really fun,” Campbell said of the trip. “I had the best record there, and there was only two of us to get medals, and I was one of them. The trip also bonded the team really well.”
With just three seniors on this year’s Panthers’ squad, Campbell has stepped into a leadership role a bit earlier than most. He has happily accepted the position, and is hoping to not only make himself stronger for the upcoming season, but also to improve his teammates.
“I expect to be a captain this year because I push a lot of people in practice and I help a lot of people out,” Campbell said. “I’m looking to have a good record again and do good in the postseason.”
Campbell said he grew a lot during last year’s postseason run. As difficult as some of his challengers are in the Colonial Conference, the competition raises a notch at the district and region level.
“I learned that once you face the better kids you can’t do the simple stuff anymore,” Campbell said. “You have to change it all up. This year, I am working with the coaches a little more so I can be a heavier weight, but wrestle as a lightweight.”
What exactly does that entail? Campbell said it boils down to being quicker on his toes and having a more diversified skill set.
“I’m working on my speed now,” he said. “This year, instead of all the power moves, I’m working on faster moves. It’s looking pretty good.”
While working on expanding his arsenal of moves, Campbell can look back to his six matches in Florida to draw inspiration. Although their trip only lasted a few days, the Collingswood wrestlers got to see a wide array of wrestling styles.
“You saw all different types of wrestling,” Campbell said. “Every state had its own different style. Our school is basically brawlers, so we just do whatever it takes to win.”
And Campbell plans on doing a lot more winning over the next few months.”
“I think we got a good team and can win a lot of matches,” Campbell said. “We can’t wait to get going.”