When the average thinks of wrestling during the summer they think of the Summer Olympics.
While that is true, the Olympics are on a much bigger stage.
On a smaller landscape, thousands of high school grapplers travel all over the country in hopes of possibly getting to the Olympics some day or achieving the highest medal on their current circuit.
Many wrestlers from the Wyoming Valley Conference attend camps, clinics, practices or sessions during the summer months to fine tune their skills in hopes of improving on the previous year's finish.
"From the time the PIAA says you can start practicing until the time of your first meet is only two weeks and you're really not going to get into the shape you need to be in that time," Wyoming Valley West head coach Drew Feldman said. "If you want to compete and be ready to go, you have got be working all summer long."
One of the most popular clinics is at Wilkes University where Colonels head coach Jon Laudenslager runs the show. For $150 per athlete, they not only get instruction but have access to the facility. Grapplers from Coughlin, Crestwood, Dallas, Meyers and Wyoming Valley West were among the numerous on hand every Thursday and Sunday night at Wilkes' Marts Center for the courses.
The Spartans' Kyle Krasavage, who will begin his senior year in a few weeks, was a state qualifier as a freshman and was close to qualifying the next two seasons. He's even coming off a stellar summer where he earned an All-American finish with a gold medal at the AAU Disney Duals in Orlando, Fla., took sixth at the Junior National Tournament, was first at the Eastern Nationals and earned an eighth-place medal for his team at the NHSCA Duals.
Even though that seems like a lot of accomplishments in one offseason, he would still like to improve.
"You get to wrestle different people and see different styles and see a lot more stuff. Different coaches," Krasavage said. "You got to get better. Perfect practice makes perfect. I think wrestling 11 months out of the year instead of three months out of the year makes a big difference."
Like Krasavage, Coughlin's Bobby Hawkins is another of many locals who have traveled all over the country this summer. Hawkins, who will be a sophomore when school resumes in a few weeks, wrestled in over 100 matches this summer traveling to places such as Virginia Beach, Va., Lake Placid, N.Y., and New Jersey in an attempt to improve on last year's regional qualifying experience.
"It makes you better for high school and to stay in shape," Hawkins said. "If you're not in shape for high school you're not going to perform as well."
Almost all of the wrestlers in the area go to some sort of offseason workout. There certainly isn't a shortage of them locally. Wyoming Seminary hosted a Future's Wrestling Camp and Lake-Lehman was site for the Eagles Way Wrestling Clinic, which both were flooded with numerous top collegiate names instructing at each location.
Those clinics helped wrestlers in two ways. Not only did they get top-notch instruction but they also got possible recognition from some of the elite collegiate programs in the country. There's even a year-round clinic in Luzerne – Rock Solid, which is instructed by the most famous wrestling brothers in District 2, Rocky and Ricky Bonomo.
"From a recruiting standpoint, it's great if you plan on wrestling in college," said Eagles Way Wrestling Clinics director Jack Davis. "Wrestling is a thing where you share a lot of information with one another. It doesn't hurt to share with others."
Whether it's to fine tune skills or get recognized in the sport, one thing is for sure about wrestling: it's no longer just a sport for the winter months. It's now a year-round activity.