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Auburn wrestlers put in work at J. Robinson camp to prepare for season
The shirts bear a simple message: "I Did It."
But for Auburn grapplers Drew Aplin, a sophomore, and juniors Sam Lindsay and Bailey Minnar, the black-and-gold T-shirts earned by completing the grueling, two-week J. Robinson Intensive Training Camp are much more than mere cloth with lettering on them. They symbolize their commitment and dedication to the Trojans wrestling program.
"It was a weight off me when I got the shirt," said Minnar, who plans to compete at 152 pounds this season. "That's what I was worried about the whole camp, so it was a huge stress reliever, like I didn't have to worry about anything after that."
To earn the shirt, the Trojan trio participated in the camp, run by J. Robinson, from July 28-Aug. 10 at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Ore. Robinson is a five-time national collegiate wrestling coach of the year at the University of Minnesota.
While the camp was in session, the young men woke up at 6:30 every morning to be ready for their first running or weight training event of the day.
By the 11 p.m. lights out, campers had been through more than eight hours of intensive mental and physical training.
"At the end of the day you're just thankful that you get to go to bed," said Lindsay, who plans to compete at 195 pounds this winter. "It's not like the Army, where you have to stay up for hell week, or Navy SEAL training. But it's hard and it's tough. You try to sleep between every session to get as much sleep as you can. And you wake up just tired of having to go work out again and again and again. Just the way that it goes. It makes you appreciate what you have at home. It also makes you ready to work out. You're tired, but once you get to the workout, you go at 100 percent."
Alpin, a 113-pounder, agreed.
"You're just relieved at the end of the day. When you look at a schedule and you see your group has review, where they just talk to you and the instructors show their moves, you're happy," he said.
Among the more challenging workouts at the camp, Aplin said, was the "claw run."
"You have to run 100 meters with a 45-pound weight over your head," he said, "then you hand it off and run 300 meters back to a spot. You do that 10 times. That was probably the hardest thing for me."
Throw in a point system where campers are penalized for infractions such as missing practice, being late for practice or not filling out workbooks, and it's easy to see why the "I Did It" T-shirt is so coveted.
"They're pretty strict," Aplin said.
More important than the shirt, however, is the lasting lesson of mental and physical toughness the camp instills in the young athletes.
"I learned a whole lot," said Lindsay, who went two-and-out at Mat Classic last year. "One quote I really liked was, 'To be hard, you have to live hard.' That really lit a fire in me, I really appreciate that quote. I don't want to be weak. I want to be as strong as I can, mentally and physically, and just on top of my game. You can't just be the best wrestler in competition, you have to be the best wrestler in practice. You have to be the best wrestler off the mat. Just consistent and strong.
"Before this I'd never really done all year-round, committed wrestling," Lindsay continued. "I've gone to a few freestyle tournaments but always just went two-and-out. This year I decided that I really want to go to college and be successful. Now I feel uncomfortable not working out. It's like my muscles want to work out. I'm always swimming, I love swimming. That's one of the best workouts for you. I developed a timed workout plan where I wake up at 4:30 in the morning to run an hour and a half so I can get back to go to school at 6:30."
Aplin, a state alternate last year after finishing fifth at regionals, agreed that the camp will help this season.
"I think it will help me stay motivated and with a good mental attitude," Aplin said. "I want to not think about anything else and just focus on winning and making it to state."