Role model: Moffat County Youth Wrestling athletes learn from NCAA champ Gabe Dean | CraigDailyPress.com

Role model: Moffat County Youth Wrestling athletes learn from NCAA champ Gabe Dean

The wrestlers of Moffat County are used to waving a blue banner when it comes to local pride, but they nonetheless welcomed a Big Red visitor with open arms this week.

College wrestler Gabe Dean was on hand to advise young grapplers this week as part of the Moffat County Youth Wrestling camp Monday and Tuesday at Craig Middle School.

Athletes in middle school through high school worked on their skills and got face time with Dean, who twice captured national championships.

Dean is working with numerous programs across the country this summer to teach crucial skills in the sport, as well as speak about his journey in life through wrestling.

"I've done a ton of these camps, just want to do all that I can to help," Dean said.

As someone who's spent the better part of his life in the sport, Dean said there were several elements he emphasizes to kids.

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"The most crucial part is to make sure it stays fun," he said. "It's a very personal, driving kind of sport, so it's my job to teach them but also make sure it stays fun."

MCYW coach Mark Voloshin said he was thrilled to be able to get in touch with an athlete of Dean's caliber.

"It's huge for him to come to town," he said, noting a similar visit about 20 years ago by Olympic gold medalist and current University of Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands.

While competing for Cornell University, Dean won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2015 and 2016, finishing his time with the team with a record of 152-7, his win tally breaking a school record. Among his myriad honors were receiving NCAA All-American, New York State Champion, Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association champion and First Team All-Ivy League all four years of his college career.

Voloshin said he followed Dean's senior year closely, including at the national level where a one-point loss to Penn State's Bo Nickal was his first defeat in his past 45 matches.

"That was probably one of the most entertaining NCAA tournaments I've ever seen," he said. "You could probably wrestle that match 10 times, there'd be a different outcome each time, but he took (the loss) like a man."

Voloshin added that Dean's perseverance as much as his athletic talent is the kind of trait he believes makes him a good role model.

"That's the way wrestlers are — something happens like that, you make the best of it, don't look back, don't make excuses, and look to the future," he said.

Though only able to work with Craig and Moffat County athletes a short time, Dean said it was an experience he enjoyed with a receptive group.

"They pay attention, they've been doing well, a bunch of smart kids," he said. "They're respectful, and I appreciate that."