Christmas comes late
Rugby wrestlers got a special Christmas present one day late this year.
A training session from one the top assistant coach on one of the best college wrestling programs in the nation.
Brandon Eggum, the head assistant coach at the University of Minnesota, brought his more than 15 years of experience at the Division I and International levels to the Rugby wrestling room.
Eggum, who earned a silver medal in the 2001 World Freestyle Championships, is a Sidney, Mont., native.
Eggum said he’s developed a lot of friendships in North Dakota through the years, including with former Rugby wrestling coach Craig Zachmeier, whose known Eggum for nearly 20 years.
“Growing up in Sidney, I wrestled a lot in North Dakota and at the Rotary (in Bismarck),” he said. “I have a lot of friends in wrestling in North Dakota. I had the opportunity to come down here and work with these guys (after Christmas in Sidney) so it was perfect.”
The Rugby wrestlers watched intently as Eggum showed a number of different scoring options from various scrambling situations.
Although many of the skills are basic, Eggum said they are used at even the highest levels of wrestling.
“What we’re working on is scrambling situations, where a lot of points are won or lost,” he said. “It’s really similar stuff to what we’re showing in the room at the college level. A lot of the time it’s the basic skills that wins. This is similar stuff to what we’re showing some of the best guys in the country. Hopefully it’ll help.”
Rugby High School head wrestling coach Mitch Meyer said having a coach with Eggum’s experience is invaluable. He was a national team champion with the Gophers and was also a three-time All-American.
In the last 15 years, the Gophers have finished in the top two in the nation eight times, and were ranked No. 1 earlier this season.
“The kids are only going to get better from a coach of this caliber,” Meyer said. “They’re going to learn something new and improve their wrestling. That’s our goal every day and this is one tool that they can go above and beyond what they’ve already learned.
The more experience in the room, the kids are obviously paying attention because of his status. He knows what he’s talking about and hopefully it’ll put us a step above our competition.”
Meyer said the techniques the Rugby wrestlers learned from Eggum could be the difference in winning a match or even advancing at a tournament.
“He’s keeping it nice and simple, a lot of these scrambling situations are simple, it’s just grab this and a turn but for some of these kids they’re not the most experienced so it’s all new to them,” Meyer said. “Any time you can learn just one more move, that could win you a match or get you into the finals at a state tournament. It’s just the little things these kids are learning from Brandon coming in and helping us could put us over the edge.”
Zachmeier, who has known Eggum since his days as a high school standout, helped organize the visit.
Eggum was the strength and conditioning coach for the Gophers and has now spent two years as J. Robinson’s top assistant.
“He’s the coach responsible for taking the wrestlers to the next level at the University of Minnesota,” Zachmeier said. “It’s a good opportunity for the Rugby kids, not only for their wrestling, but he’s a person of good character too. He was an academic All-American as well as his wrestling accomplishments, so it’s a good mentor to have around above and beyond sports.”
A number of wrestlers from North Dakota have been a part of the Gophers’ national-renowned program.
Eggum said the school is a great opportunity for wrestlers from this state in the future as well.
“North Dakota is a close neighbor of ours,” he said. “If there’s a kid that comes out who wants to wrestle at a top-level Division I school, we’re a real attractive opportunity. We’re hoping some of the great kids that come out of North Dakota, we can pull them into our program. It wasn’t much different for me. I was just barely into Montana/ I got the opportunity to go to a great program. I wanted to wrestle against the best guys in a top-tier program.”
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