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Lock Haven’s wrestling program to have 2 camps at Liberty Arena

PHOTO PROVIDED Lock Haven wrestling coach Scott Moore looks on during a match last year. The Bald Eagles' wrestling program will have two camps at Liberty Arena in Williamsport.

Ever since Lock Haven wrestled a quad-meet at Liberty Arena in Williamsport in 2017, coach Scott Moore has been trying to get the Bald Eagles back to facility. Now he’s going to have a few opportunities to return.

Lock Haven is hosting a pair of summer camps at Liberty Arena this summer, and it has already scheduled its annual Fall Classic tournament to be held there in October. Faced with the challenge of not being able to hold events on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic, Moore had to find other opportunities to be able to hold the key fundraising events.

The camps are crucial to scholarship money for Lock Haven. They fund about half of the scholarship money the Bald Eagles distribute to its recruits.

“The venue is really convenient because it has attractions on site, it’s close to hotels, restaurants and breweries, and it’s centrally located in Pennsylvania,” Moore said. “With not being able to do stuff on campus, it was the perfect time to work through the details. And then we started doing our six-month planning and we realized the Fall Classic would be a fun tournament to run there.”

Lock Haven wrestled for the first time at Liberty Arena in December of 2017 when it faced Bloomsburg in an EWL match and Messiah and Wheeling Jesuit in non-conference matchups. The Arena has been trying to host more wrestling-related events. Penn College hosted a multi-team tournament at Liberty Arena in mid-January this year.

The CEO of Liberty Group, which owns Liberty Arena, is Dan Klingerman, who was a state champion wrestler at Bloomsburg High School before competing at Bloomsburg University. Moore said working with Klingerman made working out the specifics of the agreement easier because he understood what Lock Haven would need to pull off the events.

“They want to expose their business to other activities. And with our success and exposure, it just made sense,” Moore said. “They’re itching to get in the market of wrestling, and they have a great product and a great place. And with the challenges of not being able to do stuff on campus, we got hold of the Mat Town Club and had them reach out for us and Liberty Arena was really excited about it.”

The first camp at Liberty Arena runs from July 12-15 and will be for elementary and junior high wrestlers in grades 3 through 8. It’s a fundamental technique camp which Moore said is more about getting kids back on the mat after maybe not having worked out for a few months.

“It’s about having our guys come in and make connections along the way, too,” Moore said. “It allows for our staff to build relationships with the kids who might come out to our matches and the parents who support our program. But it also gives our athletes a chance to give back and teach.”

Lock Haven is offering a technique and competition camp for high school wrestlers and teams from Aug. 10-13. That camp is more about the competition for teams and individuals than it is about teaching technique.

“Coaches want to bring a group of guys to build and connect with. They want to build a chemistry with the team and get some matches and technique,” Moore said. “It’s about the experience of being around a great club like Mat Town and a program like Lock Haven and expose the wrestlers to people who are working hard to get better.”

The Lock Haven Fall Classic is slated for Oct. 18 at Liberty Arena. The annual preseason tournament gives an opportunity for some high-level competition. But both the clinics and the Fall Classic are about more than just the bottom line for Lock Haven.

It’s about building its brand as a program and exposing that brand to future generations of fans. Moore could see that plan working this past season as Bald Eagle wrestling fans continued to pack Thomas Fieldhouse. Last season Lock Haven finished in the Top 25 in the country in home attendance.

“It really hit home this year. We had some big dual meets we brought a lot of fans in for,” Moore said. “But we wrestled smaller conference duals on a Sunday or Friday and we still had a ton of fans show up. I think we’ve built a great fan base. We have to continue to put a good product on the mat and give the fans a great experience when they come to a dual.”

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