GRANITE CITY — The elite Nation's Best Wrestling Academy Summer Wrestling Camp has an international look to it this week at Granite City High School.
The prestigious camp, under the direction of head coach Khris Whelan, has 17 members of the Great Britain Schoolboy and Cadet Wrestling Team among the wrestlers this week.
"They'll be here (in the United States) from June 22 to July 5, so they'll get a chance to experience the Fourth of July in America," Whelan said recently. "It's a great experience for them to come over and train and work with our wrestlers and coaches for a couple of weeks.
"They are mostly from the Northwest part of Great Britain and are part of a club team who will be competing in their national championships. We're very excited to have them and hope they enjoy their stay.''
Members of the team will compete in a tournament at Granite City High School on Friday, then will compete against a metro-east all-star team in a meet at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center in East St. Louis on Sunday.
The meet at the JJK Center begins at 5 p.m. and is open to the public.
Whelan is one of the top wrestlers in metro-east history who went on to become a four-time junior national champion and an alternate on the 1976 U.S. Olympic Greco Roman Team. His connections with wrestling in Great Britain go back over 20 years.
A Granite City native, Whelan is largely responsible for the growth of wrestling in the northwest region of Great Britain where he developed and coached cadets and junior world standouts at the International level.
Whelan was also the Head Womens National Freestyle Coach and assistant National Freestyle Coach for the men's team in Great Britain from 1994-97.
"I went back to Great Britain for the London Olympics a couple of years ago and it was great to see some of the wrestlers I worked with 20 years ago. They've all grown up, though,'' Whelan said. "Just to be there again and have the chance to talk and catch up with them was a great experience.
"Having the Great Britain) cadet and schoolboy team here for this camp is something I feel will be beneficial for everyone.''