2X Black Hat Winners

At our 2016 28-Day Intensive Camp, two exceptional wrestlers—Isaac Torrey from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Eli Yoho from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio—won their second consecutive Black Hat award. In 2015, Yoho was awarded the hat at the 14-Day Pennsylvania Intensive Camp, while Torrey won the hat at the 28-Day Intensive Camp.

The Black Hat award was established in the early 1990s at the Oregon 14-Day Intensive Camp as a special recognition for the most deserving camper in each wrestling group. The idea originated from Army Ranger School in which a “Distinguished Honor Graduate” is chosen from each Ranger class. We evaluate the wrestlers based on leadership within their wrestling and running group, support of other athletes during camp, and embodiment of the characteristics of the J7—Discipline, Dedication, Sacrifice, Hard Work, Responsibility, Accountability, and Service. Winning one hat is itself an outstanding accomplishment, but winning two is an extremely rare feat. We believe it's only been done once before, in 2003 and 2004 by current Brazilian Jiu Jitsu star A.J. Agazarm (whose brother Austin also won a Black Hat at the 2016 Calfornia Intensive Camp). 

We would like to congratule both Isaac and Eli on this amazing achievement. These two, along with their fellow Black Hat winners at the 28-Day Camp (Cale Davidson, Ryan Brown, and Joseph Arroyo), commited themselves to improvement through consistent hard work throughout the 28 days, and and we're excited to follow both of them this season.

We sent a Q&A to Isaac and Eli to ask them more about their experience at camp and what it meant to them to win a second consecutive Black Hat. Please read the Q&A forms below.

Isaac Torrey
Junior
Forest Hills Central HS
Grand Rapids, Michigan

1.       Did you approach, or prepare for, camp any differently this summer after learning the ropes last year? If so, please describe how.

Yes, I prepared for camp this by working out when I did not want to, rather than waiting until I felt like it. I knew that at camp you often do not want to do a workout and you have to push through that feeling.

2.       Tell us about your first experience at camp last summer. What did you want to gain from going to camp? What was more difficult than you thought it would be? What was easier?

I wanted to break through a barrier that I felt I had hit my previous season. I thought JROB would show me intensity and help me win the matches that I needed to be winning. I thought that our runs were much harder than I thought they would be, but I was surprised that leaving home for so long was much easier than I had thought it would be.

3.       Why did you decide to come to camp again this summer after completing it last summer having won the Black Hat?

I did not get what I wanted last season but I saw a lot of improvement, so I decided that I should come back to camp again.

4.       Did you go into camp this summer with the expectation for yourself of winning the Black Hat again?

I knew how tough it would be to come back to camp and win the Black Hat again, and I felt quite a bit of pressure on me. I tried to just work my hardest and I finished better than I did last year.

5.       What is your strategy at camp to get the most benefit out of it? (e.g. finding the best wrestlers to compete against, pacing yourself, etc.)

I was always trying to push myself harder than I did the day before to get the most out of camp. I also wanted to get different competition so I wrestled with as many different people as I could.

6.       As a two-time graduate and Black Hat winner, what advice would you give to a wrestler that’s coming to camp for the first time? What are some tips to help you survive the long time away from home and physical/mental demands?

I would tell a first time camper to make sure they have been running and/or wrestling nearly every day before camp to be in shape. I would also tell them to get as much rest as possible while they are at camp.

7.       How did last year’s camp compare to this year’s camp? Talk about what, if anything, was different about camp this summer, and what was similar to last year.

Last year’s camp seemed a little easier to get rest at because the cafeteria was just downstairs. I think that made camp this year  little tougher.

8.       How did you first become interested in wrestling?

I first became interested in wrestling when I was in 3rd grade and I began coming to my older brother’s meets. He was in high school at the time and I thought it was very interesting.

9.       Coming from a top-tier wrestling state like Michigan, you have some of the best competition in the country. Tell us about your experience during the high school season this past year and what you learned about yourself in coming up just short of the state tournament.

I had quite a tough weight class last season at 152. My area had some of the highest ranked kids at 152 so my road to state was a very tough one.

10.   Coming into your junior season, how will your approach change to give yourself the best chance to qualify for and win the state tournament?

I will need to go into the postseason more confident than last year and no pay any attention to rankings to give myself the best chance to win.

Eli Yoho
Senior
Woodridge High School
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

1.       Did you approach, or prepare for, camp any differently this summer after learning the ropes last year? If so, please describe how. 

No, for me I really didn’t do any preparing before camp because I trained all year with running working out and lifting. I have good coaches and staff that really help me.


2.       Tell us about your first experience at camp last summer. What did you want to gain from going to camp? What was more difficult than you thought it would be? What was easier?

My first experience at camp was the 14 day camp and what I wanted to get out of it was in better shape and better mental strength.  The 14 day really did the job on both of my goals it was 14 days that were intense and worked your body pretty hard.

3.       Why did you decide to come to camp again this summer after completing it last summer having won the Black Hat?

 I never planned on going to the 28 day camp until after I won the 14 day black hat and on my interview said one of my future goals was to go to the 28 day camp and win the black hat there. So being the black hat winner I had to live up to my word and go. 

4.       Did you go into camp this summer with the expectation for yourself of winning the Black Hat again?

Yes 100% I did it for me.   That was the one thing that pushed me so hard to get it and always give 1% better every practice and work out. For me I did not care about getting the  “I did it” shirt because I wouldn’t be satisfied by just getting the shirt.  That was just icing on the cake for me, I wanted the black hat and I was mentally ready to get it again.

5.       What is your strategy at camp to get the most benefit out of it? (e.g. finding the best wrestlers to compete against, pacing yourself, etc.)

 I always had advantage against anyone at camp because of my strength and mental strength to push myself when I need to. But with that I learn and listen to other people and watch them. So: 1. Set goals in camp like eat healthy to get the edge of fitness. You will feel better and work better if you eat healthy and the other guy is eating ice cream. 2. Make sure you are in the front pack and try to be in front the whole time. The difference between the guy who gets the positive or the neutral is being in front not in the middle of the pack. 3. Sleep while other kids are walking around campus or playing games. I would recommend sleeping so you are fully energized and ready for the workout.

6.       As a two-time graduate and Black Hat winner, what advice would you give to a wrestler that’s coming to camp for the first time? What are some tips to help you survive the long time away from home and physical/mental demands?

1. Go in there and make friends with the right people. 2.  I would find a group of friends at camp that are in your running and wrestling group and hang around the hardest workers so you can push yourself.  Sleep a lot, eat healthy and always be excited for the workout.  It’s always perspective. If you are excited for the workout one you will perform better and two it will go by way faster.  If you go to practice all mad and sore and thinking this sucks, guess what; practice is going to suck and it will take forever. Ddon’t go through the motions. For me the most satisfying thing at camp was when practice was over or a workout was over and I knew I gave it my all and my opponent who I will wrested later in the season did not do that and that was one thing that helped me through camp and the workouts.

7.       How  did the 14-Day camp compare to the 28-Day camp? Talk about what, if anything, was different about camp this summer, and what was similar to last year.

The biggest 3 things that were different and helped me at the 28 day camp was 1. Making friends. It’s weird how close you can become with someone when you are with them for 28 days.   You make good memories and lasting relationships that you won’t ever forget with friends you made at camp. 2 Don’t be stupid. Sounds like a weird answer but teenagers can be immature and can make bad decisions so at camp be smart and make good decisions like the friends you become with at camp. Bring a lot of Advil and icy hot. For me I took it before bed and when I woke up. 

8.       How did you first become interested in wrestling?

My 3 older brothers wrestled but they were never really good and only one wrestled in high school. He did ok as a wrestler but he was more of the smart brother out of my family.  I also had a really good youth wrestling team and program. Out of my youth team, now my teammates are in high school and we all went to different schools in Ohio but a lot of my youth team is now all-state or all-Ohio or even state champs in high school.

9.       Coming from a top-tier wrestling state like Ohio, you have some of the best competition in the country. Tell us about your experience at the state tournament this past season and what lessons you learned.  

I did ok at states. I was seeded 6th last year beating a few all-Ohioans that helped my ranking.  Going into the state meet knowing that I already beat half of the kids in my bracket I felt really good. So I went in there and wrestled my first kid who was Ryan Thomas from St Paris Graham and losing to him after knowing I could of wrestled way better against him really sucked but gave me confidence on my next match because I knew I could have beat him if I just wrestled and was not nervous. So my second match I wrestled a kid and beat him 12-3.  I won that match all I needed to do was win one more match to place in state. The kid who I had to beat to place in the state was one of the kids I beat earlier in the season so I was really excited and ready for the match but a little nervous. I went into that match to be honest a little cocky thinking I would just beat him pretty easy but at the end of the match I ended up losing and it was probably because of that that I lost. So the one thing I learned was never under estimate an opponent. And wrestle like the kid is better than you and always wrestle in offensive mode.

10.   With that experience you gained at state, how will you approach this season, and hopefully the 2017 state tournament, differently?

Going into the tournament knowing all the work I put in in the summer and knowing I am the best kid in the state regardless of rankings and wrestle not nervous but with pride and having fun. 

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