MILLTOWN — The air-conditioning was humming inside the gymnasium at Saint Mark’s High School in mid-July, but it was no match for the high-energy wrestling camp led by a member of the Spartans’ two most recent state championship teams.
Bobby Telford, a 2010 graduate of Saint Mark’s, returned to the campus July 13-14 to pass some wrestling and other knowledge on to a group of youngsters who may aspire to fill Telford’s shoes one day. The 30-year-old Telford was a two-time individual state champion at Saint Mark’s, then moved on to the University of Iowa, where he went 108-27 in four years as a heavyweight for the Hawkeyes.
“When you talk about wrestling, competing at the highest level, and internationally as well, Iowa City is the place to be,” Telford said before the start of the second night of his camp at Saint Mark’s. “A lot of passion from the fans. There are 14,500 season-ticket holders. Largest attendance for the last 13, 14 years. When you talk about passion and fire for the sport of wrestling, there’s no better place to be. It’s easy to fall in love with it. Win, graduate and do it right. That’s what they talk about out there.”
Telford reminisced about his days at St. John the Beloved School with a group of friends who also attended Saint Mark’s. He said he is fortunate to have had people in his life who helped him become the wrestler and person he is, and he wanted to give back.
“I’m very, very grateful, and very blessed with the people that I’ve had in my life,” he said. “When you talk about that, especially as you get a little bit older, a little bit more mature, the No. 1 thing I talk about is being grateful.”
Before the inspiration, however, Telford put the campers through a workout. The group worked up a sweat while tangled up on the mats with a partner. Telford was right there with them, whether it was doing situps or attempting to get his partner in a precarious situation.
As a heavyweight for the Spartans, Telford won consecutive individual titles in 2009 and ’10. He was one of six individual champions in 2009 for the Spartans and one of five a year later. Sean Boylan and Sean Dolan joined him as individual champions both years. Telford would like to see Saint Mark’s wrestling return to the top of the ladder among Delaware teams.
“That’s why we’re here, ready to get to work tonight,” he said.
He also wanted to share some wisdom and advice with the group, which included a few girls mixing it up on the mats. One goal was to show them what is available to them what opportunities are available in wrestling. He would like to see more kids from Delaware become competitive nationally and internationally. Telford competed internationally for three years after graduating from Iowa in 2015 with a degree in human physiology. He lives in Iowa City with his wife, Alex, and is entering his fifth season as an assistant coach for the Hawkeyes.
“I have a lot of pride in Saint Mark’s and a lot of pride in the state of Delaware as well. It’s just great to be back,” he said.
All photos by Mike Lang.