NEW PORT RICHEY - Tyler Fleming knew full well what he was getting himself into this summer.
He and four of his River Ridge teammates traveled to Culver Academy in Indiana and they each knew Brandon wrestling coach Russ Cozart and members of the Blair Academy (Blairstown, N.J.) team, including coach Jeff Buxton, would be waiting.
Any fan of Florida wrestling knows about Brandon, the team with the nation's longest dual-meet winning streak at 445. Then add Blair Academy to the mix, a squad that has won 27 consecutive National Prep Championships.
With credentials like those, you'd be a fool to think you could attend that camp and not get worked. Fleming knew what was coming.
"That was the hardest camp I've ever gone to," Fleming said, chuckling through the sentence.
The camp was split into two rooms, one for technique and one for the elite wrestlers. Fleming went into the elite room and as luck would have it, he ended up grappling with Tony Buxton, the son of Blair Academy coach Jeff Buxton.
"We were doing pretty decent and then, as I was getting more tired, he seemed to be getting stronger," said Fleming, a senior.
The ironic part of the camp is that Russ Schenk, who was the Culver Academy coach at the time, returned to River Ridge later that summer for his second stint as the Royal Knights coach.
Schenk caught a glimpse in Indiana of the fire from his future 119-pounder and he has yet to let the coach down.
"You've got two different kinds of leaders," Schenk said. "You got the leader who yells and screams and I've got one of them on my team and then I have Tyler Fleming.
"He's quite. If you get him to say 10 words, that's a lot, but he is a 4.0 GPA student and he leads by example. He sets the pace and the others are either going to keep up or they're going to fall by the wayside. He has set the pace. He's been an outstanding leader this year to date. I'm excited to see where he's going to be by the end of the year."
As River Ridge prepared for the season, Schenk told a handful of his wrestlers to challenge themselves - put their goals up on the bathroom mirror.
"So when you walk into the bathroom and brush your teeth every day, your goals are staring you in the face," Schenk said. "If you're not working to achieve them, then you're working to not achieve them."
The caveat for Fleming is he shares his bathroom at home, so instead of putting his goal on the mirror, he's written it on the wall in his room above the light switch.
"State champ," Fleming revealed as his goal. "Every time you see it, you're like, 'I've got to make sure I run tonight, I have to make sure to do this, I got to get better.'"