Tony Nelson's presence was apparent as soon as he walked into the Minot State University Dome's gymnasium.
A couple dozen mostly scrawny, mainly high school wrestlers watched as the 255-pound NCAA Division I heavyweight champion returned to the dome after a half-hour lunch break Wednesday.
"Why is this giant coming and what is he going to do to show us anything?" Minot High School senior Dayne Haman said of his initial reaction to seeing Nelson. "Oh, he's just monstrous."
Tony Nelson, right, demonstrates riding techniques to wrestling campers Wednesday afternoon at the Minot State University Dome. Nelson, a rising junior at the Univesity of Minnesota, is the defending NCAA Division I heavyweight champion.
Nelson, a rising redshirt junior at the University of Minnesota, is in Minot to assist with Golden Gophers coach J Robinson's Technique Wrestling Camp, a five-day event.
Robinson's camps have taken Nelson from Pennsylvania to Iowa to Minot to teach the techniques that made him a national champion.
"It's what I'm good at, wrestling and being in college," the two-time All-American said. "It's kind of like my summer job."
In addition to Robinson and Nelson, the camp features several other counselors, including Minneota (Minn.) High School coach Joel Skillings, Minnesota's 2012 Class A Coach of the Year.
On the first day, Skillings asked campers to fill out a booklet with 50 goals they hope to accomplish within the next 10 years. The goals could be wrestling-related, but that was not a requirement.
"It's a great product that J has developed over the course of time," Skillings said. "It's a goal-setting plan. It starts from a real wide base and then narrows it down to something that's achievable for kids. It's a great perspective for kids to develop when they're young. I know his idea is that they'll use it the rest of their lives."
After campers spent a few minutes jogging around mats set up on the center of the floor, Nelson had them sit and watch as he demonstrated a few riding techniques.
Despite a list of accolades that includes two Minnesota high school state championships and a Big Ten and national title in college, Nelson doesn't have a large arsenal of go-to moves he uses in competition.
"I only have a few moves in each area that I really do in a match," Nelson said. "It's more basic the higher you get up. These guys, I try to show them what I can and hopefully they pick up a few things from what I show them."
Nelson doesn't expect to step on the mat and compete against the campers. Part of that is for the campers' safety, but if Nelson did challenge one of them and the unthinkable happened, it could mean the end to an otherwise successful wrestling career.
"I may mess around with a few of them, but I won't wrestle a live go with any of them," Nelson said. "(If I lost), I might have to retire right there."