Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You

At long last college wrestling has come to Texas. In a press conference this afternoon Wayland Baptist University announced the addition of intercollegiate varsity wrestling for both men and women. The text of the press release is below.

“Wayland Baptist University will add men's and women's wrestling as intercollegiate sports, Athletic Director Dr. Greg Feris officially announced at a press conference today.

"Intercollegiate wrestling is a win-win situation for the university. It will generate additional students while providing an additional competitive sport for the university community."

The WBU wrestling program will compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) beginning with the 2010-11 school year. Thirty-seven NAIA schools currently sponsor wrestling for men, ten for women.

There are currently no intercollegiate wrestling programs in the state of Texas, despite recent statistics that show an excess of 245 high school boys' wrestling teams and 198 girls' teams in the state. In the Texas Panhandle area, there are approximately 375 boys and more than 125 girls participating in the sport. The boy's team from Randall High School and the girl's team from Caprock High have recently won state championships.

"The sport is growing and is very popular in many regions of the country," added Feris. "Wayland is fortunate to be located in an area where several communities have embraced the sport at the high school level. I think we are going to fill a void in the area for fans of the sport. In addition, we are excited to be able to offer these young student-athletes a new opportunity to continue to participate in a sport that they love while at the same time obtaining an outstanding education in a Christian environment."

Search for a new coach will begin right away. Feris says he hopes to have someone in place sometime after the first of the new year.

Among those present at the press conference were Mike Moyer, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Coaches Association and former Olympic gold medalists Brandon Slay and Dan Gable. Slay, a graduate of Amarillo's Tascosa High School who is currently the resident freestyle coach for USA Wrestling at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, won the gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney. Gable, who did not give up a single point on his way to the gold at the 1972 games in Munich, won two individual NCAA titles as a student-athlete at Iowa State University and 15 NCAA team titles as head coach at the University of Iowa.

The new WBU two teams will practice in the James P. and Nelda Laney Student Activities Center. Duel or tournament events will be held in Hutcherson Center. The addition of the wrestling programs brings Wayland's athletic offering to a total of 14.”

Long-time Texas high school wrestling coach and activist, Johnny Cobb, has this to say about the announcement, “The entire wrestling community in the state of Texas in rejoicing with the news of a NAIA college wrestling program. What a progressive University that can see the value and character building potential a college wrestling program has to offer it's young men and women. Adding not only a men's program but also adding a women's program shows the kind of foresight this University exemplifies. This is a red letter day for not only Texas wrestling but for college wrestling everywhere. Universities can use every excuse in the world, from the economy to title nine, for not adding or even dropping college wrestling, but when a forward thinking University like Wayland Baptist realizes the value wrestling can add to their school, it demonstrates that where there is a will there is a way.

We are still in hopes that West Texas A&M University will also be adding an NCAA D-2 program in the future. They have seriously taken it under consideration.”

Congratulations to Wayland Baptist University – and I’m with Johnny – the more, the better.

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