Wrestling club helps keep the sport alive

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As wrestling programs dwindle across the nation, the BYU wrestling club hopes to keep the sport alive.

Wrestling’s popularity has slowly declined in recent years, as the sport has been cut from many middle schools, high schools, colleges and recently the Olympics. BYU, which, at one point, had one of the top wrestling programs in the nation, cut its program just over 10 years ago.

This past year, the Olympic committee cut wrestling, one of the original Olympic sports, from the 2016 Olympic games. In the blink of an eye, thousands of young wrestlers’ dreams of competing at the next Olympics were dashed.

The wrestling club meets in the west annex of the Smith Fieldhouse every Thursday evening, attempting to bring the sport back to BYU competition. Photo by Sarah Hill.
The wrestling club meets in the west annex of the Smith Fieldhouse every Thursday evening, attempting to bring the sport back to BYU competition. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

“Wrestling being cut from the Olympics was a wake-up call,” said Brandon Grooms, a physiology and developmental biology major from Muskogee, Okla., and vice president of the BYU wrestling club. “Wrestling is something that needs to be saved in more programs than just the Olympics.”

As of this semester, the club is up and running under official BYU club guidelines.

“BYU has a lot of talent, and a lot of the guys in the club could have wrestled at other colleges,” Grooms said. “They chose BYU and, in doing so, gave up wrestling.”

The wrestling club’s goal is to make it so wrestlers don’t have to choose between their sport and an education. The club is currently trying to get sponsored by the National College Wrestling Association to be allowed to wrestle against other college wrestling clubs around the country and receive some funding needed to run the program.

“We hope to get sponsored by the National College Wrestling Association so we can then wrestle schools like the University of Utah and other colleges around the area,” said club president Connor Bingham. “Other than that, we hope to gain the same support BYU once had before the sport was cut.”

At one time, BYU had a premiere wrestling program and was coached by Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz. But in 2000, BYU decided to cut the program, smashing dreams of many aspiring wrestlers.

“It has always been a dream of mine to wrestle for BYU, but when they cut the program my dream was crushed,” said Ryan Coles, one of the club’s founders. “To be able to say now that I can wrestle for BYU is a big deal, and to wear a BYU singlet when we wrestle against University of Utah will be a dream come true.”

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