Despite the struggles as a club sport, wrestling expects big things

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The team doesn’t have its own competition mat — it has to borrow one from the Texas School for the Deaf.

It doesn’t have scholarships, or really anything else, to offer.

These are just some of the problems that Longhorn Wrestling faces as a club sport, not a varsity sport.

But in the wake of all of the challenges, the team is pushing itself to achieve a level of competition that hasn’t been reached since the rebirth of the club in 2006.

“We have more commitment coming from our guys,” senior club president Michael Mahoney said. “Guys are starting to enforce rules. A few years ago, it was ‘Show up when you wanted to practice.’ Now you are required to show up to a certain number of practices.”

This newfound commitment could be seen at 6 a.m. Saturday as 32 wrestlers spent five-and-a-half hours doing rope runs, curls, push-ups, sit-ups, up-downs, buddy carries, squats and more to top off hell week.

“Obviously that shows a huge commitment,” Bob Moore, head coach and National Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee, said. “During hell week the majority of wrestlers showed up to all the workouts. All of our returning wrestlers are more determined and driven for excellence.”

Not only are they committed in workouts, but they are committed in the student administration side of things, as all club sports must be.

“We have to do nearly everything ourselves,” Mahoney said. “We get a little bit of money from the school, but we raise over 75 percent of our money through dues and fundraisers. It’s truly student-run.”

With this newfound dedication and commitment, Longhorn Wrestling plans to accomplish more than last year, when it sent five wrestlers to nationals.

“We don’t just plan to send kids to nationals. We plan on placing at nationals this year,” sophomore wrestler Jordan Hildreth said.

And with the National Collegiate Wrestling Association realigning the conferences, Texas wrestling now competes with clubs in Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Arkansas. But the only state that has actual teams is Texas.

“We will be competing against only Texas universities for bids to nationals,” Moore said. “I am confident we will be able to place one person in each weight class. I expect at least eight people to go to nationals and at least one or two to be All-Americans.”

Moore singles out senior vice president John DeMis, juniors Jack Carlson and Jordan Bridgers and sophomore Hildreth as wrestlers he is confident in to achieve big things this year.

But the true challenge is keeping the club up and running.

“One of my goals is to facilitate the student administration and keep it running like a well-oiled machine,” DeMis said. “I’d like to know this program will be around five to 10 years down the road.”

But to be able to continue its success, the wrestling program wants the support of the University.

“We need this to be a university program,” Moore said, “We hope that people will come support us. The student athletes deserve to have the recognition that the mainstream student athletes get for their hard work and dedication.”

The team’s first meet will be Oct. 27.

“This is going to be our best team ever,” DeMis said. “Watch out for us. We are going to do big things.”

Printed on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 as: Weestling provides competition for students