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Showing content with the highest reputation since 05/01/2023 in Articles

  1. By Anna Kayser I guess the best way to start this off is with a story – my favorite wrestling story to tell, actually, and one that tells you all you need to know about where I came from and why I’m here. There’s no pretty table-setting for this story, except that I’m an Iowa Hawkeye through-and-through. I’ve been attending Iowa football games at Kinnick Stadium since I was a kid, attracted to the sports world from a young age. Wrestling, however, wasn’t on my radar. Not even as I moved up to one of the biggest wrestling high schools in the state of Iowa. Fast forward to college, my junior year in Iowa City. I don’t remember what the weather was that day in October or how I felt as I walked into Carver-Hawkeye Arena for my second ever experience with Iowa wrestling. I was blissfully unaware of what the next year or two of my life would hold for me. My introduction to the Hawkeye program had come just a few weeks earlier – yes, two and a half years into my college career, roughly 20 years into growing up in the middle of wrestling country – but that one’s not important. I was informally introduced to Hawkeye head coach Tom Brands, it was chill. It was less chill on media day as I sat facing the press conference podium at CHA, watching in fear as Brands tore apart – for lack of a better term – a reporter sitting on the other side of the room. I don’t remember what question was asked, I don’t remember the exact response. All I remember was feeling VERY in over my head. I wasn’t a fan of the sport. The opposite, in fact, bored and completely unaware of the rules in high school. So, when my editor approached me about covering Iowa wrestling a year prior, I wanted none of it. Thankfully, I changed my mind. But as I sat in that room, I couldn’t help but wonder if I made the wrong decision. Following the press conference in which I doubt I dared to even think about speaking, the cohort of Iowa media made its way downstairs to the “Room that Gable Built” for interviews with athletes. As I attempted to get my bearings on the room, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned, and there was Tom Brands: The guy that just barked at a reporter not more than 10 minutes ago. He asked me how I was doing and if everyone was treating me okay – a complete 180 in demeanor from what I had witnessed upstairs. I felt… at home. The first Iowa dual I went to was the nail in the coffin. I have no idea who they wrestled (UT-Chattanooga, maybe?) or what the score was (I wouldn’t be surprised if they shut their opponent out completely). All I remember was feeling in complete awe of the spectacle, the lone mat in the middle of thunderous applause and the deep rumble of 15 thousand fans yelling “TWOOOO” in unison. I covered Spencer Lee’s second NCAA championship, traveling out to Pittsburgh by myself with one photographer to survive only on midnight IHOP and press meals. I felt CHA rumble as Michael Kemerer defeated No. 1 Mark Hall to lead the Hawkeyes to a win over Penn State in early 2020. So, why am I here now? Because there’s nothing I love more than being able to tell the stories of tremendous athletes and what it takes to stand atop a field of excellence – and I believe Indiana is full of these stories. Wrestling is growing here, exponentially. The first dual meet I attended in Indiana blew me away, from the invested crowd to the spotlight highlighting all of the action. The State Finals, my first experience of finals action in Indiana, brought a number of separate communities together in a way that celebrated each athlete’s achievements. I saw Jake Hockaday look unbeatable as an on-paper underdog in the 120-pound state finals. I witnessed future Hawkeye Leighton Jones finally tackle (nice use of a football pun here, don’t ya think?) the walls in his mind and stand atop the heavyweight podium in February. Spending my first year covering wrestling in Indiana immersed in the Brownsburg program opened my eyes to the tight-knit community this state never fails to disappoint. The IHSAA State Finals showcase the best the state has to offer in the best way – center stage, on a single mat with a lone light on the middle circle. It’s a best-of-the-best battle. The fans are enthralled. But there’s room for growth, as there always is from youth to professional sports, and Indiana’s wrestling community has the chance foster it. The more wrestlers that have their chance at a state title – hell, even just a chance to wrestle in that arena – the more will crave that experience. The more families that come out, the more siblings, cousins or friends will want to try their hand at wrestling. As the sport grows, so do the number of powerhouses. No longer is there one powerhouse for the state of Indiana, but multiple at different levels of competition and school size, growing the sport exponentially and the exposure to smaller schools often overshadowed. And as the years progress, as the word spreads about how Indiana puts on a show for its wrestlers, the more will pack that house year after year in anticipation for the greatest spectacle in amateur sports. Those stories are here. Those kids are here. The opportunity is here. Trust me – I’ve grown in my wrestling career surrounded by the best fans, the best environment wrestling has to offer. It’s time to emulate that in the state of Indiana.
    7 points
  2. Manchester University to add women’s wrestling as varsity sport https://www.manchester.edu/about-manchester/Manchester-University-News/MU-news-page/news/2023/03/27/manchester-university-to-add-women-s-wrestling-as-varsity-sport NORTH MANCHESTER, Indiana — Manchester University will offer women's wrestling as a varsity intercollegiate sport starting in the 2024-25 academic year, making it the 50th NCAA Division III women’s team in the nation. “The time is right to launch a women’s wrestling program at Manchester University. Interest in girls wrestling in high school is exploding and we are seeing that in Indiana,” said Director of Athletics Rick Espeset. “We want to be at the forefront of helping grow the sport, providing the student-athlete experience to even more of our students and offering women the chance to compete at the college level,” he said. “We could not be more excited to add women’s wrestling.” In addition to noting the DIII milestone, National Wrestling Coaches Association Executive Director Mike Moyer said this announcement represents the 154th new women’s intercollegiate wrestling program to be added across all divisions and governing bodies since 2000. “I extend a heartfelt thanks to the Manchester University administration for recognizing the educational value and diversity that a new intercollegiate women’s wrestling program will bring to their campus. High school girls wrestling participation numbers are exploding across the nation and these new programs are critically important in providing post-secondary educational opportunities for wrestlers in the region.” Moyer said. “Needless to say, this is a big win for our sport and Manchester University,” he added. Josh Hardman, head coach for Manchester’s men’s program, will become director of wrestling. Manchester will hire an associate head coach for the women’s program and another for the men’s program. “With the growth of women’s wrestling in Indiana and across the country, it is exciting to add women’s wrestling to the Manchester University Athletic Department,” Hardman said. “To be on the cutting edge and part of the growth of this emerging sport is something to celebrate. Manchester has always been a place that fosters individual growth, and this is just another example of the innovative, bold commitment that MU continues to make toward providing opportunities that transforms the lives of their students,” he said. A member of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, Manchester offers 10 women’s NCAA-sponsored sports teams and 10 for men. Women’s wrestling will be the 11th women’s varsity sport, with a full year to recruit. Those who are interested in women’s wrestling may apply at https://applyto.manchester.edu/register/MUWWR.For the media Rick Espeset, RBEspeset@manchester.edu Josh Hardman, JAHardman@manchester.edu. Mike Moyer, National Wrestling Coaches Association, mmoyer@nwca.cc MU Director of Sports Information Erin Hickle, EEHickle@manchester.edu Learn more about Spartan athletics, https://muspartans.com/index.aspx
    1 point
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