After resolving the budget crisis facing the team since May, the wrestling team has been cleared by the Truman State University Athletics Department to compete for the 2018-19 season. With the recent release of their official schedule, the Bulldogs have spent the last two weeks training for their first meet tonight at Upper Iowa University.
Shortly after the team reached their required funding goal of $75,000 in early October, head coach David Schutter expressed concern over whether the team would receive its season schedule in time to actually participate in the season. However, following the official release of the 2018-19 season schedule, Schutter said he is glad to know the team is guaranteed to compete.
Schutter said in preparation for the team’s first meet against Upper Iowa University, the Bulldogs are going to take a more individualized practice regimen than usual and practice to improve with each passing day.
“Wrestling, swimming and track, these sports really peak for the end,” Schutter said. “We prepare to get better every day and try to keep that same energy all through training … so we’ll go to Upper Iowa and get our feet wet. We want to see how we look in conference, what we need to work on to get better, and each kid’s a little different.”
Schutter said he is not concerned about the team’s win-loss margin, but rather the issues the team will face in order to compete in future seasons. As things stand, the wrestling team is not guaranteed to participate in the next season.
Schutter said the cut to the program makes no sense, and the new athletes the sport attracts would more than pay for the amount the team had to raise before this season. Additionally, he said it does not make sense to cut the significant amount of funding provided by Truman wrestling alumni.
“Truman’s like a place on the coast,” Schutter said. “Every time it seems like a hurricane is coming, we board stuff up right away, but stuff that’ll survive the storm either way. Here we have a wrestling program with alumni that want to save it, but we’re still trying to board up because we’re scared. We’re not thinking straight here.”
Redshirt senior Zach Taylor said the terms of the agreement the team made with University President Sue Thomas prevented the team from drafting five or six freshmen to the team, whose tuition and housing would have theoretically reached a total higher than the $75,000 the team had to raise.
Taylor said the agreement also restricted the team size to a maximum of 10 athletes, which did little to encourage athletes to stay at Truman.
“Then with the three [wrestlers] we lost from last year’s team, it’s just been tough to fill those spots,” Taylor said. “Even if we do get to 11, someone’s gotta get cut. They’ve kind of put our backs to the wall on that end, makes it hard to succeed.”
Taylor said the substantially decreased size of the team has made it almost impossible to win the upcoming meet.
“There’s no possible way we can finish first [at Thursday’s meet] since we only have five athletes, so we’re giving up five open spots,” Taylor said. “That’s 30 points. We’d have to pin everyone just to tie that at the dual meet, so it’s kind of the expectation to just do what we do and wrestle well. Everyone that’s going has their minds set to it, just ready to get the season going.”
Despite the circumstances, Taylor is optimistic.
“Back on May 5, I was thinking I wasn’t going to be able to wrestle in my last season,” Taylor said. “Just being able to go out there Thursday is awesome.”