Wrestling club ready to start practice, compete in NCWA
That’s how James Perry, a sophomore, describes the new wrestling team.
Carroll University formally recognized its wrestling team as a club sport in 2011 under coaches Ben Tomes, a former Pioneer wrestler and now head coach, and Charles Hammack, who wrestled at Gallaudet University.
Although the team will only be competing as a club in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association’s North Central Conference, it is looking forward to the years down the road when active participation could grant them consideration for varsity status and a place in the NCAA.
“But we’re not worried about getting into the NCAA right now,” Perry said. “We just want to secure our position in the NCWA and grow as a program.”
Carroll’s President Doug Hastad asked Tomes to propose returning wrestling to Carroll in 2007. But Tomes waited to begin forming a program until 2010 when interest in the sport seemed to be peaking. Tomes, along with then-sophomore Tanner Flatland, began rallying interested students.
Tomes encouraged interested Carroll wrestlers to compete in the NCWA. Carroll students could compete since the NCWA does not require a team to have varsity status.
Thanks to the hard work from both Tome and Flatland, the university recognized the team in 2011. After rousing enough interest in Carroll wrestling to satisfy the Becca Saal, Carroll’s director of recreation, the wrestling club officially became an NCWA member.
CarrollUniversity’s wrestling program began as a student organization in 1946. The program was successful, earning a College Conference ofIllinois&Wisconsinteam title in 1961, not to mention 15 individual titles in the CCIW and the Midwest Conference. However, shortly after recognition as a varsity sport, Carroll flushed the program.
Carroll cut wrestling because the number of men in Carroll’s athletics exceeded the number of women in athletics, violating Title IX of the Education Amendments Acts of 1972, said Nick Seiske, a Carroll alumnus of 2001.
The law states that “No person in theUnited Statesshall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
“I couldn’t wrestle when I got [to Carroll],” said Seiske although he wrestled all four years of high school at West Allis Central and was looking to continue in college.
Carroll also cut wrestling due to lack of finances. But after gaining a majority of the $40,000 Tomes and Flatland asked from Student Senate, Carroll wrestling could meet such financial needs as transportation and headgear.
Aspiring Pioneer wrestlers like Perry meet informally with Coach Tomes to practice at Waukesha Mixed Martial Arts, about a mile from the university, where Tomes trains and coaches. Carroll wrestling is the only college wrestling program housed in a mixed martial arts gym. Tomes also opens his mat to any interested women wrestlers through his Women’s Division.
“It’s gonna be a good year,” Perry said. “Should be fun.”
Official practices begin October 17.