The Wichita State wrestling team started as an idea between two engineering students and grew into a national champion.
“It was pretty unexpected. This is something that was just thrown together with guys on our campus, and we found this success that we didn’t really expect,” coach Paul Myers said. “We knew we were good, but we didn’t know how good.”
The program competes on the club level. Like bowling, it is not part of the WSU athletic department and receives funding from student goverment. Workouts and matches are at the Heskett Center, and the team competes with similar programs regionally and competes in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association.
The wrestlers traveled to Daytona Beach, Fla., to compete in the Division II class in the NCWA meet. WSU beat the field, including conference rival Northwest Missouri State.
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“We lost to them (Northwest Missouri State), took second in conference,” Myers said. “Then going into nationals, I knew that our team had the ability to peak at the right time at the national tournament, and they absolutely did that.”
WSU qualified eight wrestlers, and Pat Mosley and Aaron Hynick were named All-Americans.
“Really as far as winning the national title for us, it was a total team effort, but our two All-Americans really pulled through for us, scored a lot of team points,” team co-captain Nick Thomas said. “If it wouldn’t have been for them, it would have been very tough to win the national championship.”
Myers, a former high school state champ at West who coaches on a volunteer basis, was named his division’s national coach of the year.
“It was sweet. Of course with any sport, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears gets put into it,” Myers said. “Once I got the award it was surreal, it really didn’t set in, it still hasn’t. Everyone else is pretty excited, and it’s a national award, so I never really imagined being in that situation.”
Thomas teamed up with friend Dusty Greer as captains and founders of the team. The two created the WSU wrestling team on an idea that stemmed from a mutual desire to get back into the sport, which both competed in throughout high school. They found a coach in Myers, who plans on bolstering the roster and competing in a higher division next year.
“It’s a really big deal, because we had a lot of people tell us that we were crazy, that we couldn’t do it,” Greer said. “Just to be able to put that effort in and for it to pay off is just so hard to describe.”
A WSU wrestling team had come and gone over the years. Myers said this is the first it was taken care of.
“I think that since it was just started on an idea, it’s kind of snowballed into something that’s bigger than we imagined,” Myers said. “Right now we just want to give young men the opportunity to be successful, while continuing their wrestling career.”