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Intramural wrestling popular in some schools

BY MATT COZZI | FEBRUARY 10, 2010 7:30 AM

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For all those Brent Metcalf-wannabes who want to take part in the state’s strong wrestling tradition but can’t suit up in Black and Gold, there is a solution: intramural wrestling.

With the No. 1 team in the nation on campus, Hawkeye fans frequently flock to Carver-Hawkeye Arena to witness one of the most famous college dynasties of all time. Now they can wrestle competitively, too.

Recreational wrestling, which began Tuesday night in the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, consists of nine weight classes, beginning at 133 pounds and ending at heavyweight.

Junior Justin Boltz, who participated in the last two winter seasons, said intramural wrestling is a good option for those who chose not to wrestle collegiately.

“It’s hard for me to wrestle outside of intramurals, so it’s nice to have,” said Boltz, who wrestles at 149 pounds.

Ross Bower, the undergraduate supervisor for intramural wrestling, said more than 50 participants are expected, and some of the grapplers were state qualifiers in high school.

Despite a rich wrestling tradition across the Big Ten, though, only two other conference schools — Penn State and Michigan — offer the intramural sport.

Penn State intramural officials take pride in offering the option in intramurals.

“We feel like intramural wrestling just gives students an opportunity that they dearly love and have been involved with all their lives,” said Tom Lovins, the Penn State director of recreational sports.

Nittany Lion head coach Cael Sanderson’s former team, Iowa State, is no slouch, either, when it comes to wrestling. The Cyclones boast eight national championships, making intramural wrestling also popular in Ames.

Linda Marticke, the intramural coordinator at Iowa State, said 124 participants signed up this season, and there has always been a good turnout.

“I’ve been here for 33 years, and [intramural wrestling] was here when I got here, so it’s been around awhile,” she said. “It is absolutely a popular sport around this state.”

Boltz, a Sumner, Iowa, native, said he isn’t surprised Recreational Services offers the sport considering the Hawkeyes’ wrestling history, which includes 22 NCAA championships.

“It’s expected,” he said. “In some cases, it’s right up there with basketball and football.”

But even though competitors won’t face off against Iowa 141-pounder Montell Marion or get pointers from head coach Tom Brands, intramural wrestling adds to the school’s tradition.

Many wrestlers who participate in intramurals often have past experience, which makes the event more competitive.

“A lot of these guys have spent a whole lifetime wrestling,” Bower said. “It makes for a good tournament.”


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