Local coaches react to losing wrestling in Olympics

DSC 0031COLLEGE PARK – It’s been nearly three weeks since the International Olympic Committee announced it would drop wrestling from the 2020 games. The local wrestling community has been reeling since trying to make sense of a seemingly senseless decision from the IOC.

“First of all I thought it was a joke,” said Paint Branch head coach Rick Smith. “It’s got to be on the last purely amateur sports we have and the Olympic Games, I think part of the reason they started it was so the guys could wrestle. It’s very disappointing… I don’t think anyone thought that would happen otherwise we would have galvanized ourselves. We didn’t even know we were on the chopping blocks.”

“It’s a sport where the Olympic level, it’s at its highest. It’s not like other sports where they have a professional level. The fact they would even consider trying to take this away is shocking,” said Walter Johnson coach Robert Yi. “But one thing it has done is brought wrestling collectively together and even to the point of such places like Iran and countries around the world where wrestling is extremely popular and extremely prominent where the U.S. is even actually allied with them on a certain degree to get together and petition basically against that has been very surprising and kind of interesting.”

Springbrook head coach Rob Wendel agreed, saying, “It’s one of the oldest sports at the Olympic Games and it’s obviously got a high number of participants in high school and I’m afraid of what it’s going to do to college (wrestling) because that’s the next step for those college kids.”

The cancellation of wrestling for 2020 could have a bigger impact in Montgomery County than in other places. That is because of one wrestler: Good Counsel junior Kyle Snyder.

Snyder is a beast among men at the high school wrestling level. He is currently the number one ranked high school wrestler at 220-pounds and even more he is the number two pound-for-pound wrestler in the country, according to Flowrestling and Intermat.

He has said his goals are to go undefeated in high school (which he is through his junior season), win four NCAA titles and an Olympic gold medal. He has been eying the 2020 games for that opportunity.

“For somebody like him, it’s got to be such a blow to hear something like that where he is obviously somebody who has achieved enough on at least the high school level… that this is definitely a goal that he probably has in mind.”

“It’s incredibly unfortunate (for Snyder),” said Wendel. “I think it’s a snap decision and it’s affecting more people than they think, that’s why I’m kind of hoping it wont pass, and Snyder’s someone close to home that we certainly can add in that mix… so it’s tragic.”

“We actually went over to Good Counsel and rolled around with them and he looked like a man on a mission,” said Wootton head coach Kevin O’Neill. “He’s not backing off he’s not taking the position of no more Olympics, I can relax. He’s maybe making a push for 2016 or there’s still a chance it could be brought back for 2020.”

Ultimately when the time comes and it’s all said and done, many coaches still believe wrestling will be a part of the 2020 games.

“I do,” said Wendel, “in my heart I do.”

“If they didn’t,” said Yi, “I would be extremely surprised and very disappointed.”

By Tim Schwartz

MoCoVox News


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