Huntingdon pins wrestling to the list of men's sports
Montgomery, Ala. — Huntingdon College President J.
Cameron West announced today the addition of wrestling as an
intercollegiate sport for men in Huntingdon's NCAA-Division III athletic
program. With the announcement, Huntingdon becomes the only four-year
college in the state to offer the sport.
West also introduced U.S. Naval Academy graduate and U.S. Navy retiree
Tom Storey to serve as head coach for the program. Storey will begin
recruitment of student-athletes immediately. Storey, who won state and
regional wrestling championships at the high school and college levels,
also won Armed Forces and University championships at the Open level.
He comes to Huntingdon with 18 years of wrestling experience and 8 years
of coaching experience at all levels of the sport. "I just retired
after 20 years of military service and my thought was to go back to my
hometown of Coudersport, Pennsylvania, and help with wrestling programs
there—then I learned about Huntingdon's program," said Storey. "I'm
thrilled to have the opportunity to be the ambassador for collegiate
wrestling in Alabama. I look forward to building the Huntingdon
wrestling program and to making this a place where talented young men in
this region can build their skills."
According to Storey, there are 90 high school wrestling teams in Alabama
and 2700 wrestlers, but no four-year college programs in the state to
which these students may aspire. Nationwide, programs at the high
school level have grown steadily since the early 1990s, but collegiate
involvement with the sport hasn't kept pace, especially in the South.
Following months of discussion, the International Olympic Committee
voted earlier this week to retain wrestling—one of the original eight
rings in the Olympic logo—as a sport until at least 2024.
"This is a big deal for Huntingdon College and for the sport of
wrestling in Alabama,” Huntingdon athletic director Mike Turk said. “We
are proud to be the only four-year school in the state to offer
wrestling. There are a lot of kids in this state, and surrounding
states, who would like to have an opportunity to continue to wrestle at
the collegiate level. This will provide an opportunity for them to
participate in a sport they are passionate about at a school that is
closer to home.”
Internationally respected as the icon in college and Olympic wrestling,
Dan Gable was on campus to share in the announcement. Gable amassed a
record of 182-1 during his prep and college careers, then added titles
in the 1971 Pan American Games, the 1972 Tbilisi Tournament, the 1971
World Championships, six Midlands Open championships, and the 1972 gold
medal in the Munich Summer Olympic games, which he earned without ever
surrendering a point to his opponents. When his wrestling career was
complete, he joined the coaching staff at the University of Iowa,
leading the program to a career record of 355-21-5. The Hawkeyes won 25
consecutive Big Ten championships, 21 with Gable as head coach and 4
under his leadership as assistant coach and administrator. He also
served as three-time U.S. Olympic head coach and two-time assistant
freestyle coach, and coached six World teams and ten World Cup teams,
among a long list of coaching accolades. Gable was inducted into the
U.S.A. Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1980 and to the U.S. Olympic Hall of
Fame in 1985. Gannett News Services named him the top wrestler of the
20th century, and he also garnered respect as one of the "100 Golden
Olympians," the top champions of all time. He is now a motivational
speaker. Said Gable, "Three days ago we had the announcement from the
International Olympic Committee that they will continue to offer
wrestling through 2024. Two days ago ESPN decided they would air all of
the NCAA wrestling championships. Today we have this announcement at
Huntingdon, showing that internationally and in the United States, the
sport is growing." Speaking to the dozens of young wrestlers from
wrestling teams across Alabama who were present for the announcement,
Gable affirmed the discipline necessary, both academically and on the
mats, for success in college athletics.
Noting that national interest in the sport has grown steadily since a
slump in the 1980s, National Wrestling Coaches Association executive
director Mike Moyer said the time is right for Huntingdon to begin the
sport in Alabama. Moyer and Jeff Waters, president of the U.S.
Wrestling Foundation, were instrumental in the formation of the
Huntingdon program, the one-hundredth NWCA program established since
2001. The NWCA facilitated a fundraising effort to contribute toward
start-up costs of the program. Moyer noted a lead gift from Feldmeier
Equipment and other gifts from the Unus Foundation, United States
Wrestling Foundation, Brute Manufacturing, and Arkansas businessman Greg
Hatcher, in total more than $40,000.
Waters said, "We are thrilled to be able to support Huntingdon College
as it adds a varsity wrestling program. This continues the partnership
between the Foundation, USA Wrestling, and the NWCA as we pursue our
mission to add college wrestling programs throughout the United States."
Storey said that the sport's addition will benefit the entire Huntingdon
community. "Wrestling is a life sport," said Storey, "because not only
do students participate in the sport, but they also make decisions
about nutrition and fitness and wellness that guide their lives. It's a
year-round sport that demands discipline and dedication, and it
accommodates men of various sizes, shapes, and skill levels. Wrestling
teaches men to serve their sport and to make a healthy lifestyle
permeate their lives, rather than just perfecting certain skills. The
wrestling mindset is a natural match with Huntingdon's focus on
Wrestling is a winter sport at the college level. Huntingdon's team will begin competition in October 2014.
Huntingdon College, grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition of the
United Methodist Church, is committed to nurturing growth in faith,
wisdom, and service and to graduating individuals prepared to succeed in
a rapidly changing world. Founded in 1854, Huntingdon is a
coeducational liberal arts college. The College motto is "Enter to grow
in wisdom; go forth to apply wisdom in service." Wrestling joins the
roster of NCAA-III sports at Huntingdon, which include men's baseball,
basketball, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, and tennis and women's
basketball, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, and volleyball.
Huntingdon is a member of the NCAA-Division III USA-South Athletic
Pictured left-right: Athletic Director Mike Turk; Mike Moyer, executive director, National Wrestling Coaches Association; Coach Dan Gable; President J. Cameron West; Head Wrestling Coach Tom Storey; Jeff Waters, president, U.S. Wrestling Foundation.