Toledo wrestling flies under radar
by Jason Mack, - TOLEDO OHIO... One of the lesser known teams at the University of Toledo has shown itself to be one of the most successful.
The UT wrestling team placed third in the NCWA North Central Conference Championships last season despite only competing in seven of the 11 weight classes. It also features one of the most dominant wrestlers in the 11 year history of the National Collegiate Wrestling Association.
Senior Adam Murray, a 197 pound wrestler, won a third straight national title last season and is only the second wrestler in league history to accomplish the feat. He went 20-0 last season and was named the conference wrestler of the year. He maintains a 3.75 GPA in mechanical engineering and also helps coach the other wrestlers.
"Murray is awesome," Head Coach Matthew Rempe said. "He enjoys what he is doing. He is a humble guy. When you have guys like that on the team they are just fun to be around."
Drew Metzger, Brent Stockman, Tom Kiefer and Matt Marek also qualified for the national meet, contributing to the Rockets 12th place finish out of 75 teams.
Rempe, 39, grew up in Sylvania, wrestled Division I at Nebraska and was an assistant coach at Toledo Christian High School before joining the Rockets last season.
"Ohio is an awesome wrestling state," Rempe said. "The kids that wrestle here are really good. An opportunity they have when they come to wrestle at UT is to get some college level coaching. I wrestled Division I at Nebraska. I've been coaching wrestling for a long time. I also won some titles back in the day myself, so I can help these guys learn collegiate technique and help guys take their wrestling beyond what they learned in high school."
The UT team was founded by a group of local wrestlers in 1997, the first year of the NCWA. There are currently 145 teams in the league, which was founded as a result of Title IX, as many schools cut smaller men's teams such as gymnastics and wrestling.
The team is always looking to expand with new members, and you don't have to be an all-star to get mat time.
"One of the cool things you see are guys that weren't a four-time state champ or anything," Rempe said. "Someone like Adam Murray can come out, develop, keep learning about the sport, and go way past what they were in high school."
Additional members would be very beneficial to the team's practice, as the wrestlers need to pair up for drills and more wrestlers would lead to more opportunities in practice.
"Last year's team was smaller in numbers but high in quality" Rempe said. "So sometimes we didn't have the best opportunities for partners at practices. In the NCWA the teams can wrestle two wrestlers at each weight class. The cool thing about it is that there isn't a cut-throat competition because there is only one spot. Teammates can really help each other and lift each other up instead of totally competing against each other."
The eleven different weight classes in competitions are 125, 133, 141, 149, 157, 165, 174, 184, 197, 235 and heavyweight.
Many high schools have issues with wrestlers dieting or skipping meals to make a certain weight class, but the UT team does not worry about cutting weight.
"I don't want to encourage the kids to lose a lot of weight," Rempe said. "I don't want them to focus on weight management. I want them to focus on wrestling and school. It actually helps people's academics to have a commitment in a sport that they like. If you have another focus it helps you learn time management skills, it gives you something you enjoy, and it's actually better for your academics."
The team will have open mat practices throughout September that are not mandatory and will begin mandatory practices on October. Wrestlers can learn several styles of wrestling at practice.
"Adam was very physical and basic in his wrestling," Rempe said. "Very powerful and dominate. We have people who have some more scrambling, open style wrestling. There is no shortage of things to learn from people on our team. We're not closed minded about different types of techniques."
The club will go over practice times, dates of competitions and various other aspects of the team at a meeting on Thursday Sept 4 at 6:00 p.m. in the Student Recreation Center for students interested in joining the team.