Without a facility on campus to use, the ISU wrestling club is learning about flexibility in preparing for its inaugural season of competition.
The club, which was founded in 2006, has yet to compete for an entire season. However, that has not stopped club president Zach Byrnes from trying to compose a season schedule to compete next fall as part of the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA).
"What we want to be doing is being a competitor in the NCWA so that we can give wrestlers a chance who aren't on the all-star level to wrestle for a state university to continue wrestling after high school," Byrnes said.
In trying to find a place for his team to practice, Byrnes got a job cleaning the mats of the ISU wrestling room, which allowed him to develop a rapport with ISU coach Kevin Jackson and his staff with hopes of gaining access to the facility while his team was not using it.
However, the ISU coaching staff told Byrnes that they were not responsible for the usage of the room and the athletic department ultimately denied the club use of the facility.
"We collectively came to the conclusion that in this particular case it just wasn't going to work out," said ISU facilities director Chris Jorgensen. "[The ISU wrestling team] will be using that facility in some fashion nearly year-round. Scheduling was a big concern in allowing our athletes the flexibility to use that facility when they need it, so that was a primary concern for declining the request."
The club has since been holding practices at Ogden High School's wrestling room and will continue to do so next year.
Despite not being able to practice in the wrestling room in Lied, the club was informed by the ISU Recreation Services that there is a chance that it could be granted space for practice after the completion of the State Gym renovations in Spring 2012.
"We have a kind of set program for what's going to happen in State [Gym] and Beyer and at the time in which design was going through, wrestling was not on the docket to provide specific space for," said Michael Giles Jr., director of ISU Rec Services. "But it is our obligation and our opportunity to work with any number of student groups to try to provide them access or resources that they need."
Giles said he could not confirm the wrestling club would have a space upon State Gym's completion, but he was quick to point out that his department would work with the club in the future.
"We will do our best to provide them with possible space for their practice to meet their needs," Giles said.
Wanting something more
In high school, Byrnes tore his ACL 10 matches into his senior season at Riceville High School, leaving him unfulfilled in terms of his participation in wrestling.
"That's part of the reason that's fueling me to carry through with this," Byrnes said. "I don't feel fulfilled yet and I'd like to do something to fill that empty space."
One of the major benefits that the wrestling club would like to provide is finding ways for high school wrestlers who chose not to wrestle for a school-sponsored team in college to continue competing without the full-time commitment.
The NCWA was formed to sponsor competition wrestling for schools that had to discontinue their wrestling programs due to a range of reasons from financial constraints to compliance with Title IX — a federal law that requires equitable participation for men's and women's collegiate athletics in a public institution.
However, the NCWA also allows schools with NCAA Division I programs to have club teams at the Division II level of the organization, allowing them to compete and operate on campus while the school maintains its NCAA Division I team.
"This is something that I think anybody can see a benefit from," Byrnes said. "I mean it's a farm team for Iowa State, they can send people down here if they have a roster that's full and they'd like to keep somebody around."
In February, the club was close to sending one of its athletes, junior Anthony Campbell, to the ISU wrestling team to fill the void at 141 pounds when Chris Drouin sat out nine-consecutive dual meets due to a concussion.
Assistant coach Eric Voelker called Byrnes on Feb. 1, three days before the Cyclones' home dual against Northern Iowa, asking if there was anyone in the club who could compete in Drouin's absence. Byrnes sent him three names, and the coaching staff ultimately chose Campbell.
"They had expectations that I probably should get beat, but I mean if you can go out there and put up a fight," Campbell said. "Basically they wanted anything I could do to not get pinned that would count as a win for [the opponent], so in a close dual, that could actually be helpful."
Had Campbell competed for the Cyclones in those dual meets, the team would have only given up three, four or five points instead of giving up the full six points for the forfeit as they had done in Drouin's absence. Of course, this would have only worked in the Cyclones' favor if Campbell would have kept himself from getting pinned.
The team had all of the appropriate paperwork filed for Campbell to join the team, but the NCAA brushed it off to the side until after the Cyclones' duals that weekend.
"I think this was just a one-time thing for him," Byrnes said of Campbell. "Whether or not they asked him back, he chose not to wrestle in college for a reason, he fully took advantage of this experience because he thought it was cool."