Wrestling club resurfaces, looking to grow membership and compete

The USF wrestling club invites all students, no matter experience level, to join and participate to rebuild the program. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/COLIN PHILIPS

After three years of inactivity, the USF wrestling club has made a return to the mat with the intention of competing around the state against other club teams in the near future.

A lack of consistent participation encouraged members of the club to transition over to the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) club in 2019. Although the practices are different, the physicality of BJJ requires similar takedown techniques to wrestling, which made the club appealing to former wrestlers proficient in scoring and defending takedowns.

Sophomore geographic information systems major Colin Philips started the club at the end of the fall 2021 semester to relive the fights he missed from his time on his high school team. Despite BJJ having similar elements, it just wasn’t enough for him, he said.

“I love the sport,” Philips said. “When I came here last year as a freshman, I was really shocked that there wasn’t one.”

The club will practice folk-style wrestling, an American variation of the sport that is traditionally practiced in high school and collegiate competitions.

In a match, once an opponent is taken down, they stay in the bottom position until they escape back into the neutral position or a new period starts. This creates a competitive need for wrestlers to become skilled in escaping the bottom position, shooting and defending takedowns in the neutral position and keeping the opponent down in the top position.

Despite not being affiliated with the NCAA, the club strives to build a competitive roster large enough to fill the 10 different weight classes, ranging from 125 pounds to 285 pounds.

The club doesn’t have a coach at the moment so practices are instructed by former wrestlers, according to Philips. Proficient wrestlers rotate coaching between the top, neutral and bottom positions according to who knows the most, he said.

“I’m completely open to having a coach,” Philips said. “It’s just I’m not actively looking for one.”

Before getting a coach, Philips said it’s in the club’s best interest to increase participation and membership. The current plan is to inform students about the club’s resurfacing on Instagram and tabling outside the Marshall Student Center.

Phillips said about 10 members show up to practice consistently. With their sizes varying across weight classes, he said he aims to have 15 consistent members to fill out a more complete roster.

Filling a schedule with regular competition is currently out of sight, Philips said. For wrestling tournaments, the team would need singlets and headgear, an expense too large for the young club’s finances.

The short-term goal of the club is to build a team that could rival the University of Tampa’s wrestling club, according to Philips. Although this would not be an expansive tournament with several opponents, he said a small dual would be a great way for the club to get exposure and motivate them to improve.

“They’re a 30 minute drive, super easy,” he said. “That’s by far the easiest thing we can do and have a reason to train.”

Practices are held at the Recreation and Wellness center in room 101 on Wednesdays from 6-7:45 p.m., Fridays from 5-6:45 p.m. and Sundays from 4-5:45 p.m. All students are welcomed, including those with no background in wrestling, according to Philips. Equipment like headgear and mat shoes are not supplied nor required.