For USC's wrestling club, leaving campus in March 2020 at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic meant the end of their season before it even started. In the ensuing 2020-21 school year, the wrestling club faced a similar fate, as they also didn’t compete, or even practice, that year.
This year hopes to tell a different story for the club. The wrestling club is back in action for the 2021-22 school year and ready to practice and compete again.
The last time the wrestling club had a competition was in 2019, when the team entered a tri-match against Clemson and UGA. At the time they belonged to the National Collegiate Wrestling Association’s (NCWA) Mid-Atlantic Conference and had a full coaching staff. Fast forward to 2021 and the club has a drastically different look.
“We’re more looking into this semester as, like, a rebuild type of year, getting guys on the team, and just really getting our name out there, starting to run practices,” said Ricky McCutchen, the vice president of the club. “We’re just doing a lot of clean up work and then next semester we’re hoping to maybe travel up to Clemson and other schools around here and compete.”
As it is right now, the club has only recently started practicing again with their newest set of members. The club executives understand that it may take while to get the team back into the full swing of things, but they’re willing to wait as they prepare their team. According to treasurer Connor Liester, most of the focus for the club is getting new members and practice time to present the best team they can.
The wrestling club is opening their arms to all types of wrestlers right now, reaching out for both new and old wrestlers as they build up their numbers again. They want to let others know that the team doesn’t want to be seen as an ultra-competitive club sport, but rather a bonding ground for all wrestlers looking to compete.
“It’s a club sport at a southern school, wrestling is not huge down here,” said Liester. “So we're even, like, excited to have kids who have never wrestled before in their life and are just interested in it to come out and maybe try it out. So, it's kind of for all people who, anywhere from being former state champs in high school to kids who have never even wrestled before.”
Liester wasn’t alone in that view either. Students who have already joined the team also showed a similar enthusiastic outlook for the team.
Cap Holley, a freshman at USC who joined the team, spoke on how he was looking forward to getting into wrestling through the club. He had a very positive outlook for the team despite his limited interactions with the members.
“I’ve heard of it, I’ve looked into it before and I know it kind of got shut down, but I’m glad that it’s back up again,” said Holley. “I feel like it's got a good future. Since I’ve been in the club and heard about it, I know we’ve had a few All-Americans and state champions in the club seen before so I think we can bring it back to being that way.”
Practice and potential future matches
The wrestling club has had to compete with other athletics reserving gym space on campus, and right now, only plans on practicing Fridays and Sundays. Liester stated next semester the team may change the practices in hopes to be more accessible to others.
Liester is also hoping the club can face off against nearby schools, such as Clemson and Allen University, next semester – teams the club has faced before.
Regardless of who they face, the wrestling club wants to let it be known that they’re back and looking to win.