e oldest sport in the world, the ultimate sport, and the original sport. But the International Olympic Committee's announcement to eliminate wrestling as a "core sport" from the Olympic games beginning in 2020 has raised many a hackle in the wrestling community.
Attendees at this year's state wrestling tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver were urged through public announcements to voice their concerns to the IOC and sign petitions on the website, keepwrest
If the decision isn't overturned, "It'll kill this sport," said Hotchkiss head coach Glen Suppes, whose team qualified seven wrestlers and sent two into the championship matches. "Every wrestler who loves this sport watches Olympic wrestling."
Suppes said he gets goose bumps remembering the night he watched John Smith win the Olympic gold in freestyle wrestling in 1992. The match was aired on late-night TV, where the sport has, for the most part, been relegated by the major networks. "I stayed up all night long so I could see his match," said Suppes. "The IOC, they have no idea the power that this sport has. It's the oldest sport in the history of mankind, and they're wanting to cut it from the greatest sporting event in mankind's history?
"As a history guy, the IOC is making a horrible mistake."
And fans aren't any happier. Paonia High School senior Megan Chermak has attended 19 state wrestling tournaments. Her entire family follows wrestling and was well-represented at this year's tournament where her cousin, Jesse Reed of Paonia, earned his second consecutive state title.
"I feel bad for all of the guys who have trained for years and years and years to be able to make it to the Olympics," said Chermak. "And now it's taken away and all of their years of training have gone to waste?" That just shows how little the IOC actually knows about the sport, said Chermak.
"And how little they know about the fans, the wrestling fans," added Cristen Chermak, Megan's mom and Jesse's aunt.
Megan Chermak referred to Grand Valley female wrestler, Cody Pfau, who is training for Olympic competition. Pfau, who graduated this spring, was the first female to win a second-round match at a state tournament. "I wish there could have been girls' wrestling because I definitely would have wrestled if there was," said Chermak.
The decision "is real disappointing," said Paonia coach Andy Pipher, who was recently named the National Wrestling Coaches of America's "Coach of the Year" for Colorado. Wrestling is not only the oldest sport, but it's a natural fit for the Olympics. "Probably one of the first things men ever did was start wrestling each other," said Pipher. "When kids are little, the first thing they learn is to grab each other and start throwing each other around."
Pipher said the IOC made a mistake in announcing its decision just before the opening of state high school wrestling tournaments and the NCAA championships. But it was good timing for the sport. "Everybody's thinking about it right now," said Pipher at the state tournament.
Wrestling is in line with seven other sports — squash, karate, wakeboarding, wushu, roller sports, and baseball/softball — for a place in the 2020 Olympic program. The IOC is expected to make a final vote in September.
(To sign petitions, visit keepwrestlingintheolym
pics.com. Keep Wrestling in the Olympics can also be followed on Facebook.)