By Kate Magill
Wham! Wrestlers slam one another to the ground as they practice and hone their skills for upcoming meets. They are surrounded by new practice mats and a new pull-up bar amidst an expanded room. These additions are among the numerous renovations made to the wrestling room in preparation for the upcoming season.
The room now features an expansion of the room 600 feet south into the old weight room, as well as a removal of the metal garage doors on the east wall that overlooked the natatorium. Additionally it will include new graphics recognizing the accomplishments of former UA wrestlers and teams, wrestling coach Matthew Stout said. These changes will make a positive impact on the team.
“The new room is bigger, safer [with the new mats], and more aesthetically pleasing,” Stout said. “It is now one of the best wrestling rooms in central Ohio.”
With the new mats in place covering both the walls and the floor, senior Skylar Sowry said the team should be able to cut down on the number of player injuries this year. The new features also will give players extra room to practice.
“The extra space we need to work is going to keep us from tripping each other up. It’s difficult to appreciate this fortune until you’ve had a heavy weight fall on you,” he said.
Sowry noted that the mats especially needed replacing.
“The old mats were heavy, torn and over-used,” he said. “The worst part was that the mats had stretched to the point where we couldn’t even piece them together.”
Stout, who is in his first year as a UAHS wrestling coach, said the room’s improvements are long overdue and will be of great use to the team.
“Renovation of the room could have been done 10 years ago,” he said. “The wrestling room had not been renovated since it was added to the initial high school building in the late 1960s, and the practice mats were probably 20 years old.”
The renovations cost a total of $75,000, according to Stout. The high school administration donated $20,000 for the new wrestling mats; however, the bulk of the money came from UA wrestling alumni Tom and Mike Saunders. Tom Saunders, who graduated in 1964, is UA’s first state wrestling champion, and the room will be named in his honor.
Stout also says that the new changes will help the team to improve for the upcoming season. With the use of the new practice space, the team will be able to better hone their skills and techniques, because they now have access to a larger room in which to fully wrestle one another, as well as better mats and equipment which should help them to stay safe as well.
“I think it makes for a more positive practice environment,” Stout said. “Which should hopefully improve practice habits, motivation, and work ethic.”
Photo: The new wrestling room features new mats and an expanded workout space. The renovations for the room were completed in the summer of 2011. Photo by Jacob Forquer