Stony Brook sports fans and those in the wrestling community may have noticed a lack of coverage, or even match results, for the Stony Brook club wrestling team.
According to the team’s coach, Alex Blank, the club-level squad ran into a season-altering roadblock, as the team recently lost regular access to a practice room and subsequently have not participated in any scheduled events since the Grapple at the Garden on Dec. 21.
“We had our practice space taken away,” Blank said. “Originally, we practiced in the athletic facilities building. Over winter break, we had been trying to get some practices in, since the Grapple at the Garden, and we went in one day and the mats were gone. Since then, we have had a lot of trouble reserving space in the rec center. We had struggled all season to be organized and it’s just another kind of blow to us.”
Blank said that the space was taken away due to unauthorized usage of the room by a mixed martial arts club. Although very understanding, Blank expressed disappointment towards the ensuing toll and hardship that has been placed on the team.
“The people at the athletic facilities were very kind in explaining and very open to explaining everything to us,” he said. “They said they had nothing against us, it’s just that kind of liability, they weren’t able to account for. I don’t understand why they had to do it when they did it, but it’s just the way it is. I understand how red tape works at the university level, but it has really taken a toll on our program.”
Since then, practices have been few and far between. The largest obstacle for the team lies within scheduling a practice that does not interfere with the varying school schedules of the student athletes.
“It’s been tough, I’m not gonna lie,” Blank said. “In order to compete at a club level and achieve your goals as a club, or a student athlete at the club level, there’s a lot of adversity that you need to face, both internally with organization and getting yourself motivated and finding the time to get the team together, and externally, which is your competition and still bettering yourself as a student-athlete.”
The team has missed all scheduled events since December, including the Nassau Open, NCWA National Duals, the Doug Cherry Invitational and a dual meet against Mount St. Vincent, originally scheduled for Feb. 5.
Blank made the decision not to participate in these events in an open forum with his team, with the result being that the wrestlers did not feel adequately prepared because they have had limited practice time in the last few months.
Despite all this, the club is still actively trying to make sure that their Feb. 21 match against Cortland, which will be held at Stony Brook University and serves as the only buffer between now and the NCWA Conference Championships, happens on schedule.
In fact, the Seawolves, according to Blank, are now also hosting SUNY Albany and Farmingdale State College. This will turn the Feb. 21 match into a quad meet.
“They just need to be out there to compete, just to get their feet wet again,” Blank said. “Get used to competing. Get used to being out there in front of a crowd. I’m desperately trying to make it happen.”
Even with this rough bout, the team remains optimistic. Blank commends the work, both physically and logistically, that his team has put in and remains confident for the future.
“My club president, Shaun Holliday, is really taking the bull by the horns as we close out the last part of the season,” he said. “He’s working very hard for me, as well as the rest of the executive board that I’m relying on. They’ve kind have been my eyes and ears when I’m not at the main campus.”
Aside from all of these problems, Blank and his team continues to persevere to be optimistic for the future.
“I hope for them to get as much out of this season as possible. I’m steering my expectations away from a quantitative sense. I just want them to get the most out of this experience, so that they can learn the lessons that the sport has to offer. They’ve put in the effort, the blood, the sweat, and the tears, so they have every right to reap the rewards they’re entitled to.”