Wrestling could be new BCC athletic program

By Stacy Meitner Marketing Consultant smeitner@gbtribune.com
Barton Community College Trustees heard Thursday about plans to add wrestling as a sport in 2015. Trustees will be asked to approve the program at their next business meeting, on Oct. 23.
Athletic Director Trevor Rolfs said he’d like to see it approved soon, because he’d like to find a coach by the end of the year. The projected starting date would be the fall 2015 semester, with 25 wrestlers.
Board President Dr. Carl Heilman said bringing the program to the college could easily boost on-campus enrollment by 40-50 students. He indicated this has been on the drawing board for some time, and was included in next year’s budget.
Rolfs agreed that the program will add more students than the number of participants. Many times students decide to enroll at a college where they already know another student. Barton would be allowed to sign 16 recruits, or Letters Of Intent (LOI’s), and the rest of the students would be walk-ons. Kansas college students wrestle in 10 different weight classes, although Barton might not be able to fill all 10. He also noted that in wrestling, community college students sometimes compete against students from four-year schools.
Rolfs worked in the Pratt Community College athletic department four years ago when PCC added wrestling. “It was a tremendous enhancement to the department, the college and the community,” he said.
Now that Barton, Cloud County and Cowley County community colleges are looking at adding wrestling programs, there could be eight Kansas colleges offering the sport, which means travel costs could be affordable, Rolfs said. Equipment costs are also less than for other sports.
“Central Kansas is a hotbed for good high school wrestling programs,” Rolfs said. This would provide a chance for many high school wrestlers to compete at the next level.

The biggest expense would be the start-up costs. But Dean of Administration Mark Dean said by the second year, the revenue wrestling brings in would exceed the expenses.
The college just opened a new dormitory on campus with plans to phase out two of the oldest housing units. Dean said administrators are looking at converting one of those dorms into a practice facility and the other for office and locker space. Competition would be in the Kirkman Building.
Basketball games are played in the Physical Education Building, which is connected to the Kirkman Building. The reason the main gym wouldn’t work for wrestling is because there would not be room for a floor-sized mat, which Rolfs said is preferable to several smaller mats fused together. The Kirkman gym will work, but it has no bleachers, which is something that will be needed in the future. The large mat will be rolled up when not in use.
Trustees voiced support for the idea, although they indicated they may want more information about the expected costs. In answer to a question about insurance from trustee Leonard Bunselmeyer, Dean said the only addition to athletic insurance will be the added number of athletes. However, wrestling can be a dangerous sport and the college can expect the cost of its cataclysmic coverage to increase.
Trustee Don Learned said adding wrestling is a good idea. “It opens up new opportunities for students.”
Board Chairman Mike Johnson agreed. “A lot of local kids could be served very well by this program,” he said, noting the added enrollment could mean more state aid for the college as well.

Football next?
“I have been asked if football is next,” Heilman said. “That’s not a consideration at this time.”


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