Messiah wrestling kicked off this past weekend with a dual meet on Friday against Shenandoah and a round robin style contest on Saturday against The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). Prior to the competitions, the NCAA canceled Division III regionals and nationals for wrestling.
After hearing about the cancelation of nationals, it left a lot of people upset and angry because Division I and II can still have theirs.
“I had mixed emotions of wanting to punch something or just fall on the floor and cry,” senior captain David Stevens said.
Stevens was one of five Falcons to make it to nationals last year. While there, the NCAA decided it was not safe for them to compete because of the rapid spread of COVID-19. At that time all of the competitors were already in Iowa and ready to compete the next day.
When the NCAA decided to cancel the wrestling postseason this year, the wrestlers felt like they had everything they worked for taken away just like the previous season.
“Like our coach says, ‘Wrestling is just something that you do and does not define who you are. If your identity is right with God, and things do not go the way you wanted them to go, it will still be alright because it is what God wanted,’” Stevens said. “With that being said, it is still okay for things to hurt you, and I was definitely hurting.”
Shortly after the cancelation of the postseason, the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) met and came up with a plan so that the wrestlers can still have a chance at competing in nationals with a slightly different format. There will not be a regional tournament like in years past; qualifying for nationals will be based on the athlete’s performance from the previous season.
With the chance for the wrestlers to compete in nationals, many of them feel extremely happy and it gives them motivation and something to work towards this season.
Stevens said, “When I found out the NWCA came together to try and provide us athletes with some kind of national tournament, I felt extremely blessed. God turned a bad situation into something worth training for.”
Given that the NWCA found a way for there to be a national tournament, all of the schools and conferences would need to agree to compete. The athletic department at Messiah has done and will do everything in their power to make sure their student athletes can compete in as many games as possible.
Many of the conferences in Division III are choosing to opt into this season and give their athletes a sense of normalcy with a shortened season and postseason. The restoration of a postseason will benefit athletes both physically and mentally.
“I have nothing against the NCAA, but I think they could have handled the situation better and not got our hopes up just to crush them,” Stevens said. “Sports is a big part of people’s lives and for them to be taken two years in a row can really mentally hurt some athletes.”