High school athletes upset that Olympic wrestling is in peril

High school athletes upset that Olympic wrestling is in peril »Play Video
Wrestling practice at Oregon City High School

OREGON CITY, Ore. – At Oregon City High School, the wrestlers hit the mats Thursday not knowing if the Olympic dreams they’ve grown up with will ever come true.

The reactions at practice were similar:

“I looked at it and I was like ‘no way, they're cutting wrestling?’” said junior Alex Canchola.

“My heart kind of dropped, I think it would be a bunch of bologna if they did take it out,” added junior Tanner Fischer.

This week, the International Olympic Committee dropped wrestling from the 25 core sports that make up the Summer Games, citing low ticket sales and TV ratings.

But a worldwide backlash is quickly building momentum for a sport as old as the Olympics themselves.

OCHS’s wrestling head coach Roger Rolen’s instructions to his team during practice are symbolic of his stance on the issue: “Don't get taken down! Don't get taken down!”

Rolen called the Olympics news “a stab to the gut.”

If the IOC’s decision is upheld, wrestling could be out of the games by 2020.

“It's like the epitome of what you can become as a wrestler and if you take that goal and that dream away from people it robs you of some motivation that you would have,” OCHS senior Parker Folliard said.

“For that to be taken away I think it really challenges the legitimacy of our sport and especially for those college guys, what are they going to look forward to?” asked senior Kyle Sether.

Rolen thinks this decision will actually help pull the wrestling community together.

“We're fighters, you know, that's what this is,” he said. “It's a group that will stand together. You know I look in 14 months to see it changed.”

And his team hopes their shot at Olympic gold won’t be pinned for good.

Sether, “Maybe none of us are going to be Olympians or Olympic champions or anything but to have that as a goal, or a dream I think that's huge,” Sether said.

The fight’s far from over; the full Olympic committee would still need to ratify the decision in September.

Meanwhile IOC president Jacque Rogge is taking criticism from around the world and already has a meeting scheduled with wrestling’s governing body.