MONROE — For the past few years, the Prairie City-Monroe wrestling team’s biggest opponent has been a lack of practice space. However, that opponent has been pinned.
The Mustangs wrapped up about five years of work by revealing their brand new, spacious wrestling room Thursday night at an open house for fans at PCM High School.
“We kind of went all in on this,” PCM wrestling coach Matt Teeter said. “It was a matter of if you’re going to put money into something, you might as well put it into something that’s not going to be completely outdated in a few years.”
The plan to get a new wrestling room started more than 20 years ago, according to some dusty plans Teeter found in the school’s archives. With the recent growing number of wrestlers at the school, the old wrestling room, which has been converted into a weight room, was becoming dangerous due to a lack of space.
“We had kids literally laying on top of each other, and I know they’re supposed to do that in wrestling, but the room was just too small and it became a safety hazard more than anything,” Teeter said. “The program has just been growing. In my first years with the program we had maybe 12 finishing the season, now we’re up to around 30 finishing.”
Even with the impending need for a new room, the admittedly quick process still took around five years of fundraising and planning. The room itself is a brand new addition onto the building, rather than just a renovation of an old space.
“It’s a process. You have to find the money and get the support,” Teeter said. “We had people realizing it was a safety hazard and stuff, but it was a process like it should be. People just don’t give money away, especially these days.”
One interesting feature of the room is the input from the school and the program itself. The climbing ropes and flat screen TV that sit at opposite ends of the room were purchased with funds from the school’s youth wrestling program. Other equipment, like the wooden peg climbing boards, were actually built in the school’s shop program.
Teeter expects the room to have an immediate impact on the program. Strength and conditioning with obviously improve with more space and a “new” weight room, but it’s the tactical side of the sport that Teeter expects to see the most improvement.
“The kids will definitely be in a lot better shape and will be able to do finishing moves without running into a wall or somebody else,” Teeter said. “That’s big because once they get into a match, they stop because they don’t have that reaction to finish because they’re used to stopping.”
Thursday’s open house officially ended the five-year process that featured numerous volunteer board members and school officials. Although he couldn’t begin to remember everyone involved, Teeter was grateful for all the help that resulted in the new space.
“I don’t want to start naming people, because I’ll forget someone who helped start this process five years ago,” Teeter said. “The whole board was great to work with, and the school board realized there was a safety need for these kids since we’re growing as a district.”
The team will begin breaking in the new room when practices starts on Nov. 14.