Wrestlers try to tackle space issue

At a club wrestling practice last Thursday, co-captain Vince Panzano ’04 reviewed some basic techniques with rookie Dow Tang ’05.ÊPracticing basic holds, takedowns and escapes, the two alone used half the team’s practice facility.

Since losing varsity status in 1991, the club team has practiced in three different Payne Whitney Gymnasium spaces.

As a varsity program, the wrestling team practiced on the gym’s fourth floor. But soon after becoming a club program, the team moved practice to the fifth floor to make room for the new Adrian C. “Ace” Israel Fitness center and Brooks-Dwyer Varsity weightroom. Both facilities were added in Phase I of the gymnasium’s renovation.

The team later moved from the gymnastics room on the fifth floor to the current wrestling room, making way for the new vaulting facility.

The current wrestling room is located on the fifth floor next to the two practice basketball courts.

Other “tumbling” sports share the room, but club wrestling has priority during peak hours.ÊThe room has four new mats, but each one is far under regulation size.

“If every day, eight guys came [to practice], we’d have a serious problem,” said Tang, who expects to wrestle in the 133-pound weight class this season.

Larry Matthews, associate athletics director, said the decisions to move the team were based on the roster’s size and the numbers attending practice.

“I’d be the first to tell you it’s a small place,” Matthews said.Ê”I think with the number of wrestlers we were seeing the last few years, it’s still allowed them to have effective practices.”

Panzano agreed, saying that of the 15 wrestlers on the roster, only four to six show up at a given practice.

But while practice can be squeezed into the space, Panzano said the room is too small for hosting home meets.

“[To have matches at Yale], we would need a way to transport our mats or get new ones,” said Panzano, who will compete in the 175-pound weight class.

But Matthews said three sections ofÊmats from the team’s varsity days are still sitting in storage in John J. Lee Amphitheater.

The team could set up the mats and schedule home meets, Matthews said.

“There is nothing overtly prohibiting them from having their matches [at home],” Matthews said.

But Matthews also said it can be difficult to schedule a wrestling meet in the amphitheater around the schedules of the men’s and women’s basketball teams. And gymnastics hosts occasional weekend meets, too.

Matthews said the Lanman Center offers an alternative site.

For now, team members are focusing on practicing for their winter tournaments.

Several wrestlers complained about the cold air that seeps through the room’s weak windows.

“The windows are somewhat broken and covered with plastic, which leads to poor insulation, which is essential to a wrestling practice,” said Isaac Pastrana ’05, who wrestles in the 141-pound spot. He finished fourth in that class in last winter’s NCWA tournament.

Matthews said he has heard complaints over the years about the gym’s general poor ventilation.Ê He blamed the building’s age, but said he could investigate the wrestling team’s specific concern.

But for now, no alternative practice room exists, Matthews said.

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