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Oklahoma State AD thinking big on new wrestling facility

Oklahoma State wrestling can claim the most NCAA team titles (34) and the most individual national champions (134) ... yet still uses one of the oldest wrestling facilities in college wrestling (eight decades old).

Mike Holder, Oklahoma State's athletic director, has big dreams for building a completely new facility for the storied Cowboy wrestling program ... a new structure that could be constructed to the east of Gallagher-Iba Arena (present home for the school's wrestling room, weight room and locker facilities), in the greenspace between the iconic arena (dedicated in 1939) and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum.

In an interview Thursday with Seth Duckworth of Pistols Firing, Holder made clear that he is not looking to build a new wrestling arena such as those recently constructed at Ohio State and Indiana University ("we have the best wrestling arena in the world") but what Duckworth referred to as a stand-along practice facility.

OSU AD Holder is thinking big.

"I want to build something that's a clear span, a room with 8 or 10 mats, and you could train not only our team, but a club team, or Olympic team, or World team, and try to draw athletes from all over the world to come to Stillwater to train for wrestling competitions," Holder told Pistols Firing's Duckworth. "Whether it be collegiate or international. Maybe you'll add women's wrestling someday? That's growing."

"I want to build for the next 100 years, not the next 20-30," said Holder.

What's the possible cost of this kind of structure? Holder provided an estimate of about $40 million for the new wrestling facility.

With that kind of potential price tag, this project would need more than crowdfunding, according to Holder. He envisions a significant, multi-million-dollar donation from a single individual (or a handful of individuals) with very deep pockets.

Despite that challenge, Holder thinks the time is right.

"Since 1938 when we built Gallagher Hall, we haven't done anything for wrestling," Holder told Pistols Firing. "We took it for granted, and it's still been successful. But when you have something that's that valuable, then you should continue to invest in it and we've put it off far too long -- 81 years is long enough."

The Stillwater NewsPress -- the local town newspaper -- agrees.

"Division I wrestling has become an uphill battle of three teams -- Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Iowa -- trying to track down the behemoth of Penn State," wrote Sports Editor Jason Elmquist right after the 2019 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.

"Oklahoma State wrestling has found itself in an arms race -- both within the college wrestling landscape and within its own athletic department -- and it is still standing at the starting line.

"The Cowboy wrestling program has been treated like the kid brother of the family, being given third-generation hand-me-downs and asked to win at the highest level with it.

"Holder admitted last spring that wrestling has been forgotten by the athletic department for generations. And he, the builder of all things new in Oklahoma State Athletics, needs to move now to help get the wrestling program back in title contention from the ground up.

"If he wants Oklahoma State Cowboy wrestling to truly be 'King of the Hill' in college wrestling, that commitment needs to be more than a repurposed locker room. The program needs a dedicated wrestling complex that dwarfs that of those being built by wrestling programs that have nowhere near the tradition of Oklahoma State wrestling."

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cradleman (2) about 4 months ago
Long overdue for such a great program. Love attending their workouts. John Smith is always very accommodating and the kids are all real nice. Very respectful room. Good luck. I'm sure the funding will come easy.