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CU To Host SWC Championships

02/23/2007 -

CU grapplers get ready

By ELIOT DEMPSEY Colorado Daily Staff
Thursday, February 22, 2007 9:45 PM MST

Deep in the bowels of the Carlson Gym, in a basement studio filled with padded mats and the grunts of sweaty, grueling gladiators, CU wrestler Kirby Beegles found himself twisted and turned into a human pretzel.

This predicament would cause many to give in and beg for mercy. But not Beegles, or any of the other grapplers in the CU Wrestling Club. It was just another move to reverse, and another day at wrestling practice.

For the students who volunteered to join the wrestling club, a convivial day of fun may include any number of headlocks, chokeholds and body slams. Luckily, for the students who wish to observe, and not beat each other into submission, the club will be hosting the National Collegiate Wrestling Association Southwest Conference Tournament at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Balch Fieldhouse.

The Southwest Conference Tournament is the largest wrestling meet in decades to ever come to the University of Colorado. Twelve teams, and around 80-100 wrestlers, will grapple and maneuver their way into qualifying for the NCWA National Tournament in March.

“This is a big event for us,” said CU wrestling head coach Richard Moutoux. “Last year, was the first year we hosted matches since 2002, and now we have the SW Conference Tournament.”

The CU Wrestling Club was resurrected in 2002, after years of on-again, off-again status since the dismissal of the 1981 varsity wrestling program. Since the Moutoux's arrival in 2005, the club has improved in virtually every way. By hosting this weekend's tournament, the CU wrestlers hope to generate interest among not only fans, but prospective wrestlers as well.

“Anyone can join,” said Beegles, the club's president. “For people who want to experience the competition and fun of wrestling, this is a pressure-free place to do it.”

Beegles, a senior, has been a member of the club since his freshman year and became president this season.

“I wanted to step up and see this club succeed and grow,” said Beegles. “So far the club and the talent have both gotten better.”

Aside from the recognition garnered by being awarded as the host site for the Southwest Conference Tournament, the CU club has seen its membership grow to 17 wrestlers, including one female wrestler. Along with the participation increase, the club has seen significant success on the mat as well.

CU began the season with a strong showing at the University of Wyoming's Cowboy Open, the club's best since 2002. CU followed that by winning the 2006 NCWA Southwest Conference Open team championship in November. Their only misstep thus far this season was a loss to in-state rival CSU.

“CSU is good, good wrestling team,” said Moutoux. “But since then we have gotten guys healthy and I am definitely looking for guys to place in the top four and qualify for Nationals.”

Moutoux came to Colorado in 2005 to attend graduate school and ended up becoming head coach of the Buffs wrestling club. Because the club is not funded by the university, but by member dues, the student body and the CU Recreation Center, Moutoux is not on salary.

He is not a coach for the money, but for the fun of the sport.

“I love to coach,” said Moutoux. “At any level, coaching is for fun. I just love to wrestle and see the kids get better.”

Moutoux and assistant coach Robert Boyle have seen significant growth under their tutelage. Sophomore Jim Marek is 4-0, with a team-high 34.20 points, and fellow sophomores Jesse Kim and Zach Schiffler are both 3-1.

“We have gone from five or six guys to 20,” said Moutoux. “We have won matches, hosted several and now hosting the Conference shows we are an organized and consistent team.”

As the CU Wrestling Club enters the weekend, the short-term goal is to qualify for the NCWA National Tournament. Wrestlers who place in the top four in each weight class will be invited to Nationals. The long-term goal, however, is more in line with the fun-loving attitudes of the club's wrestlers and coaches.

“Our goal is to get the program rolling and get a full squad of wrestlers,” Moutoux said. “When people see us compete, they will know we have a program and a team that should fill the stands.”

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