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Locals grapple with Olympics dumping wrestling

With news breaking Tuesday that the International Olympic Committee has decided to drop wrestling from the 2020 Olympics, the Carroll wrestling community has expressed disapproval of the decision.

From former wrestlers and current coaches such as Bryan Hamper to last year's state champion Wes Cook, of Winters Mill, the reaction seems to be one of surprise and disdain.

"Obviously, I'm a huge proponent of growing the sport of wrestling so to hear that is extremely troublesome," South Carroll coach Hamper said. "But if you look at the response in the last few hours online and in social media, there has been overwhelming support for bringing wrestling back."

Wrestling was one of the first sports included in the Olympics and Carroll is home to some of the best wrestlers in Maryland. Home to two-time defending Class 2A state champion Winters Mill and the No. 1 ranked national wrestler in the 220-pound class, Woodbine resident Kyle Snyder who attends Good Council, Carroll has been a player for years in wrestling.

But with wrestling in middle school merely optional, high schools around the county have seen rosters sizes dwindle and with this blow, it could do further damage to the sport.

"I mean it's one of the original sports of the Olympics," Cook said. "It kind of sucks as a wrestler."

Winters Mill athletic director and former coach at Century Steve Speck called the decision "a tragedy" and brought up an interesting perspective on the move.

In sports such as football, baseball and basketball, athletes can reach professional leagues. But according to Speck, being an Olympic wrestler is the "pinnacle" of a wrestler's career. That is what they aspire to reach and now that will be taken away after the 2016 Olympics.

"It totally caught me by surprise," Francis Scott Key coach Bill Hyson said. "When I think about how strong some of these countries are around the world in wrestling, I'm really surprised by the announcement."

Hyson, the longest tenured wrestling coach in the county, said the national participation list he sees has been solid over the past couple years and he said he hoped this didn't change things.

While it is impossible to know the effects of the ruling in the short term or to predict that athletes will avoid wrestling, Winters Mill coach John Lowe believes this decision could be bad for the sport.

"For the moment, I'm just disgusted. If it sticks, it is going to be a real blow," Lowe said. "Wrestlers feel ostracized in general, but we could always say 'at least we are an Olympic sport.' We don't have that anymore."

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