WHEELING - Local wrestlers will have an additional opportunity if they wish to continue their careers at the collegiate level.
Wheeling Jesuit University formally announced its intentions to add wrestling as its 20th varsity sport, starting in the 2013-14 school year, during a news conference held Friday afternoon at the Alma Grace McDonough Center.
Along with the announcement about the sport, Cardinals' Athletics Director Danny Sancomb also announced that former Wheeling Park mat coach Sean Doyle, who is a Buckeye Local High School and Cornell University graduate, would be the program's first coach.
WJU AD Danny Sancomb introduces mat coach Sean Doyle.
"It's an honor and pleasure to accept this position," Doyle said. "A lot of people have been involved in this process, and I am thankful to all of those people. There's been a lot of dialogue over the past few months on what was needed to get the program up and running."
When the idea of beginning a wrestling program began, Sancomb was led to Doyle because of the work he'd done in building Wheeling Central's program and maintaining the Wheeling Park program. Plus, he was a standout in his day and is well connected through the wrestling world.
"When we make a hire here, we want to win, which I think is obvious, but we also want to find someone who fits what our mission is and what we're about here," Sancomb said. "We just felt like Sean was a good fit. His name in wrestling is great, which will help with the recruiting part. He's a great communicator, he's very passionate about the sport of wrestling, Wheeling Jesuit and Wheeling in general."
Doyle, who is still a teacher at Wheeling Park and will remain so through the end of the school year, recently passed his NCAA compliance test and is now able to begin the process of putting together his initial Cardinals' squad.
"We're ready to hit the ground running," Doyle said. "This school has been built on excellence and tradition, so it'll be a great partnership with the sport of wrestling. I think we'll be able to identify kids who will fit this university perfectly and can come onto this campus and be leaders."
The work to formulate the Cardinals' team for next winter will have to be done relatively quickly. As the new year approaches in a few weeks, most college programs are wrapping up their recruiting for the year.
"Sean's a little bit behind the 8-ball in recruiting with just starting now, but we know he'll work very hard to bring in great wrestlers," Sancomb said.
So who exactly is Doyle looking for as he begins this process?
"You can bring in individual talent as far as guys having a lot of accolades, but as far as building a team and program go, you need young men who are going to come in with the same visions and idea of what they want to do."
Doyle expects to make a push for local grapplers, too.
"In the valley, the No. 1 thing you want it support of your program, so you need local support and kids on your roster who can bring their family and friends into that gym," Doyle said. "Our wrestling in the valley has always been strong. It'll certainly be one of our focal points, but we're lucky here because we're right between two of the best states in the country for high school wrestling in Ohio and Pennsylvania."
Next year, the Cardinals will leave the West Virginia Conference for the newly formed Mountain East Conference. According to Sancomb, Jesuit becomes just the fifth university in the conference to offer wrestling and seven are needed for there to be a conference championship.