Some good news from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Thanks to InterMat for the link

Wrestling reaches required 40 schools

Posted on Wednesday, December 5, 2007

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When Greg Hatcher and Don Schuler first thought of expanding high school wrestling in Arkansas in September 2006, there were only three schools with programs.

As of today, there are 40 schools with wrestling, and two more plan to begin wrestling in 2008-2009.

Not bad for a group whose original goal was to just get 16 programs up and running.

?The theory was that we had to get 16 teams to get sanctioning,? Hatcher said. ?We had 18 by the time the [Arkansas Activities Association ] met and they said, ?No?. But they passed a sunset clause that said if we had 40 by 2008-2009, they would sanction the sport.? When Athletic Director Jim Rowland committed Fort Smith Southside and Fort Smith Northside to wrestling earlier this month, it marked the 39 th and 40 th schools to join.

?I?m proud to say that we are at 40 a year ahead of schedule,? Hatcher said.

Hatcher and Schuler contacted Rowland before the start of last season about joining, but the movement hadn?t quite caught on at that point.

?Greg and Don had called me before, but at that time everything was still a club sport,? Rowland said. ?As I visited with all the athletic directors in Northwest Arkansas, they all told me that they were all wrestling. Also, with them reaching the 40, it would be sanctioned. So we decided to do it.? All the other six schools in the 7 A-West ? Van Buren, Springdale, Springdale Har-Ber, Fayetteville, Rogers and Bentonville ? have adopted wrestling as have several other schools in Northwest Arkansas.

?That weighed in certainly,? Rowland said of the other schools in the area offering wrestling. ?We?ve had every sport that the AAA has offered. We wanted to make sure that we were involved in every sport possible. Didn?t want to be the only two schools in the conference without the sport. I can see in the very near future, the 7 A-West having its own conference.? Now that the sport has begun to take hold at the high school level, Hatcher has a new goal.

Hatcher?s next project is getting wrestling in Arkansas at the college level, something that hasn?t happened since Arkansas State stopped wrestling in 1954.

?I?m meeting [today ] with a college that very well may be the first college in the state of Arkansas to have wrestling,? said Hatcher, who declined to name the school he was meeting with. ?I expect Arkansas colleges to have wrestling in the very near future. Every border state has wrestling, but not Arkansas.? Hatcher expects colleges to be receptive to the idea of wrestling because he said he views colleges like private high schools.

?Private schools were the easiest to sell on the idea of wrestling because it takes so little to have wrestling,? Hatcher said. ?It only takes two kids enrolling at that school because of wrestling for the school to pay for it. If a kid goes there because they have wrestling and another school doesn?t ? they?re halfway to paying for the program.? Wrestling programs Academics Plus (Maumelle ) Arkansas School for the Blind Augusta Barton Beebe Bentonville Bismarck Brinkley Cabot Central Arkansas Christian Decatur Des Arc England Episcopal Collegiate Fayetteville Fort Smith Northside Fort Smith Southside Gentry Harding Academy Jacksonville Little Rock Catholic Little Rock Central Little Rock Christian Little Rock Hall Mountain Home Mountain View North Little Rock North Pulaski Pulaski Oak Grove Pulaski Academy Pulaski Robinson Rogers Rogers Heritage Russellville Searcy Springdale Springdale Har-Ber Sylvan Hills Union Christian Valley View