Although the wrestling team at Dixie State University doesn’t compete in the NCAA, the idea of being called a club makes head coach Wayne Briggs cringe.
Briggs has been coaching DSU’s wrestling team for five years and said by utilizing the club status, the wrestling team doesn’t affect Title IX. Right now DSU is working toward full compliance with Title IX because it’s focusing on adding more women’s sports. But if DSU were to make the wrestling team an official athletic program, Briggs said DSU would no longer be in compliance with Title IX because it would be adding more men’s sports.
“Wrestling programs as a whole have been the ones getting cut because of Title IX,” Briggs said. “The NCWA was created for the sole purpose of giving good wrestling an opportunity to still compete nationwide.”
The team competes in the west coast conference and is currently a Division II team. Briggs said it’s a possibility the team will be moved to Division I next year. He said he hopes to have a national championship in Division II this year.
Because wrestling season recently began, Briggs said it’s hard to tell if the team has improved on any set of skills. But the team has several state champions this year, which is something it’s never had before.
“The level of high school quality wrestlers who are coming into our program are much higher than it ever was,” Briggs said. “We have a much better potential than we’ve ever had.”
The team currently has 18 to 20 members who actively attend practice. Among those is team captain Kasdan Felshaw, a junior accounting major from Mesquite, Nevada. As a team captain, Felshaw helps motivate the team.
“I feel like we have a lot of strength in our lighter weight classes,” Felshaw said. “But we also have strength in numbers. We have a lot of guys who are very skilled and have been wrestling for years.”
The team also has members from all over the country including three from the state of Washington.
Colton Economy, a freshman business major from Blaine, Washington, said he wants to be able to put as many points up as possible in tournaments and competitions this season.
“We want to contribute to this program as much as possible and represent Washington in a good way,” Economy said.
The team is funded solely on donations. Because of the size of the team this year, having a larger bus to transport members to competitions was vital for Briggs. He said the team was able to purchase a $15,000 bus, but a GoFundMe page was recently set up to help pay off the cost of it.
“It’s kind of like we put the chicken before the egg,” he said. “We’re trying to see if we can get as much money as we can to pay for what we already paid for.”