CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Disappointment set in for a coach and his team after Paxton Buckley Loda High School’s wrestling program was cut.
This was the last season for PBL wrestlers. The program started eight years ago, but this week the school board voted unanimously to discontinue it. There are a few factors that played into the decision.
Mainly it’s because not enough people were joining the team.
PBL senior Christian Denam says wrestling is more than just a sport to fill time in high school. He says, “The first time I practiced I fell in love with it and ever since then I loved wrestling.”
For coach Jacob Meyer, leading the team isn’t just a job. He says, “I was the first wrestler for PBL so for me it’s like saying goodbye to a friend.”
The PBL school district can’t afford to continue the program. Meyer says, “It really came down to the co-op agreement we had with Rantoul. IHSA is making them replace all of those, so they either had to sign on for two more years or call it now.”
Not enough people were signing up. This year the team only had four wrestlers. Years ago they had a full roster. But each year since, the number has dropped. For the wrestlers who stayed committed, this decision was upsetting.
Denam says, “I was disappointed because I know three people who are left in the wrestling program that haven’t graduated. They’ll definitely be upset because they all really love wrestling.”
Senior Keyn Humes was also on the team throughout high school. It’s a Humes family sport and stopping the program means an opportunity is being cut off for students down the line. He says, “My brother is a third grader and he’s also a wrestler. To see him maybe not wrestle in high school is kind of a shame.”
Coach Meyers family helped to start the program years ago. They donated the first wrestling mats. Those will now be given back to them.