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Monday, December 10, 2012
On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman speaks with the head wrestling coach at the University of Maryland, Kerry McCoy.
Now in his fifth season as head coach there, Kerry McCoy will be leading his Maryland team into an historic event featuring 14 of the top college wrestling teams in America competing on Sunday, December 16, in Madison Square Garden: the Grapple at the Garden.
Although Madison Square Garden, known as the World's Most Famous Arena, has existed in New York for 133 years and in four different locations, it has never hosted a college wrestling event. Now, in the same building which was the site of the first Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight, countless concerts and special events, and years of basketball and hockey as well as other sporting events, college wrestling will make its debut with a bang on December 16.
Competing at the Grapple at the Garden will be 14 NCAA Division I wrestling teams: Bloomsburg, Bucknell, Chattanooga, Cornell, Drexel, Hofstra, George Mason, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, and Rutgers. The event will also feature the PSAL Holiday Tournament, featuring some of the top high school wrestlers from New York City. Eight mats will be set up for simultaneous wrestling, with each college team wrestling in two dual meets. The first set of matches is scheduled to start at 10:30 AM, with the second set of matches at 12:30 PM.
The talent on the mat will include many of the best college wrestlers and teams in the U.S. Eight of the teams are currently ranked in the Top 25 in the NWCA Coaches Poll, more than 65 nationally ranked wrestlers are expected to compete in this event, and four past NCAA champions are also scheduled to wrestle.
While the Grapple at the Garden marks the debut for college wrestling at Madison Square Garden, there have been two major freestyle wrestling events there in recent years. The 1998 Goodwill Games wrestling was held in the smaller arena at the Garden, while the 2003 World Freestyle Wrestling Championships was held in the main arena, drawing over 12,500 fans for the finals. And Kerry McCoy wrestled in both of those events, finishing second at heavyweight in the 1998 Goodwill Games and winning a world silver medal at the 2003 World Freestyle Wrestling Championships. A Pan American and World Cup champion, and a two-time NCAA Div. I champion at Penn State, he also wrestled in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games.
We spoke with Kerry McCoy by phone Friday afternoon to preview the Grapple at the Garden and get his unique perspective on it.
Asked about competing in Madison Square Garden, he said in this interview, "It's unbelievable. You're in the world's most famous arena, where so many great athletes have been able to compete and participate, guys like Muhammad Ali, and Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in basketball, all these different great athletes that were able to compete in this arena, among other famous people, entertainers, sports figures. Anything that's ever been exciting, everything important has had a chance to be in the Garden." And he added, "It's just exciting to be able to have that experience. I was fortunate enough to compete there when I was competing, and experience it as an athlete. Now to go back as a coach is something that is exciting as well."
We also discussed the prospects for the Maryland wrestling team, currently ranked number 17 in the U.S., who their top wrestlers are, the future of college wrestling in the U.S., and much more.
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