Offical weighs in on EIWA Tournament
For the Rutgers wrestling team, it will be one of the more comfortable EIWA Tournaments in recent memory.
The Scarlet Knights can chalk that up to a program first.
Rutgers will host the tournament on campus for the first time since it became a member of the conference.
But the reason the tournament has not come to campus has nothing to do with the school itself.
It is because Rutgers has simply never inquired about hosting the event.
“Basically, it’s been a pretty informal process in the past, where the coach meets with their athletic director or sports administrator and says they want to host the Eastern Championships and they pick a date,” said Greg Strobel, Executive Director of the EIWA.
Strobel said the conference officials like to get who is hosting the tournament years in advance, as the tournament already has a home through the 2015 season.
The tournament will be held March 8-9 at the Louis Brown Athletic Center, a sight that allows for high attendance numbers.
Strobel said that the ideal number for the postseason venue would have seating for 2,000-3,000 people.
As far as the facility is concerned for Strobel, who also used to be the head coach at Lehigh and is in the wrestling Hall of Fame, it is an ideal place.
“The RAC is a great facility. I went there a couple of years ago, and I was really impressed with it,” Strobel said. “It really makes sense to go to the RAC and it’s a beautiful facility. It’s a great location right off of the freeway, so I’m expecting a big crowd and for them to do a good job of hosting.”
While the appearance of the host arena is a bonus, the driving force comes from the money generated from the event, and if Rutgers can get the RAC even half full, it would mean a lot of money for all of the schools involved, Strobel said.
“Traditionally, the tournament has made money,” Strobel said. “Princeton did pretty well and made money and we always do well at Lehigh.”
No matter the case, the tournament at least provides Rutgers with a chance to put behind the Penn State match, a 34-0 defeat at the RAC.
For Winston, hosting the tournament is just another reason why he believes the program is on the way up.
“It means a lot to me,” Winston said. “If you weren’t from [New Jersey], you probably didn’t know what Rutgers was, and that’s including all of the teams in the EIWA. ... I would love to get another one, and that’s where all my focus is right now and my focus is to get better.”
While it is a milestone for Rutgers, it will be short-lived, as Rutgers is set to move to the Big Ten Conference in time for the 2014-15 season.
So for Strobel and the rest of the EIWA, the tournament represents the last chance for the conference to get a look at the departing program.
“We’re sorry to see them go to the Big Ten, but understand the reasons why in terms of other sports,” Strobel said. “Rutgers has been a great competitor for us and been a great team in the EIWA Conference.”
For more updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @BradlyDTargum.