When it comes to wrestling, the O’Neill Titans are a powerhouse having won the last six city titles and seven provincial ones.
Rob Nelson is the head coach of the program and says the decision by the University of Regina to eliminate the wrestling programs is a head-scratcher when it has been successful for years.
“I was shocked when I heard the news.” Nelson said. “I don’t think anyone thought that wrestling, which has been such a cornerstone sport at the university, would be one that is on the chopping block. The Cougar wrestling program is the most successful one in the history of Cougar Athletics. Even this year, the team was very competitive having been in the top 10 for both men and women and having many medal in Canada West and USports.”
Nelson thinks this will also hurt his program along with the program at other Regina high schools and southern Saskatchewan.
“The next step from high school was to have the U of R.” Nelson said. ” To not have that next step, at least locally because not all kids have the chance to go elsewhere, so to not have it is a deterrent because some motivation to push themselves to the next level is diminished knowing they have to go elsewhere.
Many former Titans have gone on to the U of R with six of his graduates on the current teams. Nelson says the University let those students down by not informing them of the decision before releasing the information.
“They were blind-sided! They didn’t find out about the cancellation until the media release so there was no warning from the University.” Nelson stated.
Nelson doesn’t know if there can be a revival of the program, but he says he has already heard some talk that some Canada West schools are looking at this move and saying if the U of R can do this to a cornerstone program. maybe they should look at their programs to see if it can remain viable or not. He hopes that isn’t the case as it would be disastrous for the sport as a whole.