When University of Minnesota head wrestling coach Brandon Eggum was a member of the team in 1995, the squad practiced in “the dungeon” – the wrestling team’s room deep in the basement of the Bierman Field Athletic Building.
Today, the team still practices in “the dungeon,” as it has since the early 1970s. But starting next year, the team will practice in a new, privately-funded wrestling facility.
The new wrestling facility will take over space on a higher floor in Bierman, which used to be the men’s basketball practice facility, Eggum said. The space became available after Athletes Village was completed.
“This is a great opportunity for us to take an existing space and give it to a program that is in dire need of a new space,” said Tom McGinnis, a senior associate athletics director.
The Board of Regents approved the project earlier this month. Construction will start this spring and end around November this year, in time for next year’s season, Eggum said.
Eggum said while he believes “the dungeon” has character and appeals to wrestlers because it represents toughness, the new space will provide the team with better resources.
The new practice space will include 2,000 more square feet of mat than the existing facility, he said. Additionally, the renovated space will have a separate cardio room. Currently, the team’s cardio equipment is next to the wrestling mats, which has caused wrestlers to run into the equipment, Eggum said.
The new wrestling room will also help the team recruit new players, he said.
While sophomore wrestler Mitch McKee always knew he wanted to wrestle for the University, recruiting out of state players is difficult, he said, and new facilities can help win over recruits.
“There are so many more tools to use in improving your performance and finding success in the new wrestling room,” McKee said.
The new wrestling room reflects a trend in the University’s athletics department, McGinnis said. Providing student athletes with adequate facilities is an ongoing emphasis.
“You don’t have to have the fanciest room, but these resources are helpful and helps in recruiting, and that’s a big part of the battle. Getting the right kids in the program is always going to help performance,” Eggum said. “I came here in 1995 and the athletic department has changed a lot, and for the better.”