Empire Wrestling program returns

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 5:32 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Empire Public Schools has been without a wrestling program since the 2010-2011 school year ended when it was cut due to budget issues and lack of participation.

“Ever since I came to Empire as a Superintendent there were questions often asked about whether we bring the program back. And, my response was always if we had enough support and participation we would look into trying to do that,” said Justin Smith, EPS Superintendent and Athletic Director,

Corey Jackson, a youth wrestling coach, alumni and volunteer coach at Empire started it all with his voice to bring the program back.

“We took a group of parents through the Little League level and some that already had kids in high school, in junior high, that had to walk away from the program. Kind of got them together, we rallied them up and went and talked to the school board,” said Jackson.

Head Coach Cody Roberts took on the task of building the program from the ground up. The team is using the high school’s old gym and spent 3-4 weeks building a wrestling room to practice.

They also had to raise around $5,000 for uniforms and mats which Roberts said is a steal.

“So when we first got here, Mr. Smith told me OK look this is the deal. We don’t have anything right now, but you tell us what you need and we’ll get it done for you. They have stuck to that, every time I’ve come to him hey, I need this, I’ve got it within a couple of days,” said Roberts.

Kayden Trahan has wrestled for ten years. The high school senior is looking forward to his first and last year of varsity wrestling with the new program.

“It feels really good actually, I’ve wrestled at every school I’ve ever been to. I’m just glad we get to bring it here and start from the bottom,” said Trahan.

And while he only gets a year with the team, he hopes it’ll last a lot longer.

“I’m seeing a lot of determined kids, a lot of skill. We just need to focus on grinding mainly, just becoming focused and being determined and willing to go,” said Trahan.