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Air Force athletics notes: Wrestling coach holds out hope for sports' Olympic future

February 18, 2013
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Without hesitation, Air Force wrestling coach Joel Sharratt said he thinks wrestling will remain an Olympic sport in 2020 and beyond.

“Absolutely,” Sharratt said. “I believe it in my heart of hearts.”

Sharratt attended Monday’s weekly Air Force coaches’ press conference at Champps Americana Restaurant in Briargate to discuss his 22nd-ranked Falcons as they prepare for their final two duals Thursday at Wyoming and Sunday at home against Northern Colorado. Instead, the discussion was hijacked by talk of the International Olympic Committee’s decision to eliminate wrestling after the 2016 Games.

Sharratt has been talking a lot about this decision in the past week, and it’s this intense interest that leads him to believe the sport will survive.

“Just the casual interaction I’ve had with peole around our institution and seeing the buzz it’s created in the media, it’s putting wrestling back on the map,” Sharratt said.

Sharratt was a training partner for the 1996 Games in Atlanta and is a staunch supporter of the sport, but he has extra motivation for saving the sport in the Olympics. His athletes routinely utilize the Olympic Training Center, providing a unique recruiting tool as well as a way to develop the wrestlers once they’re in the program.

“It’s a huge tool for us and we want to see it maintained for sure,” Sharratt said.


Tennis star fighting for postseason spot

Senior Lance Wilhelm has played in the No. 1 singles spot throughout his career at Air Force, just the third player in school history to do that. Now he’s fighting to become the third player in program history to reach the NCAA Tournament.

Wilhelm is currently ranked No. 85 in the nation (there are more than 3,000 players in Division I). The tournament takes 64 players. Automatic bids go to any player ranked No. 1 in his conference (Wilhelm is currently second) as well as several dozen players taken at-large.

Air Force (6-4) hosts Wichita State on Friday and Northern Arizona on Saturday.

“He’s on fire right now,” tennis coach Lt. Col. Dan Oosterhous said. “That’s another reason to come watch this weekend.”


Broekhuis injury update

Air Force center Taylor Broekhuis did not break his toe, X-rays after Saturday’s men's basketball game revealed.

Broekhuis injured the toe in the first half when he was stepped on by Colorado State’s Colton Iverson. He stayed in the game but was limited in his ability to push off his right foot.

“He had a right and left ankle sprain going up to that, and now it’s a toe,” Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said. “So, as a friend used to say, his feets aren’t very good right now.”

Pilipovich doesn’t expect Broekhuis to miss any time at Boise State on Wednesday, but said the toe was “very, very sore.”


Second chance

The Air Force women’s basketball team lost by one point at Boise State early this season. The Falcons get a second chance at the Broncos on Wednesday, this time at home.

The Falcons (3-21, 2-9 Mountain West) have won four conference games just twice since joining the conference in 2000 and haven’t reached that number since the 2007-08 season.

A win would put the Falcons one victory shy of that benchmark with four games remaining, offering a sign that coach Andrea Williams and her staff have the long-struggling program pointed in the right direction.

“You’d like more wins,” Williams said. “People are getting transfers from Duke and Arizona and Boston College in the ACC, that’s always going to make it a little tougher. But we’re going to keep rebuilding.”

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