Illinois announces plans for Illinois Wrestling Training Center

CHAMPAGNE, Ill. – Fighting Illini wrestling program set to receive premier facility following today’s announcement of Illinois Wrestling Training Center by Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman. In the coming months, DIA will present the project for formal approval by institutional authorities and the University’s Board of Directors.

“Wrestling is one of our most prestigious programs at the University of Illinois,” Whitman said. “For generations, Fighting Illini Wrestling has competed at a high level, including a streak of All-Americans that is virtually unmatched, with facilities that do not meet our standard of excellence. assessment, planning and fundraising, but we are thrilled to offer our wrestling program a facility of this caliber. This facility, combined with Coach Mike Poetawill propel our program to new heights. »

The $14 million Illinois Wrestling Training Facility will be located on the South Lawn of the State Farm Center, just across St. Mary’s Road from the Illinois Conference Center. It will include approximately 19,000 square feet of space, including a wrestling room with three mats, strength and conditioning and sports medicine facilities, a team locker room, locker room and offices for coaches and a multipurpose meeting room. An additional $1.3 million of site work and improvements to the State Farm Center parking lot will be included in this project. Groundbreaking is scheduled for spring 2024 and completion is scheduled for late 2025.

“With this facility, the University of Illinois demonstrates its commitment to fighting Illini Wrestling,” Poeta said. “The Wrestling Training Center will be state of the art and reflective of the quality of the wrestlers and character of the students involved in our program – past, present and future. The support we have received from the wrestling community, donors and alumni students has been unprecedented. As head coach, I am honored beyond words to be a part of this journey. This collective effort of so many makes our goals of winning the Big Ten and NCAA titles more achievable.

As part of today’s news, Illinois Athletics announced $10 million in private philanthropic support for the Illinois Wrestling Training Facility. In particular, Whitman acknowledged three groups of donors, Mark and Carol Mestemacher, Ron and Melody Domanico, and Doug and Allison Waggoner, who made substantial donations to carry out the Illinois Wrestling Training Center.

“Since I began my tenure nearly seven years ago, we have been humbled by the generous support of so many who have made our ambitious facilities program possible, and this project was another example of that,” said Whitman. “Illinois Wrestling has a number of passionate and loyal followers, led by the Mestemachers, Domanicos and Waggoners. Without them, we are not in this position, and I cannot thank them enough for supporting this bold move to advance our wrestling agenda.”

“I’m really excited about the future of Illinois Wrestling as this facility will be a huge benefit in the wrestling experience of our current and future Illinois wrestlers,” said Mark Mestemacher. “I am so grateful for the perseverance and persistence of our sporting director Josh Whitman and its staff to make this facility a reality. It’s been a long road to get here and Josh’s positive attitude, Howard Milton, Coach Poeta and many other Illini faithful have exhibited over the past two years are to be applauded. I don’t believe any facility has ever won a championship, but I do believe that facilities go a long way in attracting recruits to a program, and this facility will increase Coach Poeta and his staff’s ability to attract even more recruits. high level wrestlers. University of Illinois program. It really is an exciting day for Illini Wrestling.”

“The State of Illinois produces some of the best wrestlers in the nation, and this new wrestling facility will attract, develop and retain top student-athletes who will positively impact our communities for generations,” said Ron Domanico. “We are proud to be part of it.”

“Illinois Wrestling is privileged to compete in the Big Ten, which has long had a reputation for having the toughest competitors in the world,” said Doug Waggoner. “Illinois Wrestling has all the pieces together to rise to the top of the conference and the entire NCAA wrestling field. Getting a world-class facility is an important ingredient in training our athletes and achieving our goals.”

Illini wrestlers practiced and practiced at Huff Hall for decades, where competitions were held until matches were moved to State Farm Center beginning in the 2021-22 season. The Fighting Illini have had at least one wrestling All-American for 30 straight years, with four 2022 NCAA qualifiers returning for the upcoming season. Poeta has seven returning starters, including All-American Lucas Byrd (133).

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