The International Olympic Committee announced its decision to cut wrestling, one of the oldest Olympic sports, on Tuesday. Now, wrestling will compete with seven other sports for a spot in the 202 Olympics.
"It overwhelmed me. I picked up the phone and started calling some people," Ken Kraft, Midlands championship director, said of the announcement. "The thing about the Olympics is people can sense this is the best in the world. These are the best in the world."
Kraft, a retired wrestling coach, spent nearly 50 years with Northwestern University's wrestling program. He founded the Midland Championships and was a commentator at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics for ABC.
Not only is wrestling one of the original five sports from the very first modern Olympics in 1896, it's also universal. In 2012, more than 20 countries medaled in wrestling. Among those who made the U.S team was former Northwestern Wildcat Jake Herbert. Current Northwestern head coach Drew Pariano says he's afraid, of the impact the IOC's decision will have on up and coming wrestlers.
"Kids that come to Northwestern say can you make me an Olympian and we say, 'Yes, we can.' We just had Jake Herbert and so that's the element that will be missing from this," Pariano said.
But why was wrestling eliminated from the roster? The IOC didn't give any specifics. Northwestern University wrestler Pierce Harger thinks wrestling might not be high profile enough.
"A lot of people don't know about it. They know about it, like, it's hardwork, but don't know the rules. They are more prone to watch basketball and big sports where there [are] celebrities and things," Harger said.
The IOC's decision will not be taken lying down.
"In our sport, we go, 'Shock.' And then we go, 'What's our next action plan?' But we're already thinking petitions, what do we need to do to come together as a group and makes this OK," Pariano said.
Wrestling will compete with seven other sports for a single available slot in the 2020 Olympics. That decision will be made in September.