Fans witnessed history in the making. The intramural wrestling team of Florida A&M University partnered with Florida State University on Saturday to host the first Seminole-Rattler Invitational.
The event consisted of various wrestling competitions between FAMU, FSU, the University of Florida, the University of Central Florida, Marion Military Institute, Florida Gulf Coast, Darton College, Gordon College, Mercer University, University of Georgia and the Florida Institute of Technology.
Of those 11 schools, FAMU came in fourth place. UCF took home the first place victory, while Darton College came in second place and UF came in third. Despite coming in fourth, the wrestling team is more than satisfied with its progress.
Jude Moreau, the assistant coach, said the event was a major success.
“It was a good experience,” said Moreau, 24, an Orlando native. “The younger wrestlers are trying their hardest. It was a great experience that they needed before regionals.
“In wrestling you’re always going to lose early. A lot of people think it’s about strength, but it’s really about the technique. Muscles can only take you so far,” he continued.
The wrestling team is a varsity squad as part of the National Collegiate Wrestling Association.
Before the Seminole-Rattler Invitational was even thought of, the team used to compete in The Battle of Tallahassee, an annual competition between FAMU, FSU and TCC. During its three-year run, FAMU came in first place every time and brought home the trophy.
Since The Battle of Tallahassee was cancelled this year, the Seminole-Rattler Invitational took its place. To promote the new event, the team posted and distributed flyers. It also relied on word of mouth. As a result, fans came out to show their support.
Kiana Lewis, 24, the team manager, said the support for the team was great.
“We had a great amount of people come out,” said Lewis, a health science student from Tampa. “I was surprised. I think we had more support than Florida State. Fans were being so loud that the referee got mad and irritated. He stopped the match to tell people to get back and calm down.”
Thomas White, the head coach of the wrestling team, agreed with his colleague.
“I was extremely pleased,” he said. “It was one of our biggest competitions. A lot of FAMU students showed up and so did several sororities.”
White, who has been coaching the team since 2000, said he expects his wrestlers to perform well at the upcoming regional match as well.
“I expect four of the players to place in the top five,” he said. “I don’t want to be pessimistic but we have a lot of freshman. They’re good but they’re still growing.”
The regional competition will run Feb. 29 in Albany, Ga. The wrestling team has a match scheduled Saturday in Gainesville.