The FAMU wrestling team traveled to Macon, Ga., to participate in the NCWA regional tournament over the weekend.
The team placed sixth overall; 17 schools participated in the event.
The team has shown tremendous progress in its three years of existence.
Last year, Hubert Poulard – one of the team’s captains – was the only person to qualify for the regional tournament. This year the Rattlers will send five of its 11 wrestlers to the national tournament.
Abdul Shariff (149 pounds), Jude Moreau (157 pounds), Moise Bernadel (165 pounds), Hubert Poulard (197 pounds) and Terran Raymes (285 pounds) all advanced to the national tournament.
The team defeated Georgia Tech, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, South Florida and a host of other schools to advance.
Poulard,who was named an All-American at the tournament for placing second in his weight class, said the team still had a lot of work that needed to be completed.
“My goal is to be the best, and placing second was good, but not good enough for a Rattler,” Poulard said. “My plan is to practice hard over the next two weeks to be at my most competitive state, and take the trophy home from Nationals.”
Though the team took home a respectable sixth place finish, head coach Thomas White said his team would have had a better chance at the regional tournament if its budget was half as big as some of the teams that the Rattlers faced.
White said the two schools that placed first and second at regionals, the University of Central Florida and Pensacola Christian College, told him how large a role funding plays for the success of their programs.
“Wrestling is one of the (fastest) growing sports in the South, and in order for our program to grow with the sport we need to have the financial support that other schools have,” White said. “In order for us to compete at the level of UCF and PCC, our team needs to be supported the way these other college teams are. We have received aid from different sponsors, but it is nowhere near the $ 30,000 that UCF receives.”
Poulard said help from a local high school and its coach along with the FAMU Campus Recreation Department made last weekend’s trip to the regional tournament possible.
After taking a nearly 25-year hiatus from the sport, this reincarnation of the FAMU wrestling program will try to make history with its first national champion at the upcoming national competition.
The five Rattler wrestlers who qualified will travel to Dallas for the March 10-12 national tournament.