COLUMBIA — One section of fans stood out during the Missouri wrestling team’s 43-3 win against Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville on Wednesday night.
Twenty-five students from the Missouri School for the Deaf seemed to be the loudest in the Hearnes Center on Senior Night.
The school, founded in 1851, is located in Fulton. Serving students from kindergarten to high school, the school houses more than 100 students in dorms on its 90-acre campus. Throughout the school year, the school sponsors a number of field trips. However, nothing seems to excite the school’s students more than Missouri sporting events. Not even the 30-mile drive can keep them away.
Every season, the school administrators makes it a point to schedule trips to Columbia for the students to watch their favorite sports live. Over the years, they have attended all of the big sports except for football, where crowds are too large.
This year, the students have already been to two basketball games and two volleyball games. Wednesday, however, was their first wrestling match.
“We don’t allow them to watch wrestling in the dorms because then they (the students) want to wrestle,” said Scott Gaines, one of the school’s resident advisers. “But they love it.”
Gaines was right. It didn’t take the students long to get involved and catch on to the rules.
“Look, we’re already up six!” one of the students shouted when Missouri’s Alan Waters (20-0) won the first match by forfeit.
The students shouted instructions and applauded effort. “Flip him!” and “good leg move!” soon became their two favorite sayings. These words of encouragement continued throughout the meet.
The excitement reached its peak when No. 1-ranked Dom Bradley (28-0) took to the mat for the heavyweight bout. Each time Bradley lifted his opponent off the floor and slammed him into the mat, the students' excitement grew. They were in a frenzy by the third period of Bradley's match, and when Missouri won, the students celebrated as if they were a part of the team.
After tonight, Missouri wrestling might become a regularly scheduled event on the Fulton school’s calendar. Maybe they’ll even make another trip when Missouri faces Maryland in the first round of the Cliff Keen National Duals at 10 a.m. Sunday at Hearnes Center.