Mountaineers wrestling team

When it comes to putting Schreiner University on the map of collegiate sports the women of the wrestling program might just be the ones to lead the way. 

In just three years of existence, the Schreiner women have become a national powerhouse — finishing second in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association championship. The Mountaineers were better than far larger universities like Texas A&M, Texas, UCLA,  North Texas, Liberty, Colorado State and Fresno State. 

If anything, Schreiner is poised for bigger and better things in the coming years, especially as the fast growing sport of women’s wrestling is sanctioned by the NCAA. Earlier this year, the NCAA accepted a proposal that adds women’s wrestling to its championship schedule for the 2020-21 season. 

“Schreiner is doing a great job of providing opportunities for kids to get out there and compete,” Schreiner coach Troy Jewell said. “They are getting opportunities from the university to get down the road, get to the tournament and achieve those goals they have in the sport.”

Currently, Schreiner competes in the NCAA Division III in its other sanctioned sports, but the Mountaineers are one of just 23 programs nationally that have a full team of six wrestlers and five matches to be recognized by the NCAA. The Mountaineers will be one of the favorites to win a national title when they head back to Allen, Texas, for the NCWA championships next year. 

Entering the season, which started last weekend, Schreiner’s Alicia Messer, Allie Mahoe, Serena Cervantes, Payton Klotzer and Miriam Delagarza were all ranked in the top eight nationally. The Mountaineers also return defending national champion Alyssa Alvarez in the 235 pound weight class. 

SEEKING THEIR BEST EFFORT 

As soon as they arrive on Schreiner’s campus, Jewell asks each of his women wrestlers to fill out a form.

This seven-part questionnaire gives the Schreiner wrestling coach a window into the personalities of his wrestlers. Besides wrestling, what are you passionate about? What are you scared of the most — in the sport of wrestling, and in life? What do you want to take away from the sport of wrestling?

“I just want to air all that stuff out sooner rather than later, and the best way to get to know someone is to ask,” Jewell said. “It’s helped me a lot.”

The questionnaire was his idea. As their coach, he knows it’s his responsibility to help them reach their potential, and the most effective way to accomplish that goal is through building strong personal relationships with each of them.

Moreover, the seven questions also give his wrestlers a clear set of goals they can strive to accomplish before they graduate.

“The questions helped me realize what I wanted to do here,” said Allie Mahoe, a sophomore from Nanakuli, Hawaii. “Throughout the year, we remember what we put on that paper and why we are here. That helps a lot.”

That piece of paper also helps explain why Jewell’s wrestlers have been able to attain so much success so quickly.

“They are ranked going into their sophomore season because of their work ethic — what they have put into it,” Jewell said. “They still have a long way to go, and they know it. Rankings are just rankings. But at the same time, is it nice to get a little recognition for the work you put in? Absolutely. It’s good for our program to be recognized by any poll. We are happy about it. I am happy for them, but at the same time, we don’t talk about it much, because we have a lot of work to do.” 

RECRUITING FOR SUCCESS

By now, Jewell is accustomed to watching his wrestlers succeed. Before he helped begin Schreiner’s program, he was the coach for New Braunfels Elite Wrestling, guiding the club’s high school women’s team to a state championship in freestyle. In 2018, Schreiner’s Dean of Students, Charlie Hueber, informed Jewell the university was starting a wrestling program and wanted to know if he was interested in becoming the program’s coach. Jewell was very much interested.

The relationships he built while coaching club helped him immediately hit the recruiting trail and attract top-level talent to Schreiner. Messer and Cervantes were on his NB Elite’s state championship team, so he convinced them to follow him to Schreiner. 

He met Mahoe’s younger sister, Allicia Mahoe, at a tournament and began recruiting both sisters (Allicia is a freshman at Schreiner).

“Coach Troy is really good at recruiting,” Allie Mahoe said. “He was always in communication with me. … He got me on board.”

During Schreiner’s first season, he established a culture that emphasized unity. He stores his wrestlers’ medals and trophies in a display case inside Schreiner’s athletic facilities, a reminder that individual accomplishments are products of teamwork.

In other words, Jewell laid the foundation for a successful program; his wrestlers did the rest. Cervantes gave her daily routine during a Friday interview; it’s not for the faint of heart. She wakes up every day at 6:30 a.m. to run a mile; she works out after lunch and then again in the afternoon.

“If I still feel like that wasn’t enough, I go to the gym again,” said Cervantes, who wrote on her questionnaire that she wants to make the world team. “I don’t want to get into (wrestling) and just be OK, or even be good, I want to be great.”

Her teammates share the same goal. And soon enough, they may have an opportunity to be great at an NCAA sport.

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