The Lehigh University men’s wrestling team is preparing to begin the season in a new wrestling complex.
The continued success of the program caught the attention of many alumni, who donated money to help Lehigh build a new wrestling room. The new wrestling “Caruso Complex” was named after Lehigh’s three-time NCAA wrestling champion Mike Caruso, ’67. The complex is an excellent training, coaching and practice facility built in the upper floors of Grace Hall.
Previously, the wrestling complex was located in Taylor Gym.
“[It] had a lot of history”, said junior wrestler Elliot Riddick in reference to the old complex. “There were pictures on the wall of past successful and prestigious wrestlers dating back to the early 1900s. I remember looking at the pictures during practice in amazement thinking, ‘these guys actually wrestled here.’”
Mitch Minotti, another junior on the team, shared Riddick’s appreciation for the history of the old facility.
“The previous wrestling facility may have lacked the bells and whistles, but what remained was a sense of tradition,” Minotti said.
When the team found out that they were going to call a brand-new wrestling complex their home, many of them were skeptical and did not know what to expect. Minotti, as well as others on the team, thought that the old complex would be hard to leave behind because of the great history and tradition it held for their program. However, when the Caruso Complex was finally opened, it seemed to exceed all expectations.
The new Caruso Complex is a state-of-the-art, $4.1 million facility equipped with a Hall of Champions, a practice area with 3 full-size mats, weight and fitness training rooms, offices and meeting rooms, video playback equipment, team locker rooms, team lounges and study areas.
“The new complex is a lot more spacious and vibrant than the other room,” Riddick said when comparing the new complex to the old one in Taylor Gym. “Though I do miss the old room, the new complex has a certain energy that gives me a particular enthusiasm when going to practice that the other does not.”
Now that the team has a brand new facility, there are many implications for the future of the team’s success and recruiting.
“The new complex has everything we need to become national champs under one roof, and it’s cool to have everything state-of-the-art and new because it keeps us up to date with the latest technology to perform at a higher level,” said sophomore wrestler Darian Cruz.
Riddick said that just looking at the complex would give a recruit with a passion for wrestling a reason to love Lehigh.
“As a recruit, the facility that you will spend so much time in matters a great deal when it comes to choosing a school,” Minotti said. “When you walk through the hall of fame walkway, you immediately fall in love as it opens up to the rest of the facility. This new complex will help improve our recruiting process a great deal.”