By Erin Keilah Chin
A tall, slender, gray-haired man will greet you in the wrestling room at the top of the stairs in Uchida Hall. That man is Jim Lucas, the head coach of San Jose State University's Wrestling Club.
Lucas said the club started in the spring of 2001 and the members wrestle in both folk-style, collegiate wrestling and Greco Roman style, which includes more throwing and freestyle wrestling. Students had asked him to start the club.
"I was coaching at Harbor High School in Santa Cruz, "Lucas said, "and some students here knew that I came out of San Jose State. They wanted to get a club program going, and they wanted me to be their coach."
Lucas participated in the 1976 Olympic trials, is a past world champion wrestler and just recently won the Veterans U.S. National Freestyle title even though he may look like "a little bean pole, "he said.
"I'm 5'11 "and I wrestle at the 138-pound weight class, "Lucas said. "I do not look like your typical wrestler."
The wrestling club is self-sufficient, Lucas said. He has raised money to take care of the referees and their uniforms and bought the mats and the wrestler's uniforms as well. Alumni have also donated to the club.
Lucas said he doesn't ask much of the wrestlers but to promise to give back to the community after they graduate by coaching some kind of wrestling team, whether it be high school, college or one outside of school.
Walking into the wrestling room, you can tell that the club is diverse. Sophomore wrestler Maninder Singh said the team is made up of many different people.
"You get a wide range of people here, from beginner to advanced guys that can make Division I NCAA teams, "Singh said. "Here you get a mixture of everything. I'm Indian. How many Indians do you know that wrestle?"
Senior wrestler Hanno Murphy agrees that the uniqueness of the wrestling club is because of the diversity of the wrestlers.
"We welcome everyone into the room, "Murphy said. "We have people from community colleges and high schools as well."
The ultimate goal of wrestling is to pin your opponent, putting their scapula - the top part of your opponent's back - flat on the mat for a certain period of time. Wrestlers receive points for turning their opponents over.
"Regulation-size (wrestling circles) are 34 feet in diameter, "Lucas said. "These (practice circles) are nine feet in diameter."
Nolan Nguyen, who will be an incoming junior in the fall, said he enjoys winning.
"I like the competition, "Nguyen said. "And if you win, it's all on you and you did everything to win. I just like the factor of knowing that I did everything I could to win."
Murphy has been wrestling for six months, but really enjoys the workout.
"(Wrestling is) as easy as any competitive sport to learn, "Murphy said. "It's fun immediately, but it takes a long time to learn to master."
The wrestling club will travel to San Benito for a match at 11 a.m. on Saturday at San Benito High School.
"If people want to come out and see wrestling, it's a free-style and Greco Roman tournament, "Lucas said. "Anybody who wants to come out there and cheer us on, that would be great."
Lucas wanted to share some words of wisdom.
"Wrestling is (like) life, "he said. "Life isn't always fair. It's very competitive, and you need a certain amount of competitiveness to really succeed. You have to outthink your opponent."