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The Antelope

Upgraded facility brings more space for Loper wrestlers

The wrestling room project was completed this season. Photo by Shelby Berglund / Antelope Staff

UNK’s new wrestling facility is now open for the reigning national champions. Coach Dalton Jensen knows the $2.26 million dollar facility will make it easier to recruit. 

“High school kids now are really attracted to the nice, new, shiny things,” Jensen said. “It’s an arm’s race in athletics, with programs building these nice, new facilities in every sport.” 

The old training room made it very difficult for UNK’s wrestling team to train like other schools. Because of safety issues, past teams have had to split up with two different practice times, which lead to long days with the coaching staff. The wrestlers joked about the old facility being a “glorified storage closet,” and because of the split practices, the team chemistry suffered. 

“Keeping everybody safe in that small of a space was our biggest challenge,” Jensen said. “I was having to run shift practices to accommodate everybody which made it tough on the student-athletes because they weren’t all in there at the same time building that team comradery.” 

The facility includes natural lighting, two full-sized wrestling mats, new coaching offices and workout and rehabbing equipment. The 10,000 square foot area is between Cushing Fieldhouse and the Health and Sports Center.

“Before, those guys who were hurt and couldn’t wrestle were scattered everywhere,” Jensen said. “In the athlete weight room, or in the training room plus the athletes in the wrestling room.” 

Now, the new facility allows the wrestling team to be exactly that – a team. All-American wrestler Lee Herrington knows the importance of team culture. 

“Team chemistry is huge,” Herrington said. “Now you aren’t just stuck off in a corner, sitting by yourself. You get to rehab while watching the team and learning as well.” 

The facility was named the Blessing Wrestling Room in remembrance of Ron Blessing, who passed away last March. Blessing always had the dream to help donate to the wrestling program. When the opportunity arose, he and his wife, Pam, jumped on the opportunity. 

UNK wrestler Billy Higgins said the team was very appreciative of the Blessing couple. 

“A lot of gratitude,” Higgins said. “Once we were able to get in there, it was like a sigh of


Although Coach Jensen is ecstatic about the wrestling facility, he knows the Lopers will still have to stay committed in practice.

“At the end of the day, a wrestling mat is a wrestling mat no matter where you put it,” Jensen said. “The work is the work. Even though we are spoiled with this space, we still have to put in the work.” 

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