Getting an upgrade: School board approves new wrestling mats

The Tribune

The Seymour wrestling program received some big news prior to the turn of the new year.

In 2019, the high school and middle school program will each get new mats.

On Dec. 11, the school board unanimously approved the purchase of four new wrestling mats that will be divided up evenly between the two schools.

Seymour varsity head coach Todd Weaver presented to the board. The mats were requested by high school Athletic Director Kirk Manns.

The programs will be getting four 42-by-42-foot Dollamur-brand wrestling mats, which will replace the old Resilite mats the teams currently share.

“The school board not only agreed to buy mats, they said it’s a necessity so let’s do it now,” Weaver said. “I believe they are going to be ordered in January. We couldn’t be more pleased with how they handled it. I think they’re going to order them soon. They won’t be in time for this season, but we will hopefully have them around summertime. It takes a while to make mats.”

Currently, two mats are transported back and forth between the middle and high school.

“We move these mats so often, maybe 15 or 20 times this year, because we are trying to use them for the high and middle school,” Weaver said. “We use them for high school, middle school and elementary. They are starting to see some wear because we do it so much. We put them in pickup trucks to transport them. It’s not an ideal situation when you have two mats.”

The Resilite mats were estimated to weigh between 600 and 800 pounds per section and have been moved hundreds of times over the years. Since October, the mats have been moved eight times for high school, junior high and elementary teams.

“The (Resilite) are a lot heavier. It takes a crane to get them out of the room and lowered down (to the gym floor in the auxiliary gym),” Weaver said. “It takes a cradle roller that is 15 feet long. We wheel it, dump it and move it. It takes a lot of time. It’s a pain. Honestly, those huge (Resilite) mats are just an accident waiting to happen. These Dollamur mats make it so much easier. They can be stored in a smaller area and carried.”

The new mats, which are around 150 pounds, will velcro together instead of being taped and can be handled by a couple of people.

“The costs are a little over $10,000 per mat,” Weaver said. “There are seven sections in one mat. You have to put tape down every time, and it gets expensive. You pay a little bit more for the velcro, but you save a lot of money on the back end.”

The two quotes presented were in the amounts of $41,020 and 44,855.20. The money will be paid from the athletic facilities improvement fund.

While the mats have been resurfaced over time, one of the problems with the mats is that they also harden over time.

“They’re as hard as a desk,” Weaver said at the meeting.

If the mats are resurfaced again, they would be around 6 feet short of IHSAA standards.

“You can resurface the Resilites, but what happens is that you cut off about a foot all the way around,” Weaver said. “The mats we have in the room started out at 42-by-42. Now, they are down to 36-by-36 or 38-by-38. Every time you resurface them, you lose a lot of surface area. Every time they come back, they shrink. You have to give up a lot to resurface them. We’ve had to take scrap mats and fill in where the mat and wall don’t meet.”

Some of the mats have been used for too many years.

“If you ever walked into one of our wrestling rooms and looked at the mats, you would wonder how someone doesn’t get hurt while wrestling,” Weaver said. “One of the mats that we use at the middle school was bought by Barney Scott for Walt Wintin.”

All of the edges of the mats are cracked, and the inside shows. Bacteria and fungi can grow like impetigo, ringworm and MRSA.

“We’re super-excited about that mats. Not only are they going to be a lot better, protecting our kids, but they are easier to keep clean,” Weaver said. “We have some great girls that manage for me that mop the mats before and after practice. We do a good job of keeping it under control, but these mats will make it so much easier.

“I’m really, really glad for the middle school. They needed it so bad. They almost have holes in some parts of the mats. It’s pretty rough down there. It will give them some space to spread out.”

The school will either keep some of the old mats as a safety valve or sell them at auction, Weaver said.

“I don’t know what the school will do with (the old mats),” he said. “There are a couple that I’m sure no one would want but also a couple we ought to keep just in case a freak accident happens. If they do end up selling them, I’m sure they will do it at an auction.”