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OCU wrestling program finds home in a former church



OKLAHOMA CITY- Oklahoma City University wrestling coach Archie Randall began preparing for the school's new wrestling program in February, but until this summer, he wasn't sure where the team was going to practice.

After renovations to the former Bethel Assembly of God Church at N.W. 30th Street and Kentucky are completed later this month, the wrestling team-the first at OCU since the 1930s-will have a place to call home.

The university purchased the church about two months ago and has converted the sanctuary area into a 74 by 32-foot wrestling room. Several offices and a kitchen will be kept intact, a large meeting room will be converted to a locker room, showers will be added and the roof will be replaced.

"We looked at facilities all over the place," Randall said. "When we're done with the renovations, this will look real nice."

The demolition of Fredrickson Fieldhouse last year left the university with reduced gym space. Fredrickson served as the home basketball court for OCU from the 1950s until 2000. It was dismantled after engineers determined the structure was unsound.

OCU's first wrestling competition is set for Oct. 27 at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. The team's first home dual is scheduled for Dec. 7 against Newman (Kan.) at 7 p.m. at Abe Lemons Arena.

 "OCU has a tradition of excellence in athletics and we want to be as competitive as the rest of the programs," Randall said. "It usually takes two or three years to be competitive. We'd like to do it in a year."

Randall has signed 25 wrestlers for the 2006-2007 season, including seven NCAA Division I transfers. All of this year's wrestlers will be freshmen and sophomores.
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