Friday, May 15, 2020

Gone, Lost & Forgotten: Their Best = Central Florida

Thus far I have done 91 articles for "Gone, Lost & Forgotten" remembering, recognizing & celebrating the accomplishments of NCAA DI, DII, DIII, NAIA, NJCAA & CCCAA programs that we no longer have on a varsity level.  When it's said and done I imagine I'll have done over 400.  Our sport has been hit exceptionally hard.  To degrees that I don't think many fans realize.  My goals are to showcase these programs & share as much information as I can find with wrestling fans.

The experience has been rewarding for me & I hope for those who read my blog.  It's heartbreaking & depressing, don't get me wrong.  It's in a way like speaking about a beloved dog that passed away years ago or a good friend. You wish they were still around, you're sad & even bitter that they aren't, but you realize that the way you keep them alive is to talk about them.   That's what this has been like for me.

And for the most part I love it.  The research. Finding out interesting facts.  Getting the personal messages from people saying, "Thanks."   I don't do it for that.  I do it because I love the sport & feel that these dropped programs & those coaches and wrestlers who were a part of them deserve acknowledgement.  That's why I do it, but the occasional thank you is cool.   

In all that I will post, there's only one I'm apprehensive about posting and that's this one. 

In 28 years of being involved in the sport, I've met a handful of individuals that I do not like but as far as a collaborative, the only time I've had a negative experience with a team was Central Florida.  It's happened on more than one occasion.  It's been so negative for me that I damn near thought about skipping over this post on Central Florida and not doing it at all. 

I think it's awesome that Central Florida has one of the best NCWA teams in the country.  Wrestlers like Santiago Martinez that are so good, that they're beating Division I competition.   Yet, I find it crude to be attacked with personal insults by members of Central Florida wrestling when predicting NCWA results & accidentally forgetting to name the 165 lbs'er.  I find it trivial the need to be called "dumb@#*" when stating the fact that Central Florida dropped wrestling as a varsity sport after the 1985-1986 season. 

It makes me apprehensive to post this because maybe I'll leave out someone that they feel belonged on the list. Instead of simply saying, "So and so probably should've been on the list", I'm afraid I might be met with, "Moron doesn't know $^*+ about wrestling, forgot to add first name last name."  I don't mean to go on and on about this, but let me say this.  I once flew down to Florida to visit a friend who was dying of cancer. I went down with the intention of doing an article on Central Florida NCWA wrestling.  My experience with representatives was so negative, that I didn't do it.  I visited my friend & spent what was supposed to be the day at Central Florida at Brandon High school instead.  I ended up doing my NCWA spotlight on Iowa State instead.

So with that long tirade out of the way, I bring you what I was able to learn about Central Florida wrestling....

Knights wrestling began in the 1969-1970 season & lasted through the 1985-1986 season.  For all but the last season, Central Florida was NCAA Division II.  They were NCAA Division I in 1985-1986.  To my understanding the move from DII to DI was in part why Central Florida dropped wrestling or at least it had something to do with it.

Rich Dombrowski
158 lbs 
Dombrowski was a two time NCAA Division II All American for the Knights taking sixth place in 1979 & in 1980.
Robert Wimberly
134 lbs 
Wimberly took eighth place honors at the 1980 NCAA Division II tournament.
Trent Smith
142 lbs 
Smith took eighth place honors at the 1984 NCAA Division II tournament
John Schenk
158 lbs 
A state champion out of Tarpon Springs, John Schenk made NCAA Division II All American status with an eighth finish.  Post college he trained in St. Petersburg under three time SEC champion/World Bronze medalist Bob Walker who had wrestled for Alabama.   He went on to coach at River Ridge where he lead his team to a 60-29 dual record, claiming fifth at the 1995 Florida state championships.

Doug Peters

Doug Peters was another All American for the Knights, capturing sixth place honors at the 1980 NCAA Division II tournament.  He later went on to coach wrestling & football while teaching math at Lake Mary high school.

Paul Neuner
190 lbs 
A State champion for Winter Park High school, Paul Neuner became Central Florida's first & only NCAA Division I qualifier when he won a title at the Eastern Regional. 

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