The Waldorf wrestling team is set to take center stage – literally. Waldorf University announced earlier this week that they would host a wrestling dual at the Boman Fine Arts Center against St. Ambrose University on January 26th.
University athletic director Chad Gassman told KIOW that men’s wrestling head coach Ryan Dickinson approached him with the idea in the fall. After a few phone calls and research, Gassman says similar events have taken place, and they were sold on the idea.
The Boman Fine Arts Center is the result of an extensive fundraising effort, with the groundbreaking ceremony taking place in 2017 and the official grand opening in October 2018. The 21st-century performing arts center was a collaboration of the Forest City school district, city of Forest City, and Waldorf University to improve the importance of fine arts within the community. The 10 million dollar project concluded with a 630 seat theater, main floor lobby, art gallery, and an upper-level mezzanine with available seating for 200 people and an overall capacity of 323.
The complex has hosted concerts, drama performances, talent acts; Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and LTG. Governor Adam Gregg have toured. The facility has even hosted oral arguments for an Iowa Supreme Court case, but never a sporting event. Gassman said once all the proper channels had approved the event, his staff and Dickinson started meeting to work on the logistics. Wrestling on a raised stage in a theater is entirely different from the flat gym floor inside the Hanson Fieldhouse.
The event is also billed as a homecoming for first-year St. Ambrose coach Bo Bettinson. Bettinson, a former wrestler and coach at Waldorf, won 105 matches and qualified for nationals in all four seasons from 2011-2014. While wrestling at Waldorf, Bettinson received his BA in Foundations of Education and then stayed at Waldorf as a graduate assistant. He received his MA in Organizational Leadership and Sports management. Following his time at Waldorf, Bettinson spent 2017-2020 at Montana State University-Northern, an assistant coach, before taking over as the head coach for the Fighting Bees this season.
The event comes at a perfect time for a Waldorf wrestling program reaching new heights under Dickinson, who is in his third season. In November, they won their first dual meet since 2017, taking down Graceland at home 30-24. Their room includes almost 20 wrestlers, 14 of which are either freshman or sophomores showing a bright future for the program. Gassman is also encouraged with the program’s progress and explains this event will hopefully bring more exposure to the program university, and the community.
The university will sell 600 seats for the event, and VIP tickets are on sale now for preorder. VIP fans will get a T-shirt, autographed poster, prime seating, and a drawstring bag. They will also have a silent auction with various items, including a giant felt banner; the team will be donating time to work, autographed and framed singlet, and season tickets to Waldorf Athletics.