AZTEC – Longtime Aztec coach Herb Stinson envisioned a new training facility to preserve and enhance the culture within the Tigers wrestling program.
Four years and roughly $465,000 in community funds later, that dream was finally unveiled to the public today.
"The kids are wowed by (this facility) when they see it. I come in here, sit and look at it, and I'm wowed by it," said Stinson, who returned in 2012 as an assistant coach. "Here in Aztec, we have a very rich culture in wrestling. We were the first school in San Juan County to have a wrestling program in 1956... We were way ahead of the game."
The new 5,000-square-foot facility is twice the size of the previous training room, equipped with two mats, multiple banners, bleachers for fans to sit on, frames and a state tournament countdown clock, among other features.
"For our numbers and the amount of teams that practice in here, it's going to be very beneficial to the kids," Aztec wrestling coach Monte Maxwell said. "The kids seem pretty excited about it."
It'll also provide extra space should the Aztec Tiger Duals wrestling meet at Lillywhite Gym become overcrowded with competitors. That way, one won't have to stand around and wait to simply warm up for a match.
And starting in June 2020, anyone can come in to the new facility for open mat time every other Saturday.
As a treat for patrons who stopped by, some of the returning Tiger wrestlers hit the mats to demonstrate some of the routine training they go through.
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.