It’s the first weekend of November. As is normally the case this weekend, I’m taking a road trip to cover a college wrestling event. Typically that means dealing with some nasty elements from Mother Nature. Last year during this same weekend, I was in Colorado and saw the remnants of an unexpected snowstorm that blew through the area. Despite being someone who enjoys the breeze in the air, I always have to remind myself to take a jacket of some sort. This year’s trip was different, though. Instead of heading north or west from my home in Virginia, I’m going south. Way south. To the southernmost school on the eastern seaboard that sponsors a DI wrestling program, The Citadel.
Charleston, South Carolina, is the city where The Citadel calls home. Only a few blocks separate the school’s main campus and a palmetto tree-lined strip of downtown Charleston that features dozens of unique restaurants and shops. The city has been named “America’s Most Friendly City” three times in the last decade by two different publications and “World’s Best City” by Travel + Leisure in 2016. History buffs can stroll down The Battery and catch a glimpse of Fort Sumter, the site where the first shots were fired in the Civil War. Of course, if you’re so inclined, rather than strolling down The Battery, you can go for a run and not have to worry about bundling up, since current temperatures in November have hovered around the 70’s. Needless to say, the area surrounding the school is about as unique as you’ll find for a DI wrestling program.
The team itself for The Citadel has started its 21st year under head coach Rob Hjerling. During that time, four Bulldog wrestlers have earned All-American honors, with two coming in 2013. Dan Thompson’s seventh-place finish at the 2006 NCAA Championships marked the first time in school history that a wrestler made the podium. In Hjerling’s tenure, he has been named SoCon Coach of the Year on two occasions and led the team to a conference championship in 2004. The program received a shot in the arm with the hiring of Cody Cleveland as an assistant coach, before the 2018-19 season. A 2008 All-American for Chattanooga, Cleveland was previously as assistant for three years at the Naval Academy. With Cleveland on board, the team has seen an uptick in their recruiting and put together last weekend’s Battle at The Citadel. The tournament was a success as it hit goals that all coaches want at this time of the year. Competition for their superstars along with their backups, and perhaps most importantly, it ran on-time!
Before the tournament Cody took me around the campus of The Citadel and pointed out some of the important landmarks and gave information about the school itself.
Original Site for The Citadel
The New Business School
The Team Room
After our tour I got to sit down with Cody and talk about a variety of topics, like the 2019-20 team, organizing The Battle of The Citadel, new volunteer assistant Matt Kyler, and misconceptions about the school, itself.