The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 20, 2013

Gift allows NEO to add some 'wow'

By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer

MIAMI, Okla. — Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College athletics director Dale Patterson believes facilities and recruiting go hand in hand.

If that’s the case, the construction of a $1.3 million Multipurpose Athletic Center to house the Norsemen’s new wrestling program and hitting areas for baseball certainly can’t hurt the cause.

“For athletes, parents and the community, facilities are important,” Patterson said. “This facility will do nothing but help recruiting. We have great coaches, but a coach is only as good as his athletes. We are going to have what may be the best wrestling facility in the country.”

The Multipurpose Athletic Center, which is expected to be complete in July, moved closer to reality as Crossland Construction presented NEO a $100,000 donation for the facility during a luncheon on Friday at the Crossland Athletic Complex. Bennie Crossland, Crossland Construction president, presented the check to NEO president Jeff Hale.

“It gives us a chance to add the ‘wow’ factor,” Patterson said. “We’re going to have a great facility, but this donation gives us a chance to even intensify the way it looks and feels and some of the equipment we’re able to put in there.”

NEO announced in October that it would restart its wrestling program, which previously competed from 1975-1993. The Norsemen also announced in October the hiring of wrestling coach Joe Renfro, who won three national championships at Labette Community College in Parsons, Kan.

Renfro said the facility displays NEO’s commitment to the program.

“It’s a tremendous situation,” Renfro said.

“Can you win a national title without immaculate facilities?” Renfro asked. “Yes, you can. But, gosh, I’d like the facilities, too.”

Renfro said he has 23 wrestlers signed up for the fall, and practices will begin Sept. 1.

“We believe it will be one of the top programs in the country very soon,” Patterson said to those gathered Friday. “No pressure, Coach.”