Still recovering from the eliminations of college teams in recent years, wrestling took another big blow Tuesday when the International Olympic Committee recommended the sport be discontinued in the Olympics after 2016.
At Boise State, which has produced an Olympian in Charles Burton (fifth place in freestyle at 85 kilograms in 2000), the news was unexpected, as coaches and players found out via social media or on the radio.
"I was shocked, I was in disbelief, thinking there's no way they can do this," Boise State coach Greg Randall said. " I'm upset."
The 15-person IOC executive committee's decision is not final, as it will consider adding sports for 2020 in May, with a final decision due in September.
Randall and others around the Boise State wrestling program expressed concern about the lasting effect of losing the sport as an Olympic competition - Randall said "It's what you grow up (wanting) to be - an Olympic champion."
"It's kind of heartbreaking to see it dwindle away like that," former Boise State wrestler Andrew Hochstrasser said. "Coaching little kids, their dreams are definitely changing course."
The IOC has stated recently it wants to draw younger viewers in its international television market and on Tuesday in a statement said it wants to remain "relevant to sports fans of all generations."
The United States has won 113 freestyle wrestling medals, most of any nation.
Without having an Olympic medal to compete for, some fear strong wrestlers may find other sports in which to partake, or other careers altogether.
"It probably will change plans for a lot of guys," said Boise State senior Jason Chamberlain, a 2016 Olympic hopeful. "Will wrestling for a world title be enough, or might they want something more?"
Former USA Wrestling freestyle developmental coach Dave Bennett, a Boise resident, said there had been talks in recent years of eliminating Greco-Roman wrestling from the Olympics, but eliminating Greco-Roman and freestyle simultaneously "was a real shock."
"I think if this becomes final, you'll begin to a see snowball effect throughout wrestling that nobody can even begin to calculate," Bennett said.
Many club and high school programs focus on freestyle wrestling in the offseason, which could alter how the sport is coached should the decision be upheld.
"I think it might have an impact at the NCAA level, and the fear is where it will go from there," Kuna High coach Pat Owens said. "It's definitely worrisome. It could turn some kids away."
Columbia High coach Todd Cady said even if the sport is not in the Olympics, youth coaching could focus on one style, namely the folkstyle used in college, not the two at the Olympic level.
"In the end, if anything good comes of it, it could be something that will unify," Cady said.
At the collegiate level, Randall pointed to the recent successes of schools such as Iowa, Oklahoma State and Penn State as having one thing in common - all have a head coach who is a gold medal winner.
"You take that away and it might level the playing field a little bit," Randall said. "You could see teams dropping off."
Tuesday's decision came as an unexpected takedown, but the hope the sport can continue in the Olympics hasn't been counted out yet. Multiple Facebook pages titled "Save Olympic Wrestling" popped up Tuesday, with one having more than 40,000 "likes" a few hours after its creation.
"At first I felt insulted, but then I thought about the wrestlers' mentality, the passion, the diligence, and I thought maybe it won't end before 2020," Cady said.
With more than six months until the decision will be made final or reversed, many are optimistic the wrestling federations of the more than 70 countries that competed in the 2012 Olympics will team up to get the decision overturned.
"The good part is this is going to be worldwide, this isn't just going to be an American fight," Randall said.
With the future past 2016 unknown, it makes some post-collegiate wrestlers need to make the most of the next three-plus years. Hochstrasser will compete in the Medved International in Belarus next month as he seeks an Olympic berth in Rio de Janiero after taking fourth at the Olympic Trials in April. Chamberlain, who redshirted last year to compete in the Trials, is ranked No. 2 in Division I at 149 pounds and will also vie for a 2016 bid.
"It definitely changes my path - I know I could wrestle two more Olympic cycles," Chamberlain said. "What it means now is I'm that much more excited for 2016, because that might be my last shot."
As they await the final decision of the IOC, the wrestlers and coaches are hopeful the sport's powers can band together to keep the ancient sport in the Games, but also realize it won't go the way of chariot racing.
"You can't get rid of wrestling," Chamberlain said. "Even if it isn't in the Olympics, there are a lot of dedicated people that will keep it alive."
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_southorn