William Penn announces addition of women's wrestling program

Cody Goodwin
The Des Moines Register

A fourth Iowa college has decided to add a women's wrestling program.

William Penn, in Oskaloosa, announced on Monday that they would be adding a women's wrestling program. The sport will begin competition during the 2020-21 academic year.

“Women’s wrestling is on the rise across the country with more and more high school girls competing each year,” William Penn athletic director Nik Rule said in a release. “Its current status as an intercollegiate sport fits perfectly with William Penn as we continue to develop an athletic department that is ready for the future.

“I am excited for us to start the process to find our first head coach and work throughout the next year to develop the sport on our campus.”

William Penn joins Waldorf, Grand View and Iowa Wesleyan as the only colleges in Iowa that already offer or will offer women's wrestling. Waldorf has had a program since 2010. Grand View announced in January and will compete this upcoming season. Iowa Wesleyan announced in May, and is scheduled to compete in 2020-21.

When the program officially starts competing, it will do so in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), which added women’s wrestling as an invitational sport beginning the 2018-19 academic year. Once 40 schools offer women's wrestling and the sport completes two years at invitational status, it may apply for championship status. Only 25 NAIA schools offered women's wrestling this past season.

Grand View also competes in the NAIA, while Waldorf competes in the Women's Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA). Iowa Wesleyan athletic director Derek Zander said he wasn't sure which association Iowa Wesleyan would compete in.

The NCAA doesn't currently offer women's wrestling as an official sport, but the NCAA did recommend women's wrestling as an "emerging sport" in June. If the recommendation is approved, women’s wrestling, as well as acrobatics and tumbling, would be added as emerging sports Aug. 1, 2020.

Wrestling has grown tremendously here in Iowa. Nearly 200 girls went out for wrestling at some point during 2018-19 season, up from 40 back in 2013-14. What's more, three Iowa girls recently earned All-American honors at the Cadet women's freestyle national championships last month.

A national search for a head coach will begin immediately.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.

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