The Southwestern College Board of Trustees has approved the addition of a women’s wrestling program at the school, with the inaugural season slated for 2018-19.

The college has launched a search for a coach to build the program.

“After much deliberation and research, and in full conversation with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC), we are enthusiastic to add women’s wrestling at SC,” Southwestern College President Brad Andrews said. “We are excited for the class of students that the sport will bring to campus and proud to be one of the first schools in Kansas to award scholarships to these student-athletes.”

High school and club wrestling for girls has grown rapidly in the past decade. Initially in Texas, New Mexico and California, now the sport is experiencing considerable growth throughout the country.

Institutions of higher education are beginning to respond to the emerging sport by offering programs for student-athletes to continue at a collegiate level.

 “There are a lot of extremely talented athletes who are deserving of the opportunity to continue development in their sport while earning a valuable education,” Southwestern College athletic director Matt Shelton said. “I’m thrilled that we are going to offer an opportunity for these women to do just that and to become Builders.”

Southwestern’s program will be the fourth in the KCAC. The KCAC joined the Mid-South Conference, based in Kentucky, in August of 2017 as the first two conferences to offer women’s wrestling in the NAIA. Southwestern will be 40th intercollegiate varsity women’s program in the country.

“In just two years, the conference has seen women’s wrestling grow from two programs at Ottawa University and University of Saint Mary in 2016-17 to the addition of three Associate Members (University of Jamestown, Midland University and Missouri Valley College) for competition in 2017-18 to seven teams with the recent announcement at York College of their Women’s Wrestling program in 2018-19 paired with Southwestern College’s announcement today,” KCAC Commissioner Scott Crawford said. “We could not be more pleased about the positive impact Southwestern College’s implementation of women’s wrestling will have for the conference as the NAIA works toward establishing women’s wrestling as an eventual national championship sport.”

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