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Div. III Cornell College adds women's wrestling as 20th varsity sport

by Cornell College Athletics

MOUNT VERNON – Cornell College has announced the addition of women's wrestling as its 20th NCAA Division III intercollegiate varsity sport with competitions starting in the 2023-24 academic year.

Cornell becomes the 11th college women's wrestling program in Iowa that already competes or plans to by at least 2023-24. The Rams join two other Iowa Division III institutions in Wartburg and Simpson.

"Wrestling has been a cornerstone of Cornell Athletics, and we are delighted to provide competitive opportunities for women and build on the rich history of our storied program," Cornell Director of Athletics Seth Wing said. "Cornell is a proud leader in the movement for women's intercollegiate wrestling, which has seen tremendous growth and popularity across the country. Today is a giant step for the College as we continue to enhance the student-athlete experience."

The NCAA recognized women's wrestling as an emerging sport in 2020 for all three divisions. Currently, there are 110 institutions nationwide that will have competitive varsity women's wrestling teams in the next two years, including 29 in Division III.

Other Iowa schools include Division I University of Iowa, NAIA's Grand View, Iowa Wesleyan, Waldorf, William Penn and NJCAA's Indian Hills, Iowa Central and Iowa Western.

"Adding women to our historically accomplished wrestling program at Cornell is a step in the right direction to providing opportunities for representation and success of female athletes," said Cornell Senior Women's Administrator and Assistant Women's Basketball Coach Lindsay Knake. "We are confident that at Cornell, our women's wrestling student-athletes will have a chance to perform at a high level both athletically and academically."

In Iowa, more than 600 girls participated in high school wrestling last year. The Iowa state championships attracted more than 450 female competitors in 2021. Girls wrestling is currently sanctioned for high school competition in 32 states.

With the addition of women's wrestling, Cornell now sponsors 10 men's sports and 10 women's sports in its varsity athletics program. Men's and women's lacrosse were the last programs added in 2015.

A national search is underway for Cornell's first head women's wrestling coach. Cornell is accepting applications through Feb. 15, 2022. The coach is expected to be named by early April and begin official duties on July 1, 2022.

Collegiate women's wrestling is classified as a winter sport with competitions held from October-February. The Women's Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA) governs the sport and has overseen the national championships since 2008.

Joining their men's counterparts, Cornell's women's wrestlers will practice in the Meredith Wrestling Complex that features two new full-sized mats along with strength and cardio equipment. Competitions will be held in the main gym of the Small Sport Center.

Women's wrestling will benefit from a $19 million renovation and expansion of the Richard and Norma Small Athletic and Wellness Center (SAW), projected to be completed by Fall 2022.

Cornell's men's wrestling program carries a rich tradition and history of excellence that spans nearly 100 years. The acclaimed 1947 Dream Team accomplished an unparalleled feat by winning NCAA and AAU national championships in the same year. They are the first team ever enshrined in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Cornell wrestling is home to 81 all-Americans, nine NCAA individual champions and eight Olympians. Cornell owns 33 top-20 team finishes at the NCAA Championships, including nine such performances since 2007.

Cornell will hold a zoom conference for the media from 4:30-5 p.m. Wednesday. Contact Sports Information Director Kerry Kahl at for zoom details.