Warner Pacific College Director of Athletics Jamie Joss announced that the College will add men’s and women’s wrestling to its athletics program and begin intercollegiate competition in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) in 2014-15. The search for a head coach and recruitment of student-athletes will begin immediately.
“We’re thrilled to offer a robust athletics program that serves the needs of a wide variety of students,” said Warner Pacific President, Andrea Cook. “I believe men’s and women’s wrestling will provide many students new avenues in which to pursue their higher education goals, while strengthening their character through the principles inherent in Knights Athletics.”
Warner Pacific previously fielded a men’s wrestling program from 1968-75 led by local coaching legend and Warner Pacific Hall of Honor member, Dave Sanville. Under Sanville, the Knights amassed a 58-30-3 record in dual match competition and had 35 individuals qualify for the NAIA National Wrestling Championships including one NAIA All-American. Sanville continued to coach in the high school ranks for many years, including eight years at Bend High School (1976-84), and 17 years at West Linn High School (1984-2001).
“Many top wrestlers in Oregon and Washington are forced to leave the state to pursue college wrestling, while others just stop wrestling after high school,” said Director of Athletics, Jamie Joss. “The return of wrestling at Warner Pacific College provides wrestlers in our region with the opportunity to continue their pursuit of athletic excellence, while providing an outstanding urban Christ-centered liberal arts education. We are very excited to find the right coach to lead both programs and begin recruiting student-athletes who are ready to excel as champions on the mat, in the classroom, and in life.”
The College’s decision to initiate a women’s program is a historic addition for NAIA wrestling. Warner Pacific will become the 15th women’s program in the NAIA, allowing women’s wrestling to become a NAIA Recognized sport. Warner Pacific women’s wrestling will be the third program in Oregon, joining non-NAIA programs at Pacific University and Southwest Oregon Community College.
“Adding the women’s program is a great opportunity for many of the top women’s wrestlers from Washington to stay close to home, while also expanding the recruiting efforts of the College in California and Hawaii,” Joss added.
Women’s wrestling is a recognized Olympic sport, and since 1994, the number of women participating in high school wrestling has grown from 804 to over 8,727. California, Guam, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Texas, and Washington sponsor a girl’s state high school championship, while many girls compete for boys high school teams across the United States.
The Knights women will compete both regionally and nationally in the Women’s College Wrestling Association (WCWA). The National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) added a Women’s Collegiate Division in 2008.
The WCWA is the current governing body for all collegiate women’s wrestling programs at NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA institutions. The WCWA competes in freestyle Olympic wrestling and includes the following weight classes (in pounds): 101, 109, 116, 123, 130, 136, 143, 155, 170 and 191.
The Knights, along with Life University (Ga.), Lyon College (Ark.), and Ottawa University (Kan.), have committed to adding women’s wrestling beginning in 2014-2015. They will join current NAIA women’s wrestling programs including: Oklahoma City University, University of Jamestown (S.D.), Missouri Valley College, Wayland Baptist University (Texas), Missouri Baptist University, University of the Cumberlands (Ky.), Midland University (Neb.), Waldorf College (Iowa), Lindenwood University-Belleville (Mo.), Menlo College (Calif.), and Campbellsville University (Ky.).
Warner Pacific’s men’s program is the fifth intercollegiate team in the state joining Clackamas Community College, Oregon State University, Pacific University and Southern Oregon University.
The men’s sport, which was added by the NAIA in 1958, is currently sponsored by 43 institutions across the United States. The NAIA Wrestling National Championship has 10 men’s weight classes (in pounds): 125, 133, 141, 149, 157, 165, 174, 184, 197 and 285.
There are currently 280,000 high school students actively engaged in wrestling at the secondary education level.