Newberry to add women's wrestling program in 2024
NEWBERRY, S.C. -- Newberry College will add women's wrestling as an intercollegiate sport beginning in the 2024-25 academic year. The addition was approved unanimously by the college's Board of Trustees.
"Women's wrestling is a rapidly growing sport, both regionally and nationally. Adding this program is a major step forward, part of Newberry College's commitment to growing opportunities for female student-athletes," said Newberry College Director of Athletics Sean Johnson.
The college will hire a head coach this summer to recruit a roster for competition.
There are currently 55 NCAA schools that sponsor women's wrestling, 20 of them in Division II, including Emmanuel, Emory & Henry, King, Lincoln Memorial, and the University of Mount Olive. Other participating institutions in the region include Presbyterian (D-I), Campbellsville (NAIA), Cumberlands (NAIA), Ferrum (D-III), Greensboro (D-III), Life (NAIA), Montreat (NAIA), and St. Andrews (NAIA).
High school girls' wrestling has grown exponentially, with participation growing from 35,653 participants in 2022 to 52,406 in 2023: an increase of 16,753 wrestlers in one year. In South Carolina, 190 wrestlers represented 40 schools at the state high school tournament.
"We are so very grateful for the Newberry College administration's recognition of the educational value and diversity that women's wrestling will bring to their campus," said Mike Moyer, executive director of the National Wrestling Coaches Association. "Newberry College proved when it added men's wrestling in 2004 that they could be nationally relevant and competitive in a very short period of time. This is just another example of Newberry College being a trailblazer in intercollegiate athletics. This announcement represents the 158th intercollegiate women's team, and the 90th NCAA-affiliated program, that will be competing across America."
"We're thrilled about Newberry College's decision to add women's wrestling as an intercollegiate sport, as it will create more opportunities for women to attend college and compete in athletics," said Sally Roberts, founder and CEO of Wrestle Like A Girl. "With nearly 40% of female wrestlers competing at the NCAA level identifying as first-generation college students, and another 45% identifying as non-white, Newberry's decision will help drive a united goal to provide more opportunities for girls and women."
Women's collegiate wrestling competes in freestyle wrestling, which differs from the folkstyle rules used in men's collegiate wrestling. Freestyle wrestling emphasizes exposure points, while folkstyle emphasizes controlling your opponent. Women's wrestling also competes in different weight classes, including 101, 109, 116, 123, 130, 136, 143, 155, 170 and 191 pounds.
Women's wrestling and women's acrobatics & tumbling, which will also launch in 2024, will become Newberry College's 23rd and 24th NCAA Division II sports.