ALLIANCE, Ohio – The University of Mount Union’s Board of Trustees has voted affirmatively to add women’s wrestling to the intercollegiate athletic program. The team is slated to start competition in the fall of 2024.
“The addition of women’s wrestling marks an exciting new chapter in Mount Union athletics,” said Mount Union Director of Athletics Mike Parnell. “Our strong tradition in men’s wrestling will assist in building a highly competitive program for the women.”
Women’s wrestling is one of the fastest-growing sports at the high school and collegiate levels and is expanding rapidly among Division III, Ohio Athletic Conference, and other Ohio colleges and universities. Mount Union’s program will be developed under the leadership of Men’s Wrestling Head Coach Ryan Riggs.
“Today's news is incredible for women’s wrestling,” said Riggs. “I’m thrilled Mount Union will provide a student-athlete championship experience for both our Purple Raider men and women!”
According to the National Wrestling Coaches Association, the number of females who wrestle in high school has grown from 804 to more than 50,000 since 1994. In 2023, women's high school wrestling participation numbers are higher than the NCAA-sponsored sports of crew, fencing, skiing and rifle and NCAA emerging sports of rugby, sand volleyball and equestrian.
In addition, the National Federation of State High School Associations reports that the number of high school girls participating in wrestling has increased 55% since 2021-2022. Today, 36 states offer separate state wrestling championships for girls.
At the collegiate level, women’s wrestling is currently offered at 169 institutions competing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), per data provided by the Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Coalition website. It became an NCAA emerging sport in 2020-2021, and Mount Union’s team will become the 60th Division III program and the fourth in the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC).
The addition of the women’s wrestling will bring the total number of athletic teams at Mount Union to 25. Mount Union currently sponsors intercollegiate athletic teams in baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, football, men's and women's golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's track and field (indoor and outdoor), men’s and women's volleyball and men’s wrestling.