It is the second Minnesota college to add the sport, following Augsburg University
April 10, 2023 – Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls, Minn., will soon be the second college in Minnesota with a women’s wrestling program. Northland announced today the addition of women’s wrestling as a varsity sport, set to begin competition in 2023-24. Adding women’s wrestling will bring the total number of varsity athletic teams at Northland to nine (four women’s, three men’s, and two co-ed).
Northland is the first Minnesota College Athletic Conference member to add women’s wrestling. Augsburg University is Minnesota’s only other school offering women’s collegiate wrestling.
“We are excited to announce the addition of women’s wrestling to our sports offerings,” said Northland President Dr. Sandy Kiddoo. “It’s pioneering efforts like this that create so many opportunities for students to continue their athletic careers while accessing higher education.”
Women’s wrestling is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States. According to the National Wrestling Coaches Association, since 1994, the number of women who wrestle in high school has grown from 804 to more than 31,000. More than 30 states sanction an official scholastic state championship, and in the 2021-22 season, the National Junior College Athletic Association added women’s wrestling as an emerging sport. A national invitational tournament was held concurrently with the men’s national championship tournament in 2023, with 14 teams participating.
Head Coach Brandon Ballard, who also oversees the men’s program, hopes to bring in five to eight wrestlers for the inaugural women’s season, with a long-term goal of having at least 20 wrestlers on both the men’s and women’s rosters. The Pioneers will wrestle a full schedule to get rostered wrestlers 15 to 20 matches each.
“Establishing our women’s program will be a boost for Pioneers athletics as well as our overall community,” Ballard said. “We want the young women we bring to campus to be good role models and leaders who will help lay a solid foundation for the program. I’m eager to see the program grow and take off.”
Other collegiate women’s wrestling programs in the region include the University of Jamestown, Minot State University, and Dickinson State University in North Dakota; Dakota Wesleyan University in South Dakota; as well as Iowa community colleges Ellsworth, Indian Hills, Iowa Central, Iowa Lakes, Iowa Western, and North Iowa Area.
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