“Pin to win” could well be the Blue Jays new battle cry when Westminster College introduces the first NCAA Division III collegiate women’s and men’s wrestling programs in Missouri next year, it was Thursday afternoon in Fulton.
The wrestling teams were announced by college President Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande, Athletic Director Tracey Braden, and Coaches Tony and Mike Eierman. “We are excited to be adding NCAA Division III wrestling to our outstanding athletics program here at Westminster College,” Akande said. “And, we’re equally proud of the fact our Lady Blue Jay’s wrestling team will be only one of 10 women’s wrestling teams at private colleges and universities in the country.”
Akande said wrestling is a growing collegiate sport, especially in the Midwest. In Missouri alone, he said, there are 6,800 high school male wrestlers, “but no Division III collegiate wrestling programs in the state, where they can continue to pursue their passion for wrestling.”
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Women’s wrestling also is taking off, with more than 13,400 high school female wrestlers competing at state championships in six states, Braden said, adding that there are 31 collegiate women’s wrestling teams on large and small campuses across the U.S.
The Eierman brothers will provide Olympic quality coaching for Westminster wrestlers. Both coaches are well known throughout the Midwest for their competitive wrestling program based in Fulton, and especially for training and coaching wrestling champions, including Olympic Bronze medalist J’den Cox.
Listen to the press conference
Before coming to Mid-Missouri in 2003, Mike was a resident athlete for more than three years at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado, and over his 30-year involvement with the sport, he has trained in many other countries with some of the world’s best wrestlers.
Braden, the coaches, and Vice President of Enrollment Bobby Andrews will lead the development of Blue Jay wrestling into a nationally acclaimed NCAA Division III program, Akande said. The new teams will start competing again rival colleges for the 2017 wrestling season.
“We are excited about the prospects of bringing this high quality athletic program to our campus, and are confident our new wrestling program will help establish a national platform for Blue Jay athletics,” Akande said.