photo courtesy of Indiana Tech athletics
With most colleges back underway, it’s time to look at and salute those that have added women’s wrestling programs. 17 collegiate teams, across four different classifications, are set to hit the mat for the first time in the 2020-21 season. Of course, with all of the fallout from the pandemic and some schools/conference on lockdown and others with fall seasons cancelled/delayed, it’s unclear when these teams may actually wrestle for the first time. As of now, they are scheduled to compete this school year.
We’ve only included the programs which are wrestling at the varsity level in 2020-21. Additionally, the University of the Ozarks and Northern Michigan are set to compete as a club sport this year and will have a full season in 2021-22. They will be included in next year’s edition. Hopefully, that list is twice as big as this one, which is impressive itself.
Carthage Lady Reds – Kenosha, Wisconsin (DIII)
Head Coach: Alberto Quiros
Carthage is the third women’s program to be added in Wisconsin in the last three seasons. The other two, Lakeland and UW-Stevens Point, have already produced national champions. With the blossoming girl’s scene in Wisconsin, there’s no reason to think that Carthage won’t have success early on, as well.
Corban Warriors – Salem, Oregon (NAIA)
Head Coach: Stryder Davis
Look for this program to impact the NAIA sooner, rather than later. Coach Stryder Davis brought in a gigantic freshmen class that garnered an honorable mention notice in TOM’s Class of 2020 recruiting rankings. Ivy Kraight was a top-50 senior in the nation, and joins Grace Nelson, Taylor Ohlson, and Brigid Shannon as freshmen with strong pre-collegiate credentials that could have an impact in year one. Additionally, Kyleigh Lopez, a top-100 wrestler from the Class of 2019, will transfer over from Southern Oregon.
Davenport Panthers – Grand Rapids, Michigan (DII)
Head Coach: Jamie Boyd
Before the 2020-21 season, Michigan had only one women’s college program, but Davenport will be one of two that has been added in the last year. The Panthers will be led by Jamie Boyd, who currently serves as the men’s head coach, as well. The program’s first signee was Hannah Becker, who was a Michigan state runner-up in 2020.
Delaware Valley Aggies – Doylestown, Pennsylvania (DIII)
Head Coach: Leigh Jaynes
The Delaware Valley program was supposed to start in 2019-20, but ended up getting pushed back a year. At the helm in year one for the Aggies is 2015 World bronze medalist Leigh Jaynes. It’s always great to see notable women’s wrestlers have the opportunity to lead as a head coach and Jaynes will undoubtedly be a great mentor to build the program around. She has assembled a small group primarily from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York to get the program rolling in 2020-21.
Elmira Soaring Eagles – Elmira, New York (DIII)
Head Coach: Cody Griswold
New York finally has a four-year school that offers women’s wrestling with Elmira’s addition (Currently Nassau CC does also). That is important since New York has excelled in Fargo of late. The first group of Screaming Eagles wrestlers hail primarily from the northeast. Expect to see that trend continue as head coach Cody Griswold has coached for the last five years in Vermont. He’s also a Connecticut native.
Emory & Henry Wasps – Emory, Virginia (DIII)
Head Coach: Pete Hansen
Emory & Henry is a DIII school that has added a men’s and women’s program for the Fall of 2020. Andreia Langley is currently the only woman on the Wasp’s roster. She was a transfer from Ferrum, who previously had the state’s lone women’s program. Once the program is up and running, they could be a nice geographical rival for King University, who is only about 25 miles away.
Greensboro Pride – Greensboro, North Carolina (DIII)
Head Coach: Kevin Birmingham
In February, Greensboro became the first school in North Carolina to offer women’s wrestling at the collegiate level, though they were later matched by St. Andrews. The Pride will be led by Kevin Birmingham, a four-year starter for Davidson. Birmingham coaches the men’s team and has been with the school since the 2017-18 season. Participation has doubled at North Carolina’s unsanctioned state tournament from 2019 to 2020, so there should be some good in-state prospects to scoop up in the next few years.
Hastings Broncos – Hastings, Nebraska (NAIA)
Head Coach: Cara Romeike
2019 NAIA runner-up for Jamestown, Cara Romeike, has been pegged to lead the Hastings program during their first year of existence. Romeike’s first roster is of women from Arizona, Idaho, and Utah. The latter makes sense because Romeike spent the last year coaching girls at the high school level in Utah. In addition to those areas, expect to see some of the future Bronco wrestlers come from her home state of Texas, which is always a great place to recruit.
Indian Hills CC Falcons – Ottumwa, Iowa (NJCAA)
Head Coach: Cole Spree
With three new programs in 2020-21 after another last year, Iowa is really making a push at the collegiate level. Hopefully, that translates to the high school scene, as well. Some of Iowa’s top high school seniors will be competing for Indian Hills this year with state champion Chloe Clemons and runner-up Kari German. One of the many out-of-state additions is Heaven-Leigh Jackson, who was a four-time Florida state medalist that racked up 100 wins competing against boys.
Indiana Tech Warriors – Fort Wayne, Indiana (NAIA)
Head Coach: Paul Rademacher
The new program with the highest-ranked recruiting class was Indiana Tech’s, who was labeled #11 in the country by TOM. Coach Paul Rademacher has a handful of women who will make an impact on the college scene immediately. Autumn Terhune and Jaden Johnson are two Indiana products that finished the year nationally ranked. Tehani Soares was a Junior freestyle All-American in Fargo and Samantha Snow is a top-six finisher in California. If this group pans out as expected, they’ll be a factor at NAIA nationals in 2021. Indiana Tech was the first school in the state to offer women’s wrestling at the collegiate level.
Iowa Wesleyan Tigers – Mount Pleasant, Iowa (DIII)
Head Coach: Shawn Contos
Another Iowa program getting underway this year is Iowa Wesleyan, which will be the state’s first at the NCAA level. The Tigers will be led by Shawn Contos, who will also coach Iowa Wesleyan’s men’s team. Coach Contos has a strong coaching pedigree after spending time at Penn State and Iowa State as the team’s strength coach, under Cael Sanderson.
Lincoln College Lynx – Lincoln, Illinois (NAIA)
Head Coach: Jordon Bakely
With Illinois sanctioning women’s wrestling in 2021-22, expect the sport to blow up in the state. It produces excellent wrestlers on the boy’s side, so there’s no reason to think more high school girls won’t be involved. One of the beneficiaries could be Lincoln College. The first Lynx roster features six of seven women that hail from Illinois. One of those is Miranda Wesolowski, a Tiffin transfer, that had plenty of experience and accolades at the high school level.
Lourdes Gray Wolves – Sylvania, Ohio (NAIA)
Head Coach: Kate Hill
The first head coach for Lourdes is Kate Hill. Kate was an All-American and integral part of Campbellsville’s 2018 WCWA National Title-winning team. Hill later served as a graduate assistant at the school. Lourdes will feature one of the best freshmen in the nation, new school or old school, with Stefana Jelacic. Stefana was a Cadet National Champion in Fargo in 2017 and also placed fourth at the Junior level. Also in 2017, she was fifth at the Cadet World Team Trials. She could put Lourdes on the map right away, with a high finish at NAIA’s.
New Jersey City Gotham Knights – Jersey City, New Jersey (DIII)
Head Coach: Elena Pirozhkova
The New Jersey City program is the first women’s collegiate team in the state of New Jersey. Heading up the program is 2x Olympian and World Champion Elena Priozhkova. The Gotham Knights have a pair of excellent freshmen from in-state, Johnae Drumright and Sondra Guerrero, that will lead the way in year one. Drumright was a state runner-up, while Guerrero was undefeated and pinned 21 of 22 opponents.
St. Andrews Knights – Laurinburg, North Carolina (NAIA)
Head Coach: Nick Soto
The second program from North Carolina we’re discussing is NAIA St. Andrews. The head coach, Nick Soto, was a standout and four-time DI national qualifier for Chattanooga. Currently, Soto’s team has a lone wrestler on the roster, Chloe Hardy. Chloe is a two-sport star and will also play softball at St. Andrews.
Trine Thunder – Angola, Indiana (DIII)
Head Coach: Amy Hildebrandt
A second Indiana program starting in 2020-21 is Trine. The first head coach for the Thunder is Indiana-native Amy Hildebrandt. With roots in the state and a history of coaching at the high school level, Amy should be able to do well recruiting in Indiana. Additionally, Amy assists her sister, World silver medalist Sarah, so she may eventually play some role with the program or come in to train on occasion. That factor is another that will help with recruiting.
William Penn Statesmen – Oskaloosa, Iowa (NAIA)
Head Coach: Tucker Black
The newest addition to the NAIA ranks from Iowa is William Penn. Their program will fall under the direction of Tucker Black, who had wrestled at Northern Iowa, North Iowa Area CC, and Upper Iowa. Black’s first recruiting class features a pair of wrestlers from Iowa City West High School, Mami Selemani and Salima Omari. The bulk of the class comes in from around the nation. State champions from New Mexico (Angelita Altamirano) and Illinois (Samantha Ruano) are some of the notables.