Centenary University NJ will add a women’s wrestling team


Centenary University will soon be the second university in New Jersey to offer a women’s wrestling program.

The university on Thursday announced plans to launch the D-III program by next year. Recruitment is currently underway for the program’s first coach and an inaugural roster, university officials said.

The women’s wrestling team will be the second of its kind in New Jersey as more universities take advantage of the sport’s growing popularity in the tri-state area. In 2021, New Jersey City University made history by creating the state’s first collegiate wrestling program for women.

“Women’s wrestling is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States,” university president Bruce Murphy said in a statement. “Centenary’s new women’s wrestling team aligns with the goals of our strategic plan to grow the University, while providing academic and extracurricular opportunities that enrich the experience of a more diverse group of students.”

Girls’ and women’s wrestling, a longtime Olympic sport, has exploded in popularity in New Jersey in recent years — sparked by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s decision to sanction the sport in 2019. The following year , Bergen County hosted its first girls’ wrestling tournament. . The event has since become an annual tradition. Growth at the lower level naturally led to growth at the collegiate level, as the girls aged out of the younger divisions and were eager to continue wrestling.

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Women’s wrestling has been an Olympic sport since 2004. The number of women wrestling in high school has grown from 804 in 1994 to more than 31,654 in 2022, according to the National Wrestling Coaches Association.

Recognized as an NCAA Emerging Sport in 2020 for all three collegiate divisions, women’s wrestling is sanctioned for high school competition in 36 states, including New Jersey. The Centennial Program will be one of two NCAA college programs in the state, although several other colleges and universities offer the sport at the club level or allow women to compete on men’s teams.

Centenary, in Hackettstown, plans to build on the success of its existing men’s wrestling program to build the women’s team. Both teams will share facilities.

“Centenary has a long and proud reputation for men’s wrestling, producing many National Qualifiers and All-Americans,” Rose Haller, the university’s associate athletic director, said in a statement. “We anticipate that the University’s new women’s program will continue in this proud tradition.

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