The Benedictine College Ravens will be wrestling, starting in fall 2012.
Benedictine, a 1900-student, Catholic liberal arts colege in Atchison, Kan., announced Tuesday it would add intercollegiate wrestling starting with the 2012-13 school year. The program will compete in the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.)
According to the school, the search for a head wrestling coach will be begin immediately, with the expectation of having the position filled during the 2011-2012 school year to allow for recruiting and other preparation for the Ravens taking to the mat in the following year.
“There are many kids who are wrestling at the high school level with nowhere to go to pursue this sport at the collegiate level,” said Charlie Gartenmayer, Benedictine’s Athletic Director.
Why wrestling? According to Gartenmayer, in addition to seeing a need to help give high school students an outlet to pursue an education while competing in wrestling, the addition will help enhance Benedictine’s enrollment.
What’s more, many of the remaining 10 schools that will form the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) in 2011-12 indicated at the recent HAAC Council of Presidents meetings that wrestling was a sport where they would most likely expand.
Right now, Missouri Valley College and Baker University are the only two HAAC schools that currently have wrestling and are remaining in the conference. Lindenwood University also offers wrestling but will be leaving the conference at the end of the current school year.
Benedictine finds itself surrounded by NAIA mat programs. There are 16 NAIA schools with wrestling in the surrounding states of Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.
Benedictine will become the fourth four-year college in Kansas to offer intercollegiate wrestling, joining established programs at Baker University and Newman University. In February, a third school — Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan. — announced it would be launching a wrestling program for fall 2011. In addition, four community colleges in Kansas — Colby, Labette, Neosho and Pratt — offer wrestling.
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