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Limestone College to add women’s wrestling program

By Limestone College | April 30, 2018, 12:44 p.m. (ET)

GAFFNEY, S.C. - Limestone College officials have announced the addition of women's wrestling as a varsity sport, with 2019-20 expected to serve as the inaugural season.

The addition of women's wrestling comes on the heels of Limestone announcing earlier this year that it is adding an Acrobatics & Tumbling squad that will begin competition in February of 2019. Limestone Athletics now fields 25 intercollegiate sports at the NCAA Division II level.

"The addition of women's wrestling will be a tremendous asset to the College and this region," said Limestone President Dr. Darrell Parker. "We have wonderful facilities already in place. We are proud to be among the pioneers who are offering collegiate women's wrestling in South Carolina, and we believe this will encourage other schools in the area to add the sport as well. The addition of women's wrestling enables Limestone to continue to be a leader in higher education and Division II athletics."

A timeline for the development of the women's wrestling program is being finalized, with an anticipated start during the '19-'20 academic year.

"We are excited for the opportunity to support a growing sport and provide an opportunity for women to continue to compete at the collegiate level," noted Mike Cerino, Limestone's Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics. "We will become an even more sought-after wrestling program by diversifying and offering a female team that provides access and opportunities to young women that few other colleges do at this time."

During its recent regularly scheduled spring meeting, at the recommendation of its Athletics Committee, the Limestone Board of Trustees officially voted to move forward with adding women's wrestling. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the College were officially notified of the new sport on Monday, April 30, before the news was released to the general public.

The addition of wrestling and acrobatics & tumbling will provide 13 female-sponsored sports for Limestone, not including competitive cheer and dance. It will also dramatically increase the total number of female student-athletes enrolled at the College. The average squad size for acrobatics & tumbling is 26, while the majority of women's wrestling programs across the country boast an average squad size of over 30 student-athletes.

The Saints will compete in the National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association (NCATA) and are expected to become members of the Women's Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA).

Women's wrestling is considered one of the fastest growing sports at the scholastic and collegiate levels. Since 1994, the number of females who wrestle in high school has grown from 804 to over 11,000. Women's wrestling has been recognized as an Olympic sport since 2004.

Under the direction of head coach Kaelyn Cowan, Limestone has already started the process of recruiting acrobatics & tumbling student-athletes for the 2018-19 season.

Limestone Trustees also opted recently, at the recommendation of its Athletics Committee, to discontinue its men's and women's swim teams.