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Kansas' Cowley College to add wrestling in 2017

Cowley County Community College has made it official: it will add intercollegiate wrestling starting in fall 2017.

The board of trustees at the two-year college, located in Arkansas City, Kan. south of Wichita, approved the plan to launch a mat program at the monthly board meeting held Monday.

Back in January, Cowley College's board approved a study, conducted by college administrators, to see about the feasibility of adding a wrestling program. This week, the board approved the results of that study.

In addition, the board also made the recommendation to retain former Arkansas City High School wrestling coach Wayne Jackson as a consultant to Cowley College athletic director Shane Larson if Coach Jackson is willing. Jackson led the Bulldog program from 1979 to 2000 and won a record 13 Kansas State Team championships during his tenure.

The Ark City High wrestling team's accomplishments included the success of 150 individual state placers and 57 individual state champions. Coach Jackson has remained involved with the program since stepping down in 2000.

During Monday's meeting, Larson provided the Cowley board with a feasibility study that showed the benefits of adding a new athletic program at the college. Four sports were taken into consideration in the study. The study showed there is a large recruiting base in the region to support the addition of a wrestling program at Cowley College. The NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) allows 18 scholarships for wrestling, and most intercollegiate programs carry rosters of 30-35 athletes.

The study also showed the popularity of wrestling in the Cowley County region could lead to more participation in the Tiger Booster Club and provide an opportunity for increased enrollment.

Along with the study, Larson provided the board with printed emails and letters from individuals supporting the startup of a wrestling program at Cowley College.

Larson said the college will look to hire a head wrestling coach in early 2017, allowing the new coach time to assemble a roster and schedule matches before Cowley wrestlers would start competition in fall 2017.

Cowley County Community College got its start in 1922 as the Arkansas City Junior College. For the first 30 years of its existence, the school was located in the basement of the Arkansas City High School. The school gained its own campus in 1950, and was renamed Cowley County Community College and Vocational-Technical School in 1965. According to the school's website, Cowley has approximately 5,000 students.

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