However, college wrestling appears to be growing as fast as bluegrass in Kentucky, as Midway University -- in the heart of the Bluegrass Region that's home to some of the nation's most famous horse farms -- has announced the addition of an intercollegiate wrestling program for the 2018-19 school year.
Midway University becomes the third college in Kentucky to add the oldest and greatest sport to its roster in the past year or so, joining Bellarmine University which completed its inaugural season in 2016-17, and Kentucky Wesleyan College which revealed its plans for a men's mat program just this past week.
Men's wrestling is just one of the new sports at Midway slated for action next year. In addition, men's volleyball, and women's track and field were approved by the school's Board of Trustees this past week. (A dance squad will join the existing cheerleading program next fall.)
"Adding wrestling here seemed like a natural with Woodford County's rich history and success in this sport," said Rusty Kennedy, Athletics Director. "Add to that the lack of opportunities for young men to wrestle regionally and at the national collegiate level, this seemed like a win-win for both Midway and young men looking for an opportunity to get their education while continuing to participate in their chosen sport."
The addition of wrestling and other sports will continue a wave of changes over the past year or so at Midway University, which had been exclusively a women's school until 2016.
"Going co-ed and expanding athletics last year has truly transformed our campus," said Dr. John P. Marsden, President, Midway University. "We believe a vibrant athletics program enhances our institution and provides a wonderful opportunity for students to earn their degree while playing a sport they love."
"Our athletics programs are showing strong results, but also our student-athletes are performing well in the classroom," Marsden continued. "Midway student-athletes posted a 3.19 GPA in the 2017 spring semester and we had had six teams that were named NAIA Scholar-Teams for the 2016-17 academic year. Additionally, Midway Athletics just received the Gold Level Champions of Character Five-Star Institution honor from the NAIA for the first time in our institution's history, an honor that highlights our dedication to pursuing character-driven athletics."
Midway University competes in the River States Conference and is a member of the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics). This year Midway University has 340 student-athletes participating in 17 sports. With wrestling and the additional sports announced for fall 2018, Midway Athletics will offer competitive opportunities in 20 sports and expand to over 400 student-athletes.
Midway University is located in Midway, Ky., an historic, picturesque small town located (appropriately enough) halfway between Lexington and Louisville, the two largest cities in the state. The private, liberal arts college was founded in 1847 as a women's college, but began admitting men in fall 2016. Current enrollment is approximately 1,200 students. Midway's sports teams -- including wrestling -- are the Eagles.