LOCK HAVEN, Pa. -- Lock Haven University has announced plans to add women's wrestling as a varsity sport.
The addition of women's wrestling brings LHU's sport-sponsorship to 20 sports and the team will compete next year during the 2019-20 academic year.
LHU currently sponsors 17 intercollegiate athletic programs including NCAA Division I field hockey and men's wrestling. All other sports compete at the NCAA DII level and within the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC). In August 2018, Lock Haven announced plans to add women's tennis and women's golf. Women's tennis will begin competition next year (2019-20) and women's golf will begin competition in 2020-21.
Currently, there are 58 other women's collegiate wrestling programs throughout the United States and since 2004, women's wrestling has been recognized as an Olympic Sport.
Fellow PSAC institutions Gannon and East Stroudsburg currently sponsor women's wrestling.
The Women's Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA) serves as the governing body for women's college wrestling and competes under international freestyle rules.
"Interest in competitive women's wrestling is on the rise," said LHU President Robert Pignatello. "With Lock Haven's long history of wrestling success, the expansion of our wrestling program to include women's wrestling makes LHU athletics even more competitive. We're excited to provide additional opportunities for current and future women student-athletes to compete at a high level."
Lock Haven's support of women's wrestling follows national trends as over a dozen states now sponsor a state women's wrestling high school championship.
"I am thrilled to create additional participation opportunities for women by adding women's wrestling, one of the fastest growing sports in the country, to Lock Haven University's athletic department offerings," said LHU Director of Athletics, Dr. Tom Gioglio. "LHU is the perfect institution to build an elite women's wrestling program. Our men's wrestling team is rich in history and tradition, and is one of the premier programs in Pennsylvania and is nationally recognized. I believe the women that attend LHU and wrestle will also receive an outstanding education, quality coaching and be able to compete at the sport's highest level. I look forward to working alongside of the new coach to help create one of the top women's wrestling programs in the country."
The National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) has been instrumental in the growth of women's college wrestling.
"The National Wrestling Coaches Association is pleased to add Lock Haven University to its growing list of universities that will receive a startup grant in support of their new women's intercollegiate wrestling program," said NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer. "Lock Haven has a long and storied history in the leadership of collegiate men's wrestling and it comes as no surprise that they are now helping to establish women's intercollegiate wrestling in the Mid-Atlantic region."
Lock Haven University's main campus is located on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in the scenic mountains of Pennsylvania. The university offers 49 undergraduate majors and certifications with 47 minors and five graduate programs. LHU is a member of Pennsylvania's State System, the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas of study. Nearly 520,000 system alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.