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IWU adding women's wrestling, reinstating men's team after 23 years

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Illinois Wesleyan University is adding a women's wrestling team, and reinstating the men's team that the university ended in 1985.

In its quest to build enrollment, Illinois Wesleyan University is adding a women's wrestling team, and also reinstating men's wrestling that ended in 1985 after 23 years of competition.

The liberal arts college in Bloomington has a history of adding growing and popular niche sports such as lacrosse and videogaming in an effort to boost options for prospective students considering enrolling at the school. A year ago, IWU added women's bowling.

IWU said women's wrestling is one of the fastest-growing high school sports, and the NCAA has designated it as an emerging sport. More than 40 NCAA Division III colleges have teams.

Illinois Wesleyan athletic director Mike Wagner said the additions will bring IWU's athletic offerings to 26 programs in the 2023-24 academic year. Both programs will compete at the Shirk Center.

"We are committed to building programs that will compete for conference and national championships as the two sports add to our strong athletic history," said Wagner.

Men's and women's wrestling are currently classified as winter sports, with competition beginning in October and running through February.

Earlier this fall, the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin announced it would sponsor women's wrestling. IWU noted the CCIW became the first Division III league to do so.

A national search for a full-time head coach will begin immediately, said IWU.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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