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Otterbein adds women’s wrestling as 22nd varsity sport

By
Adam Prescott, Otterbein University, https://otterbeincardinals.com

Otterbein University has officially added women's wrestling as its 22nd intercollegiate varsity sport overall and 11th women's program, announced last month by the administration.

The Cardinals, competing within NCAA Division III and as part of the 10-member Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC), are expected to hire a coach in the near future and begin varsity competition during the 2024-25 academic year. Otterbein now becomes the third OAC school to sponsor women's wrestling.

"Otterbein celebrates the addition of another women's sport to our program offerings," stated Dr. Bill Fox, vice president for student affairs. "We have been thrilled to see expanding interest in this sport right here in our backyard, throughout the state, and across the nation. We have enjoyed a great community response since rolling out the mats for our men's program and want to build upon that positive, successful team culture. I am grateful to Coach (Brent) Rastetter and others for their vision and commitment to excellence. We are excited to build another competitive program that attracts wonderful future Cardinals to campus."

Rastetter has been asked to take on a new role as Director of Wrestling Operations, remaining as head coach on the men's side while expanding the staff to find a leader for the women's program. Ohio recently sponsored its first state championship this past winter and Columbus, most notably, has become a hotbed for the sport.

"I want to applaud the extraordinary efforts of Otterbein University for recognizing the educational value and diversity that women's wrestling will bring to campus," said Mike Moyer, executive director of the National Wrestling Coaches Association. "High school girls wrestling is exploding and intercollegiate programs are noted for their high percentage of first-generation college-bound students, who otherwise might not have a chance to pursue a degree. Anything that creates more opportunities for young, aspiring women to compete in college is something that we should all celebrate."

This addition bumps the number of NCAA women's wrestling teams to 160, with Otterbein now the 51st school in Division III and sixth across the state of Ohio. The high school level currently features over 50,000 participants and 39 state championships.

More details about the program will be promoted in the coming months.