June 12, 2019 10:35p
(WGTD)---Carthage College has become one of just a handful of schools in the region to offer as a competitive sport women’s wrestling.
Athletic Director Michelle Manning said the recent decision was met with a positive reaction. "We want to provide an opportunity for our women to compete in the sports that they love," she said.
Women's wrestling has been growing in popularity at both the high school and collegiate level.
In establishing women’s wresting as a varsity sport, Carthage joins North Central in Naperville, Illinois and Lakeland University near Sheboygan, the two schools with programs that are the closest to Carthage.
Lakeland's team got rolling just this past year. Wrestler Madison Ruckdashel said her teammates viewed the year as history-making. "We're going to be able to say we're the ones that started this," she said in a WGTD News interview.
Ruckdashel’s teammate, Jayden Laurent, is this past year’s Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association national champion.
Ruckdashel said her initial interest in wrestling was sparked by her father having served as a middle school wrestling coach while she was growing up.
Carthage is in the process of hiring a full-time women's wrestling coach to begin the recruiting effort, and hopes to get the program up and running a year from now.
Manning said the school has a history of being in the forefront of adding sports that are new to the region and sometimes the nation. She cited men's volleyball as an example.
The announcement that Carthage plans to add women’s wrestling to its line-up also included news that men’s wrestling would be revived, and that women’s bowling would be added as another varsity sport.