MMA Hits the Mat
Club Wrestling Elevated to Varsity Status in Both Men’s and Women’s Programs
MEN’S and WOMEN’S WRESTLING are moving to the roster of varsity sport offerings. Both teams are currently club sports at the Academy, competing in the National Club Wrestling Association (NCWA). The program will continue in the NCWA for one more year before moving to NCAA competition for the 2024–2025 season.
Last season, the club fielded eighteen wrestlers, including the Academy’s first female wrestler, Jenna Willard. In the 2021–2022 campaign, the team competed in five regular season invitationals before qualifying for the NCWA Northeast Conference Championship. At the tournament, six wrestlers qualified for the NCWA National Championship held in Texas, and Willard was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler in the Women’s Division.
President Jerry Paul is enthusiastic about this change. “As a former wrestler, I know the unique aspects of this sport and the special athletes who call it their own,” he said. “We are particularly proud to restore this varsity tradition for young men at the Academy while becoming the first institution in the state to offer a women’s wrestling program, creating opportunities for the athletes competing in America’s fastest growing sport.”
Steve Peed, Director of Athletics, agreed. “This is a great day for Maine Maritime Athletics as we not only restore, but expand, one of the Academy’s athletic traditions with the world’s oldest sport,” said Peed. “Wrestling has always been a natural fit with our student body and the sport celebrates the no-excuses, get-it-done mentality that has defined Maine Maritime graduates for more than eight decades. I am incredibly grateful to Prof. Don McCann and Peter Stewart, Director of Campus Safety and Facilities, for growing and maintaining the club and interest in the sport over the past several years.
Tricia Carver, Associate Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator, sees this addition of women’s wrestling as particularly timely. Carver said, “I couldn’t be more excited to add another opportunity for women to compete in collegiate athletics. To announce the addition of wrestling—women’s AND men’s—in 2023 as we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Title IX is perhaps the greatest honor we can give the legislation that changed everything for women in sports.”