SOU’s athletics this year have been dominant. Along with winning the NAIA football national championship, multiple sports have been nationally ranked at one point in their season. Due to this success, Southern Oregon has decided to add a men’s soccer team and women’s wrestling team to the list of sports offered. SOU currently has five men’s sports and six women’s, and a few other club teams. After adding these two sports, the men will have football, the women will have softball and volleyball, and both will have cross country, basketball, track and field, soccer, and wrestling.
The women’s wrestling team is thought to be a strong addition to the school and it’s athletics, according to university officials who describe it as a growing sport recognized by the Olympics. Still, SOU will only be the 14th NAIA program with women’s wrestling. The question arises, who will the Southern Oregon team play? Wrestling functions differently than other sports. Instead of only competing against primarily NAIA programs (like in football or basketball), the wrestling team competes against NCAA Division 1, Division 2, and Division 3 squads as well as NAIA programs. There are also invitational tournaments that can include
junior college teams. And Women’s wrestling is growing as a intercollegiate sport. Matt Sayre, SOU’s Athletic Director believes adding the women’s wrestling team was an easy decision, “We have such a strong wrestling tradition at SOU. Adding a
women’s team to an already well-established program will bring an additional 15-20 new students to campus at minimal cost.”
Although the women’s wrestling team may not bring the amount of potential student athletes to SOU as men’s soccer, it will bring a different attention.
“With adding women’s wrestling, we’ll be recognized for something really unique, cool and forward thinking”, Sayre adds.
A potential issue is sharing resources and times with the men’s wrestling team. To accommodate this, the women’s team will have their own practice and lifting times, but use the same mat room and weight room. As far as meets go, the men and women will often compete on the same weekends, but there may also be women’s only dual meets. Mr. Sayre anticipates the NAIA declaring women’s wrestling a championship sport in the coming years as more schools with
men’s wrestling will add it. When this happens, Sayre says SOU will be in a very strong position.