Wrestling continues to grow in Bergen County. This time, at the collegiate level.
Felician University in Rutherford has announced plans to bring men’s and women’s wrestling to the Division II school by 2024. The university will be the first program in New Jersey to offer wrestling for both men and women at the D-II level.
The teams will compete in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association during the winter and fall seasons, beginning in November 2024. The university hopes to hire head coaches by July 1 of this year, so they would have one full year to recruit their teams, said Athletic Director Andrew Toriello.
“New Jersey has a multitude of talent for wrestling,” Toriello said. “You end up having students leave the state, leaving their hometowns, just to go and wrestle — and their parents have to now drive two hours away to see them compete in their matches. Being the only Division II school helps us with the ability to recruit with athletic scholarships” and keep athletes in New Jersey, he said.
Though recruitment for Felician’s wrestling teams has not begun, anyone interested in joining either team can fill out an online questionnaire in the meantime. That list will be provided to coaches once they are hired.
The Garden State has long been a hotbed for high school wrestling. On the girls and women’s side, wrestling has exploded in recent years, with momentum now picking up at the college level.
In 2021, New Jersey City University became the first college women’s wrestling program to hit the mat in the Garden State. In October, Centenary University in Hackettstown also announced plans to launch a women’s wrestling program by next season.
At Felician, wrestling is just the latest addition to the university’s growing sports offerings. Wrestling will be the school’s 21st varsity sport, with 12 teams for women and 9 for men.
“We're going to be probably embarking on 23 sports when everything's said and done by adding men's swimming, and eSports,” Toriello said. “Building athletics at this Division II level and being able to bring students here to get their degree, or push them to professional contracts, is something that I'm really looking forward to in the future.”
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Felician University to add men's and women's wrestling in 2024