On Feb. 15 the Muhlenberg Athletic department’s communication team announced the founding of a new Muhlenberg Sports team. The women’s wrestling team will start competing in the winter of 2024.
In the past few years, the Muhlenberg men’s wrestling program has seen considerable growth from an 8-man roster in 2010, which saw 2 dual meet wins between 2009-2016, compared to the Coach Jason Mclean ‘01 era (2018-Current) of 26 wins in 5 years. This decision continues to build on the already booming success of the team and seeks to serve both current and future Mules.
“An Athletics Strategic Task Force recently recommended the addition of women’s wrestling based on the tremendous growth we are seeing in high school girl’s wrestling. There is also a strong tradition of wrestling at Muhlenberg and in the Lehigh Valley, it makes sense for us to be a leader in the support of women’s wrestling on the college level” stated Athletic Director Lynn Tubman.
The decision is an attuned decision from the athletic department as they capitalize on an experienced men’s program and a growing national endorsement of the sport. “We have already seen interest on the local and national level from girls interested in wrestling in college. Other DIII institutions in the area that recently added women’s wrestling have already seen success in building their programs” observed Tubman. As more women’s wrestling programs sprout up across the country, the Muhlenberg Athletic department wants to be at the forefront of this national charge. This attitude is what makes a Mule, from the fans to the athletes to the athletic administrators.
“We feel women’s wrestling is a great fit and compliments our current offerings! One of our goals is to provide opportunities for students [to] participate in college athletics. Providing a positive student-athlete experience remains a key focus for all our teams. We are confident that women’s wrestling will provide new opportunities for our students and be a positive addition to the department,” shared Tubman. A longtime motto of the Mules is 22 sports, one team. Tubman added, “We are now 23 sports, ONE TEAM!” One team, and for the men’s wrestling team, new family members. “Wrestlers are a special group. There is a mutual respect for anyone or person that goes through the challenges, ups and downs and vigors. The Mules Wrestling family will only grow and be stronger,” shares Mclean.
With their eyes on the prize the department is in the full throes of a nationwide search for a head coach, Mclean acknowledges that the most challenging part will be “the initial stages of getting started. I have full confidence in the future success of the program.” Rightfully so, whoever the next coach is will be greeted with a recruitment process that is already in progress.
“We have already started to recruit in PA, NJ, NY and in New England states. We will also recruit internationally.” said Mclean. This conscious recruitment will help the program get a running start as they enter competition with the correct personnel.
As he oversees this recruitment process Mclean is also aware of the differences that make the women’s version of the sport unique. He says, “Women wrestling is the international and Olympic style. Men wrestle folkstyle collegiately while women wrestle freestyle.”
Finally, before the announcement, the Athletic Department conducted the necessary self-reflection. “When adding any new program a financial analysis is completed to ensure we can support the program,” explains Tubman.
When this team hits the mats in 2024 they will be a fully integrated part of the Muhlenberg athletic family with the full financial, emotional and technical support necessary to succeed. Tubman shares her excitement about “the opportunity to develop more talent and build another successful program. Also, [to] add to the growing local and national landscape of women’s wrestling.”