Small College Sports

USA Wrestling plans to host competition for NCAA Division III athletes

D-III national tournament was canceled for second straight season

Wrestlers warm up in preparation for the first round of the 2013 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships at the Cedar
Wrestlers warm up in preparation for the first round of the 2013 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids on Friday, March 15, 2013. (The Gazette)

USA Wrestling is stepping in to provide competition for NCAA Division III athletes.

The wheels are already in motion.

In a statement Friday, USA Wrestling noted it is in the process of trying to hold an event to replace the NCAA D-III national tournament that was canceled for the second straight season.

The NCAA Wednesday announced that it was canceling all 2021 winter championships, citing low participation numbers. USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender said the organization was “extremely disappointed and heartbroken” by the decision.

“This is the second straight year that this important group of student-athletes will not have an official national tournament,” Bender said in the release. “As the National Governing Body for wrestling in the United States, we feel we have an obligation and responsibility to provide a competition for these athletes. We are poised to step into the breach on behalf of Div. III wrestlers. We have been actively pursuing a number of options that are available to us, working with our partners and stakeholders within the sport.

“It is our goal to provide a high-quality event for these athletes during this academic season. USA Wrestling has been able to successfully host numerous competitions at many levels, using its COVID-19 Return to Events Guidelines and following local health and government regulations.”

The NCAA D-III tournament was set for March 12-13 at La Crosse, Wis. USA Wrestling President Bruce Baumgartner said that the organization’s mission to “provide quality opportunities for its members to achieve their full human and athletic potential” applies to creating an opportunity for a season-ending tournament for D-III competitors.

“We clearly understand the role that the NCAA Championships play in the lives of these students. USA Wrestling is eager to help, and believe we have both the resources and ability to assist during this challenging time for the wrestlers and their families.“

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