Story By Cascade Collegiate Conference Office
LA GRANDE, Ore. – The Cascade Collegiate Conference has added men's wrestling as a CCC recognized sport beginning with the 2017-18 season the league office announced.
With the addition, wrestling becomes the seventh official men's sport in the CCC and the first added since men's and women's golf became conference sponsored sports in 2007. Also, four institutions have been accepted for associate membership. The new members sponsoring wrestling are Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University- Prescott, Ariz., Menlo College- Atherton, Calif., Montana State University Northern- Havre, Mont. And Simpson University-Redding, Calif. The Schools will join current members Eastern Oregon University, Southern Oregon University, University of Providence (formerly University of Great Falls) and Warner Pacific College to form CCC men's wrestling.
“We are very excited to take the next step in conference offerings with men's wrestling,” stated CCC Commissioner Robert Cashell. “The sport continues to see growth at the NAIA level and providing a conference home for our current western United States institutions, as well as, the opportunity to recognize outstanding student athletes academically and athletically is important to the long term stability of the sport.”
While wrestling has been an NAIA Championship sport for years, the process to qualify for nationals was recently changed at the NAIA National Administrative Council (NAC) meeting in June. The new model places an emphasis on conference direct qualification aligning wrestling with other NAIA sports. Past models tried to balance the number of programs in regions which, at times, required programs in the same conference to compete in different regional qualifiers. The new model also guarantees that the champion at each weight class from the conference championship will automatically advance to the NAIA Championships.
Sixty NAIA institutions will sponsor wrestling as a varsity program during the 2017-18 season. Although CCC wrestling is new, the schools participating have a rich history of success. Montana State Northern leads the way with 6 national titles (1991,1992,1998, 1999,2000, 2004) along with 4 runner-up finishes (1990,1993,2002,2016). Southern Oregon boasts 4 national titles (1978,1983,1994, 2001) and 6 runner-up finishes (1986,2009,2010,2012,2013,2015). Menlo (2004), Embry Riddle (2007) and Providence (2014) each have a runner-up trophy. The schools also have a combined 91 individual champions in various weight classes including; SOU (36), MSUN (32), ERAU (8), Menlo (7), UP (4), EOU (1) and WPC (1).
Five of the schools also sponsor women's wrestling, but it is not an NAIA recognized sport at this time and the teams compete under the banner of the WCWA. “Women's wrestling is really gaining in popularity at the collegiate level,” Cashell said. “We will continue to monitor its progression in the NAIA and evaluate if and when it may become a CCC sport.”
Southern Oregon University will be the site of the first ever CCC Men's Wrestling Championships February 17, 2018. The 61st Annual NAIA National Championships will be held March 2-3 in De Moines, Iowa in 2018.