Five Full-Time Member Schools Joined by Greensboro and Southern Virginia as Associates
FOREST, Va. --- Men's wrestling is returning to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, per an announcement by the league on Wednesday afternoon. Competition will begin during the 2022-23 season and feature seven participating members including five full-time institutions and two associate partnerships.
Greensboro College and Southern Virginia University have been approved as associate members for men's wrestling, joining all-sport competitors Averett University, Ferrum College, Roanoke College, Shenandoah University, and Washington and Lee University.
The ODAC offered 10 sports to its inaugural member institutions. Men's wrestling was one of those options, but the sport featured for only four seasons with its final campaign in 1980. Washington and Lee University won the first three team titles with Lynchburg College, now the University of Lynchburg, claiming the final trophy.
"I am pleased to welcome back men's wrestling as the 25th sport to the conference's offerings," explained ODAC Commissioner Brad Bankston. "Recent additions to the conference's membership provided the requisite number of men's wrestling programs to support a league championship."
The return of wrestling comes at an opportune time for the sport in Virginia. Ferrum College is slated to serve as hosts for the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships for a second time. Action is scheduled for March 10-11, 2023, at the Berglund Center in Roanoke, Va.
ODAC teams will begin competition November 1, 2022, with a robust schedule featuring invitational events and head-to-head team dual matches. The conference schedule will include six dual matches for each squad with the leader of the ODAC standings at season's end being declared the conference regular season champion.
The 2023 ODAC Wrestling Championships will be hosted by Shenandoah University on Saturday, February 11, two weeks prior to NCAA regionals. The conference championship will be individual in nature with each school entering one wrestler at each of the 10 standard weight classes – 125, 133, 141, 149, 157, 165, 174, 184, 197, 285. While wrestlers will compete out to six places, those finishing first, second, and third will earn All-ODAC First, Second, and Third Team honors, respectively. There will also be a team component to the championship.
"The addition of two associate members helps us complete a quality regular season dual schedule and competitive individual championship while supporting Division III wrestling in the South Region," added Bankston. "I know our competition will be robust with quality wrestling performances in advance of Ferrum hosting the Division III national championships in March."
Many expect competition in the ODAC to be strong considering the depth of talent from the conference's established programs. Averett University finished last season ranked 20th by the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) in its final dual team rankings. Washington and Lee previously competed out of the Centennial Conference and earned each of the past two league titles.
Individually, seven athletes from ODAC schools earned All-American honors by placing eighth or better in their respective weight classes.
- Averett: fifth-year seniors Sam Braswell and Brandon Woody placed fourth and sixth at 125-pound and 141-pound weight classes, respectively.
- Greensboro: sophomore Josh Wison finished fifth at the 133-pound weight class.
- Roanoke: junior Mahlic Sallah placed seventh at the 184-pound weight class.
- Southern Virginia: Nico Ramirez posted a fifth place showing at the 285-pound weight class.
- Washington and Lee: juniors Ryan Luth and Riley Parker placed fourth at 157-pound and sixth at 125-pound weight classes, respectively.
WHAT THE COACHES ARE SAYING...
- "Averett is thrilled with the ODAC adding the sport of wrestling. My hope is this will help encourage other schools in the conference to add wrestling. We are excited and ready as a team for the opportunity to be the first ODAC wrestling champion in more than 40 years from a very competitive field of teams and athletes."
- Blake Roulo, Averett University
- "It's an honor to have wrestling represented in the respected Old Dominion Athletic Conference. Our coaches, athletes, and administration here at Ferrum College are excited for our wrestling program to battle for highly competitive conference championships. ODAC members will be represented on a national level making our conference competition some of the best matchups and rivalries in the country."
- Logan Meister, Ferrum College
- "Greensboro College wrestling is extremely excited to join the ODAC as an associate member beginning this fall! We are thankful to the ODAC for giving Greensboro the opportunity to join, compete and wrestle in this conference!"
- Justin Harty, Greensboro College
- "When starting the program at Ferrum and Roanoke College, having wrestling in the ODAC was always a hope of mine. The growth and success of college wrestling throughout the geographic area of the ODAC will no doubt make us one of the most competitive conferences for wrestling in the country. I am very excited!"
- Nate Yetzer, Roanoke College
- "College wrestling has grown very strong in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and we are excited to take the next big step by joining the ODAC. The conference's passionate rivalries and championship traditions will enhance the athletic experience for Shenandoah wrestlers and everyone involved in the conference. We cannot wait to showcase ODAC wrestling for our fans when we host the inaugural ODAC tournament on February 11. From year one, this will be a highly competitive wrestling conference."
- Tim McGuire, Shenandoah University and chair of the ODAC men's wrestling coaches committee.
- "We are extremely excited for wrestling to return to the ODAC this year and to be a part of it. We feel that this will be a great move for us and the sport of wrestling. Southern Virginia wrestling looks forward to great competition this year within the ODAC."
- Brigg Hoopes, Southern Virginia University
- "We (at W&L) are elated with the ODAC's renewed sponsorship of wrestling! With several nationally recognized programs, the ODAC wrestling schedule and conference championships are going to be exciting for campus communities, our athletes, and the Virginia wrestling community. My hope is that this will encourage additional ODAC institutions to sponsor wrestling, which has such a large volume of scholastic participation across the South Atlantic region."
- Nathan Shearer, Washington and Lee University.