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USA Wrestling expresses interest in hosting Division III national tournament

Two top officials in USA Wrestling issued statements Friday that indicated that USA Wrestling would be willing to help organize a national tournament for NCAA Division III competitors.

However, statements from Bruce Baumgartner, president of USA Wrestling, and Richard Bender, executive director of USA Wrestling, offered no firm details about a potential proposal from the USA Wrestling organization.

The NCAA cancelled the Division III national championship tournament on Thursday because not enough schools are fielding programs this winter during the COVID-19 pandemic. NCAA regulations call for at least 70 percent of the 109 Division III programs to be competing to host a championship meet.

The D3 tournament would have been held on March 12-13 in La Crosse, Wisc. It is the second straight year that the tournament has been cancelled. The 2020 tournament was cancelled at the beginning of the pandemic in the United States last March.

“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,” Bender said in a statement.

“We are poised to step into the breach on behalf of Division 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,” Bender said.

Baumgartner added, USA Wrestling believes that creating a season-ending tournament for NCAA Division III wrestling student-athletes fits in line with our mission to provide quality opportunities for its members to achieve their full human and athletic potential.

“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,” he said.

Before 2020, the NCAA had hosted a Division III championship each year since 1974.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 35 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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