Seeking to expand recruiting options for student-athletes, Ouachita Baptist University’s Board of Trustees has voted to add two new NCAA Division II athletic teams – men’s wresting and women’s golf. The additional programs will bring the total number of athletic teams at Ouachita to 16.
“We are most pleased to announce that we will begin men’s wrestling and women’s golf next fall,” said Ouachita President Rex M. Horne, Jr. “The golf is in response to stated interest from present and potential students. Wrestling meets a need and growing interest.
“We will be the first university in Arkansas to offer collegiate wrestling,” Dr Horne added. “In fact, there is only one university in Texas that offers the same at a time when high school wrestling is growing dramatically here in Arkansas. This is another way Ouachita is a recognized leader.”
This marks the first time that Ouachita has expanded its athletic options since 2000 when the university joined the Gulf South Conference and added men’s soccer and women’s softball.
The Ouachita women’s golf team will compete in the Gulf South Conference, bringing to 10 the total number of GSC schools with women’s golf. Men’s wrestling will compete independently against collegiate teams in Oklahoma, Missouri and other surrounding states.
“To be the first institution in the state to have collegiate wrestling will give us a stronghold on it,” noted Ouachita Athletic Director David Sharp. “For high school wrestlers in the state who want to compete on the collegiate level, we will give them that opportunity.
“From a women’s golf standpoint, I’ve had a lot of inquiries the past few years about adding women’s golf,” Sharp said. “I think there’s really an interest there.”
The new programs “give more opportunities to some student-athletes who want to continue their competition in intercollegiate sports,” Sharp added.”I think we will attract quality students who will add to and enhance a group of student-athletes that we already deem as exceptional.”
Greg Hatcher, president of the Arkansas Wrestling Association, has announced the non-profit association will provide wrestling mats, uniforms and other assistance to help Ouachita’s wrestling program get under way. The association also has donated wrestling mats to more than 40 Arkansas high schools to help launch their wrestling programs.
Emphasizing that “wrestling creates leaders,” Hatcher said the opportunity for wrestlers to “go one-on-one with no one to bail you out” helps build confidence and discipline as well as “great self-defense skills.” He also cited wrestling’s fitness benefits for student-athletes.
Hatcher is founder and owner of the Hatcher Agency, the largest health insurance agency in Arkansas. A graduate of Alma College in Alma, Mich., he lettered in wresting, soccer and baseball while in college. He is a member of the Alma College Sports Hall of Fame and recently was named the school’s Distinguished Alumnus. He also is the author of “55 Steps to Outrageous Service.”
Ouachita Baptist University, a private Christian liberal arts university in Arkadelphia, Ark., has been ranked the No. 1 Baccalaureate College in the South for three years in a row by U.S. News & World Report. With an enrollment of almost 1,500 students from more than 30 states and 50 nations, Ouachita seeks to foster a love of God and a love of learning in a vibrant, Christ-centered learning community.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU vice president for communications