BRISTOL, Tenn. – On Monday, the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics recommended both acrobatics & tumbling and women's wrestling be added to the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program. King University was a pioneer, being one of the first schools in the country to add each sport.
"As one of the first NCAA institutions to sponsor women's wrestling as a varsity sport in 2010, this is exciting news for King," King Director of Athletics David Hicks said. "We've had tremendous success in the past nine years, nationally and internationally, and are happy to be a part of the growth of the sport in the United States."
King competed in women's wrestling for the first time in 2010 and was one of the first 20 schools, and one of the first NCAA schools, to sponsor the sport. The Tornado had their first Women's Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA) individual national champion in 2011 and had at least one individual national champion every year through 2018. King had a program record four national champions in 2015 and 14 WCWA All-Americans in 2013 and 2014.
Head coach Jason Moorman has led the Tornado every year, leading King to four straight WCWA national championships from 2014-17, earning WCWA Coach of the Year honors three times, 2014-16. Those four years, King also won the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) National Duals titles.
"The recommendation from the Committee for Women's Athletics is a very important step that has gotten women's wrestling closer to gaining emerging sport status with the NCAA," Moorman said. "This successful push forward is exciting for our sport and all of the ladies who have worked so hard to put women's wrestling on the map. Hopefully, this momentum carries through the approval from all three NCAA divisions."
Outside of collegiate competition, King had 13 individuals compete at the 2016 Olympic Trials in Iowa City, Iowa with one individual qualifying for the Rio Olympics. More recently, King alumna, Sarah Hildebrandt, was selected Team USA Wrestler of the Year in April. In the coming weeks, three Tornado alums will be competing for spots on the 2019 Team USA World Team.
King first competed in acrobatics & tumbling in 2014, and has qualified for the National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association (NCATA) National Championships three times (2014-15, 2017). The Tornado have also qualified for the NCATA Event Finals in four events, two in 2017 and once each in 2018 and 2019.
"We added acrobatics & tumbling as a varsity sport in 2013, and were one of the first eight institutions to sponsor the sport in the NCAA," Hicks finished. "At that time, we recognized the unique and exciting opportunity it offered to young women to continue their athletic careers as intercollegiate student-athletes. This is a validation of our beliefs and a positive step for women's athletics."
Individually, King has had two individuals earned NCATA All-America honors. King was also one of the founding members of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) acrobatics & tumbling league in 2017. Since then, the Tornado have had 13 individuals garner All-ECAC honors, including two ECAC Freshman of the Year.
"We are super excited about the news of moving forward in the NCAA process and becoming a sport that provides numerous opportunities for female student-athletes to compete in disciplines of the sport that they love," King head acrobatics & tumbling coach Miranda Merkison said. "We here at King are blessed to have been the eighth institution to announce the addition of acrobatics & tumbling as a varsity sport. With all of our hard work, perseverance, and patience we are excited for the positive changes to come."