Baker University Adds Women’s Wrestling
BALDWIN CITY, Kansas – The Baker University athletics department is excited to announce the creation of two new varsity sports starting in the fall of 2018.
Baker will increase its varsity sports to 22 with the addition of women’s wrestling and men’s bowling programs.
The men’s and women’s wrestling programs will be led by current head wrestling coach Cody Garcia and his staff, while the men’s and women’s bowling programs will be continually led by head coach Cheryl Keslar.
“The opportunity for Coach Garcia to start our women’s wrestling program is something we are excited about,” said Baker Director of Athletics, Nate Houser. “We know he will take his success that he has already garnered for us on and off the mat and mold that same success into both of our programs.”
Garcia is currently in his third year as the head men’s wrestling coach at Baker and has produced two NAIA National Champions in his tenure with the ‘Cats.
Baker previously sported a men’s bowling program from 1963 until 1982. 2018 will mark the first time a collegiate bowler has competed for the BU men’s bowling program in 36 years.
“It’s very exciting to restart men’s bowling,” said Houser. “To have Coach Keslar move into a full-time position and become a bigger part of our athletic department will be a benefit to everyone. We look forward to growing her continued passion and success.”
The sport of women’s wrestling is in emerging sport status within the NAIA. It currently isn’t recognized as a varsity NAIA sport, as men’s wrestling currently stands.
The Baker women’s wrestling program will compete against fellow NAIA programs as well as NCAA institutions under the Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA) umbrella.
“It is an honor to continue to lead the growth and impact of Baker Wrestling with the addition of the women’s program,” said Garcia. “As exciting as it is to see the surge of so many programs recently, I am even more encouraged and thankful to see it happening at a school that believes in the vision of the program, recognizes its value, and that understands the resources needed to develop champions. Our purpose, our brand, and the sport shouldn’t be limited when the need is there for everyone to benefit from it.”
The wrestling team will compete inside the Collins Center on the Baldwin City campus and will practice in the wrestling room inside Mabee Hall.
“Women’s wrestling at Baker University will serve as a tremendous opportunity for passionate student-athletes to chase their bold aspirations in an environment that cultivates and strengthens those expectations. This program will look to immediately align and match the prestige and standard of success associated with Baker University. We believe we can create an elite training center for high caliber wrestlers and prepare them for success on the mat as they first represent us in Baker orange in hopes of one-day donning the red, white, and blue. More importantly though, we can prepare them for their greater impact beyond the mats as they move on to the next phase in their lives.”
The men’s bowling team will compete alongside the women’s program in its training facility at Royal Crest Lanes in Lawrence, Kansas.
Similar to women’s bowling, men’s bowling is an emerging NAIA sport and will compete in the same tournaments as the women’s program. Keslar is in her seventh season leading the Wildcats.
“This is an exciting time for Baker Athletics!” said Keslar. “We have been waiting for this day and we couldn’t be more thrilled to announce the creation of a men’s bowling program!”