Men’s and Women’s Club Wrestling moves up to varsity status for the 2023 season


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James Herrick, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University will be adding men’s and women’s wrestling to their catalog of club varsity sports for the 2023 season. GVSU alumni John and Diane Harris, from the classes of 77’ and 76’, fueled the addition after a generous lead donation of three million dollars. 

GVSU has been without a men’s wrestling team since 1993 after the University canceled the program. The team’s first season was in 1967-1968, and in its short history, the program saw success as they won the GLIAC conference five times, had six National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) individual national champions, and three DII individual national championships. Meanwhile, the women’s wrestling team will be the first in the university’s history. 

In 2000, the men’s wrestling club was created to fill the absence of a varsity program. This program has seen immense success and has been one of the top club programs in the nation. They won eight National Collegiate Wrestling Association Championships (NCWA) and had 23 individual national champions. 

“As it stands right now, Grand Valley’s club team is one of the best college wrestling teams in the state,” said wrestling club president Joseph Posledni. “We constantly compete against teams like Olivet, Davenport, Alma, and we consistently win those matches, just as a club program.” 

The return of the varsity program will provide the club with a mix of positive and negative changes moving forward. Most importantly, its always positive seeing the sport of wrestling grow at the DII level. 

“The more wrestling the better, in my opinion,” Posledni said. “Just because I am a fan of the sport and I love to see it grow.” 

Even with the varsity wrestling programs returning, the club team will continue; however, it will likely see some changes. 

“The club is not transitioning into the varsity program from what I understand,” Posledni said. “The club will continue on for those guys. Obviously, it will probably continue at a diminished capacity.” 

This will be a result of high-level club members having an opportunity to join the varsity program. 

“As of right now we have several really, really good wrestlers on our team who could absolutely compete DII had they of chosen to go to another school,” Posledni said. “There will be a few opportunities for some of the younger guys– the younger and better guys– to try to walk on to that team.” 

The possibility of getting scouted by the varsity program may add some extra motivation to an already motivated team for the remainder of the season. 

“This new news is really exciting and it could light more of a fire under these guys,” Posledni said. 

The success built by the GVSU club wrestling program will have the opportunity to help the new varsity teams see success early in their tenure as DII programs. 

“If they could combine some of the good guys from our club team that we have now, and bring in a strong freshmen class, I don’t see any reason why Grand Valley State couldn’t make a real impact on the wrestling scene,” Posledni said. “But, of course, if you bring in a completely new freshmen class it takes a couple years to build up a good program.” 

The return of the varsity wrestling to GVSU is far from completed right now. The initial donation from the Harris family covered about three-fourths of the initial need, and the money that has yet to be funded would be reinvested in the program to ensure the teams can compete at the national level for this exciting new change in the varsity club sports scene at GVSU.