Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, has announced that they will be resurrecting their wrestling team for the 2015-2016 season. The Big Blue last fielded a team from 1959-2008 and will compete again in the CCIW along with Elmhurst, Wheaton, North Central, and Augustana. See below for more from Millikin.
Millikin University is pleased to announce the return of wrestling to its NCAA Division III varsity program offerings. The Big Blue will resume wrestling competition in the 2015-16 academic year. Millikin is also exploring the possibility of an additional women’s sport that could begin competition within the next two to four years.
“There are over 17,000 high school wrestlers in Illinois, and the restoration of the Big Blue wrestling program will provide additional student athletes the opportunity to experience Millikin’s Performance Learning educational program while competing in the sport they love,” said Millikin President Dr. Patrick E. White.
Millikin Director of Athletics Dr. Craig White also noted, “The Midwest has a number of wrestlers who have their college choice limited to the few schools offering the sport. Millikin is now in a position to offer these student athletes the opportunity to perform on the wrestling mat and in the classroom as they prepare for success in life.”
Helping to expedite the re-establishment of the program, an anonymous Millikin wrestling alumnus has issued a challenge to alumni and friends of Millikin, offering to match dollar for dollar all donations to Big Blue wrestling – up to $100,000.
Millikin will begin an immediate search for a full-time head coach to lead the program. The Big Blue wrestling team will practice at the Decatur Indoor Sports Center and hold competitions at Millikin’s Griswold Physical Education Center. Millikin will become the fifth College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin institution to compete in wrestling.
Millikin fielded a wrestling program from 1959 to 2008 when the program was suspended. Over the years, Millikin had 47 athletes advance to the NCAA National Championships with five wrestlers earning All-American honors. Millikin’s best finish at nationals was second place by Kip Crandall, class of 1989, in 1987-88.
Millikin wrestlers have earned 48 CCIW individual championships and have earned All-Conference honors 170 times. Millikin had eight second-place conference team finishes, including four times in the program’s final seven years. President White noted, “Millikin University has a long and storied history of wrestling success. We look forward to Big Blue wrestling becoming an important part of Millikin’s culture of performance and achievement.”
Kip Crandall was Millikin’s most successful wrestler. In addition to his second-place finish nationally, he was a four-time CCIW Champion, winning the heavyweight class in 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988. Richard Harvey, class of 1992, and Nate Carden, class of 2003, were three-time CCIW Champions. Harvey won the 167-pound weight class from 1991 to 1993. Carden was the CCIW Heavyweight Champion in 2000 and then won the 285-pound weight class in 2002 and 2003. Douglas Zemke, Millikin president emeritus and a 1966 graduate, Lupe Coronado ’84, and Kevin Wolff ’85 were two-time CCIW Champions during their careers.
High school wrestlers and coaches wishing to learn more about the Big Blue wrestling program and Millikin athletics should call Dr. Craig White, Millikin Director of Athletics, at 217-424-6344, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://bit.ly/MU-wrestling to view Millikin’s new wrestling page. To make a gift in support of the program, visit www.millikin.edu/give or call Dave Brandon, Vice President for Alumni and Development at 217-424-6383 or email email@example.com.