Jim Pfeffer, Photo Editor
On Wednesday, April 17, the Augsburg athletic department announced that the fall of 2019 would kick off the first season for Augsburg’s women’s wrestling program, which will be led by 2015 Harvard graduate and wrestling team-member Max Mejia. With the change, Augsburg becomes the first collegiate institution in Minnesota to offer women’s wrestling as a varsity sport and continues the university’s 24-year-long tradition in being a pioneer for collegiate athletics for women in the state of Minnesota. In 1995, Augsburg became the first Midwest college or university to offer women’s ice hockey and then in 2014 Augsburg became the first university or college to offer women’s lacrosse as a varsity sport.
“I am proud that our outstanding intercollegiate athletics program will once again set a new standard for offering competition opportunities for women,” said Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow in the official announcement..
The addition of women’s wrestling adds to a nationally known program which won its 13th national title just over a month before the official announcement of the women’s program starting this coming fall. “On the heels of winning our 13th NCAA national championship this year and having a seven-decade tradition of excellence in men’s wrestling, it seems appropriate that Augsburg University is opening the door to a new tradition of excellence with the establishment of a women’s wrestling program,” said Pribbenow.
Head coach Mejia will step into his new role at Augsburg looking to expand on an already impressive coaching resume. Mejia has worked as a women’s and developmental coach at the Sunkist Kids Regional Training Center in Tempe, Ariz., for the past three years in which he helped coach 11 athletes who would become champions or place winners at national and world level tournaments. Mejia also coached the Chandler High School girls’ wrestling team to a third-place finish at the first Arizona girls’ state wrestling tournament with one state title winner and three qualifiers.
Along with Mejia, Minnesota’s own Emily Shilson, a senior at Mounds View High School has announced her commitment to Augsburg. Shilson is a Youth Olympic Games and Cadet world champion in wrestling and will now have an opportunity to build her resume by wrestling at the collegiate level.
This article was originally published in the April 26, 2019 issue.