York College announces addition of women's wrestling as varsity sport

Duane Bastress, seen here in a file photo, is the York College men's wrestling coach. Bastress will also assume the leadership of the just-announced women's wrestling program at York.

The emerging sport of female wrestling just got another boost in York County.

York College announced Thursday in a news release that it will add women’s wrestling as the school’s 24th varsity sport.

The school said work will begin immediately on the program’s first recruiting class. The Spartans plan to compete in the fall of 2023. Wrestling will be the 13th varsity sport offered for women at York.

Please consider subscribing to support local journalism.

The current York men’s wrestling head coach, Duane Bastress, will also serve as the women’s head wrestling coach. The Spartan athletic department will begin an immediate search for a full-time wrestling assistant who will support both the women's and men's teams.

Women's wrestling has been identified by the NCAA as an emerging sport for women. The ultimate goal is achieving NCAA Championship status.

Nationally, women's wrestling has 113 intercollegiate programs, including Alvernia and Delaware Valley. Those two schools, like York, are NCAA Division III programs who are members of the Middle Atlantic Conference.

Girls’ high school wrestling in now sanctioned in 32 states. There’s a grassroots movement, led by the SanctionPa group, to add Pennsylvania to that list.

The PIAA requires 100 high school programs to trigger a state championship tournament. Currently, 32 Pennsylvania schools have agreed to sponsor girls’ wrestling as a varsity sport. That includes one current York-Adams program – Gettysburg. The other District 3 schools in that group are J.P. McCaskey, Governor Mifflin, Annville-Cleona, Brandywine Heights, Exeter Township, Newport, Penn Manor, Big Spring, Warwick, Manheim Township and Berks Catholic.

A number of girls from York and Adams counties have excelled in wrestling, including Gettysburg’s Montana DeLawder and Stewartstown’s Tiffani Baublitz, who both now compete for the powerhouse King University women’s wrestling program. Both DeLawder and Baublitz were Pennsylvania state girls’ champions, although those state crowns were not recognized by the PIAA.

The York men’s program under Bastress has enjoyed considerable success. The Spartan men have had 30 wrestlers earn All-America honors. Bastress, a Bermudian Springs High School graduate, is a two-time NCAA D-III national champion, including an undefeated season as a York senior in 2005-06. 

"I am extremely excited for women's wrestling to be begin at York College," Bastress said in the news release. "The emergence of this program is something that I am passionate about and believe that we have the resources to become very successful in a short period of time.

“As a father of two young daughters, it excites me that they will have role models showing them that women can accomplish amazing things.”

Mike Moyer, the executive director for the National Wrestling Coaches Association, is pleased to see York become the seventh school to sponsor intercollegiate women's wrestling in Pennsylvania.

“Creating this new opportunity for women wrestlers at a college with so much history and tradition in wrestling builds incredible momentum for our sport,” Moyer said in the news release. “Most important, this means more opportunities for more student-athletes. This is a win we should all be celebrating."

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ydsports.