Women’s wrestling team improves in second season



The Gannon women’s wrestling team huddles prior to competing during the 2019-20 season.

Alex Pepke, Sports Editor

In only its second year of competition, the Gannon University women’s wrestling team made some noise last year. The Knights set several program records, including most individual dual wins and highest placement at a national tournament.

In addition, the team earned its first All-Americans and first tournament team victory.

Women’s wrestling in the NCAA is growing and Gannon has been one of many universities to launch programs in recent years.

Gannon hired Christen Dierken to be the inaugural coach of the program in 2018, and since then, she has led the Knights in two successful seasons, including this past season when the team earned a record of 8-3, including 3-0 at home.

Dierken is a former U.S. National Team member as well as a four-time collegiate All-American at the University of Cumberlands, where she earned a pair of national runner-up performances.

While the program is still relatively new, the Knights did not shy away from competition last season. They competed in two national tournaments, finishing 11th at both.

The National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) debuted women’s team rankings last season, and Gannon was able to climb as high as sixth in dual rankings and seventh in tournament rankings among NCAA schools.

At the NWCA National Duals, Gannon finished sixth with a record of 3-2, with two wins coming over nationally ranked opponents.

To wrap up its season, Gannon competed in the inaugural Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Coalition (WCWC) National Championship, finishing in 11th place despite being riddled with injuries. Two Knights – Annabelle Helm and Kendall McGarity — earned All-America honors from that event.

This success came from the progression of the team as whole compared to its first season, as four competitors were named All-Americans at season’s end.

Helm, McGarity, Amara Devericks and Chrystal Raine were able to capture that honor, with Helm and McGarity even reaching the podium at the Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA) championship.

Helm led the team in victories on the year, going 27-8 and matching the team-high in dual victories, where she went 8-2.

Devericks tied Helm in dual wins with an 8-1 record, and she went 19-6 overall. Her season was cut short due to injury, but not before she was able to land the fastest pin of the season at just 18 seconds.

The schedule for the women’s wrestling team has not been released by Gannon or the PSAC.

With the winter break for PSAC schools nearing, the schedule is expected to be released soon, as it is speculated that some sports will start as early as December.



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