Following on the heels of last week’s announcement that Maine Maritime Academy would be restoring its football team, the Castine school said Tuesday it intends to restore varsity men’s wrestling and add varsity women’s wrestling.

The women’s team will be the first in the state’s history according to Scott Moyer, the executive director of the National Wrestling Coaches Association.

Men’s and women’s wrestling are currently club sports at MMA. They compete in the National Club Wrestling Association.

The programs will continue in club status next year before moving into NCAA Division III for the 2024-25 season. MMA Director of Athletics Steve Peed said he hopes to name a men’s coach and a women’s coach sometime this spring.

MMA had a men’s varsity team from 1967-1979 before dropping it and bringing it back as a club program for the 2018-19 season.

There were 18 wrestlers involved last season including Jenna Willard, the school’s first female wrestler.

The team competed in five regular season invitationals before qualifying for the NCWA Northeast Conference Championship meet.

Six wrestlers qualified for the NCWA National Championship meet in Texas, and Willard was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler in the Women’s Division.

Peed, a former wrestler himself, said he is “really excited” to add wrestling to the school.

“It’s a sport that is tailor-made for Maine Maritime Academy. It is a gritty, blue-collar sport where you can get a lot better through hard work,” Peed said. “I love that aspect of the sport. The two sports that feature pure competition are wrestling and [track] racing.”

While there are 14 Division III schools in New England with men’s varsity wrestling, the University of Southern Maine is the only in Maine. There are 109 Division III programs across the country.

Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts, has the only women’s varsity program in New England, and there are 39 programs nationwide.

“Our women’s team is going to be road warriors,” said Peed. “The two programs will have the same budget, but we are going to have to spend more of it on travel for the women’s team.”

Peed note that girls’ high school wrestling is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country, but there aren’t many college teams.

However, he said that it could benefit Maine Maritime Academy because it will be one of the few schools offering it, and they also offer an attractive academic curriculum.

There are a number of high school girls wrestling in the state, but they must compete on their high school boys’ teams because there are no girls’ teams. There are 55 boys teams.

There is a girls’ individual championship meet on Feb. 21 at Wells High School.