College Wrestling: The Best Schools for all Levels of Collegiate Wrestling

Explore the ranks of club, intramural, and NCAA wrestling, including scholarship information and how you can get involved.

If you’re serious about wrestling, you want to go to a school that’s serious about it, too. Though many colleges throughout the US have wrestling teams, not all college teams are equal.

Are you looking to join an NCAA powerhouse, or blow off some steam with a little intramural wrestling? Either way, we’ve got you covered with stats, rankings, and info on the schools with the strongest teams and richest traditions.

The University of Nebraska – Omaha reigns over Division II wrestling, winning titles over the past ten years.


College wrestling developed out of American folk wrestling. As the name suggests, folk wrestling is unique to the United States, dating back hundreds of years. Because of its origins, and its differences from freestyle to Greco-Roman wrestling, college wrestling is known as a distinctly American style.

Wrestling teams pop up everywhere in the country, but the best college wrestling programs are usually found in the Midwest. Schools like Iowa, University of Nebraska, Omaha, and Wartburg College tend to find themselves at the top of the pack in their respective divisions.

NCAA Wrestling

The top college wrestling programs are under NCAA supervision. NCAA wrestling is organized into three divisions, based on school size and funding. Each division has its own championship.

The Big Ten is the Division I juggernaut. The University of Iowa consistently smokes the competition, recently three-peating from 2008 to 2010 and winning a slew of championships since their first in 1975. Minnesota also has a strong wrestling team, and Penn State just won the 2011 championship.

Good Division I teams aren’t limited to just the Big Ten, though. Oklahoma State, in particular, has a storied NCAA wrestling tradition. Oklahoma State also won the first four championships, from 1928 to 1931, and holds nearly 35 titles overall.

The University of Nebraska – Omaha reigns over Division II wrestling, winning titles over the past ten years. In Division III, bragging rights habitually switch between Wartburg College and Augsburg College. Not surprisingly, these schools are located in Iowa and Minnesota, respectively.

For college wrestling, the Midwest is the place to be.

What About Women’s Wrestling?

Don’t worry, female wrestlers… If you’re interested in wrestling, you can still compete in college. Though the NCAA does not sponsor women’s wrestling, the National College Wrestling Association (NCWA) has a women’s division.

There are 26 member schools of the NCWA women’s division, including larger institutions like Florida State University, and smaller ones like the top-ranked Yakima Valley Community College. Check out the women’s division website to see if your school is a member!

Club and Intramural Wrestling

If your school doesn’t have an NCAA wrestling team, but you still want to compete at a high level, club wrestling is a great choice. Many non-NCAA wrestling clubs are members of the NCWA, which separates them into regions and divisions for organized competition.

Some schools don’t have club teams, in which case, you might want to start an intramural team. Intramurals are completely student-run, so if you can put together a team and raise the money, you can own your own wrestling club.

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