Climbing up to the top of the mountain is always a lot easier when you already live there and know the path like the back of your hand.
Ah, the life of a Highlander.
Any person who lives in mountainous or hilly terrain is aware of how challenging life can be there. It makes for very tough people who don’t give up easily.
That seems to describe the character of the MacMurray University’s Women’s Wrestling Program.
At their Athletic Department, mchighlanders.com, the news is very good. “MacMurray College will launch men’s and women’s wrestling programs during the winter season of 2016-17, resuming a men’s program that was one of the most successful sports in MacMurray history and launching women’s wrestling, a prep sport that has become increasingly popular.”
Initially a Women’s College, it’s fitting that MacMurray joins an expanding list of prestigious universities that are fielding women’s wrestling teams.
In some ways, launching women’s wrestling is a 21st century update of MacMurray’s past.
Women’s freestyle wrestling, which became an Olympic sport in 2004, is among the fastest growing prep sports in the United States, growing from less than 1,000 wrestlers 12 years ago to more than 11,000 on 1,800 high school and college teams, according to the Coaches Association.
The program got off to an exciting start. On September 23, 2016 the University shared, “MacMurray College wrestling adds 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and alumna Randi Miller as Assistant Wrestling Coach.
She honed her wrestling craft at MacMurray in 2005 before leaving to train at the U.S. Olympic Education Center at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI. Miller proceeded to compete for the United States in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She advanced to the quarterfinals where she lost to eventual champion, Japan’s Kaori Icho. She then defeated Martine Dugrenier of Canada to earn the bronze medal for Team USA.
She retired from the sport after the 2008 Olympics, but, after seeing the 2012 Olympics, Miller decided to come out of retirement. Miller continued a successful wrestling career winning the Phase II World Team Trials and ASICS U.S.”
Ms. Miller is part of a tradition of successful female wrestlers at MacMurray that soared to greater heights.
In terms of coaching, on September 3, 2019 the school announced, “Athletic Director Justin Fuhler is excited to announce the hiring of Graham Karwath as the new head men’s and women’s wrestling coach. Karwath begins his tenure on the heels of the resignation of Alberto Quiros.
Karwath spent time as a coach at Lindenwood University-Belleville with both the men’s and women’s programs. During the 2018-19 season, he helped the men’s team to its most successful year in program history and guided the women to a fourth-place finish in the conference.
Coaching at the NAIA level, Karwath has mentored two NAIA National Champions, 11 All-Americans and 36 National Qualifiers.
He received his Bachelor’s degree from William Baptist College and his Master of Arts from Lindenwood University.”
That is great news. It appears the University is laying the foundation for a rich women’s wrestling program tradition.
The school has another very famous alum.
Cathilee Deborah “Cat” Zingano is an American mixed martial artist who competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). On April 13, 2013, she became the first woman to win a UFC fight by technical knockout.
As of May 20, 2018, Ms. Zingano was the #6 contender in official UFC women’s bantamweight rankings.
MacMurray has now evolved to hosting tournaments that attract vibrant women’s wrestling teams to compete like the Bob Kellog Women’s Open where the Lyon College women’s wrestling team participated.
Clearly MacMurray’s women’s wrestling program is making a name for themselves.
Let’s visit the school.
MacMurray College is a four-year, professionally focused private college located in Jacksonville, Illinois.
The school’s name was changed to MacMurray College for Women in 1930 to honor James E. MacMurray, who was an Illinois state senator, president of Acme Steel Corporation in Chicago, and college trustee whose commitment led to a substantial increase in the college’s facilities and endowment in the late 1920s and 1930s.
The institution remained an exclusively women’s college until 1955, when the trustees established MacMurray College for Men as a coordinate institution. In 1969, the colleges were reorganized into a single co-educational institution.
More than 30 student-led organizations are active on campus. The College encourages students to be active community members with 84% involved in community work or volunteering.
That is a wonderful foundation. We desire to learn more about this unique school. They are exceptional at speaking for themselves.
At mac.edu they share, “MacMurray College is a four-year, career-directed college with a strong liberal arts tradition, committed to preparing graduates for satisfying and productive professional careers, effective leadership, and enriched lives of continuing learning, achievement, and service. The campus is located in west central Illinois in the city of Jacksonville, about 30 miles west of the state capital of Springfield. The College was founded in 1846 by devout and erudite Methodist clergymen, as well as several of Jacksonville’s prominent citizens, and continues to build strong relationships with both the Methodist Church and the city of Jacksonville to this day.”
The city of Jacksonville is a very nice place to relax, learn and grow.
Jacksonville is a city in Morgan County, Illinois.
The population was 19,446 at the 2010 census.
The welcoming city site jacksonvilleil.org expands, “A community rich in historical treasures, with thriving arts, education, and culture, and wrapped in Midwest hospitality. Centrally located between St. Louis and Chicago, and near Springfield, Jacksonville offers an excellent place to live, work, and play.
To the first time visitor, Jacksonville is full of the unexpected. From our Civil War and Abraham Lincoln connections, to the modern businesses of today, the area offers something for everyone. There is a small-town friendliness mixed with a vibrancy from a richness of natural sites, intellectual institutions, and businesses.”
MacMurray is one of those intellectual organizations.
MacMurray College prides itself on providing an accessible and affordable education to students of all ages and backgrounds, offering online and blended courses, undergraduate as well as adult learner courses, and offering financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships to 95% of students.
Every forward thinking university has an important mission. Here is MacMurray’s. “The mission of MacMurray College is to educate a diverse student population by providing a learning environment and programs of study that prepare graduates for professional careers and further education, equipping them with the broad based skills and ethical insights of a liberal arts education, to confront the global challenges of the twenty-first century.”
If you really want to know about university life at a school, just ask the students. What are the students saying about MacMurray?
Time for the report card.
At gradreports.com one student expresses, “When I found out I had been accepted to MacMurray College in 2012 I was over the moon excited. I had heard nothing but great things about MacMurray and was anxious for what the next 3 years held.
I was looking for a nursing school that would prepare me for the real world challenges. I wanted a place where I felt comfortable and at home since I was about to spend the next three years there. When I thought of going to college as a little girl I always thought of going to this big university with lots of students. As I got older and decided I was going to pursue a career in nursing that all changed. I wanted a small class with better access to teachers. MacMurray succeeded my expectations in all aspects.
I walked away from there with a bachelor’s of science in nursing, a job that I was more than prepared for, and friendships that will last a lifetime.”
Based upon that review, we would give the school an A.
Here is another student review found at cappex.com. “MacMurray is just like living with your best friends, but everyone is focused on their studies and willing to help each other.
The Center for Learning Excellence is the best place to find tutors for help with homework or just a quiet place to study. MacMurray takes pride in all the student’s accomplishments and the professors truly care about their students on a more casual level.
Classes are challenging, but everyone on campus are like one big family and help one another. The MacMurray staff is always there when a student needs them and they always solve any issues that pop up.”
Very good to know. So often in the life, the best and most memorable experiences are personal.
MacMurray College appears to be brimming with creative ideas that speak to exceptional leadership partnered with personal and caring guidance.
One of those timely and inclusive ideas was to develop a dynamic women’s wrestling program.
Those of us in the growing female grappling community are very excited about that.
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Opening photo MacMurray College Athletics