W. Wrestling: Falcons to debut inaugural women's wrestling season in 2023

Cerritos women's wrestling splits first two dual meets
Cerritos women's wrestling splits first two dual meets

One of the fastest growing intercollegiate sports over the last several years has been women's wrestling. In the Spring of 2023, you can add Cerritos College to the list of colleges adding it to their list of intercollegiate sports. The California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) will be hosting the Inaugural women's wrestling season in the Spring of 2023 with 13 schools already committing to add the sport. Of those 13, nine of them are located in Southern California.

"The Cerritos College athletics program is very excited for the opportunity to offer women's wrestling," said Athletics Director Maria Castro. "It is a growing sport for women's athletics in the state.  Addition of this program allows us to serve our neighboring community and give a chance for students to participate and be involved in our athletic programs here at Cerritos. I have no doubt that women's wrestling will add to the excellence of Cerritos College Athletics."

Former Cerritos College wrestling two-time All-American and 133-pound state champion Dustin Kirk has been tabbed to serve as the program's first head coach. He was a member of the men's coaching staff in 2021. Over the past three seasons, Kirk served as a Graduate Assistant at Tiffin (OH) University from 2018-19 before being promoted to head assistant coach from 2019-21. As a member of the Falcons from 2013-14, Kirk won the CCCAA State Championship at 133 pounds in his sophomore season after placing third at 125 pounds his freshman campaign. The Falcons won the CCCAA Team State Championship in 2014.

"I am excited for the opportunity to lead the first women's wrestling team at Cerritos College," stated Kirk. "Being a Cerritos College alumnus, I know firsthand what this school has to offer. This means a lot to me because Cerritos College had a huge impact on the direction of my life. I learned many valuable things during my time at Cerritos, and I am now thankful to be in a position to help guide and influence future generations as I once was."

Kirk moved on to King (TN) University, where was an NCAA Academic All-American and a two-time NCAA All-American (top 8 in the country). He also had the highest finish at the National Tournament in the history of King University with a 3rd place finish in 2017, and was also one of the first in program history to become a two time All-American.

"This has been years in the making", said Donny Garriott, who has served as the men's head coach since 2006. "Our wrestling coaches association has been talking and implementing this for years now and it is finally coming to fruition. This is such a timely decision, as women's wrestling is exploding on the high school and college levels. Any time you can add more wrestlers, whether women or men, it only makes the whole program stronger and more interesting. Our men's program welcomes the women and can't wait to start working together to grow their program."

In years past, Garriott has had several women on his roster, and just this past spring, the Falcons had 10 women compete as independents as the sport was considered an "emerging sport". They had several compete in the 2022 Senior Nationals Women's Freestyle National Championships, with a pair earning US Open All-American status and both qualified for the World Team Trials, which took place in May.

"My goals in the coming years start off by developing this program into one of the top women's collegiate wrestling teams in the state of California," added Kirk. "Along with that, establishing a strong track record of sending student-athletes off to 4-year universities and on scholarships. Most importantly, I want to do my part in advocating for the growth in women's wrestling, both statewide and nationally. Special thanks to Donny Garriott and Maria Castro for creating the vision and making this happen."