For the first time in more than 60 years, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships are coming back to Pittsburgh.
The NCAA awarded the city of Pittsburgh with the 2019 NCAA Championships on Tuesday afternoon, bringing the sport’s three-day championship event to PPG Paints Arena from March 21-23. The NCAA Championships were last held in the prominent wrestling hub of Western Pennsylvania for the 1957 event at the Fitzgerald Field House.
Pitt will host the 2019 tournament in conjunction with the tourism office VisitPittsburgh.
According to its official website, the NCAA selected 613 host sites for 84 of the NCAA’s 90 championships on Tuesday from more than 3,000 bid submissions. After reviewing the submissions from NCAA member schools, conferences, sports commissions and cities, the respective NCAA sports committees and the divisional championships cabinets/committees selected the sites.
The NCAA also announced Tuesday that PPG Paints Arena will host the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championships in 2019, the Frozen Four in 2021, and first- and second-round NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games in 2022.
With a total of 22 preliminary rounds and finals awarded in this cycle, Pittsburgh received the most host selections of any city.
“It is a tremendous honor for the city of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh to be chosen as hosts of the 2019 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships,” Pitt Athletic Director Heather Lyke said in a press release. “We are proud to be the host institution for the event and look forward to an amazing turnout from the passionate wrestling fans in this region.”
Western Pennsylvania, and specifically the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League, have long been considered a top breeding ground for the best wrestlers in the country. The NCAA Championships are consistently littered with All-Americans from the region, which has produced several national champions — including Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle.
Each year, the Fitzgerald Field House hosts the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic — formerly known as the Dapper Dan — where the top-ranked wrestlers in the nation in each weight class gather to take on the best wrestlers in the state of Pennsylvania. Also, a team of the best wrestlers from the WPIAL compete against the top wrestlers from a specific state in the undercard event.
“It is an incredible opportunity to have the NCAA Championships in the city of Pittsburgh,” new Pitt head coach Keith Gavin said in the press release. “We are located in a major hotbed for the sport of wrestling and I am thrilled that our great city gets to experience such a top-notch event.”