Reading the Powell Tribune of late would have one believe there is support — perhaps even a groundswell — in favor of opening girls’ wrestling to official sanctioning by the Wyoming …
Reading the Powell Tribune of late would have one believe there is support — perhaps even a groundswell — in favor of opening girls’ wrestling to official sanctioning by the Wyoming High School Activities Association.
Coincidentally our state’s sanctioning equivalent, the NSAA, just completed its first season administering this new sporting initiative. The state tourney was just a couple weeks ago.
I thought perhaps the benefit of an old dog’s observations and the reaction of others might be of some small use to my Wyoming friends just now.
Here, girls were grouped into a single class regardless of school size for this inaugural season. A regular season meet schedule was put together at locations scattered across the state — the better to help each girl get the five varsity competitions necessary to be eligible for the state championships.
Girls cannot practice with boys from their school, then wrestle girls at state. Each school at state must have its own squad for girls only and they can only work out against their female teammates during the season.
Girls attending schools with no sanctioned girls program are very much welcome to join the boys and kick butt on the fellas to their heart’s content (looking at you, Emma Karhu).
Coaches are eligible to coach both the girls’ and boys’ teams at their school, and small schools are invited to “co-op.” In NSAA language that means they throw in together to form one combined team, something done routinely in all Nebraska prep sports. That way, say, wrestlers — boys or girls — from a tiny school that has only one or two kids interested in the sport can join neighboring schools in the same boat and get everybody’s kids out there on the mat.
Wyoming might already do that sort of thing, though I judge it would be much more of a challenge given the distance between towns in your neck of the woods.
Club wrestling participation in Nebraska was made obvious by the incredible talent of the upper echelon of girls at our state tourney. However, club wrestling is not permitted during the NSAA’s designated season.
Our state went with 12 weight brackets, though more are anticipated as the sport inevitably grows. Girls wrestled at: 100 pounds, 107, 114, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 165, 185 and 235. Dividing teams into their natural NSAA classifications — or at least more than just one — is a given as well.
Here’s what made this year’s state tournament: Girls were folded right into the match schedule alongside the boys in center-arena. When the girls were up they occupied two of the 10 mats while boys wrestled simultaneously on the other eight during preliminary rounds.
Boys in all classes and girls wrestled at the same time and place in the championship finals as well as matches for third and fifth.
By all accounts, consensus from fans, schools, coaches, NSAA administrators and the wrestlers themselves agree the state championships in Omaha — always a spectacle and highlight of the sports season here — took a bit of a step up this year with ladies added to the mix.
More wrestlers. More fans. More arms held high. More kids leaping into their coach’s arms. More trophies. More medals. More hype. More excitement. What’s not to like?
I hope my friend Ron Laird, his WHSAA board, school administrators and coaches get behind these girls with gusto. Your man at the NSAA to provide his take on this first season for girls is Ron Higdon. I bet he’d be happy to chat.
As for our 2023 state tourney, there will be tweaks no doubt, but I’ll bet the farm that state tourney time will be even more amazing than it was this year.