There have long been girls on wrestling teams comprised of mostly boys around the country.
Now, in states like Massachusetts, Arizona and Missouri, the girls will have tournaments to call their own.
On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) announced the creation of a state girls wrestling tournament starting next winter.
As the release from the MIAA states, female wrestlers “will continue wrestling for their school teams during the traditional winter season, but will be given the option before the MIAA Sectional Tournament to declare in which MIAA post-season tournament they’ll compete, either the traditional mixed gender tournament or the girls tournament.”
“I am extremely excited about the newly approved girls state tournament,” Bristol County Agricultural (Dighton, Mass.) wrestler Allie Maitland told the MIAA. “When I started wrestling, I did it to step out of the standards for women and be different. Lately I’ve been questioning if I’m doing the right thing, but this opportunity proves to me I’m following the right path and keeping true to myself.”
The inaugural Girls Wrestling Tournament will be held Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. That coincided with day two of the All-State Tournament. Per the release, there will be no assigned weight classes for the Girls Tournament, instead using the Madison Grouping format in which wrestlers will be paired into brackets that day.
Mass. is only the 10th state in the country to offer a girls wrestling tournament, according to the MIAA.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association recently announced that girls wrestling will be an emerging sport for the coming year. There will be two or three girls tournaments in Arizona this coming winter.
“The only opportunity for girls to compete at the high school level right now, outside of club wrestling, is to wrestle with the boys,” AIA executive director David Hines said, per KTAR. “Obviously, we feel that is not fair and is a challenge for the kids.”
Falling in line with Massachusetts and Arizona on this is Missouri. On Tuesday, the Missouri State High School Activities Association approved the sport for the coming year.
According to the Boonville Daily News, 108 schools in Missouri had at least one girl on the team last year. Similar to the states that followed suit, Missouri will still have girls wrestle with the boys teams during dual meet season.
“With the amount of girls participating in the sport increasing, having a separate MSHSAA championship for girls has been on the horizon,” MSHSAA communications director Jason West told the Daily News.
Over a two-day period, several states made an alteration in the winter sports landscape. We’ll see if other states do the same.