A pair of Pennsylvania high school wrestling coaches have been suspended for allowing a male to wrestle a female last week, according to The York Dispatch.
Central Catholic High School in Allentown follows the local Roman Catholic Diocese’s policy prohibiting mixed gender competition in wrestling. The only exception is during the individual state tournament, when there is no control over who wrestles who.
Central Catholic’s coaches didn’t follow that policy last week. Head coach John Bolich sent freshman Josh Lynds out to face William Allen freshman Rachelly Montas during a Dec. 11 dual meet. The match was completed, unlike in 2018 when officials from Bethlehem Catholic High School in Pennsylvania stopped a match between a male and female after 14 seconds, leading to the male forfeiting.
But Lynds and Montas finished the match, and Bolich and an assistant coach being suspended. Bolich, a Willow Grove, Penn. native and former Lehigh University wrestler, is in his second year as Allentown Central Catholic’s head coach.
Similar stories have gained national attention in recent years. Last February, high school senior Brendan Johnston, a male, forfeited at the Colorado state meet instead of wrestling two females – Angel Rios and Jaslynn Gallegos – in his bracket.
"I'm not really comfortable with a couple of things with wrestling a girl," Johnston told The Denver Post at the time. "The physical contact, there's a lot of it in wrestling. And I guess the physical aggression too. I don't want to treat a young lady like that on the mat. Or off the mat. And not to disrespect the heart or the effort that she's put in. That's not what I want to do either.
“Wrestling is something we do, it’s not who we are. And there are more important things to me than my wrestling. And I’m willing to have those priorities.”
Rios and Gallegos took fourth and fifth, respectively, to become the first girls to place at the Colorado state meet.
"I just want to be a wrestler, not necessarily defined as a girl wrestler, so it kind of hurt me a little bit," Gallegos, who is now wrestling at Presbyterian College in South Carolina, told National Public Radio's Scott Simon in March. "I just want to be this wrestler, and my gender is holding me back."
ESPN reported in April that the number of girls wrestling in high school rose from 3,405 in 2001 to nearly 17,000 in 2019.