Girls have been competing in high school boys wrestling in Wisconsin since the 1970s. Now, due to a marked increase in statewide participation, they may have a shot at their own division.
The Wisconsin Wrestling Coaches Association and the Wisconsin Wrestling Foundation are at the forefront of the movement to add a girls-only division to the high school wrestling season.
Mosinee High School wrestling coach Steve Kmosena told the Wausau Daily Herald, "We can't just leave that door shut anymore. Those girls have kicked the door down and are going to national-level events and some are competing outside of the country. … I think the girls in Wisconsin have earned it. I think the time is right."
Wisconsin would be the seventh state to sanction the sport, following in the footsteps of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.
While some would love to see the division created for this coming year, others say the goal is more likely to be realized in three to five years.
“There is a proposal, but it is not something that can just be slammed through,” WIAA deputy director Wade Labecki told the Daily Herald. "We are going to take it through the process. You want to make sure the numbers are there to justify a complete separate division.”
According to WWCA president and wrestling coach Randy Ferrell, the participation numbers for girls in the sport have seen an overall increase of roughly 50 percent over the past five seasons.
While no formal pitch has yet been made to the WIAA Board of Control, members of WWCA and WWF drafted a proposal in July 2016 that was presented to the WIAA wrestling coaches advisory committee last year around this time.
Said Ferrell, “It’s not a question of if, it’s when (for Wisconsin).”