The moment the girls wrestling in Iowa State are heading to has finally arrived. Today, before the start of the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association (IWCOA) State Finals, the sport of wrestling was officially sanctioned by the Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU). Women’s wrestling will officially debut as a new sport in the 2022-23 season.
This is a historic moment for sport and the state. Iowa has long been considered one of the nation’s premier wrestling states and by sanctioning the sport for high school girls, Iowa is making it clear that it intends to maintain that status in the future.
While this movement took years to develop, the origins of the IWCOA State Tournament began three years ago in Waverly.
On a cold, snowy day in January, 87 wrestlers competed in the first-ever IWCOA State Tournament at Waverly-Shell Rock High School. The tournament continued to grow, eventually reaching a point where it moved to Xtream Arena in Coralville in year three, and the tournament returned in 2022 with record numbers.
This year, 695 girls participated in the state tournament, up from 457 in 2021. Almost eight times the size of the original tournament held in 2019.
As the IWCOA Tournament has grown, the number of girls’ participation throughout the state of Iowa has also increased. While several programs have a large number of teams, the 2022 state tournament saw participants from 158 different schools.
The state of women’s wrestling in Iowa has grown rapidly, even extending to the college level. The state was already home to programs at Grand View, Waldorf, William Penn, Iowa Wesleyan and Indian Hills Community College. Wartburg and Simpson also plan to add a women’s program in the near future.
Earlier this year, the University of Iowa also became the first Division I Power Five program to announce the addition of the sport. The program has hired two-time Olympian Clarissa Chun to lead the program in Iowa City.
With the rich history of the male curriculum well known, the University is clearly looking to establish itself as a powerhouse in the female field. It is no secret that the history of men was built largely thanks to a strong contingent of natives of Iowa.
With the level of talent currently flowing through Iowa’s ranks, there’s no reason to think Coach Chun won’t be looking to use that same plan.
The state has its share of talents. Currently, there are 14 nationally ranked wrestlers in Iowa State, and produced four All-Americans in Fargo last summer.
Press release from the IGHSAU:
The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Board of Directors voted unanimously to sanction women’s wrestling as the organization’s 11th sport. The vote was taken at the January 12 IGHSAU board meeting and was announced before the championship round of the IWCOA Girls State Wrestling Tournament began Saturday in Coralville. The first IGHSAU-sanctioned season will take place in the 2022-23 school year.
“We believe there is a great foundation in place for the success of the sport and we intend to fully support these Iowa girls as they continue their pursuit of championships,” the executive director said. from IGHSAU, Jean Berger. “As the sanctioning process unfolded, the board was able to quickly approve this new opportunity for our girls and schools across the state. the willingness of our schools to engage in sport were all factored into this decision.
IGHSAU intends to follow the wrestling rules and guidelines of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Next steps in this process include meeting this winter with an appointed IGHSAU wrestling advisory committee to finalize details for this year’s rollout, including season format, classification system, weight classes and playoff details. playoffs / tournaments.
“The journey to sanction girls’ wrestling as a sport for IGHSAU has been a labor of love,” said Erin Kirtley, IGHSAU Associate Director and Wrestling Administrator. “I am honored to have been given the position of catalyst to get this part of the process done for the girls of our state. Although we have closed the book on formal sanctions, we look forward to opening the next one now as we shine a light on all the great stories our female wrestlers continue to write. IGHSAU has stated from the beginning that our intention is to do what is best for the girls who participate. We look forward to providing them with the same experiences incredible than the ten other sports under our umbrella, and to spare nothing when it comes to building them as student athletes and leaders. We also look forward to supporting the coaches and officials who serve alongside these athletes and to give their fans a greater appreciation for what these women are already doing day in and day out.
To date, 58 schools have pledged to sponsor girls’ wrestling programs in Iowa. The latest data from Trackwrestling.com shows that 1,018 girls are participating in high school wrestling, represented by more than 185 schools in Iowa.
Wrestling becomes the 11th sport to be sanctioned by the IGHSAU and the first since bowling was added in 2007. Iowa becomes the 34th state association to sanction women’s wrestling.