The Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association (IWCOA) recently announced that this year it will host its first interscholastic Iowa High School Girls Wrestling Championships on Jan. 19 at Waverly-Shell Rock High School.
The event marks the end of the second season in which IHSAA member schools offered females the opportunity to compete in girls’ division. All eligible girls competing on wrestling teams sponsored by the IHSAA and included on their rosters are eligible to participate.
Wrestling will begin at 10:30 a.m. and will feature 10 weight classes (106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 152, 170, 195, 285) with the top six place winners being recognized in each weight class. The top three teams will also be recognized.
“I think that the creation of this tournament will do nothing but help the growth of girls wrestling, which is a good thing in my opinion,” Centerville wrestling head coach Matt Johnson said.
Centerville has three girls listed on their current roster but only one is currently wrestling. Senior Emily Lewis wrestles at 106 pounds for Centerville owning a 5-4 record this season and a career record of 8-8 with three pins.
According to coach Johnson, Lewis hasn’t decided whether or not she will compete in the tournament as Centerville is set to wrestle in Urbandale for the Ed Winger Classic that same day.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), girls wrestling participation has nearly doubled nationally since 2014 with more than 16,000 athletes competing during the 2017-18 season.
IHSAA member schools had 93 girls participating in wrestling last season with Ogden and Independence making history by offering the first in-season girls division. With new competition opportunities and teams recruiting and creating more opportunities for their school’s female wrestlers, participation in Iowa has increased to 157 girls this season.
“It would be nice to see girls wrestling grow to a point where girls are afforded the opportunity to only have to compete against girls,” Johnson said. “I think it will take quite some time for this to happen. Realistically, we will probably see more tournaments have girls divisions.”