Iowa can be the top state in girls' (and women's) wrestling
The first sanctioned high school season leaves no doubt
Anyone who doubted Iowa might not be ready for a state girls’ high school tournament has been silenced.
And that silence was deafening.
The state’s first traditional tournament that was sanctioned by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union was held February 2-3 at the Xtreme Arena in Coralville. A field of 448 wrestlers competed in 14 weight classes, and Waverly-Shell Rock was crowned as the first state team champion (out of 157 programs competing).
Iowa’s first state sanctioned season, including this meet held at Ballard of Huxley, brought excitement and opportunities for girls. (Photo by John Naughton.)
It was a moment that took years to occur. But it’s now a sign that Iowa can be a dominant player — like college and amateur men and high school boys — for women and girls, too.
For those who are unfamiliar with the advancement of the sport, let’s take in a history lesson.
Iowa is a hotbed for the sport of wrestling. It has been home to members of every U.S. Olympic team since 1920, legendary competitors and coaches, and an institution at high school.
But for girls, the opportunities have been limited. At least until this season.
Fans of the sport may recall that in recent years, Iowa high school girls didn’t have their own state-sponsored tournament. Girls had to compete with and again boys. It was an uncomfortable situation for everyone, wasn’t it?
There were some cases when girls qualified for the state boys’ meet. In 2011, a boy refused to wrestle a girl, citing his religious beliefs.
Questions from that time about girls’ wrestling: Are there enough athletes to justify a new girls’ sport? Who will run it, the boys’ Iowa High School Athletic Association, or the Girls’ Union? When will the season occur?
Iowans are heavily represented in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Among them are Simon Roberts (left), who competed for Davenport High School and Iowa, and Dan Gable (right). (Photo by John Naughton.)
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