For years the sport of wrestling has always drawn the attention of female wrestlers.
Although several female wrestlers have competed and had success at the state level, they were never acknowledge in a sport dominated by male wrestlers.
That time has changed as the Missouri State High School Activities Association recently announced that girls wrestling will be added as a sport for the 2018-19 school year.
MSHSAA Communications Director Jason West said the topic of adding a girls division has been discussed for a few years.
“With the amount of girls participating in the sport increasing, having a separate MSHSAA championship for girls has been on the horizon,” West said.
West said nine states currently offer championship in girls wrestling.
Boonville Pirates wrestling coach Christian Stock said anything the state does to expand the sport of wrestling is positive.
“This will be a opportunity for young women to get out and compete against other young women and earn recognition for it,” Stock said.
With four classes in wrestling currently for the boys, West said there will be only one class for the girls at this time. He said 108 schools had at least one female on its eligibility roster after the season started.
“We will have to see how quickly teams are comprised,” West said. “However, I expect to see lots of growth. There are a lot of good wrestlers in Missouri so hopefully this will allow them to be showcased a little more.”
One such wrestlers who performed well at the high school level was Randi Beltz of St. Clair High School. After placing fifth as a freshman, Beltz came back to finish third this past season for the Bulldogs.
West said the current plan is to have a separate district tournament for girls, a week prior to the boys. He said this will allow those coaches that will be coaching both girls and boys the ability to be at both district tournaments.
“The state championships will be held at the same time as the boys championships,” West said. “The main difference between boys and girls wrestling will not be on the mat rules. There will be only two district tournaments for the girls, instead of the four in the boys divisions, at least until the participation numbers allow for more districts. There will also be different weight classes for the girls as well as fewer weight classes. The actual weights will be determined based on participation.”
The original proposal was passed by MSHSAA in its annual election by a margin of 202 votes for and 41 against.
West added that Girls and boys will compete separately from each other in the postseason, but during the regular season, for the first couple years at least, girls will have the option to compete on the boys team in tournaments and duals.
Contest limits was also added for the girls. At the current time, male wrestlers can compete in 20 competitions but no more than competition dates can be used for tournaments. As for female wrestlers, they will also have competition dates with no tournament date restrictions.
Postseason and qualifying events were also determined by MSHSAA.
West said the girls district tournament will be the qualifying event used to secure the top four place finishers at each weight class. The top four place finishers at each weight class will advance as state qualifiers to the state championships.
The state qualifiers will then advance to compete in an eight person bracket at the state championships. The top four place finishers at the state championships will be recognized as state medalists.
The Girls Wrestling State Championships will be administered at the same site on the same days that the current State Wrestling Championships are held, Mizzou Arena.