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Tuesday, October 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  High school sports

Idaho approves girls wrestling state tournament for 21-22 school year

2020 All-GSL girls wrestling (from left): Kelsey Loeun (Mead), Kendra Perez (North Central), Kilee Callaghan (North Central), Abby Piper (North Central), Alisha Stewart (Shadle Park). On Wednesday Idaho approved a girls wrestling state tournament.   (COLIN MULVANY)
2020 All-GSL girls wrestling (from left): Kelsey Loeun (Mead), Kendra Perez (North Central), Kilee Callaghan (North Central), Abby Piper (North Central), Alisha Stewart (Shadle Park). On Wednesday Idaho approved a girls wrestling state tournament.  (COLIN MULVANY)
By Michael Lyckama Idaho Statesman

BOISE – Idaho’s female wrestlers will soon have an opportunity to compete for their own state championship.

The board of the Idaho High School Activities Association unanimously finalized a plan Wednesday to sponsor an official, girls-only state tournament starting in the 2021-22 school year.

That makes Idaho the 29th state in the country – and one of the last in the West – to host an official and separate state wrestling tournament for girls, according to Wrestle Like a Girl, an organization that has pushed for recognition.

Idaho’s female wrestlers previously had to compete against boys in the state’s official championship tournament. They will again this winter as Idaho takes the next year to iron out the details, such as how many weight classes it will need and how girls qualify for state.

For now, Idaho will only host a single girls state tournament for athletes in all classifications.

“It’s going to take us a while to get that up and going,” said Ty Jones, the executive director of the IHSAA. “But we’ll get to work right away on it.”

The ranks of Idaho’s girls wrestlers have swelled in recent years. The state saw 40 girls wrestle in 2016-17, according to statistics kept by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

That grew to 112 in 2018-19, the most recent year available.

According to estimates, approximately 200 wrestled last winter, a five-fold increase in three years.

Wyoming is now the only state in the West yet to sanction a separate tournament.

“You look at some of the other states around us,” Jones said, “as more and more opportunities grow, it was simply time.”

Official sanctioning has led to a boon in other states. For example, Missouri had 176 female wrestlers in 2018. After state sanctioning, it had 976 a year later.

Pocatello hosted an unofficial state tournament the past two years. It drew 103 female wrestlers last season, up from 52 the year before. Plato said Pocatello plans to host it again Feb. 13 to keep up the momentum ahead of the 2021-22 season.

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