Kansas high school sports board sanctions girls wrestling; director expects female participation in sport to grow
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At the end of Kansas’ next high school wrestling season, there will — for the first time — be an officially sanctioned state tournament for girls only.
The Kansas State High School Activities Association board on Friday voted 63 to 2 to support adding the sport, KSHSAA executive director Bill Faflick said. He said the move was expected to lead to more girls participating in high school wrestling statewide — including more individual schools planning girls-only tournaments during the season and maybe even some schools creating girls wrestling teams.
“There was overwhelming support to implement girls wrestling,” Faflick said.
The first KSHSAA-sanctioned girls state wrestling tournament is scheduled for Feb. 27, 2020 in Salina, Faflick said. It would be for girls from 1A through 6A schools.
However, he said, if the number of girls wrestling ends up too high for a single tournament, KSHSAA could add another tournament and split up large and small schools.
Locations of regional qualifying meets have yet to be determined, he said.
This past winter, a total of 376 girls wrestled on high school boys teams across Kansas.
Other states that have sanctioned girls wrestling have seen participation jump sharply, Faflick said.
Faflick said he hoped — and anticipated — that would happen in Kansas.
“I think it will have a significant impact,” he said. “I think that girls having the opportunity to compete against girls in the postseason will be more appealing to many, and I think the numbers will grow.”
Under the status quo, girls who wrestle for their high schools are on the boys teams and mostly wrestle boys during the season and at state, if any made it that far.
Going forward, boys and girls must participate in their own respective tournaments at KSHSAA regionals and state, though they will still meet each other during the regular season.
The Journal-World recently featured a Free State High School wrestler — one of two girls on the school’s team last season — who finished the season with a winning record against mostly boys and also won her weight class in an unofficial state girls tournament this year.
That wrestler, Free State freshman Madyson Gray, who also works out and competes year-round with a local youth wrestling club, was among athletes who supported KSHSAA sanctioning girls wrestling.