Ohio high school girls getting involved with wrestling programs in record numbers

(WBNS-10TV)
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For a hundred years, wrestling has been considered a boys’ sport, both in the eyes of the public and the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

But everything you know about wrestling is about to change.

You've probably heard the story about a girl who tries out for the wrestling team.

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But this story is on a much grander scale where the girls want their own team and they are getting them in record numbers.

"I think it's my competitiveness and my drive to get better at things, too," said Olentangy Orange senior Alyssa Wallace. "I like being reached out with a new challenge, so I took the challenge on the mat and decided to get going at it, too."

"It doesn't matter who I wrestle. I feel that pride knowing I have that many people on my back and that I'm wrestling not just for myself, but my teammates," said Olentangy Orange junior Taryn Martin.

High school girls' wrestling is taking over in Ohio.

The number of teams this has doubled since last year to 61. The number of wrestlers has doubled as well with more than 500.

"It makes (me) feel like I'm not alone doing this and I'm not some crazy person," said Olentangy Orange senior Christina Wingert. "This is a thing that other people are doing and it's awesome to meet all these new people that I never would've met otherwise."

"Just knowing that you're not the only person doing it," Martin said. "You can share the love of the sport with everybody else. (It) just makes it so much easier and better."

Just in central Ohio, girls are competing from Olentangy Orange, Big Walnut, Hilliard Bradley, Marysville and Olentangy Berlin, to name a few.

This Spring, those schools and others from across Ohio will compete in a state tournament at Hilliard Davidson.

The event will not be run by the OHSAA, but the organization still plans on helping.

"We are holding hands with them so we can endorse it," said OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass. "We're not running it, but we are getting our feet wet so we can have it."

The state tournament will be sponsored by the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association, but the OHSAA is currently doing research on the growing popularity of the girls wrestling nationwide.

It found out that once Missouri officially sponsored the sport, participation doubled the next year.

Because of that, don't be surprised if girls wrestling becomes an official OHSAA sport, even as soon as next year.

"Anybody can tell me why we can't do this. Why we can't, there are many things like that. I just get back to the point of please tell me how we can," Snodgrass said.

Snodgrass said there are logistical things to worry about, such as coaches, officials and revenue. Those are real challenges that need to be met in order to make girls wrestling an official OHSAA sport.

But he is very optimistic those hurdles can be cleared, and he wants to keep growing the sport in Ohio.