May 17, 2022

IGHSAU makes it official, sanctions girls wrestling

Girls wrestling is the 11th sport sanctioned by the IGHSAU

The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Board of Directors voted unanimously to sanction girls wrestling as the organization’s 11th sport.

The vote was made at the IGHSAU’s Jan. 12 board of directors meeting and was announced prior to the start of the championship round of the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Girls State Wrestling Championships on Saturday in Coralville. The first IGHSAU-sanctioned season will take place during the 2022-23 school year.

“We think there’s a great foundation in place for the success of this sport and we intend to fully support these Iowa Girls as they continue their pursuit of championships,” IGHSAU Executive Director Jean Berger said. “As the sanctioning process unfolded, the board was able to quickly approve this new opportunity for our girls and schools across the state. The increase in participation, the growth in youth wrestling and the willingness of our schools to commit to the sport all factored into this decision.”

The IGHSAU intends to follow the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) wrestling rules and guidelines. The next steps in this process include meeting with an appointed IGHSAU wrestling advisory committee this winter to finalize details for this roll-out year that include format for the season, classification system, weight classes and postseason/tournament details.

“The journey to sanctioning girls wrestling as a sport for the IGHSAU has been a labor of love,” IGHSAU Associate Director and wrestling administrator Erin Kirtley said. “I’m honored to have been given the job as a catalyst to get this part of the process accomplished for the girls in our state. While we have closed the book on formal sanctioning, we look forward to opening the next one now as we highlight all the great stories our female wrestlers are continuing to write.”

To date, 58 schools have committed to sponsoring girls wrestling programs in Iowa. The latest data from shows 1,018 girls participating in high school wrestling, represented by more than 185 Iowa schools.

Wrestling becomes the 11th sport to be sanctioned by the IGHSAU and the first since bowling was added in 2007. Iowa becomes the 34th state association to sanction girls’ wrestling.

“Our team — guys, girls and coaches — are really excited for this,” Newton wrestling coach Adam Hale said. “We’ve been waiting for this to happen and it’s a jolt of energy now that it’s here. The numbers have exploded across the state and here in Newton we’ve seen the same thing in our youth, middle and high school programs. This is only going to boost that growth.”

Newton entered eight wrestlers into the girls state tournament at Xtream Arena in Coralville this past weekend.

Colfax-Mingo was one of the first schools in the state to embrace girls wrestling and the Tigerhawks have consistently be in the top five of the state tournament’s team standings.

C-M entered 12 wrestlers this weekend and came home with six individual medals and a runner-up team trophy.

Colfax-Mingo was the first school to submit its letter to the IGHSAU for the sanctioning process.

“We’ve worked for four years to get this done and it is happening,” C-M wrestling coach Erin Hume said. “It happened because girls were willing to give wrestling a try. The Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association and Waverly-Shell Rock were brave enough to put on a tournament. It snowballed into this and now into a sanctioned sport. I’m happy to be able to give them more opportunities to compete.”