South Dakota to consider adding girls wrestling as a sanctioned sport

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Most people probably don’t realize it, but girls wrestling is one of the fastest growing high school sports in the United States.

As a matter of fact, schools across the state are experiencing an uptick in female wrestlers.

So much, that South Dakota is one of many states seriously considering sanctioning girls high school wrestling in the near future.

Alisha Van Scoy began wrestling when she was five years old.

“Well my brother wrestled a lot when I younger so I was already going to the practices,” Rapid City Stevens wrestler Alisha Van Scoy said. “My dad was involved. My uncle and my cousins were involved. So I just decided to show up one day.”

Now a senior, Van Scoy was one of six girls on the Rapid City Stevens wrestling team this past season.

“It was really neat this year because we were able to provide them some opportunity for some girl versus girl wrestling matches,” Rapid City Stevens wrestling coach Travis King said. “They were super excited about that. Just to have that opportunity. You know wrestling, I love it because it gives them the same opportunities that the boys have. How to grow themselves in all different aspects. We’re super proud. Our boys really respect those girls. One of them is a nationally ranked girl. You don’t hear that.”

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Since 1994, the number of girls in high school wrestling has soared across the United States from 804 to 21,124 this past season according to the National Wrestling Coaches Association.

Plus, there are currently 21 states that sanction girls wrestling as a high school sport.

“We did see our numbers going down slowly you know across the nation,” Rapid City Central wrestling coach Lance Pearson said. “So to bring girls wrestling into it and seeing that take off like it is in our neighboring states, it’s only a matter of time before we’re probably sanctioning girls wrestling here in South Dakota.”

Part of the challenge of creating a girls wrestling division is gathering sufficient numbers of participants across weight classes.

During this past high school wrestling season, there were more than 35 female wrestlers competing in South Dakota at the high school level.

“Again, there’s some girls that maybe aren’t the basketball player type and they’re looking for something that they want to compete at,” Pearson said. “So there’s the interest out there. We just need to make it available to them and I think it will take off.”

Since girls wrestling is on the rise across the country, athletic directors in South Dakota will consider a proposal in the next few weeks to sanction girls high school wrestling.

The proposal calls for four weight classes for girls at the state wrestling championships in 2020-21.

Each weight class would include the top eight wrestlers across the state, regardless of classification or region. 

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“There’s just a lot of things we don’t know right now,” Pearson said. “But it’s an exciting time. It’s an exciting time for girls for sure in the sport of wrestling.”

Van Scoy realizes she won’t ever have the chance to compete for a state high school wrestling title, but she hopes that her efforts have helped pave the way for future female wrestlers.

“I want girls to wrestle girls,” Van Scoy said. “Like not have to come to a tournament and wrestle boys and go two and out or have to cut 10 pounds to wrestle boys. Having an all girls bracket and having a girls state.”

“I’m totally supportive of it,” King said. “If you asked me five years ago, I would have been supportive of it. Ten years, I probably wasn’t. So I’ve changed with the times.”

Once the girls wrestling proposal is voted on by athletic directors, the proposal will move forward to the South Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors for a first reading in April and a second reading in June.

Categories: High School, Sports

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