Our opinion: MSHSL makes the right move to offer girls wrestling post season

Published 6:25 am Wednesday, May 19, 2021

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Last week, the Minnesota State High School League gave the official nod to adding a girls wrestling tournament to the Minnesota State High School State Wrestling Tournament and it’s the right move.

In recent years, girls wrestling has gained in popularity not only in Minnesota, but across the country. According to Team USA Wrestling’s website in May of 2020, the number of girls wrestling at the high school level rose from 804 in 1994 to a staggering 21,124 across the nation.

In Minnesota, during the 2019-2020 wrestling season there were 153 girls wrestling and 30 states have approved of having the sport for girls.

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“Girls continue to take up the challenge,” said Joan Fulp, co-chair of the USA Wrestling Girls High School Development Committee, who was quoted in the story. “They continue to wrestle in spite of the obstacles endured in finding their space on the mat. One by one they see the inspiration and character building traits once only enjoyed by boys and men. They want to drink from the same fountain.”

Through the regular season the girls will still largely face off against the boys, but now there is a clear goal set out for them that at the end of the year they will have their own state meet on the big stage.

If there are going to be these kinds of numbers, and if girls continue to show interest in the sport, there is no reason why they can’t be accommodated.

Granted, there will no doubt be those voices that will say girls do not belong in this male-dominated sport, but that is proving to be an archaic way of thinking.

Girls, such as Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostrander/Kingsland/Southland’s Diann Smith and a number of past Austin athletes, will continue to take up the challenge and with this approval by the Minnesota State High School League, it shows that there are more than enough people out there ready to support this move.

“I’m pretty excited to have our own state tournament,” Smith said. “It’s not really different, but there are advantages and disadvantages from wrestling boys instead of girls. We’re just built different than boys, I guess. It’s better to wrestle against girls. It’s never been on my mind that I could make it to state, because it was such a hard goal. It’s better now and I’ll have something to work for. I can get there.”

So will so many other girls around the state. High school sports is about opportunity and it’s all we can ask for in ensuring that girls who are truly interested in and willing to work at wrestling get that chance on the mat.