Ottawa High School Athletic/Activities Director Brad Graf assured the USD 290 school board Monday night girls are interested in forming their own wrestling team.
This past spring KSHSAA added girls wrestling as a sanctioned high school sport. Graf said about five to eight girls have expressed an interest in girls wrestling, which was on par with other schools in the Frontier League.
Graf explained there are two options for schools right now. The first is having a mixed team like Ottawa has had years and the girls would wrestle both boys and girls, if available. But the catch is the girls are only eligible to wrestle boys in the postseason.
“That option is still in place,” Graf said.
The second option is adding a girls program, Graf said.
“It will allow girls to compete against girls throughout the season,” he said. If they have girls in a weight class that we have girls, those girls will wrestle each other. If they have no girls are in the weight class we are in, our girls can wrestle boys. That is an exemption for two years. If we have a girls wrestling team, at the end of the year, we would have a girls regional tournament with an opportunity to advance to a girls state tournament. If a girl is on a mixed team, she can only wrestle boys and she foregoes the opportunity to wrestle girls as long as the team is mixed. In order to provide an equitable and competitive opportunity, adding a girls wrestling team would be beneficial to those young ladies.”
Graf said a number of tournaments are adding a girls division. He said the OHS Invitational did that last year.
“It is the best option to add a girls program,” he said. “It gives them an opportunity at the end of the season to compete with girls. In two years, the option of a mixed team is going to go away anyway.”
OHS wrestling coach Dalton Weidl said girls wrestling is only going to grow stronger.
“There are 12 states that have girls wrestling as a sport,” he said. “Seven were added last year. There are 40 colleges that have [women’s] wrestling. It is growing everywhere. They say it is the fastest growing sport in the midwest.”
Several board members gave an indication of supporting a girls wrestling proposal.
“I see there is a lot of interest growing in girls wrestling,” board member Chris Cunningham said.
Board member Brian Kane said students gain a lot from being involved in athletics and other sanctioned activities.
“If you have interest in the program, we should do everything we can do provide for that program,” he said. “I think it is great.”
The board will vote on the measure at its next board meeting.
Graf liked what he heard from the board.
“It sends a good message to our kids and program,” he said. “I think the support was there.”