by George Way, Scholastic Coaches Director

Girls State Championships

So, now that we are shy of forty states with sanctioned girls wrestling scholastic state championships, what do they look like? I can tell you that they have some comparable experiences for their female athletes, while some have very unique protocols or formats. Much of this can be attributed to where each state is with the number of years they’ve conducted the tournaments. Some states are just getting out of the gate, some are on the doorstep, while others are waiting to get the green light from their state’s governing body while conducting an unsanctioned state tournament through their state’s coach’s associations. A few states have yet to gain interest or traction, but that will change soon as the girls wrestling movement continues to expand and gain in popularity. It’s incredible how fast this initiative has grown and continues to grow. If your school still needs to get a girls wrestling team, please consider helping find information about how to get one established. It continues to strengthen our participation numbers and local interest and, without a doubt, provides all the qualities, benefits, and outcomes that make our sport great and unique while serving a whole new group of athletes.

With regard to a girls state tournament, some of the questions I’ve heard are the following; Are there enough girls participating in your state to require a qualifying tournament for the state tournament. To this point in time, the answer is yes, for most states. States in transition may still have an open tournament with no qualifying process. Other questions to be answered are; how many regions a state should have and how many qualifiers make it to the state tournament. This is an area that does differ as determined by each state. Another issue; does the tournament have a double-elimination format, and how many place winners should be recognized? Again, most states have a double-elimination format, but the number of place winners recognized may vary (it seems like 4, 6, or 8). Most states have a full bracket (typically 16), with some stating that the last two weight classes may be just shy of the number to fill a bracket. Some states have found creative solutions, such as an at-large selection process from the regional tournament to add a couple of girls to the state tournament to fill the brackets in their weight class. Again, this is not a pervasive problem in most states, but there are a few. I like the way some states have addressed this issue.

So, how many mats are used for the girls tournament, and are the boys and girls tournaments conducted on the same days/weekend? How many classifications exist for girls and boys (most states have fewer classifications for girls)? Another point to consider is how qualifiers are placed into the state brackets. Some states have a seeding process/committee, while others are pre-determined due to where they finished in their regional tournaments. Some states may utilize the TrackWrestling software or adjust opposite bracketing if two or more returning state champions are in the same bracket. Yet a few other considerations for state associations is the availability of tournament sites and having a large enough pool of officials to work the tournaments. Additionally, many programs have minimal coaching staffs who may serve as both the boys and girls coaches at their school. This double-duty scenario may cause additional challenges depending on how the tournaments are set up, potentially spreading coaches’ time very thin.

In closing, what I hear from most coaches concerning a girls state tournament is the following: Let’s get to a point where the girls and boys tournament formats look the same. The same number of participants, the same number of place winners, the same sites, the same weekend, and the same number of classifications/divisions. This would be the absolute ideal situation, but some states are not quite there yet. For some, competing on different weekends would be preferred due to logistics and coach availability. For some states, the number of female participants is insufficient to warrant multiple classifications. Some states do have more than one classification for girls, but typically still less than their boy counterparts. So, how do we get to this point where girls wrestling mirrors boys? First and foremost, it’s a matter of team recruitment. You should know that for some schools, these female teams are larger in numbers than the boys teams, while some may be about an even number of participants. Typically, the boys teams out-number the girls. These numbers are quickly changing, and we should begin to think about the questions posed above to reach this goal. For some states/schools, this initiative has caused a few challenges. However, it’s becoming a reality due to some outstanding and passionate people working on this. Let’s keep marketing, recruiting, and strengthening our girls wrestling programs. It’s proving to be a value-added proposition. Let’s keep working on getting the girls programs to the same level as the boys, with the same experiences our boys have benefited from for so long.

Best Wishes and Happy 2023.

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Categories: Scholastic Coaches

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