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Iowa Adds Girls High School Wrestling

NSGA News • January 25, 2022

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA (January 25, 2022) – The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) Board of Directors voted unanimously to sanction girls wrestling as the organization’s 11th sport. The vote was made at the IGHSAU’s January 12 board of directors meeting and was announced prior to the start of the championship round of the IWCOA Girls State Wrestling Tournament 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,” said IGHSAU Executive Director Jean Berger. “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,” said IGHSAU Associate Director and wrestling administrator Erin Kirtley.  “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.

“The IGHSAU has said from the beginning that our intent is to do what is best for the girls who participate. We look forward to giving them the same amazing experiences as the other 10 sports under our umbrella, and to leave nothing spared when it comes to building them as student athletes and leaders. We also look forward to supporting the coaches and officials who serve alongside these athletes, and to give their fans a greater appreciation for what these females already do day in and day out.”   

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 over 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.