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SDHSAA approves girls wrestling division for 2020-21

Now fully half the states in the nation now have officially sanctioned girls wrestling, thanks to South Dakota.

Last week, the Board of Directors of the SDHSAA (South Dakota High School Activities Association voted to approve a girls' wrestling division within the state for the 2020-21 school year.

SDHSAA Executive Director Dr. Daniel Swartos was pleased with the board decision, which had been discussed by staff and the SDHSAA Wrestling Advisory Committee for two years, stating "I am very proud of our member schools for embracing this concept, and I am excited to provide this opportunity to student-athletes in South Dakota."

Effective in 2020-21, the Girls Wrestling division within the state of South Dakota will begin with one classification and four weight classes, divided up evenly based upon certification weights of the competitors. The top 8 participants in each weight class, determined by TrackWrestling criteria, will qualify for the State Wrestling Tournament, with the Girls Division occurring alongside the boys division at the same event. Expansion of weight classes for the future will be determined by participation numbers.

Wrestling may be referred to as "the oldest and greatest sport"… but it can also be in the running as "fastest-growing sport too."

According to SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director Dr. John Krogstrand, "In every other state that has implemented Girls Wrestling, they've seen tremendous growth in participation numbers over the first several years. We anticipate the same in South Dakota and will adjust weight classes according to growth as we move into future years."

The Girls Division had been building momentum in recent years, with around 40 girls competing this past season and athletic directors favoring the proposal by a 91-10 vote at their annual meeting. A full agenda and list of items from the June 11, 2020 Board of Directors meeting can be found of the SDHSAA website, www.sdhsaa.com.

"We are just excited for it and really looking forward to seeing it happen," South Dakota High School Activities Association Assistant Executive Director John Krogstrand said. "I think a lot of our coaches and certainly the girls themselves are very excited for the opportunity as well."

Girls' wrestling has been enjoying tremendous growth in recent years throughout the U.S. As recently as 2018, only a half-dozen states throughout the nation had sanctioned girls wrestling programs. (Those first six states: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington State.)

Now South Dakota finds itself in the part of the upper Midwest where girls wrestling has taken root quickly.

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