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Wisconsin approves girls wrestling tournament for 2021-22

Girls high school wrestling continues to grow at a rapid clip this summer.

Days after Illinois had announced it would be hosting a separate state tournament for high school girls in that state beginning in the 2021-2022 school year, that state's immediate neighbor to-the-north, Wisconsin, has expanded wrestling opportunities for girls with a similar decision.

The WIAA Board of Control -- the organization that governs competitive sports events within Wisconsin, voted by a unanimous 10-0 decision Wednesday to have a separate state wrestling tournament for girl wrestlers in 2020-21. The approved proposal will have girls wrestle on mixed teams during the regular season, but go into their own tournament once they get to the postseason.

"This does allow more girls to become interested and more schools to become involved," WIAA deputy director Wade Labecki told WSAW-TV in Wausau, Wis. "We have a bylaw that says that we have to have so many schools, 5% to recognize a sport, 10% percent to have a championship, so we want to make sure we have those numbers in two years to make sure we have that tournament."

The vote ends years of lobbying by Wisconsin Wrestling Coaches Association and marks the first addition of a girls sports since 2001 when girls hockey was added.

The WIAA plans to let girls wrestle boys during the regular season. The plan is to eventually split the two into their own seasons completely down the line.

Currently, girls wrestle on boys teams and that would be the same in 2021-22. Once the regular season is completed, girls wrestlers will break off into their own postseason, with the final destination being the state tournament.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that the decision came after an hour-long discussion during the three-hour meeting and an amendment to the original proposal. Initially the proposal was for the addition of girls wrestling as a WIAA sanctioned sport for next season.

The Journal-Sentinel went to report that there are key details to be ironed out, including how many weight classes will be set up. That said, there will be girls state champions crowned in 2022.

Wisconsin becomes the fourth state in June to approve of new, state-sanctioned competitive wrestling opportunities for girls this month. Other than in addition to Wisconsin and Illinois, other states which have made this move to expand wrestling opportunities for girls in June include Florida and South Dakota.

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