North Allegheny becomes first WPIAL district to sponsor girls wrestling
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 | 10:17 PM
The North Allegheny school board voted Wednesday to add girls wrestling to its athletic programs, becoming the first school district in the WPIAL to sponsor the sport.
NA will join three other schools in the state to sponsor a team. The others are Easton, J.P. McCaskey and Executive Education Academy.
“We’re very excited to add women’s wrestling to the number of programs that we have here at North Allegheny,” North Allegheny athletic director Bob Bozzuto said in a press release. “We believe it will be very beneficial to our female student athletes.”
Dan Heckert, who is also an assistant coach for the boys wrestling team, will be the first head coach in the history of the girls wrestling program as well as the first head girls wrestling head coach in Western Pennsylvania.
“It’s a trend-setting moment for North Allegheny to be on the cutting edge, to say we’re not waiting for someone else to do it. We’re going to do it and do it successfully,” Heckert said.
While sponsoring a girls wrestling team is a new venture, schools have already had girls competing on the boys team, including Massima Curry, who finished seventh at the 2019 MyHouse Girls State Wrestling Tournament as a sophomore.
Heckert said he expects six to eight girls to be on the team. He said the girls will be entered in different sanctioned girls tournaments and JV tournaments.
Among successful girls wrestlers in the WPIAL, Greensburg Salem graduate Riley Stoner was a two-time Pennsylvania State Girls Champion (2019-20).
There is a push for a girls wrestling programs in Pennsylvania that is headed by Sanction PA and Brooke Zumas, an assistant wrestling coach at Parkland High School.
Additionally, the Wrestle Like a Girl organization has played a pivotal role in the growing momentum of girls wrestling across the country at the high school and collegiate level.
The Sanction PA website says the goal of the movement is to grow opportunities for girls wrestling in Pennsylvania through cooperation with local schools and the PIAA.
The PIAA requires 100 schools with board-approved girls wrestling programs before it will officially recognize and sanction the sport.
Heckert said he doesn’t know of any other WPIAL districts ready to sponsor a girls team, but he expects there will be.
Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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