PIAA will sponsor high school girls wrestling after unanimous approval

Wednesday, May 17, 2023 | 5:42 PM

Advocates for high school girls wrestling in Pennsylvania had their collective arms raised Wednesday.

The PIAA board of directors voted unanimously to sponsor girls wrestling as a sport, starting next winter.

Members of SanctionPA have been working toward official sponsorship for the past three years, and after reaching the benchmark of 100 schools fielding girls wrestling teams earlier this year, the PIAA board took action.

Pennsylvania became the 38th state to officially sponsor girls wrestling.

“In line with national trends, we anticipate the girls wrestling participation numbers to increase with the official vote to sanction the sport,” said Brooke Zumas, president of SanctionPA, in a statement. “And it is with great anticipation we look forward to celebrating the very first PIAA sponsored girls wrestling state tournament next year.

“In just three years, SanctionPA and the schools across the state were able to mobilize and showcase the support for this rapidly growing sport. We look forward to continuing to advocate and support the growth of the sport in the state.”

The PIAA in December 2021 officially recognized girls wrestling as an emerging sport, and interest continued to grow across the state. The board held a third and final vote Wednesday to approve.

Plans are in the works to hold a PIAA girls wrestling tournament at Giant Center in Hershey the same weekend as the boys tournament for the 2023-24 season.

“We’re all very happy with the unanimous support of the board and look forward to hosting a first-class girls wrestling championship in March at the Giant Center,” PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi said.

SanctionPA lists 111 schools across the state that offer girls wrestling as a team sport. Forty-six schools started programs during this school year, the group said.

WPIAL schools sponsoring girls wrestling teams are North Allegheny, Canon-McMillan, Connellsville, Kiski Area, Southmoreland, Plum, Fort Cherry, Seneca Valley, Laurel, Mt. Lebanon, Moon, Burgettstown, Pine-Richland, Penn Hills, Trinity and Peters Township.

“It is an amazing day for women in sport and for girls wrestling in Pennsylvania,” said Chris Atkinson, chairman of women’s wrestling for PA USA Wresting and member of SanctionPA. “Today’s vote by PIAA signals a strong commitment to the continued growth of girls wrestling and the increase of equitable opportunities for females participating in wrestling. We applaud the PIAA for acting swiftly after the 100-school threshold was met to collect the votes needed for sponsorship of girls wrestling.”

This past winter, area girls wrestlers competed in several dual meets and individual tournaments, including the Western Pa. girls wrestling championships at North Allegheny and a regional tournament at Kiski Area. There also was a state tournament at Central Dauphin.

Staff writer Chris Harlan contributed.

Bill Hartlep is the TribLive sports editor. A Pittsburgh native and Point Park graduate, he joined the Trib in 2004, covering high school sports. He held various editing roles before assuming his current position in 2019. He can be reached at bhartlep@triblive.com.

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