PA hits milestone of 100 high school girls wrestling programs

Annaliese Witmer, Staff Reporter

Pennsylvania officially hit 100 high school girls wrestling programs on February 16. Many womens wrestling fans and athletes have been waiting for this to happen. This means that the PIAA will consider sanctioning girls wrestling as an official PA school sport, as according to PIAA Chief Operating Officer Mr. Mark Byers.

“PIAA Board Policy provides that the Board of Directors will consider establishing a championship in a sport once 100 member senior high schools are sponsoring the sport,” he said in an interview in January 2022. 

As of right now, girls wrestling is not considered a sport under the PIAA, meaning that girls cannot be PIAA state wrestling champions unless they go through the boys division.Despite the rapid growth of girls wrestling nationally and within PA, the PIAA is just now considering sanctioning girls wrestling. Sanctioning girls wrestling here in PA would be a huge step in the right direction for the growth of girls wrestling, as PA is  one of only 13 states to not sanction girls wrestling. This is upsetting to many due to the high level of both male and female talent in this state. 

Ella Johnsonbaugh and Carly Bair are both in seventh grade at Bellefonte Area Middle School and are members of the boys wrestling team. This is Ella’s first year wrestling, and she found out about the sport from hearing it on her TV when she was younger. Carly, on the other hand, wrestled in third grade and is now picking up the sport again. Carly found out about the sport through her family.

“I found out because a lot of my family had something to do with wrestling on one side of the family, but I also know through people in this school,” Carly said 

Both Carly and Ella are happy and excited that more girls are joining wrestling because it shows that girls wrestling is becoming more widely accepted. 

Ella feels that girls wrestling should be supported in Pennsylvania due to the amount of hard work girls have to put in just to be recognized in wrestling. 

“The girls are pretty aggressive, and not to be controversial but, girls have to work harder in the sport. Women are not built as “strong” as men. Therefore, it would be exciting to see recognition for girls wrestling,” Ella said.

Being a female in a primarily male dominated sport has come with its own set of struggles for both Carly and Ella. 

“Yes, most men don’t want to lose to a girl. So they push harder. Also, they can be rude. at the end of meets when both teams shake hands, some of the boys would purposely miss the girls,” Ella said 

Carly feels she is not seen as equal even though she puts in the same amount of effort as her male counterparts. 

“It takes a lot of confidence. You are not really seen as an equal to a lot of the team members you have to work a lot harder to get noticed in anything regarding it. At least that’s in my case and when I say ‘I do wrestling’ they are in a lot of shock,” Carly said. 

If the PIAA where to sanction girls wrestling it would mean a lot to both Carly and Ella.

“It would be cool, Many more girls have joined that before, so it would help more girls be recognized,” Carly said