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Female Wrestlers Celebrate Announcement Of First-Ever State Tournament

The 2019 USA Wrestling Girls Folkstyle Nationals tournament in Oklahoma City.
Ohio Girls National Team
The 2019 USA Wrestling Girls Folkstyle Nationals tournament in Oklahoma City.

The Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association will host its first ever girls state wrestling tournament next year. The tournament will be held at Hilliard Davidson High School on Feb. 22-23, 2020.

"Our members see this as a no-brainer," says OHSWCA president Dean Conley in a statement.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association is considering a similar move, saying more than 200 girls participated in the sport in the past year.

But they're far from the first in the sport. Brianna Patrick started wrestling at North Union Middle School in the mid-1990s.

"We were included," Patrick says. "We were embraced by our peers. They looked at it as sort of this sort of progressive thing that was going on."

Patrick even won an award as a scholar athlete. But then she switched schools.

"The atmosphere there was not so inclusive," she says.

Patrick says she was hazed and bullied for wanting to wrestle.

"They would leave me notes on my locker, and they would make fun of my legs because of how muscular they were and kind of body shame me," Patrick says.

So she quit.

"That was the hardest part of switching schools is that I didn't have a resource like that at my fingertips anymore, that included me," Patrick says.

Patrick wishes she had had the sort of state tournament that girls all over Ohio will get next year.

"It would have definitely been something that made me feel more secure, going into the direction of wrestling, to see that other women were also interested in the same physical activity," she says. "It would have made me feel more confident. I could have felt more empowered had I had that around at the time."

And she had some advice for the girls competing.

"Go for it," Patrick says. "Strong is beautiful."

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.