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Ohio's Girls Wrestling And Boys Volleyball Teams Can Compete To Be OHSAA State Champs Next Fall

The Mentor High School girls wrestling team at a tournament in Mechanicsburg.
Raymond LaManna
The Mentor High School girls wrestling team at a tournament in Mechanicsburg.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association is adding girls wrestling and boys volleyball as emerging sports beginning in the fall of the 2022-2023 school year.

Both sports have been played in Ohio for years, but recognition as an “emerging sport” means the girls and boys will be able to compete in the OHSAA state championship tournaments, according to OHSAA Director of Media Relations Tim Stried.

“Our tournaments are looked at as the pinnacle of the high school tournament for that particular sport. So, for example, girls basketball or track and field or football, the school that wins the OHSAA state championship would be looked at as the official state champion in Ohio for that particular sport in that year,” Stried said.

The emergence of girls wrestling

Girls wrestling has become extremely popular in Ohio in recent years and currently there are roughly 700 girls competing in the sport statewide, according to Raymond LaManna, who coaches the boys and girls wrestling teams for Mentor High School.  

Being recognized by the OHSAA will allow girls wrestling teams to get the recognition they deserve, LaManna said.

“We are a wrestling state. We are a premiere wrestling state, and our goal is that we’ll be the number one girls wrestling state in the country next year. You know, we'll be the ones going, ‘Hey, we're the state producing the best girls, the most girls and put the most in college,’” LaManna told Ideastream Public Media

“The girls that have wrestled here the last few years have wrestled against boys,” Stried said. “And they've just in the last year or two started to have enough participation where they can have all-girl dual meets. And they had their first state tournament a couple of years ago, run by the Coaches Association.”

With OHSAA recognition, high schools will be able to allocate money specifically for the girls team, so they can get the coaches and resources they need to compete, LaManna said.

“Schools can now say, ‘Hey, we need contracts to start getting these girls, separate coaches and things like that,’” LaManna said. “I'm the head coach at Mentor. The only contract I've ever had is for the boys.”

OHSAA will eventually decide whether to fully sanction girls wrestling and boys volleyball and move them out of the “emerging sports” category.  One factor may be whether at least 150 schools across the state sponsor a team.

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Jenny Hamel