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High School Girls Wrestling, Fast-Growing Nationwide, Now Emerging In NY

Girls' Wrestling at the high school level has been listed as an "emerging sport" in New York.
Girls' Wrestling at the high school level has been listed as an "emerging sport" in New York. Photo Credit: MartialArtsNomad.com, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

After much effort, girls wrestling at the high school level is becoming more popular in New York State.

In a report from D1 Women's Wrestling for Thanksgiving 2022, the sport has been given an "emerging sport" status in New York State, along with four other states. 

"There is no denying that opportunities at the high school level are at an all-time high," the organization said in a post from Monday, Nov. 21, also listing 36 states as "fully sanctioned," which means they hold approved official championships for Girls Wrestling. 

"We LOVE seeing NY in purple on this chart. Next Goal: BLUE = Fully Sanctioned state. Great work to every single person pushing this forward. You all know who you are," said the New York State Girls Wrestling Task Force in a Facebook comment. 

Ryan Palmer, a member of the task force and wrestling chair of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association in Section 2, which includes high schools in the Capital Region, said that much progress has been made in recent years toward making girls wrestling more popular. 

In 2021, New York's first-ever unofficial all-girls wrestling championship was held by the Coxsackie-Athens School District, drawing 56 participants. Additionally, another unofficial all-girls championship was held in Tamarack in February 2022, Palmer said. 

Since then, Palmer has been working towards recruiting more coaches and trying to meet the requirements to hold official championships and get girls' wrestling recognized as an official sport by Section II. 

These requirements include having at least 10 teams and two divisions, Palmer said. Since last season, one of these has already been met.

"We didn’t think we were going to get 10 teams this year, we ended up with 14," Palmer said, also noting that by next year he is hoping to work towards splitting these teams into two divisions. 

"I think it's a great start," Palmer said. So far, there are over 10 scheduled girls-only wrestling events scheduled for this season, up from only one last season, according to Palmer. 

The inspiration for working towards establishing girls' wrestling in New York came from watching one of the girls in his program, on varsity for five years, succeed in a men's circuit and place in tournaments. 

"If they’re succeeding in a boys’ circuit, they can be champions in a girls' circuit," Palmer said. 

He also hopes that if girls' wrestling becomes an official sport in New York, more girls will want to participate if they know they do not have to compete against boys. 

Palmer's ultimate goal is to hold an officially-recognized championship by next season. 

"I think it's very doable," he said, while adding, "it's been a fun journey and I’m looking forward to continuing it." 

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