CLEARFIELD – Girls wrestling is the fastest-growing high school sport in the country.
In Pennsylvania, there’s been a 200 percent increase in girls’ participation in high school wrestling over the past several years.
According to SanctionPA, all 12 PIAA districts have girls participating in wrestling within their area schools.
Girls wrestling was also granted an “Emerging Sport Status” last February, and now 100-plus high school programs exist statewide.
This milestone was monumental for the sport, giving it eligibility to potentially become sanctioned by the PIAA as early as 2023-24.
Local schools with girls wrestling include Curwensville, Philipsburg-Osceola, Central Mountain and Bald Eagle Area.
Clearfield wasn’t among the PIAA’s first 100 member schools to form a girls team despite its “storied wrestling history.”
“It dates back to 1934,” commented Scott McKenzie, volunteer varsity wrestling coach, at Monday’s school board meeting.
McKenzie asked the board if there would be any interest in officially forming a team for girls in grades 9-12.
He said varsity coaches could already “fill half the lineup” (13 weight classes) without a schoolwide announcement.
Assistant Coach Nate Sipes has five or six girls “strongly interested” in wrestling and McKenzie said he knows of another.
Their only request: “not to wrestle with the boys,” he said. “They want to come out and compete but among each other.”
McKenzie said the varsity wrestling staff would be committed to coaching a girls team, if one is formed.
There would likely be joint practices, unless a high-number of girls join the team, then practices would happen separately.
Staff would also look to find a female to handle “locker room issues” and or possibly help coach.
Currently, McKenzie said competitions occur in a tournament format, giving girls multiple bouts each.
If Clearfield would form a team, he said it might be possible to travel with the Curwensville team and split costs 50/50.
Superintendent Terry Struble said he would have the athletic director determine interest and prepare a recommendation.