COLUMBUS — In a landmark move Thursday, the Ohio High School Athletic Association board of directors voted unanimously to add girls’ wrestling and boys’ volleyball as emerging sports beginning with the 2022-23 school year (next season). In addition, the board voted to move girls and boys lacrosse from the emerging sports category to the list of OHSAA-recognized sports, and the board also pledged to partner with a group to host a tournament in esports (gaming). to organise.
The Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association has hosted a girls’ wrestling tournament since 2020, and the Ohio High School Boys Volleyball Association has hosted this tournament since 1988.
In that time, Moeller has won eight state titles (including last season), Elder five, St. Xavier three, Fenwick two (including Division II last season) and Lebanon two.
Among the girls’ wrestlers from Southwest Ohio, Harrison’s Chloe Dearwester and Norwood’s Lizbeth Banderas won individual state championships last winter.
“The OHSAA has been talking to the boys’ volleyball and girls’ wrestlers’ leaders for years, and we are now in a position to bring these two sports into the OHSAA,” said OHSAA Director Doug Ute. “This move will help those sports grow and enable those student athletes to compete for an OHSAA state championship. It will give more opportunities to children and that is the mission of the OHSAA.”
As emerging sports, girls’ wrestling and boys’ volleyball will be managed like the OHSAA’s current 26 recognized sports, but will have additional requirements under OHSAA General Sports Regulation 16 that could lead to full penalties in the future.
“We will try to maintain a similar set-up for the girls’ wrestling and boys’ volleyball tournaments to what the coaching associations have done,” Ute said. “The state girls’ wrestling tournament will be held in mid-February and the boys’ volleyball state tournament in the spring. We have not yet developed tournament regulations, but we will work on them so that those two sports will start next fall at the start of the 2022-2023 school year.”
The OHSAA added lacrosse in 2016 and the sport has continued to grow and is now stepping out of the emerging sport category with immediate effect.
With the addition of girls’ wrestling and boys’ volleyball, the number of OHSAA sports grows to 28, with 14 for girls and 14 for boys.
The OHSAA is in talks with Esports as it has grown rapidly in recent years at both the high school and college levels. The OHSAA will attempt to partner with a group that specializes in Esports, similar to how the OHSAA partnered with Varsity Spirit for its sideline cheerleading competition first held last December.