OHSAA takes first steps to sanction girls’ wrestling and boys’ volleyball


By Mark Carpenter

People’s Defender

In a decision long-awaited by many at West Union High School, the Ohio High School Athletic Association recently announced that both Girls Wrestling and Boys Volleyball will be classified as emerging sports from the 2022-23 seasons.

The official OHSAA press release stated:

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 2022-2023 school year. 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.

“The OHSAA has been talking to the boys’ volleyball and girls’ wrestling leaders for several 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.

A local coach was overjoyed at OHSAA’s announcement, West Union wrestling coach Michael Felts.

“First off, I want to say it’s been a long time, but we’re not out of the woods yet,” Felts said. “The OHSAA has moved girls wrestling into the emerging sports category, which means we still have some work to do. I have expressed my views on this in numerous Zoom meetings, talking to the Association of State Coaches, who have been at the forefront of this push. Wrestling is not an up and coming sport, it has been around for 90 years in Ohio. All we ask is a separate girls’ section.”

That said, I’ve been on Cloud Nine since I heard the news. For the past year I was part of the group of coaches leading the attack and I knew we were close. When the announcement was made I couldn’t stop smiling and holding back tears and I couldn’t be happier not only for our girls, but for every girl wrestler in the state. These girls have worked so hard to prove their worth and it has paid off, but there is still a part of me that is sad for the thousands of girls in the state who were not given this opportunity. This is a great opportunity for young girls across the state to be a part of something special.”

The West Union girls’ wrestling program has made tremendous strides in recent years, with countless girls being recognized by the state.

“My heart is filled with excitement for our West Union girls,” continued Felts. “Scotlyn (Adams) and Leena (Blanton) have worked so hard to become leaders in the sport, on and off the mat. Over the past three years they have become huge proponents of girl wrestling and I believe that is why our number of high schools has more than doubled. I have been blessed with a wonderful group of young ladies, including returning state qualifiers and alternates in Adams and Blanton, plus Trinity Reeves, Skylan Pennington, Sara Boldman, Jaylynn Mason and Alexis Cowan. These girls work hard every day without complaining.”

“Our numbers at the youth level have taken a huge leap, we signed up 15 girls, thanks very much to the work of Lylah Adams, who has led by example with her hard work, great attitude and success. Like her older sister, she is no stranger to state-level competition, being a two-time youth qualifier and one-time state placer.

“I’m very excited about the OHSAA’s decision and excited to see the growth it will drive across the state and especially here in Adams County,” Felts concluded. “I love coaching wrestling and giving the youth of Adams County the opportunity to be part of the wrestling family.”

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