The town of Ogden is known for being the home of rich wrestling history. This Saturday, Ogden will write history once again by hosting the first Iowa high school girls’ wrestling tournament. While girls’ wrestling is not a sanctioned sport with the IHSAA, schools do have the ability to create a division within their tournament for girls only, similar to creating Varsity and Junior Varsity divisions.

“We are excited that Ogden High School has created a separate division for girls in their upcoming tournament. It will be interesting to see the numbers of girls that participate from our member schools, and the reaction we get from the tournament directors.” – Director of Officials, Lewie Curtis told IAwrestle

The 2017-2018 wrestling season has again ushered in a record number of Iowa girls registered to wrestle on their high school teams. By our records, 91 girls registered with 90 of them officially passing weight certification.

Using 90 as the official number, this is a 5.9% increase over last year’s 85 weight-certified female wrestlers (at the beginning of the season) at the high school level and an impressive increase of 34.7% over the past two seasons. This shows continued momentum and steady, increasing growth in female participation throughout the state.

Again, Iowa does not currently sanction girls’ wrestling at the high school level, requiring those females interested in wrestling to do so by competing on the boys team at their high school. We have reached a point in Iowa where sanctioning girls wrestling should be a major topic of discussion at the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU). The participation numbers, rate of growth, and active support among coaches, officials, and administrators point to the need for sanctioning. The assumption can also be made that the numbers would increase exponentially given the opportunity for girls to wrestle other girls.

“We are very interested in finding ways to increase participation in the sport of wrestling, for boys as well as girls.” – Curtis added

It is also important to mention that there are tremendous opportunities for Iowa’s female wrestlers at the collegiate and international levels. There are 42 colleges and universities throughout the United States (16 in Canada) offering scholarship opportunities in women’s wrestling with additional programs being added every year. With the addition of the Presbyterian College program, women’s wrestling has now broken into the ranks of NCAA Division I. Women’s wrestling is also included in the Olympic Games and there are developmental programs at USA Wrestling for girls at the Schoolgirl, Cadet, Junior and U23 levels.

Ballard prep and current Oklahoma City University wrestler Rachel Watters gave her thoughts on the event.

“I think this is great progress! The more girls we can get out for wrestling, the better and I would have loved to have taken part in that when I was in High School.”

Rachel’s father and our women’s correspondent as been an advocate in the state of Iowa for sanctioning girls’ wrestling had this to say. “It is hard to believe how much growth we are seeing in women’s wrestling nationwide. I think the importance of this tournament is that it shows other schools in Iowa that we don’t have to wait for a governing body to sanction girls wrestling. This shows that going forward, any school may include a girl’s division as part of their tournament and give the girls the opportunity to compete against other girls. I would love to eventually see a girls division as part of the state wrestling championships.”

The growth is strong, the future is bright, and there is a tremendous amount to be proud of when reviewing the growth of women’s wrestling in Iowa and across the nation.

The breakdown by grade level is as follows:

Freshman: 24
Sophomore: 24
Junior: 16
Senior: 27

This season, there is a female registered to wrestle is all but 2 districts covering 1A, 2A & 3A throughout the state of Iowa. Keep in mind that there are generally additional wrestlers who are late sign ups or have not been entered in the roster data. At this rate of growth, what used to be a handful of female wrestlers throughout the state will soon be well over 100 and growing.

Breakdown by class:

Class 1A: 29
Class 2A: 27
Class 3A: 34

Des Moines-Lincoln has returned this year with 4 girls on the roster, however Ottumwa has taken the lead as the leader in registered, certified female participants.

Top teams by female participation:

Ottumwa: 5
Des Moines-Lincoln: 4
Chariton: 4
Colfax-Mingo: 3

FULL list of every competitor in Iowa can be found HERE.

Female Elite Wrestling Founder, Charlotte Bailey, has been a leader in outreach to families in Iowa and across the country and leads the top girls-only wrestling club in Iowa. Bailey added to the event’s meaning towards to growth of our sport.

“Running a girls division within a well-respected tournament is an outstanding way to make wrestling accessible to girls.” Bailey went on to add, “The turnouts will be low this year but ideally next year every coach in the state will include these events on their schedules.”

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Interested in the benefits of wrestling at any age level? Contact Charlotte Bailey of Female Elite Wrestling (FEW) at: to find out more.

More information about the upcoming tournament below.