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CM proposes adding girls’ wrestling to sports lineup

'Level the playing field'

PHOTO PROVIDED Two seniors from the CMHS wrestling team are pictured: at left, Madison Packer; at right, Olivia Miller.

MILL HALL — Although fall sports are just getting started, a potential new winter sport was on the agenda at Thursday night’s Keystone Central school board work session.

The new sport? Girls’ wrestling.

With Central Mountain athletic director George Bidwell in a conference meeting, KCSD superintendent Jacquelyn Martin made a presentation to the board about adding girls’ wrestling to the winter sports lineup.

While the sport is currently not sanctioned by the PIAA, Martin said she hopes that the board will approve the team.

“Girls wrestling is the fastest-growing sport across the nation,” Martin said.

The numbers back it up. At the high school and collegiate levels, there has been a 100 percent growth rate over the last five years, just in Pennsylvania. There are currently six collegiate wrestling programs in Pennsylvania — Alvernia University, Delaware Valley University, East Stroudsburg University, Gannon University, Lackawanna College and closer to home, Lock Haven University. Nationally, there are 82 collegiate wrestling programs.

According to Martin, the PIAA will consider sanctioning girls’ wrestling when 100 member schools sponsor the sport. Currently, 23 states across the country sanction girls’ high school wrestling. In Pennsylvania, 239 girls are currently wrestling on 139 boys’ teams.

“We’ve had two young ladies participating on our boys’ team,” Martin said of CMHS wrestlers Olivia Miller and Madison Packer.

If Central Mountain adds girls’ wrestling, it would be the fifth high school team in the state.

“There are currently no other teams in this area,” Martin said. “I know that there has been some interest in some of the other (schools) in neighboring counties and parents are putting pressure on them because they’ve heard word that we are considering this idea. I do think the idea is going to continue to grow.”

Martin said that having a girls’ wrestling team levels the playing field, so to speak.

“This allows girls to effectively compete in a fair venue. Girls against girls, boys against boys … I think we’re all fully aware of the developmental changes that take place during puberty. If this is the way to make the venue more fair and have the sport more valid, then we think this should be an opportunity that our students should have,” Martin said.

Adding a girls’ wrestling team would not come at an additional cost to the district. If and when the sport is sanctioned, coaches would be hired and there would be some expense at that point.

“We would ask you to make it a sanctioned sport, hire coaches just like any other sport. Until then, coaches can volunteer additional time and the booster club is going to support the additional travel for the girls to attend girls-only events across the state,” Martin noted.

If the KCSD board agrees to add girls’ wrestling to Central Mountain’s lineup, female students from Bucktail High School could participate as well, Martin said.

The board will vote on the proposal at next week’s voting session, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10 at the Central Mountain High School library. The meeting is closed to the public, but will be available via Zoom.

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