Breaking boundaries: The growth of girls wrestling

Junior+Aine+Moffitt+and+her+coach%2C+Tom+Isaacson%2C+after+she+placed+4th+at+the+girls+wrestling+state+championship+tournament+on+Jan.+23+and+24.

D'Anne Kroemer

Junior Aine Moffitt and her coach, Tom Isaacson, after she placed 4th at the girls wrestling state championship tournament on Jan. 23 and 24.

Nathan Lokenvitz, Multimedia Manager

Across the country, girls wrestling has been growing exponentially at both the local and national levels. But in many states, including Iowa, programs are still working to get the sport sanctioned. 

As of Feb. 2021, girls wrestling has been sanctioned by 28 states. But due to an insufficient number of participants, the Iowa High School Athletic Association has yet again refused to recognize girls wrestling as its own sport. This has not deterred wrestlers such as Junior Aine Moffitt from competing for a state title. 

Last year, the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association sponsored the second Iowa Girls Wrestling State Championship held at Waverly Shell-Rock Highschool. On Jan. 23 and 24 of this year they hosted the third at the Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa. The location upgrade follows a surge in the number of competitors, with the tournament hosting an astounding 457 girls from just over 100 different schools. Only 87 competed in 2019, and 350 competed in last year’s tournament. 

Moffit began wrestling for PV just last year, but has already made a huge impact for the Spartans as she tallied up an impressive four wins throughout the state tournament. Moffit placed 4th out of 34 total wrestlers in her designated weight class. Despite COVID-19 having an impact on the amount of opportunities she had throughout the season, Moffit was still able to represent PV at the state level of competition.

As this season ends, Moffit looks forward to the future of girls wrestling here at Pleasant Valley. “I’ve been pushing a lot recently to get enough girls to try and start our own girls team at Pleasant Valley at the high school level,” she said. She expects the program to grow here at PV, and has taken it upon herself to work with some of the younger girls involved with the program. 

Coach Tom Isaacson is confident that the recent success of the program will attract more and more wrestlers in coming years. “Last year Chloe Clemons was a state champion and this year Aine Moffit took fourth place. Any time you have someone place at the state level it can help attract more interest,” Isaacson stated. 

Looking at an increase in interest in the sport at a local level, Moffitt is proud to be a part of the group leading the charge to break down the barriers in this male-dominated sport. “It is great to know that there has been an increase in both participation and interest because this sport is still heavily dominated by guys. Seeing so many girls step up to the plate and push past the barrier of only having guys in this sport is pretty awesome to see and experience,” she exclaimed. 

With Moffitt now having a year of championship experience under her belt, the Spartans have leadership going forward as the team hopes to continue to improve year after year. As girls wrestling continues to grow and spread across the state, as well as the country, there is sure to be a bright future ahead for this sport, especially within PV.