Girls’ wrestling has become the fastest-growing high school sport in the country

Savannah Cosme of Chatfield, top, controls Sarah Savidge of Doherty during 127 pound Girls State Championship match at Southwest Motors Events Center in Pueblo, Colorado on Thursday, March 11, 2021. Cosme won. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/T

Girls’ wrestling has become the fastest-growing high school sport in the country.

Where once girls wrestled on boys' teams and against boys, increasingly they are wrestling on girls' teams and against girls.

Participating in the increasing number of sanctioned and official tournaments means plaques, medals and state records for these athletes – as well as new faces in their opponents and crowds. 

Fastest-growing high school sport

In 1990, barely over 100 girls were on high school wrestling rosters in the entire country, and before 2018 just six states had sanctioned it.

Over the past decade, the number of high school girls’ teams quadrupled nationally and the number of girls wrestling in high school quintupled to over 50,000 through last year, according to figures from the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Last year alone, it shot up nearly 60%, the biggest increase for the sport in decades.

This year, Kentucky, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania held their first state-sanctioned girls' wrestling championships, while Louisiana became the 45th state to sanction the sport. 

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Girls’ wrestling in college

At the collegiate level, women’s wrestling is designated as an "emerging" sport and is on track to become a championship-level sport in 2026, the NCAA said earlier this year.

If approved, it would become the sixth sport to earn NCAA championship status through the Emerging Sports for Women program, following rowing (1996), ice hockey (2000), water polo (2000), bowling (2003) and beach volleyball (2015).

This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press contributed.