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Another step toward equality: Area schools seek to fill girl wrestling in '20-21

NDHSAA sanctions the sport of girl wrestling which will begin next fall.

DHS wrestle PV.jpg
With the sanction of girls wrestling, schools such as Dickinson High are looking forward to the addition of female athletes in the future. (Matthew Curry/The Dickinson Press)

The state of North Dakota made history on Tuesday with the announcement of the North Dakota High School Activities Association’s Board of Directors sanctioning of girls wrestling, which will host its inaugural season in the upcoming ‘21-22 season.

Following a year of studying cost projections, filling the minimum of 12 schools needed to sponsor the sport, calendar ramifications and its potential impact on current programs, the board of directors were finally able to vote on if girls wrestling should be sanctioned within the state.

The vote came back unanimous for yes.

While the sanction will be valid for all teams within the state of North Dakota, fans within the sourthwestern part of North Dakota questioned how, or better yet — if the sport would be available within the region.

Guy Fridley, athletic director for Dickinson High, and a board member on the NDHSAA, gave his enthusiasm for the historic sanction by saying it is their job as athletic directors, and districts, that they give every student the opportunity to do what they want to do in athletics.

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“I think it’s a great decision to provide the opportunity for girls in our state to wrestle against their gender and have that opportunity to compete at the state level,” Fridley said. “With the high school activities sanctioned and now it just gives them a great opportunity that they’ve never had before.”

“Other states have had sanctioned girls wrestling and it’s been a success and I don’t see any different than it being a success here in the state of North Dakota,” Fridley added. “It was a great day for girls that want to wrestle and plan on wrestling in the state of North Dakota.

Currently, the Dickinson High Midgets have a boys wrestling team that co-ops with Trinity Catholic School. At this time, there were no girls on the active roster.

Fortunately, with the approval of girls wrestling, Fridley is looking forward to having girls join the roster and competing. Nevertheless, the school acknowledged it may take some time to get a full roster.

“It’s going to grow, but right now I don’t know how many numbers we would have,” he said. “I think there were numbers from the high school communities that it grew up to 300% in the first few years across the state that they do sanction at. It will be interesting with how it will unfold, how it will grow within our walls here at Dickinson High School.”

While some schools such as Dickinson High are in the early stages of development, some have already taken to the mat and have had girls performing on their male roster.

Hettinger-Scranton Wrestling Head Coach Randy Burwick has had girls on his wrestling roster for four years, this season he had three on his roster alone. To him, the sanction is long overdue.

“I just feel like it’s about time. I am super excited, I really am,” he said.

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Burwick added, “I’m not going to say it’s going to increase our numbers ten fold or anything like that but I will say this, it’s going to get those girls opportunities that want to have the opportunity. And that’s really what it’s all about.”

Burwick gave praise to all three of his female athletes that competed on his roster this season. Two of them saw a fair amount of varsity duals and one of them, Ellie Roseland, wrestled in the 113-pound weight class in the state tournament for the Night Hawks.

Since the beginning, Burwick says there was always a sense of unease when a female competed in the sport. However, despite the tension progressing throughout the years, with that now being eliminated, he is looking forward to watching his female athletes compete now more than ever.

Above all else, Burwick is excited to have all of his female athletes compete for a state title of their own.

“When you earn a state championship, I don’t care what sport it is, it’s doggone special,” he said.

With the sanction only just being announced, the NDHSAA will be discussing the schedules, weight classes, state tournament and other necessary items of business in its next meeting, potentially in June.

Related Topics: DICKINSON
Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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