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Doubling Down on Recognition
Idaho girls high school wrestling more than doubles participation in the second unofficial state championship tournament
Published: 2/14/2020 11:18:27 AM
 

In 2019, when the first unofficial girls state championship tournament made its debut at Pocatello High School, 53 girls from 31 Idaho schools participated. 

Heading into 2020’s tournament, that number has more than doubled. 

This Saturday, 111 female wrestlers from 64 Idaho schools will take part in the second Idaho Girls Wrestling Finals tournament, hosted by Pocatello High School. But while several nearby states like Washington, California, and Alaska sanction girls wrestling as a sport, Idaho has yet to follow suit. 

With the introduction of last year’s unsanctioned championship and continued participation, those involved with girls wrestling are hoping to change that distinction. Amber Quintana, Columbia girls wrestling coach, and Annie Foster, USA Idaho women’s director, are helping lead the charge. 

“I always get asked, ‘Why?’ Well, why not? The girls have been here and they are ready for the same opportunities as the boys,” Quintana said. 

Idaho’s sanctioned wrestling state championship will take place Feb. 28 through Feb. 29. Without girls wrestling as a separate IDHSAA-sanctioned sport, girls must compete against boys at the state level. Some girls, after a weekend spent at the Idaho Girls Wrestling Finals tournament, will move onto the district and state championships the following two weekends. 

Columbia's girls wrestling program, led by head coach Amber Quintana.

Foster knows more than anyone how important it is for girls and boys to feel equal on the mat, with a son and a daughter who grew up with a passion for the sport. But she said she hopes they are given the chance to one day compete against their respective genders. 

“A 125-pound girl is not the same as a 125-pound boy. Yes, wrestling is a battle of skill. But hormones and extra testosterone come into play. Some aspects just don’t equal out,” Quintana said. “We don’t want these girls to get hurt. Boys have boys state. Why can’t girls have girls state?”

In the hopes of showing that girls deserve their own wrestling state championship, Foster said the numbers speak for themselves. 

During the 2014-2015 season, Foster said 26 girls wrestled at the high school level. Now, there are approximately 220 active female wrestlers across the state. 

“These girls deserve this,” Foster said. “They go to every practice, every weightlifting session, every team fundraiser. These girls need something of their own as a goal to work toward at the end of the year.”

Aside from giving the girls another chance to compete, Foster said the main goal in hosting this unsanctioned event is to show the IDHSAA how similar the two tournaments would be if both were officially recognized. There is no fee to enter the tournament for girls apart of any Idaho high school team and all participants will receive an Idaho Girls Wrestling Championship sweatshirt. 

Championship medals will be awarded for first through sixth place and team trophies will be awarded for first through third place. 

“When I come to tournaments like this weekend’s, I tell these girls that what they are doing is beyond amazing,” Quintana said. “They have the state telling them that their sport is unrecognized but they still do it. These girls are constantly told ‘no’ but they still care.”

Weigh-ins begin 8 a.m. at Pocatello High School. The tournament begins at 10 a.m.

 
 


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