Sutherlin’s Kyla Keen and South Umpqua’s Samantha Stroud will be competing in the exhibition girls wrestling tournament at the Oregon School Activities Association State Championships at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
Keen will take on Oakridge’s Loryn Edmunds in the first round of the 160-pound girls bracket.
David Douglas’ Idara Ette will be Stroud’s first competition in the 220-pound class.
“(Stroud) is going to be vying for the state title,” South Umpua coach Dan Kuntz said. “She split on the season with the No. 1 seed, so hopefully she gets it done.”
The girls’ brackets include four girls in each of the 10 weight classes.
Reedsport’s Divinity Farris (113) and Yesenia Velasquez (120) are two who will be competing against boys in the state tournament.
The 2017 girls state wrestling championship is considered an exhibition tournament, but that will change next year.
The OSAA’s executive board voted to create a separate state tournament for the girls, which will start in the 2018-2019 school year. Oregon will be the seventh state to have a state tournament for girls wrestling.
“When Sam was a freshman there were 150 girls at the regional tournament, now (three years later) there were 272 at the regional tournament,” Kuntz said. “There are schools that have full line-ups.”
More than 400 girls competed in wrestling across the state this season and that number is expected to go up.
Roseburg had two girls join the team this year. Roseburg coach Steve Lander said there’s been a growing interest in girls wrestling in mat club and middle school, but it hasn’t translated to the high school yet, but the OSAA’s decision might change that.
“Girls wrestling is a highly growing sport in Oregon, and they got the OSAA’s attention,” Lander said. “Having a real state tournament might be more of a draw, they’ll see they’re being accepted.”
Roseburg’s girls wrestle with the boys in practice and are held to the same standards and expectations.
“We don’t look at it as boys, girls, JV, varsity, freshmen. We have a Roseburg wrestling team and we all practice together,” Lander said.
In the championship model approved by the OSAA Executive Board, girls will be able to compete against girls for an official girls state championship or in the bracket against the boys.
Girls wrestling will not become a separate activity, but rather will be a separate division. Much like there are distinctions between 6A and 5A tournaments, next year there will also be a girls tournament.
“Depending on the growth of girls wrestling and as they develop, you could see the OSAA Executive Board request to them to sanction girls wrestling,” Brad Garrett, OSAA assistant executive director, told the Statesman-Journal. “At this point, while they’re growing, they’re not there yet. There were a little over 400 certifications for girls this year. We have about 5,000 boys.”