All indications point toward the high school wrestling rooms around the state being a little bit more crowded come November.
High school bowling as a varsity sport next winter, however, is still very much in the air.
There appears to be solid support for a proposal to add girls wrestling as a Nebraska School Activities Association sanctioned sport beginning next season. The NSAA Representative Assembly will vote on the matter at its annual meeting in Lincoln on Friday morning.
If 60 percent of that body approves the measure, a separate girls division will be added and an advisory committee will be formed to create weight classes and bracket sizes, and determine how the regular season and postseason will be structured.
In the second district meetings in January, adding girls wrestling passed in four of the six districts. The total vote statewide was 167 for and 98 against (63%).
When the state high school wrestling coaches were surveyed, 118 of the 139 who responded were in favor of a girls division and state championship.
NSAA executive director Jay Bellar says there’s some uneasiness among the schools because participant numbers, funding for additional coaches and resources, and the general structure are all unknown at this point.
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“If we’re waiting for everything to be perfect, it may never get done,” Bellar said. “Girls wrestling is growing here and across the country. In some areas, we may just have to figure out what we need to do as we go along.”
There were 144 girls in the state who took the Optimum Performance Calculator assessment to participate in high school wrestling this past season competing against boys. When Missouri’s state association sanctioned girls wrestling this year, their number of participants jumped from 169 in 2018 to more than 800 this past season.
The proposal the assembly will consider calls for a single classification to start out. NSAA assistant director in charge of wrestling, Ron Higdon, said the current state wrestling schedule and format would be able to accommodate the addition of a fifth girls class.
Bowling failed to get the required 60% of the vote at last year’s Representative Assembly meeting, but the proposal for the NSAA to sanction that sport is back again after approval in three of the six districts in January.
Bellar says the concerns among the schools last year about how the regular season would be structured and what the postseason competition would look like, for the most part, have been addressed in this year’s proposal.
Still, more schools voted against adding bowling (142) than voted for it (118) in the district meetings in January, despite some strong participant numbers.
During the fall 2017 high school bowling club season, there were approximately 900 students competing on club teams around the state. There are 32 states, including Iowa and Kansas, that offer high school bowling through their state associations.