Source: Wilmington Star News
One of the fastest growing women’s sports in the country has finally been classified as a sport in North Carolina. Womens high school wrestling is now in 41 states with nearly 50,000 student-athletes participating, that is a 880% rise in participation since 2005. The North Carolina High School Athletic Association sanctioned the sport in April 2022.
Currently there are 210 schools with at least one female student-athlete wrestler and 125 of those schools have at least two female wrestlers. For members of the NCHSAA this is an exciting time for the sport and its fast growth.
“Let me just say how excited I am that (the sports committee) arrived at this … this is a historical moment for us,” NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker said in 2022.
For New Hanover County Schools the sport has really flourished in a very positive way. Currently 19 of the 24 of the female wrestlers are African-American, Latino or of Asian descent. Wilmington’s Laney High School coach Andre Adams is loving how the sport is growing in an inclusive way.
“For our high school, girls are saying, ‘Hey, I don’t have to be a certain mold to come out here,” Laney wrestling coach Andre Adams said. “Elaina (Pollock) is kind of attracting girls that are like her and want a chance to get into a sport that haven’t found something that’s for them.”
Other schools in the county are working to field teams with neighboring Brunswick County’s South Brunswick High School fielding a roster with 12 girls for the upcoming season. Nationally there are over 255,000 total high school wrestling student-athletes with nearly 50,000 of them being women. This total is the highest number of participants ever in the sport.
For Laney High School’s Elaina Pollock, who went 28-2 last season in the 185-pound class and won the NCHSAA Invitational in 2022 and 2023 this is much bigger than the sport for her. She hopes to be an inspiration for many more women to take part in the sport.
“I feel so honored to be a part of (the rise of girls wrestling) and being an inspiration for African-American women,” Pollock said. “Wrestling is a way for girls to really express themselves (and show) that they’re not weak and can also do things that boys can do.”
The fast growing sport will for sure produce more great talent from North Carolina but more importantly create a space for female wrestlers no matter what race or background they come from.
Read more about women’s high school wrestling here.