Pictured: View from inside Xtream Arena in Coralville, IA., during Day One of the 2022 Iowa high school girls state wrestling championships. Image courtesy of the Des Moines Register.
We may only be three weeks into 2022, but the sport of women’s wrestling is off to a tremendous start, with much to be encouraged about at all levels, regarding the future of the fasting growing youth and high school sport.
Plus, we can’t forget this impressive start to 2022 comes after a fantastic year for women’s wrestling in 2021.
While this is not an inclusive list, here are some unique storylines in women’s wrestling across all levels (high school, college, and international) in 2021 and early 2022 so far.
The following is presented by Adidas Wrestling. Part One will highlight the year 2021, and Part Two will look at some of the notable developments from the first three weeks of 2022.
Hawkeye Open has a women’s division to kick off the new year
As we know, the end of 2021 created some havoc on the college wrestling schedule, chiefly the cancellation of the 58th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships. As a result, the inaugural Hawkeye Open (which was also later cancelled) and the 2021 Illinois MatMen Open (December 29-30) came to be.
— TheOpenMat (@theopenmat) December 26, 2021
Lots of NCAA Wrestling to bring in 2022 with !! ⬇️
Iowa to Host Hawkeye Open, January 1-2, in Coralville, IA.https://t.co/IiImJPdvcE
— TheOpenMat (@theopenmat) December 26, 2021
One thing that made the Midlands cancellation so devastating was that this iteration of the storied event was set to feature the first-ever women’s division. There were going to be roughly 150 women’s wrestlers among 11 different schools comprising 10 weight classes slated to wrestle during the tournament’s Day Two sessions on December 30.
Cancellations and COVID variants aside, it is fantastic to see major collegiate events adding women’s divisions to these historically male-dominated events.
Hopefully, we will see more and more events follow the lead of Midlands, Hawkeye Open, and so many other organizers who have already started to run women’s tournaments side-by-side with men’s events. This is certainly a step toward continued growth in women’s wrestling.
Wonderful evening spent enjoying some wrestling with my family. It was awesome to see both Parkland boys and girls represented.Girls won their first dual match and boys followed suit adding another W to their win column. Great job @Trojan_Wrestle! #ParklandPride @parklandsupt pic.twitter.com/ZWpfHsyhLn
— Dr. Maggie E. Drake (@MaggieEDrake1) January 15, 2022
Life University head coach Ashley Flavin makes history at NWCA National Team Duals in Kentucky
No. 2-seeded Life University took home its first-ever NWCA Multidivisional National Team Duals title. As if that weren’t a noteworthy feat itself, Life head coach Ashley Flavin is now in the record books of women’s wrestling.
After guiding the Eagles to its first crown, she became the first female coach to have a team reach the finals. Flavin was also the first female head coach to win the event after her team won in the finals against top-seeded Campbellsville, 25-19.
Working through the Checklist:
— Life University Women's Wrestling (@LifeUWWR) January 8, 2022
Ohio High School Athletic Association awards emerging sport status to girls high school wrestling
I think I speak for everyone when I ponder why, in 2022, women’s high school wrestling is not unanimously sanctioned in every state. That said, we are getting closer to that goal.
Just last week, Ohio became the 33rd state association to add girls wrestling program in some official fashion, such as official sanction or emerging sport status.
Editor’s Note: Iowa has done so as well since the original publication of this article.
The Buckeye state joins the following 32 to other states (in alphabetical order): Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin.
33! 💥 Congratulations to OHIO! pic.twitter.com/O3toRGpr2z
— Division l Women’s Wrestling (@d1womenwrestle) January 14, 2022
The 2022 and 2023 Men’s and Women’s Freestyle World Cup Headed to Coralville, IA
Just yesterday (January 20), United World Wrestling awarded the 2022 and 2023 Men’s and Women’s Freestyle World Cup events to Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa. The 2022 competition will be held December 10-11, and the 2023 competition is set for December 9-10.
Having such an important global evening hosted within the United States is remarkable in its own right. That said, what makes it more noteworthy is that this will be the first time in history that the men’s freestyle World Cup and the women’s freestyle World Cup events will be held side-by-side.
York College to Add Women’s Wrestling to Varsity Lineup
Just as women’s wrestling is rapidly growing within the high school wrestling ranks across the country, the same can be said for the growth at the collegiate level.
Less than an hour after the Men’s and Women’s Freestyle World Cup announcement, York College of Pennsylvania announced the addition of women’s wrestling as the school’s 24th varsity sport. The team is slated to begin competing in the fall of 2023. Wrestling will be the 13th varsity sport offered for women at York College. Nationally, women’s wrestling has 113 intercollegiate programs.
— York College Sports (@YCPathletics) January 20, 2022
Wyoming Seminary women’s wrestling is set to take the mat for the first time in 2022 this weekend
Per its website, “Wyoming Seminary is a trailblazer in the sport of girls wrestling.
Wyoming Seminary first offered girls wrestling in 2017, at which point Sem became the first high school girls wrestling team in the state of Pennsylvania.
The team competes in freestyle (collegiate/Olympic) wrestling, traveling to top domestic and international competitions. Wyoming Seminary wrestlers have won collegiate titles, as well as USA Wrestling age-group national titles and United World Wrestling world championship medals.”
Whenever the best team in the country is in action, it’s fun to watch. Well, this weekend, the consensus No. 1 team in girls high school wrestling, Wyoming Seminary, is hosting the MyHOUSE Melee Duals on Saturday, January 22.
While you likely don’t need a reason to watch or monitor this high-level freestyle action, you could see as many as four of the pound-for-pound best wrestlers in the country, plus another 15 or so nationally-ranked wrestlers from the Wyoming Seminary roster alone.
Many of these Blue Knights preps have already (and likely will continue winning) as USA Wrestling age-group national titles and United World Wrestling world championship medals.
As you can see, we may just be 21 days in to the year 2022, but there is plenty to be excited for regarding the state of women’s wrestling here in the United States and beyond.